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The Next Iron Chef

I was not intending to watch yet another of these "reality" cooking shows, but I am now watching the Next Iron Chef and it is a pleasure to watch real chefs, even if they are asked to do more stunts than serious cooking. Love John Besh (his restaurant is divine!)

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  1. I hated to see Traci Des Jardins leave. I think she is a great chef.
    Funny how Ruhlman kind of bashed Symon, being from the same town and a friend of his. So what if he was familiar with the dessert, didn't Mourou {sp?} say his banana dessert was something he always cooked?
    Interesting show.

    1. Yeah, I wasn't going to watch either; but ..... I did find it fun watching very established chefs (1) really creating off the cuff awesome sounding/looking dishes and (2) screwing up! I thought that Alton was a bit over the top (and I love the guy, but he is having a power trip). It'll be a good "in the background" show for Sunday night while getting everyone ready for Monday.

      50 Replies
      1. re: Suzieg

        Yeah, what was up with Alton? He did seem a little full of himself. Don't get me wrong, I love the guy too. But I found him rather annoying tonight.

        1. re: tachis

          Alton knows that he should be running Iron Chef. He should be hosting it. The Chairman's nephew is is superfluous. Alton know he is the show and might be making a play. I, for one, would welcome our Alton Brown leader.

          1. re: Mr Conlin

            I don't know why you think Brown is more qualified." After all, they're just both actors at the end of the day.

            1. re: ChefJune

              And the Chairman character is purely fluff. It's not like the part comes with a real-life job as dean of a prestigious culinary school. He doesn't actually "run" any part of Iron Chef. The commentator role is a lot bigger and carries a lot more face- (and voice-) time and for a culinary performer the added bonus of getting to showcase your considerable knowledge.
              There's very little reason Alton would covet the Chairman role, although now that Iron Chef America is fully established I could potentially see the network dumping the extraneous chairman.

              1. re: ChefJune

                The chairman is the luckiest actor on earth. Regular gig, and all he does is introduce the challenging chef, pace for an hour, and then eat food by some of America's greatest talents. Alton knows his stuff, does the heavy lifting for show and doesn't get to taste anything.

                1. re: slowcooker

                  If Alton "knows his stuf" then why in the world is he talking about "de-boning" a chicken. You "bone" a chicken, you turkey!

                  1. re: pikawicca

                    I agree w/you, although the word "de-bone" seems to be used more often than not, wrongly I think.

                    1. re: pikawicca

                      Maybe because he also knows that a good portion of people watching his show might not know what he meant if he said "bone a chicken." Or also because "debone" is a word and he's using it correctly. Both "bone" and "debone" are correct.

                      1. re: ccbweb

                        yep, debone is a perfectly accurate and acceptable term. it seems silly, but they both mean the same thing.

                        1. re: ccbweb

                          Not only might people not know what it means, they may *think* it means something inappropriate!

                          1. re: jzerocsk

                            Yeah but he is kind of a clown... that would only add some comedic pizzazz to the show.

                      2. re: slowcooker

                        He also introduces the secret ingredient, sometimes with a hilarious facial expression accompanied by big bug-eyes.

                      3. re: ChefJune

                        Thank you. While Marc Dacascos is actor playing a character (the Chairman), Alton is less an actor and more of an MC. He still has a motivation (to be the "Chairman's" spokeman) and a goal (to not let the cheftestants get out of control), but he gets to be himself.

                        1. re: barndog

                          Alton is first of all an ACTOR! He is playing the role of MC on this show, as he does on ICA. He uses lots of incorrect words, because they're what's on the teleprompter, and as an actor, he's really good at the teleprompter.

                          Yes, I know he went to NECI. That was because he couldn't sell himself to TV for a show of his own any other way, so he got himself a culinary degree, and now he's conning millions of Americans to think he's some kind of authority! His science info comes from Shirley Corriher, and of course, he's no dummy. He did learn some things in culinary school. But "expert" he's an expert actor, imho.

                            1. re: ccognac

                              Its common knowledge for anyone who cares to find out. Read his bio! He is a Culinary school grad, but that does not make him (or anyone else) a Chef by itself.

                              1. re: ChefJune

                                Ruhlman and Bourdain both describe Alton as the rare food personality who can actually cook.

                                1. re: ChefJune

                                  He never said he was a Great Chef - he leaves that to the contestants... he makes an interesting and amusing compere, and that's all that matters. (if he sucked at his job, now THAT would be worth complaining about!)

                              2. re: ChefJune

                                "That was because he couldn't sell himself to TV for a show of his own any other way, so he got himself a culinary degree, and now he's conning millions of Americans to think he's some kind of authority!" - That's a huge criticism - and a bad humored one at that - one that I think you need to have facts to back up (IMHO).

                                I've learned a lot from Alton and I'm no schlep in the kitchen. And I like his quirky personality.

                                1. re: ChefJune

                                  I'm not sure the he's "conning" anyone. He is pretty straight forward with the fact that he doesn't consider himself a chef. He is a guy who is interested in the mechanics, finds it out and shares it with us. I'm not sure "actor" is the right word for him either. You offer a lot of accusations without any resources to back it up. That, and I believe somewhere I read that he doesn't use a teleprompter...it most likely was from an article about him posted on chowhound. Why does he have to be a chef to have a good, informative show and know what he is talking about?

                                  1. re: sunshinedrop

                                    I would agree here. Alton is almost like a "coach" if that's an applicable term? Even the best athletes in the world like Tiger Woods and Roger Clemens have instructors to help them with mechanics like their golf swing or pitching motion. Although those instructors may not be on the same skill level, their knowledge of the craft is without question. Alton isn't a chef per se, but he does have elite knowledge of the craft and has a lot to offer both new and veteran chefs alike.

                                    1. re: Bunson

                                      Alton Brown is my favorite food network star. But there has been at least one occasion when his research staff let him down. On one show he said that avacados do not ripen on the tree. Fooled me! The best ripe avocados I've ever had in my life were picked ripe from my aunt and uncle's Calavo orchard. You just cannot get that kind of flavor from store-bought avacados. But in my viewing experience, the gaffs on his show are about the rarest of any show on FN.

                            2. re: Mr Conlin

                              The Chairman character is based on the Japanese show, and the guy is the old Chairman Kaga's real-life nephew. He is supposed to be the eccentric gourmand who built kitchen stadium to stage the battles. I doubt Alton wants to put himself in that role, he is clearly the food host of the show. I agree he was being agressive...but these chefs are really sure of themselves and he needs to lay down the law!

                              1. re: kenito799

                                Food Network loves pretty faces, no matter how superfluous, and The Chairman's is much prettier than Alton's.

                                I like Alton, but also think he's bordering on obnoxious, but perhaps he's just hamming it up in an effort to create humor.

                                I love watching the real chefs' techniques, especially the knifework. At least they have real skills to go with the 'tudes, unlike the stupid chef competitions.

                                1. re: Claudette

                                  Well, they are infinitely more experienced for the most part. These are guys who run some of the better restaurants in the nation, not little sous-chef and caterers trying to jump start their careers.

                                  That Chairman was also the evil ninja from American Ninja!

                                  Kaga is a japanese actor too....weird story behind him, do a wiki search on him....

