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Next Iron Chef episode 3 - 10/21/07- Resourcefulness

I know it hasn't aired yet, but I'm just trying to start a trend of episode-focused Next Iron Chef threads like we had with Top Chef.

So as to not completely waste first post:

We know the cheftestants will be narrowed down to a final four tonight. Besh, Cosentino, and Symon are almost a sure thing. Besh and Cosentino have both won battles, and the judges made it clear that cumulative performance is important. Symon doesn't have any wins, but he has impressed me the most among the remaining chefs. Sanchez could take the fourth spot if he doesn't screw up the timing again. Kaysen will most likely go home tonight.

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  1. i think you're a mind reader... :) i thought it was an okay episode. missed the beginning and i thought it was annoying they were basically done cooking by 9:30. i SO want to eat michael's food. but i always loved his restaurants when i lived in cleveland(why i was late was because the indians keep dragging out the heartbreaking and i forgot what time it was for a second). should get interesting from here i hope - fewer chefs so more time to focus on the actual cooking. let's cross our fingers.

    1. I finished watching it not too long ago. I am so happy that Symon and Besh are still in it. Cosentino, not so much, only because I'm not so impressed with him just yet, but he's absolutely better than Sanchez. Sanchez just seems to have a terrible attitude about the whole thing. Granted, I'm sure a large portion of it is editing, but still, he just seems like a spoiled brat. He's always mad about something. I hate that Kaysen left, but since he is so very young, he is going to only grow from here. I think in a couple of years, he's going to be a force to be reckoned with. All in all, good show!!

      1 Reply
      1. re: foodiemom

        i, too, was really sorry to see kaysen go. i SO wish it had been sanchez instead. i did take perverse pleasure in watching the judges tell him that the only reason he survived was because another chef - whose food was better - had made a seasoning error. i just don't think sanchez deserved to stay, and i don't see him as an IC.

        morou seems like a genuinely good-hearted guy and a talented chef, but i'm not sure he's got the right personality or the "edge" to be an IC so i wasn't surprised to see him go. still, i'd eat his food any day!

        i think we're all pretty much agreed that either besh or symon will - and should - be TNIC.

      2. Just saw the show here...nothing happened to change my mind with John Besh and Michael Symon as the two favorites. Aaron Sanchez and Chris Cosentino have the skills but the pressure definitely removes any layers of camera-friendly charm they have on. The preview though has me worried that they're gonna copy the "airline food" challenge from Top Chef...

        1. They finished the cooking with like 20 minutes left....so much fluff time at "judges table".

          are they doing the airplane meal challenge next? hah.

          1. I thought this episode was better, more time with each chef, more time hearing what the judges thought.
            Can they copy Top Chef any more? Cooking outside on a grill, next week doing an airline challenge? It's fine, I still like the show.

            It seemed to me that the expected decisions were made. Kaysen erred with underseasoning and wasn't that original, so he was out. Plus the bitter salad had all the judges making a face like a pigeon had just dropped a bomb on them. EDIT: Just read Ruhlman's blog, he says that Kaysen's food got dunked in water between completion and serving, but he didn't offer any excuses. Too bad!

            Between Morou and Sanchez, I got the impression that Ruhlman liked Sanchez (I thought skewered escargot was a great, original idea, so without tasting the food I was agreeing) and the other guy really liked Morou...Ruhlman won out because I guess Donatella ended up agreeing with him. I am sure Morou's food is really good but I don't think the decision was wrong. EDIT: after reading Ruhlman's blog, I really don't like Knowlton and how he had it in for Sanchez. Cirticizing for staying in his "Latin" comfort zone is very irritating. Sanchez cooks from a wide range of Latin influences...it can be argued, and I will argue, that Peruvian and Oaxacan Mexican, for example, are as different from each other as French and Italian. Would any chef be criticized as being "too limited" if they cooked "only" using flavors and techniques from all over Western Europe?

            I loved how Symon won, with the drink and the polenta. Besh was thoroughly impressive but he really got a break by getting rabbit. But doing it three ways including fried was fantastic. He is absolutely the one to beat, I will be pretty shocked if he doesn't win this thing.

            Another surprise from Ruhlman's blog: He refers to "the four judges"...apparently Alton actually contributes to the decisions. He is definitely NOT presented as a voting judge on the show, he seems to be summarizing the other three judges' comments.

            1. I have to echo everyone else...

              Symon and Besh are in a league of their own. As a native Clevelander and devotee of Symon's cooking for a large percentage of my life, I am pulling for him. I have had his food SO many times and every single time I've been impressed. But, even though I've never had his food, Besh looks so impressive out there, too.

              I'm rooting for Symon, but I wish Besh all the best.

              I've got an idea, let's make it Symon, Besh, Morimoto and Batali :-) Yeah... I like those 4.

              1 Reply
              1. I think there will be an upset in the next ep and Symon, Besh or Cosentino will go and then it will be Sanchez and the final will be between Symon, Besh or Cosentino - whoever did not get eliminated in the fourth show.

                I can't see Sanchez being picked if for no other reason than he duplicates alot of Bobby Flay's interests. They need someone who has some spark and humor and someone who brings a more varied cooking style to the show. Sanchez doesn't have the right approach to be good viewing. One characteristic of everyone currently on ICA is that they all seem to take criticism pretty well. And, when they really hose a dish, they know it and have a sense of humor about it. Even Flay shrugs it off pretty well. Sanchez seems a bit thin-skinned and taking it too seriously. I have no doubt that he's a brilliant chef, but the other three seem to really understand that ICA is a manufactured TV show and it's supposed to be fun.

                3 Replies
                1. re: dalaimama

                  ^^^

                  I hope you are wrong. But if you are right, let it be Cosentino who goes. This needs to come down to Symon v. Besh... personally I'd ask either to cook for me, any day, before I asked Cora or Flay...

                  1. re: dalaimama

                    I agree with your assessment of Sanchez' personality. I wouldn't enjoy watching him on ICA, I think he would be petulant and too serious.

                    1. re: dalaimama

                      I disagree. Flay is very Southwest. Sanchez has a solid pan-latin knowledge base. The times I'd been to Paladar and he was in the kitchen, his food was terrific. Varied, flavorful, respectful of the original cuisine that inspired his renditions.

                    2. by the way, quote of the week again to michael... "no guts no glory".

                      TOO funny. i almost did a double take and thought i couldn't have heard him right.

                      1. I love all these competitve food