                                  1. re: Claudette

                                    I've read a number of places that the Chairman Kaga and the new chairman are NOT uncle/nephew in real life. The new chairman is from the Philippines or of that ancestry, I believe. I lost interest in the new chairman after I read that.

                                    1. re: sunshinedrop

                                      Both chairmen are paid actors. The new chairman is actually an accomplished martial arts expert so all those flips and stuff are real!

                                      Old - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takeshi_...
                                      New - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Dac...

                                      1. re: Bunson

                                        yes--I had believed the "urban legend", as reported in wikipedia, that the two chairman were related in real life. Their characters are related, uncle and nephew.

                                      2. re: sunshinedrop

                                        The only thing real on the show is the cooking. Everything else is just a gimmick - props, actors and the premise.

                                        Also, on the original Iron Chef, the Australian accent the judges and the commentators (Dr. Hattori, Ohta and Kenji) are dubbed in.

                                        One thing I'm not sure of is did the voice actors ad-lib in the translations or was it literal. Some of the comments are hilairious and sometimes subtly risque.

                                    2. re: kenito799

                                      The chairmen are uncle/nephew on the show. I don't think they are real life relations. They're actors.

                                    3. re: Mr Conlin

                                      I saw the chairman's nephew in a grade D sci fi movie one night. I kep t thinkin ghe looked familiar and sure enough it was him. He had no accent either.

                                      1. re: libgirl2

                                        He also played a buddhist monk in an episode of CSI.

                                        1. re: libgirl2

                                          Mark Dacascos's native language is English. He's from Hawaii. He's been in a lot of things.


                                          1. re: libgirl2

                                            The guy who plays the nephew was the villain in a Jet Li movie from a few years back. He does have a martial arts background, not a culinary background.

                                            The whole thing that made watching Kaga so enjoyable was the man's style, he is campy and flamboyant and yet also very earnest. he would occasionally poke fun at himself too, in an unobstrusive way. In creating the role of the nephew they took away all the campiness and flamboyance which made the role superfluous.

                                            Also, in creating a role for Alton they took away one of the best things about the original Iron Chef, the clueless comments of the guest judges and the dead pan certainty of the color commentator. I think we need more clueless starlets on Iron Chef America, with Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears all sidelined with nothing to do, this may be the time to re-introduce the bimbo factor on Iron Chef. of course they could just put RR on as a judge.

                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                              Definitely a big part of the charm of the original for me was the absurd English dubbing and the wildcard ditz judge dogging the players. "That looks like a great dish but it all depends on how drunk Mayuko Takata is by the time it gets to her..."

                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                Or better yet, Sandra Lee as a judge! That'd be fun!

                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                  I like those goofy judges of the original too. With John Besh they should have the American version of the old fortune teller.

                                            2. re: tachis

                                              I thought hard about this, because I'm an Alton fan and I was getting annoyed too. I think the annoying side comes out when he talks to the collected group of chefs, but you'll notice he's quite helpful and respectful when speaking to the chefs individually. I really do think he admires these folks and knows they're being made to jump through hoops.

                                              What really struck me most about the show, being an avid Top Chef viewer, is how professional all these chefs are. Helping each other left and right, making jokes and laughing at themselves. It's refreshing to watch experts behaving well, as much as love seeing hopefuls act like insecure.

                                              1. re: slowcooker

                                                the camraderie and good-natured ribbing among the chefs - both durig the speed challenge a while they were cooking - impressed me as well. in fact, it was one of the reasons i found the show so enjoyable to watch. they all acted like confident, seasoned professionals, and despite the 138[!!!] degree temperature in the kitchen, managed to maintain their collective sense of humor and joviality.

                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  I really liked the maturity and confidence level, too, after watching Top Chef. Desjardins' "farewell video" on foodtv.com also demonstrated what a secure, confident, thoughtful person she is. I wish we could have seen more of her.

                                                  1. re: kenito799

                                                    Since Jill Davy was the chef eliminated last evening, I'm wondering whether or not the women were invited in for window dressing?

                                                    I know, I know, shame on me for thinking that, but it has been going through my mind.....

                                                    1. re: ChefJune

                                                      i commented on that last night...i hate that the first 2 eliminations were the only female chefs in the competition.

                                                      plus, jill's my girl! i guess the consolation for those of us in l.a. is that it means she's still in the kitchen at josie making her famous tagine of short ribs.

                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                        Avoided this board for a few days, so sad to see Jill go! Seemed like they were asking alot from chefs without much technology experience to create a dish with all the equipment and chemicals. Too bad they didn't do a points based system, and not eliminate for a few erpisodes to start.
                                                        Loved the one chef that said he's been working his whole career to take chemicals out of foods and now he has to put them in. Amen to that!

                                                        1. re: jme1beachbum

                                                          that was michael symon...he may have been a bit slow out of the gate, but i get the feeling he's going to be a tough competitor.

                                                          i love his cooking style & philosphy. hopefully someday he'll return to cooking in nyc so i'll have the opportunity to taste his food...i simply have no reason to ever travel to cleveland!

                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                            the indians and his restaurants? :)

                                                            actually he's as fabulous in person as he is on TV (not a friend just have met him through foodie things - he's a great supporter of cleveland where i used to live). and his food is divine. can you tell who i'm rooting for?

                                                            1. re: AMFM

                                                              well, personal "favorites" aside, my money has been on besh all along...i just think he's got the most experience...plus, he's incredibly talented and has the perfect demeanor to be an IC.

                                                              but michael symon is definitely growing on me, and now that my beloved jill got the boot i might have to start pulling for him as the dark horse.

                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                Being that this is reality tv, I wonder if they already know the winner? Seems like Besh would be the best fit for the job, but they get more publicity doing it this way. I do like him (my hubbie is rooting for him), but I didn't think it was very cool to wait a minute plus on a 30 minute challenge...mighta screwed someone...like the one shrimp plated chef? I think thats why he voted his the best, felt bad.
                                                                Why oh why di Jill choose that subpar secondhand fish! So sad!

                                                                1. re: jme1beachbum

                                                                  besh seems like a great chef. and i like cosentino too. just fun to watch and root folks on. i love the interplay between them all. and i'd be happy if any of them wanted to come and cook me dinner! :)

                                                                2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                  Besh seems like he would be the most successful Iron Chef in terms of win-loss record, but the most entertaining would be Michael Symon. Symon could go 0-20 in his Iron Chef challenges but I bet those would be 20 of the most entertaining episodes ever.

                                                                  1. re: Bunson

                                                                    i get a kick out of besh too, though. he definitely tries to keep it light & have fun in the kitchen...as evidenced by his performance when he beat mario batali in "battle andouille sausage." he clearly enjoyed every second of it, and he seems to be having fun on TNIC as well.

                                                                    i like both of them. cosentino strikes me as a talented chef, but he seems to get defensive a bit too easily - i think he gets clearly irritated when someone challenges his food or philosophy.

                                                                    regardless, i'd be honored to have any one of these chefs - including the ones who were already eliminated - cook for me any time.

                                            3. I was at August just before Katrina, and it was one of the four or five best meals of my life. I think he will win. I can't believe Traci lost. It wasn't her event, but still. She's a great chef.

                                              I was hoping it would be a cumulative thing, where you could lose points on a bad day, so no one would really know til the end. Anyway, I didn't like the first half, but the second half was well done.

                                              1. I tried so hard not to watch, but ended up getting sucked in and actually found myself pleasantly surprised. Reminded me a little of the BBCA series Great British Menus (I think) where well-known chefs competed to create a menu for the Queen's birthday in that they were fierce competitors but seem to have a great deal of respect for each other as chefs, which makes it fun to watch. Hopefully it will continue like that and not go the route of TC season 2 or TNFNS where the drama just takes over. And it was nice to have FN focusing on food for a change!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: tachis

                                                  well, they're not living together.....

                                                2. It's a shame they all think they have to follow a set format! What's with this eliminating one each week garbage? Don't they know how to tally up points for longer than that???

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                    I agree that elimination makes the competition sort of random and maybe less fair...but the disadvantage of having so many chefs stick around is that you get so little coverage of how each dish was cooked and how it tasted. One of the things that I like about IC as opposed to Top Chef is the focus on the preparation.

                                                    I do think they could hold off on eliminating anybody until the second episode.

                                                    1. re: kenito799

                                                      In this episode, with 8 competitors, they devoted a very brief time to each competitor and each of the dishes. Things when by too fast. I would have loved to see how the one chef turned tripe into crisp what-evers. All you ever saw him do with the tripe was take the pressure cooker of the heat.

                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                        Not sure about that dish, but there are some interesting photo and video essays on his blog:


                                                    2. re: ChefJune

                                                      If it were just a serious competition among great chefs, overall points rather than weekly eliminations might have been more suitable.

                                                      But an Iron Chef has to dominate the competition, week after week, using sometimes very challenging theme ingredients.

                                                    3. Kind of a top chef ripoff...i like it though.

                                                      I say Besh is the favorite. He killed it when he went against Batali and did well tonight. He's a bit cocky......but I can see him being an Iron Chef.

                                                      The only other one I could see is Cosetino.

                                                      Jill Davie has that Casey thing going for her. the darkhorse.

                                                      7 Replies
                                                      1. re: Xericx

                                                        Can Jill Davie actually cook, or is she only there because she's cute? I get a little bit of a weird, there-because-she's-pretty vibe from her. It doesn't help that the gear show she did with equally cute guy was the single most wretched food-related TV show in history-- rather than solid information about cookware, it was like, let's go to a trade show and say a couple of insipid things about timers and scales. Wanted to see W from Good Eats race in from the wings and pound them into submission with a meat mallet. Sorry. It was that bad.

                                                        1. re: alias wade

                                                          never saw the show, but i've eaten jill's food many times. the girl can cook, and i think the majority of my fellow hounds who have had the pleasure of dining at "josie" in santa monica would agree.

                                                          as i said in another post [somewhere] in this thread, she may be young, but she's got an impressive resumé and quite a bit of experience cooking in fine restaurants.

                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                            Have reservations for Saturday- and looking foward to it :) Any recs?

                                                            1. re: jme1beachbum

                                                              i'm sad to say i haven't eaten there in a while and the menu has changed quite a bit [the seasonality is one of the things i love about that place]. after looking at the current menu i'll give you my thoughts on what's likely to be great, based either on similar dishes i've had there in the past, or things i know they always do well [game, for instance, is always a good bet]. anyway, you might want to ask someone who's been there more recently...maybe post a thread on the l.a. board asking for recs.

                                                              having said that...

                                                              endive salad with stilton & pear
                                                              beet & goat cheese tart
                                                              bacon-wrapped quail

                                                              seared scallops
                                                              short ribs [**the restaurant is known for this dish]
                                                              buffalo burger

                                                              desserts can be hit-or-miss...the best bet is typically whatever seasonal fruit crumble or tart they're offering.


                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                Jill Davie has my vote! Her food is great- and I mean HER FOOD because she was there, in the kitchen, working magic on Saturday night.

                                                                I had the special; Butternut squash and fuji apple soup, very good with a tiny stuffed, baked apple in the center. Hubbie had quail- also very good, skin not as crispy as I like it tho. Entrees brought the tangine morrocan short ribs, israeli cous cous, and a melange of fruit and veggies for me. It was excellent, and very generous portion (had the leftovers for lunch today). Hubbie went with the venison, with a poached pear and green beans- he enjoyed it very much. We split a very light, airy key lim cheesecake for dessert that pleased both of us.

                                                                I almost got the rack of lamb, but I can make lamb pretty well at home, where theres no chance I could produce those short ribs in my kitchen, haha. Coincidently they had some great looking chops at Ralphs that are now resting in my tummy. What luck :)

                                                                1. re: jme1beachbum

                                                                  i'm so glad you enjoyed it! i've had nothing but memorable meals at josie.

                                                                  sadly for jill, but fortunately for us, she got the boot tonight on TNIC :(

                                                                  1. re: jme1beachbum

                                                                    Hmm. That squash and apple soup sounds really good.... Let us know if you try to recreate it!

                                                        2. Why or why could not Top Chef have done challenges like these rather than things like feeding Padma in bed, hawking bad bar food to drunk party goers or catering a "high profile" event on an artificially low budget? What fun to watch chefs doing what it is they actually get paid to do.

                                                          I've been an IC fan since Feb. '97 when I stumbled across the Japanese version on Saturday night. It's hard to pick a favorite right now, they're all into the spirit of the show. I was surprised to see Traci desJardin go.

                                                          12 Replies
                                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                                            Uhhh...they did.

                                                            Quickfire to debone chicken, french rack of lamb and shuck oysters......

                                                            and they used strange meats to make a meal...not desserts but that would have been too gimmicky and actually a bit unfair for an elimination challenge.

                                                            granted, the calibur of chefs is much higher....these are people who own their own restaurants and have been around for a while, not a bunch of noobs (except for the hotel cook who's 28)

                                                            1. re: Xericx

                                                              That "noob" you refer to was the US representative in the 07 Bocuse d'Or competition, and as I recall, he did very well... I don't think I'd call Kaysen a "noob."

                                                              1. re: Xericx

                                                                Ah, but this wasn't a tag team challenge, individual skill counted for each item. And, thank god, no one had to do onions ;-). Each chef had to demonstrate his or her skill with all items and was penalized for substandard work. By about the 6th or 7th week I found Top Chef tedious, ponderous, reptitious and overly edited to pander to the (real or contrived) drama. Who knows, IC may go the same way, but this first episode was tight, quick paced and mercifully bereft of drama.

                                                                Uhhh... "hotel cook" is a rather disrespectful way to refer to the the guy who represented the U.S. in this years' Bocuse d' Or competition don't ya think? And El Biz isn't exactly a "hotel" restaurant. The kid's got cooking chops. I don't think he'll win, but I think he'll be able to hold his own with his fellow competitors for a few more weeks.

                                                                1. re: Xericx

                                                                  gavin kaysen is far more than just a 'hotel cook.' el bizcocho is one of the finest and most respected restaurants in san diego...and he represented the u.s in the 2007 bocuse d'or competition. he may be young, but he's hardly a newbie.

                                                                  besides, as we witnessed with the early departure of traci des jardins, age and/or years of experience don't guarantee success in this competition.

                                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                    my bad, i've never heard of him nor el bizcocho. he just seemed like he young guy....prove me wrong big (small) guy!!!!

                                                                    1. re: Xericx

                                                                      he is. 28 is pretty young for an iron chef. just don't confuse youth with inexperience.

                                                                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                      I've eaten at both Jardinere and El Bizcocho, and EB is way better.

                                                                      1. re: Claudette

                                                                        it was interesting to hear chef des jardins admit she's out of practice. makes you realize that when you ate at jardiniere, there's a good chance she didn't actually prepare your food. which, quite frankly, i think is odd, because it's not like she's wolfgang puck, gordon ramsay, todd english, bobby flay, or mario batali. all these chefs bounce around overseeing multiple restaurants scattered all over the country [or the world], yet they manage to keep their skills pretty finely honed from what i've seen.

                                                                        i KNOW you can be a little rusty even if you're in the restaurant's kitchen every day, because your sous chefs may always do the prep work for you. but once you've got a skill like that - deboning a chicken, filleting a salmon, etc. - it should come back pretty quickly when you get into the task.

                                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                          You're right, and Gavin Kaysen probably didn't prepare my dinners at El Bizcocho, but I can fantasize!

                                                                          1. re: Claudette

                                                                            actually, i don't know why, but i want to say there's a good chance he did...unless he was off preparing for the bocuse d'or competition or something.

                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                              Unless the restaurant seats about 20 people, chances are the prep and the execution was done by a variety of people, all working under Mr. Kaysen.

                                                                          2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                            I thought it was interesting that desJardins said she was out of practice
                                                                            but then dispatched the chicken and rack of lamb with speed and skill
                                                                            (of course the sous is going to be cutting up the chickens in her restaurant!)

                                                                            after seeing battle andouille, I can't imagine anyone but Besh getting this gig

                                                                            REALLY fun to watch mid-career chefs work, esp on the heels of Top Chef
                                                                            but I'm even less into the goofy challenges for this show since they work with top equipment and ingredients on ICA. I was totally annoyed at the overheated to the point of non-functioning freezers state of the first challenge. Was that intentional? I thought they should have reshot the show!

                                                                  2. Regarding the *ahem* quickfire, is that standard to use the blade to open up a coconut? That was a little scary using those expensive knives

                                                                    1. I was SO surprised and refreshed to see this show. It featured AMAZING talent working VERY hard (as hard, or quite a bit more) as compared to their kitchen at their respective home restaurant.

                                                                      Thank you Food Network for something watchable in a sea of unwatchable shows!

                                                                      1. It was a fun show to watch. Nice to see them at the CIA. One of the best meals I've ever had was at John Besh's Restaurant August.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: afoodieslife

                                                                          Me too. I had an heirloom tomato appetizer, with a shooter of gazpacho, that I can still taste two years later. And he came out to the table and spent a few minutes with us. During Katrina, he took his staff out to the small farm they have where they grow their veggies, and was cooking for the emergency workers and anyone else who was hungry. He's a cool guy. I'm really rooting for him.

                                                                        2. Any opinions on the fact that the temperature in the cooking space and the temperature of the freezer was appallingly hot? It seems to me that the time limit and the make-a-dessert-using protein were sufficient challenges that the chefs should not have had to battle poor working conditions. Kitchen Stadium offers quality equipment so the producers can't use the excuse that the competition is mirroring the KS real conditions.

                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Indy 67

                                                                            I was wondering about that, too. And since the editing showed them all struggling with the heat, I was surprised that no one's presentations seemed to suffer specifically from the heat when all was said and done.

                                                                            1. re: Indy 67

                                                                              Most commercial kitchen are not air conditions and this was filmed over the summer. Television lights put off a lot of heat, perhaps it was a simulation of the heat in KS ;-).

                                                                              I actually wondered if the equipment not working was a ploy to see how well the chefs could think on their feet, which is a hallmark of the IC. However, refrigeration does have a tendency to malfunction when it hot or overheated in the immediate area surrounding the refrigeration unit. So if it was really hot in the kitchen, the compressors may have simply just shut down.

                                                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                Having been a student at the CIA, where they filmed this, I know that the heat is oppressive in the summer. I was in the restaurant class during the hottest part of the year and it was awful. We would put our thermometers on the line and it would be over or around 100 degrees.

                                                                              2. re: Indy 67

                                                                                Freezer at 48 degrees? There's a freaking LAW against that. Your fridge is supposed to be well under 40. I hope they fix that for the next show.

                                                                                1. re: Indy 67

                                                                                  I read somewhere that for the sake of audio they had to turn the hoods off.

                                                                                    1. re: traceybell

                                                                                      note from Chris Cosentino on Ruhlman's blog:

                                                                                      "hey michael,

                                                                                      be sure to tell them the reason we were sweating so much was because they shut the hoods off for audio so the kitchen temp was 132. no bullshit. there was a thermometer in there, dude it was fuckin hot."

                                                                                      1. re: kenito799

                                                                                        Wasn't anybody else totally grossed out with these chefs filmed literally dripping sweat over the food they were preparing for people to eat? Ugh! I'd rather these types of things that can happen in a professional kitchen remain in my imagination. What about the judges? I wonder what they thought after they saw the footage of the dishes they ate being flavored this way. To me it was totally unacceptable. I can't bring myself to eat in a restaurant since.

                                                                                        1. re: Axalady

                                                                                          they had to turn the hoods off to hear the audio so it went up to 136 degrees or so. gross - but if it's any consolation that shouldn't happen in a non-reality show bugged kitchen!

                                                                                          1. re: AMFM

                                                                                            ha - maybe that's why they moved outside for one of the challenges!

                                                                                          2. re: Axalady

                                                                                            Get some damned fans in there! They make portable air conditioners. I've worked in kitchens..they are hot, especially in the summer, but not 136 degrees hot!

                                                                                    2. I have to agree with the posters saying Besh looks like the guy to beat. Good food -inventive but also close to his roots. Everything I have ever heard about his restaurants has been overwhelmingly positive.
                                                                                      I knew Des Jardins was in trouble when she said she had not been hands-on for awhile.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Westy

                                                                                        Besh's restaurants also encompass several different cuisines, so that makes him multi-dimensional and for Iron Chef, that's a big plus.

                                                                                        I don't think any of those execs are hands-on very often, but I would think they would ALL have gotten out their knives in preparation for this competition. I was disappointed that Traci wasn't prepared. She would have been formidable competition if she had been.

                                                                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                          It seemed her skills were fine rather her problem was conceputual, not execution. That salmon roe for desert thing, the sweetest ingredient in that dish was apple, the judge asking if she did ANYTHING to the roe... salmon roe dipped in chocolate atop ice cream, salmon roe in simple syrup and candied ginger, salmon roe and limoncello jello... but that dish was a savory appetizer at best and she was pretty generous with the fish eggs at that.

                                                                                      2. I liked the show. It was fun to watch established chefs work with an array of ingredients, both cooking them and taking them apart, and I have to admit, it was entertaining to see them get flustered. The show seems like it will be fast-paced, drama free, and a refreshing change from Top Chef and FN Star. I really wanted to taste that tripe dessert...

                                                                                        1. My money's on Cosentino, since he's the chef of my favorite restaurant and he came close to beating Batali:

                                                                                          Taste: 25-24
                                                                                          Plating: 13-7
                                                                                          Originality: 8-13
                                                                                          Total: 46-44

                                                                                          I think several of the chefs lost points on the salmon because at their restaurants they'd roast it with the bones for better flavor.

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                            Someone over on eGullet posted the alleged winner and it wasn't Cosentino. I was impressed with his dessert tripe. Major kudos, he took a big risk taking on an ingredient that had to have been difficult to turn into a dessert.

                                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                              If I my memory serves me correctly, Besh beat Batali in Battle Andouille.

                                                                                              1. re: kenito799

                                                                                                Yeah, Besh won that won. Convincingly. His food looked spectacular. As I posted elsewhere, I was at August just before Katrina and it was a remarkable meal. And he cooked it. We went back to the kitchen after dinner for a few seconds, and he was pan-frying fish with a crabmeat topping. I don't think he's there all the time, but friends I sent there last year met him too, and raved about the food.

                                                                                                He's definitely a hands-on guy.

                                                                                            2. We ate at El Bizcocho where Gavin is the chef just a few weeks ago. Food was amazing.. the best was sous-vide veal chop with morels.

                                                                                              1. I was a bit disappointed in the show because I was hoping for and expecting a knockout tournament done in the same format as Iron Chef. The way they did it with that many chefs involved made for a really superficial show. Thankfully, that will improve as the numbers fall.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: Chimayo Joe

                                                                                                  The advertising makes it sound as though they will use the Iron Chef format when it is down to the last two...

                                                                                                2. I was disappointed to see Des Jardins go either for having to make a dessert out of salmon roe... however, it was her choice to pick that ingredient -- it's not as if she got stuck with it as the last contender. Nonetheless, it's sad to see Davie become the Bader-Ginsburg of the show.

                                                                                                  Being an Angeleno, I am rooting for Davie but I have a feeling that John Besh from 'the other LA' will take the win.


                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: AquaW

                                                                                                    My favorite is Morou but that's probably b/c I have eaten at his restaurant and met him. Awesome food and great personality.

                                                                                                    1. re: italy531

                                                                                                      Morou's food looked great in Battle Frozen Peas vs. Flay...I thought he might win, his food was definitely more inventive (although the panel still gave Flay more points for originality), but I guess Flay's food tasted better.

                                                                                                      Bleeding into the food, though, that was gross.

                                                                                                      Sanchez did well against Morimoto in a fish battle, I thought. His food looked really delicious. I am hoping he does well. The preview clip has him whining and trying to plate something after time is up...he did that this week, too.

                                                                                                      1. re: kenito799

                                                                                                        well, at least we know morou wasn't planning to serve all the tainted food he had to prep for the competition.

                                                                                                        his food in "battle pea" was interesting and beautifully plated, but i could tell from the judges' comments that flay had this win wrapped up.

                                                                                                        they kept harping on the fact that morou's food didn't have enough "pea-ness," and jeffrey was very pleased at how well bobby made the secret ingredient stand out. [btw, i don't know if anyone else noticed, but i thought jeffrey would choke on his food when the other judge busted out the term "pea-ness." get your mind out of the gutter, this is a cooking show! ;)]

                                                                                                        anyway, if you actually manage to get props from "the man who ate everything," you've pretty much got it in the bag.

                                                                                                        1. re: kenito799

                                                                                                          I'm a little surprised plating food after time is up didn't get him disqualified. And yes - I saw the preview where he does it again and whines about it - doesn't look good for him if they are going to play by the rules.

                                                                                                      2. re: AquaW

                                                                                                        I am rooting for Aaron Sanchez - competent, soft spoken cook. I miss him on Melting Pot.

                                                                                                        1. re: kare_raisu

                                                                                                          I miss Melting Pot, too. It was a great show with a lot of talented people -- Michael Symon, Aaron Sanchez, Cat Cora, Padma, and *ahem* Rocco DiSpirito.

                                                                                                      3. it's "top chef on crack."

                                                                                                        i'm rooting for jill, but my money's on besh.

                                                                                                        1. I enjoyed the show, as I like cooking competition shows. My only problem is the stance that TVFN has taken with the show. On Mike Colameco's radio show, (710 wwor in NY) his guest last week , one of the heads of the network - forgive me for not remembering his name- stated that there is no compairison between this show and Top Chef. While I'm not going to compare the talent, we alll know which show has the more acclaimed chefs, but they really did nothing that hasn't been done on Top Chef, and that's fine, just don't claim or act like you are doing ground breaking TV.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: Herm

                                                                                                            I thought a round robin tournament would have been more fun to watch to be honest. Then the winner HAS to beat an Iron Chef to actually become an Iron Chef. That's how they did it in the Japanese version (w/o the round robin though).

                                                                                                          2. I actually sat down to watch the show. I was surprised that the blond girl made it past the first round. The girl that went home I thought for sure would end up in the top <insert low number here>, since she did beat Mario on Iron Chef.

                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: Traumhersteller

                                                                                                              "the blond girl" is jill davie, chef de cuisine at josie restaurant in santa monica...a place many feel is among the best restaurants in l.a.

                                                                                                              yes, she's young [29], but has an impressive resume. CIA grad, cooked at rockenwager, blackbird, and tru among others...and she's won some awards...she also took the grand prize at food network's "hot chefs" competition last year.

                                                                                                              oh, and she happens to be one very cool chick :)

                                                                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                Jill is the real deal. Her career is just beginning to get started. She has that rare combination of talent, physical attractiveness, inviting personality, and charm. Her resume doesn't hurt either. A bit older than 29 (you probably saw her age mentioned on a web site that has not been updated) but still young. I am quickly learning that there is a growing list of very talented and accomplished young chefs that can be found in NYC, Los Angeles, No California, Chicago, and Las Vegas. Certainly experience is still quite valuable, but perhaps it is caused in part by an overall explosion of the highest end of fine dining. It is fun to see this occuring.

                                                                                                                1. re: GreatBeef

                                                                                                                  oops, i was thinking about gavin kaysen's age when i typed that...and i still got it wrong! [he's 28]. yes, jill's a few years older - she's my age [35]. i used to hang out with her...she's a hoot! and i'd eat her food any day. as i said earlier, the girl can cook.

                                                                                                            2. Gee, I'm not sure if Traci would appreciate being referred to as a "girl", since she's 41 and has plenty of years' experience under her belt. Very highly respected here in the Bay Area, with 3 restaurants to oversee.

                                                                                                              Also, check out Michael Ruhlman's blog for a great insider view of the show.


                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: cmvan

                                                                                                                ruhlman's blogs are generally really interesting. the guy can write. thanks for the link. will be interesting to watch next week.

                                                                                                                1. re: cmvan

                                                                                                                  hmmm, i didn't even know traci had 2 other restaurants...i thought it was just jardieniere.

                                                                                                                  in that case, i respectfully retract my earlier comments about her...guess her plate's more full than i realized ;)

                                                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                      Traci didn't seem "into it". Maybe it was the heat.

                                                                                                                2. Does anyone know why there is going to be a "next iron chef"? Does this mean that one of the current 4 are stepping down or no longer have time for the show? Or will there now be 5 Iron Chefs? I'd like to see Morimoto on more often, so I'm hoping he's not going to step down for lack of a better word.

                                                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: egbluesuede

                                                                                                                    There will now be five. The four are so busy that it limited the number of episodes Food Network could film each year.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                                                                      Dang, I was hoping they'd replace Cat Cora..

                                                                                                                        1. re: Xericx

                                                                                                                          She never wins - must be getting discouraged. I always change the channel and delete the DVR when she appears - she is not the equivilent of the old Iron Chef Italian!!

                                                                                                                            1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                              i saw the listing...that was a repeat from last year, and the challengers were those 2 guys who are doing that new show "two dudes catering."

                                                                                                                              all i can remember from seeing the episode when it first aired is that they wanted to cook against her because "she's hot," the secret ingredient was eggplant, and one of them spent a good portion of the hour burning pinenuts.

                                                                                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                I would not want those two guys touching my food.

                                                                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                  I saw this for the 1st time last night and I couldn't believe how much those 2 guys had their hands in their mouths...really grossed me out and I'm not a baby about that stuff

                                                                                                                                  it was constant finger licking and then back in the pan with a spitty hand....just grooooossssss

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Xericx

                                                                                                                                    That's how it's pronounced. She's Greek. Get over it! ;>)

                                                                                                                      1. I'd give the early nod to John Besh, he seems to have the right balance of creativity, speed, and cool-under-pressure demeanor to do well in the 1 hour Iron Chef format.

                                                                                                                        1. frankly with all the top level talent i was bored. the format of the challenges is ok but totally uninspired, and the editing is super choppy - you never really got a sense of what the dishes tasted like from the judges since they cut everything to fit the broadcast time. alton's schtick doesn't really work for me this time around, and i hated how they had him popping up all over the place. and the challenges are a lot tougher than what the real iron chefs go through - they already know their secret ingredient way in advance and have all their stocks and stuff prepped, so whoever wins based on these challenges may truly start giving the others a run for their money!

                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: tastycakes

                                                                                                                            Is that true about knowing the secret ingredient in advance, I am referring to the original version of Iron Chef? It always amazed me how their pantries were chuck full of all these exotic foods.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Tonto

                                                                                                                              From what I hear the contestants are given five possibilities for what the secret ingredient might be before the taping, so they have some idea.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Buckethead

                                                                                                                                it's 3 possibilities, not 5. and yes, that's why the chefs often show up with their own specialty items that convenienly work so well with the "secret" ingredient.

                                                                                                                                but that's just iron chef america. the protocol for the *real* [japanese] original iron chef series may have been different.

                                                                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                  I believe its the same or similar. They also get some time before they know the ingredient and their time actually starts.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Xericx

                                                                                                                                    yes, but define "some time." are we talking minutes, hours? because on IC America they have DAYS to plan.

                                                                                                                          2. After week 2 I'd still make John Besh the odds-on favorite, followed by Michael Symon. I'd put Aaron Sanchez up there too but I don't think the Iron Chef format is his cup of tea because he seems to get rattled easily. Iron Chef is a lot like the closer in baseball - there's a lot of talented cooks but it's the mental makeup of dealing with the pressure and stress that determines how well you do. All of the current Iron Chefs can handle the pressure and crack a few jokes and have some friendly banter no matter how deep in the weeds they are, but Chef Sanchez seems to have that underlying tension.

                                                                                                                            19 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Bunson

                                                                                                                              i almost expected him to throw a tantrum like a spoiled child when AB wouldn't let him finish plating...and he spent the rest of the episode pouting. he may be a really talented chef, but i don't think he has the right demeanor for this.

                                                                                                                              i was so bummed to see jill go, i love her. plus, while i'm not a raging feminist, i hate that the first chefs eliminated were the only female competitors.

                                                                                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                yeah it was unfortunate that the women were eliminated first. It seemed like Davie thought her dishes were better than they were...it was too bad. Cosentino's razor clam looked great...right now I am guessing it will come down to him and Besh.

                                                                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                  It also appeared that he tried to again add to his plate after the elimination challenge bell, so this may be an issue for him; he did seem to get rattled, and definitely argued with Alton, which just showed that he really hadn't been paying attention to the rules...

                                                                                                                                  I say it 'appeared' that he tried to do it again, because my biggest gripe with the show, which bothered me more in episode two than in episode one, is that the editing makes the show difficult to follow. In particular, there isn't enough time to really focus on that many chefs, but instead of trying to address this with careful editing, the editing is full of foreshadowing that is tough to follow and wastes limited time by showing scenes more than once....

                                                                                                                                  1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                    I am also really frustrated with the editing. I wish for once FN would take a little bit of airtime away from endlessly repeated commercials, which most people don't even watch (everyone TIVOs or mutes)...I mean, how many times do we need to see the same ad for that vacuum sealer or whatever? At some point the irritation becomes a negative for the brand.

                                                                                                                                    With some more time maybe we could hear more about what the food tastes like and how the decisions were reached. Hopefully this will improve with fewer chefs.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: kenito799

                                                                                                                                      I agree also on the editing - can't help but get somewhat better when there are fewer people to concentrate on. I am also keeping my opening opinion of Besh - he has terrific presence (ex marine with a sense of humor!!) and doesn't seem quite so constrained on style - although he does the cajun thing, it seems more flexible that the Mexican specialty of Sanchez.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: aimeezing1

                                                                                                                                        Actually... Sanchez seems to have alot more to play with... he is a pretty knowledgeable guy and seems to be well connected in the Mexican culinary circles... he has 100+ Mexican culinary regions (all with their own specialties & terroir)... as wall as drawing upon the varios Mexican immigrant & ethnic groups... including various African, Caribbean, Filipino, Chinese, Saxon, Irish, Barcelonette, Venetian, Spanish, Lebanese, Syrian & Iraqi culinary traditions each with their own contributions to Pan-Mexican & Regional Mexican cooking.

                                                                                                                                        Saying that having a Mexican specialty is contraining is like saying that specializing in Chinese or French+Spanish is constraining.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                          In contrast to the Japanese original, the American IC does not have 'Iron Chef Japanese', 'Iron Chef Italian', 'Iron Chef SW'. At least not in name. So for this competition they aren't looking for an Iron Chef Mexican, or French or something else.

                                                                                                                                          In the test that called for innovation, did Sanchez reliance on chilpotle meet the test? Could he have made a better impression with some other ingredient(s) while still drawing on his heritage?


                                                                                                                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                            I agree with your assessment of the food and anyone who knows even a little bit about Mexican cooking would agree also. I would love to try Chef Sanchez' food - however, I think his personality (as stated above - not following the rules, pouty, etc) is going to hurt his chances if he doesn't pull out of it and start acting a little more mature and a little less like a spoiled child.

                                                                                                                                            (This goes with Eat-Nopal's post)

                                                                                                                                          1. re: kenito799

                                                                                                                                            Would you rather have the commercials or product placements that everyone bitches about on top chef?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: beteez

                                                                                                                                              on TC the product placement doesnt bother me so much because it fits the cheesy nature of that show...here it really would bother me. I just wonder if there is a point at which you reach diminishing returns with excessive ad time on networks like FN...I am sure there are legions of marketing people who have figured out how to maximize revenue, but it seems to me that excessive number of commercials per hour means an increased chance of people surfing away from your channel and not coming back...

                                                                                                                                              1. re: beteez

                                                                                                                                                it's not an either/or on top chef. they do both.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Bunson

                                                                                                                                          I still think Sanchez has a damn good shot considering that he tied Morimoto on IC, and moreover, that the secret ingrediant was fish, which should have favored Morimoto

                                                                                                                                          1. re: martin1026

                                                                                                                                            You think Mexicans don't cook fish? Guess again!!!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                              I think Martin's comment was much, much more a reference to Morimoto's strengths than to Sanchez' possible weakness...

                                                                                                                                              1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                                Yes, exactly my point-I wouldn't bet on anyone going up against Morimoto in a fish battle-just goes to show how good this competition is.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                                ANYONE who has to go up against morimoto when the secret ingredient is fish is probably at a disadvantage. not only is that the primary protein he customarily works with in his own restaurant, he's also got an impressive number of challenges under his belt - more than any other american IC.

                                                                                                                                                plus, as some of us have noted, sanchez is clearly talented, but he may not have the appropriate personality/demeanor for these high-pressure time-limited situations.

                                                                                                                                                even if he were to go up against a chef who specializes in seafood, i think morimoto's experience having done so many battles in kitchen stadium would give him an edge.

                                                                                                                                                now there's a thought...

                                                                                                                                                morimoto vs. ripert.

                                                                                                                                                or even better for entertainment value...

                                                                                                                                                morimoto vs. malarkey in "battle seafood sausage!"

                                                                                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                  I don't think Malarky is even ready to sous in that competition!

                                                                                                                                                  If Sanchez moves past the pout about time limits, I'd like to see him stay in. That idiot judge from the food magazine that has it out for him is soooooo wrong to say "get over the Latin thing" to this guy! I hope he's not auditioning for a judge's spot on ICA.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: Bunson

                                                                                                                                              I was surprised that Chef Sanchez was so surprised that he couldn't finish plating. It IS Iron Chef after all -- the first rule is the time constraint, and the show is nothing without the racing against the clock.

                                                                                                                                            3. I have to say I am very disappointed in The Next Iron Chef. I held a lot of hope that the format for finding the NIC would be a well thought out reasonable plan, but that hope vanished with the first show!

                                                                                                                                              Cooking is about the overall quality of your work. Top restaurant cooking is about being able to duplicate great dishes consistently. Being a chef de cuisine also includes creating inviting original dishes for your clientel. You know what time service begins and you plan your kictchen staff's and your own schedule to meet the requirement. And you have a staff you delegate responsibilities to.

                                                                                                                                              So, with that said, exactly what does fileting a fish in 29 seconds or segmenting a chicken in less than two minutes have to do with being a greaat chef? Nothing! Getting the job at hand done well is a lot more important than how fast it can be done.

                                                                                                                                              I also don't much like the same-old/same-old format of eliminating a chef or two per show. I really hoped the show would be about cooking, and that the scores for best chef would be cumulative through all of the shows, with the highest end score winning.

                                                                                                                                              There's a dashed hope. Don't plan on watching episode two. Call me a curmudgeon, but I think the food network has lost its way. Ir's not about great cooking any more. It's about kitchen based potato sack races.

                                                                                                                                              Pity. It could be so much more.

                                                                                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                "So, with that said, exactly what does fileting a fish in 29 seconds or segmenting a chicken in less than two minutes have to do with being a greaat chef?"

                                                                                                                                                It has nothing to do with beaing a great chef, it has everything to do with being a great iron chef.

                                                                                                                                                "I really hoped the show would be about cooking, and that the scores for best chef would be cumulative through all of the shows, with the highest end score winning."

                                                                                                                                                The judges have made it clear that they consider overall performance from challenge to challenge when discussing eliminations. Keeping eight active chefs all season would have made the show less focused, less dramatic, and less interesting.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                                                                                                  I don't know if I'm right on this......but, I suspect that a lot of these challenges and scoring are all just for entertainment. Like any reality show on TV, there's not a lot that's "real" about it. The best "chef" may not win this show like they would in a true points based competition, but it may be the best TV personality that wins it. After all, the winner will be a new addition to the FoodNetwork Family, and you have to be a good personality to be on a show. Besh, Symon, and Cosentino seem to have an edge so far, but I suspect it's because we've seen the most of them and that's because of their TV personas.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: egbluesuede

                                                                                                                                                    If the producers had a strong influence on the judging process, they would not have sent the women home first. It is a move that has alienated many viewers, and made for a less diverse and interesting competition. Fortunately, it also indicates that food is the primary criteria that the judges are using.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: egbluesuede

                                                                                                                                                      I think the other thing to keep in mind as we've discussed a bit downthread is that this is to identify someone who can be an Iron Chef which requires a skill set and attitude that has a lot of overlap with the requirements for being a great restaurant chef but also requires some different skills and attitude. I agree with you, the best chef may not win, but hopefully they do identify someone who can be a great Iron Chef and play the game the way it's been set up.

                                                                                                                                                      I also agree with Morton that if the producers were choosing, the women would have been around to the last 4 or 5 and they may have hoped to have another woman in the Iron Chef ranks. It's a guess, but I think it's a good one.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                                                                                        I hope you're right. I love IC and TNIC as well, but I'm aways skeptical of "reality show" formats. I'll tune in every week and root for my faves regardless because I get sucked into these things.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                    You may be partly right about what it takes to be a great chef but the show is about identifying someone who can be an "Iron Chef." That includes time pressures that don't necessarily exist in restaurants (sometimes, they do exists really...prep can get ruined, much larger than expected crowds may show up, etc...all of these chefs have had reason to move that fast in their own restaurants at some point, I'm sure). In fact, the time pressure is one of the key things that makes Iron Chef interesting for most people. Also, filleting a fish is a part of cooking. And on Iron Chef, they only have two sous chefs and can't farm out all of the close in prep work; they have to be able to do those things themselves if they're going to have a chance.

                                                                                                                                                    The Food Network may have lost its way, but this show seems to me to be entirely about the food on the plate at the end of the challenge. That you don't like the show...sure, but I think your objections are off target.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                                                                                      Yes all these challenges are appropriate for IC, even though in real life it is sous-chefs who do this stuff. Many chefs seldom cook--they are the brains, the sous-chefs are the hands. Traci Desjardins is an accomplished chef but she was rusty at cooking as she admitted herself.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kenito799

                                                                                                                                                        I agree completely. It's part of what makes Iron Chef fun to watch, I think.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                      Well, reasonable plan for the next IC or not, there are plenty of great chefs who have no desire to be on IC -- it's about the speed -- coming up with 5 innovative, impressive, beautiful, tasty dishes to delight curmudgeons such as Steingarten -- and doing it in one hour.

                                                                                                                                                      I think cumulative would have been much better, too, but since the competition is for Iron Chef, then all the speedy elements add up -- boning a chicken, filleting a fish, pureeing offal for the ice cream maker ;-) -- so much of the mise en place is done during that hour as well as the cooking, plating, etc. I did note that the first challenge (speed) was not an elimination challenge, fwiw.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                                        If I recall correctly, the speed test just gave the winner first choice of ingredients in the next, elimination, round.

                                                                                                                                                        If you want a test for real life consistency and speed, watch the Glutton for Punishment episode about being the egg cook at a NJ casino restaurant.


                                                                                                                                                    3. I agree with what some people are saying about the editing. It's really hard to follow, choppy, and they don't seem to have a formula yet on how much cooking to show and how much judging to show. This past week look like the judging got really shortened.

                                                                                                                                                      Also, I find it hard to follow all the descriptions of the food. I wish the Food Network puts crib sheets or something. But I guess that's a sign of the high level of cooking. It would be nice for Alton to commentate on the cooking during the elimination rounds instead of going around asking the chefs dumb questions.

                                                                                                                                                      While the show has yet to really tug at my interests, I do have to say it's nice watching the fellowship of the chefs instead of a show with whiners and back-stabbers. Just shows how professional they are.


                                                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: singleguychef

                                                                                                                                                        I agree that the editing is very choppy and sloppy -- right now it seems like 1/3 over-the-top drama of watching/hearing the next challenge, 1/3 of chefs stressing out in the kitchen where it seems all the equipment are malfunctioning, and 1/3 of dishes rapidly presented and consumed with 2-3 sentences of commentary and/or criticsm. Hopefully as more contenders get eliminated more time can be devoted to what they're actually cooking & a more thorough, well thought-out critique of their dishes.


                                                                                                                                                        1. re: AquaW

                                                                                                                                                          Well, I'm admitedly a world class curmudgeon, and I've only watched the first episode of The Next Iron Chef... That said, I don't for a miute believe that all of the cookiing is done in one hour on IC. One chef with two sous chefs and five dishes, some very complex, in an hour? But I am curiious whether some of the pro chefs around here think it's credible. I do know they only have to prepare one dish for the camera, then afterward they go back and prepare the rest. Okay, pros, what do you guys think?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                            It is....only stuff like bringing water to boil, etc is done prior....the time is a "hard" time w no exceptions.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                              Also remember they're given a list of 3(?) possible secret ingredients ahead of time so they can plan a menu for each in advance and have the tools/other ingredients they need ready. They're not going in there completely clueless with blinders on, but they still do have to execute all the dishes in one hour.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                They have a few days in advance to prepare for the dishes (they are given a possibility of secret ingredients) -- so the exec. chef can plan around it and bring any other special ingredients/equipment as needed and the sous chefs will be up to snuff about what they have to do when. But, as other noted, they have only one hour to execute the multi-course meal.


                                                                                                                                                                1. re: AquaW

                                                                                                                                                                  on the wikipedia article on Iron Chef America, FWIW, it says that some of the mechanics were explained in "Food Network Unwrapped".

                                                                                                                                                                  The chefs are given a list of several possible secret ingredients ahead of time and they plan menus and submit a shopping lists for what they will need for each possible menu. Apparently if they see what was purchased for them they are tipped off about what the ingredient is.

                                                                                                                                                                  Then after the secret ingredient is revealed they have 15 minutes to plan before the actual hour clock starts, but the show makes it seem that the hour starts with the reveal.

                                                                                                                                                                  Then they have to prepare one plate of each dish in the allotted hour. After that, there is another timed 45 minute period during which they plate the servings for the judges; this is never shown or talked about, and it is presumably staggered so the judges get hot food.

                                                                                                                                                          2. Bourdain guest blogs on NIC at Ruhlman's space: http://blog.ruhlman.com/

                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                                              Why does Alton Brown have to be so bitchy in this show? He's become a real blowhard in his late years.He's taking himself sooooo seriously, too! I like the show, but for Alton. The long hair judge is really bitchy, too. He's got a baaaad case of the crampy A-hole. He's a really mean, awful person. I don't get it. He's really hard to watch.

                                                                                                                                                              Other than that and the fact that the judges have voted off all the women and almost all the chefs of color, it's a pretty good show.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bakuninhong

                                                                                                                                                                As a woman of color, I didn't get the impression that they voted out the women and chefs of color for any reason other than not liking their food.

                                                                                                                                                            2. I just got into this. I'm a huge Michael Symon fan so it was great to see him win...

                                                                                                                                                              HOWEVER... the problem with the show is that they turned it into a reality show, not a "Find the actual best Iron Chef" show. So it is a little disingenuos (sp?). If they really wanted to find the best Iron Chef they would have set up a double elimination tournament, Iron Chef style.

                                                                                                                                                              (note: every week in this formulation has 2 episodes)

                                                                                                                                                              Week 1:
                                                                                                                                                              4 different chefs are paired off against one another and battle it out, 1 on 1

                                                                                                                                                              Week 2:
                                                                                                                                                              The other 4 chefs are paired off against one another and battle it out 1 on 1

                                                                                                                                                              Week 3:
                                                                                                                                                              The 4 loosing chefs from the first 2 weeks are paired off against one another and battle it out 1 on 1. Loosing chefs go home.

                                                                                                                                                              Week 4:
                                                                                                                                                              The 4 Chefs who won their first battle are paired off against one another and battle 1 on 1.

                                                                                                                                                              Week 5:
                                                                                                                                                              The four chefs who are now 1-1 are paired off against one another and battle it out 1 on 1. Loosers go home.

                                                                                                                                                              Week 6:
                                                                                                                                                              The two chefs who are 2-1 battle it out. The looser goes home
                                                                                                                                                              The two chefs who are 3-0 battle it out.

                                                                                                                                                              Week 7:
                                                                                                                                                              The two chefs who are 3-1 battle it out. Looser goes home.
                                                                                                                                                              The 4-0 chef battles the 3-1 chef. IF the 4-0 Chef wins, he is the next Iron Chef. IF the 3-1 Chef wins, there is a re-match and the winner of the re-match is the next Iron Chef.

                                                                                                                                                              This system would almost certainly guarantee that the chef who would would likely get the most wins in ICA would be the next Iron Chef. :-)

                                                                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: whiner

                                                                                                                                                                I'd love to see that! I really don't live the reality TV format for something that I enjoy watching so much. This could have been so much better as an actual competition worthy of ICA!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: whiner

                                                                                                                                                                  I watched the show for the second time last night and it's still just another way for the Food Network to fill air time. My first objection is that the title of "Iron Chef" has been, up until now, a designation from the "Chairman." And now they've successfully blown that illusion.

                                                                                                                                                                  And then I can't imagine why any of these chefs have gotten involved with this lunacy. Can you imagine The Next Iron Chef with Julia Child, Paul Bocuse, James Beard and a few more greats of the past going up against each other? I can't.

                                                                                                                                                                  Being a chef of great cuisine is not about beating the other guy. It's about offering the best possible dining experience on a highly consistent level over years. Don't understand why Food Network is trying to diminish it.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                    "I can't imagine why any of these chefs have gotten involved with this lunacy."

                                                                                                                                                                    Publicity. 100% of the answer, my guess.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: whiner

                                                                                                                                                                      There's publicity to be sure although none of the restaurants that these chefs own and/or work at actually needed a ton of help on that count and only the chefs who have hung around for several episodes got serious on-going publicity.

                                                                                                                                                                      Another reason that I think many overlook: it's fun. Yes they take it seriously, that's clear; but, they're also having a blast doing it. Being "judged" isn't any fun I would think but the actual "here's a box of stuff, you've got an hour, go" is definitely a kick for these chefs, I have to think. They get to hang around with other really excellent chefs, travel around a bit, work with super high quality ingredients (at least most of the time) and play. It's no risk for them...they don't have to pay to get to play.

                                                                                                                                                                      I don't see that this sort of game diminishes the food these chefs put out to their customers (or the judges, in this case). It's just a different kind of game.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                                                                                                        These chefs may have a strong regional presence but none have the national or international reputation to take their careers into the stratosphere with huge numbers for books, other endorsements, chains, etc. That all becomes much more possible just by participating in this show, let alone if they win.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Grubbjunkie

                                                                                                                                                                          Fair point. I still think that it must have sounded like fun, too, on some level. But your point is very well taken.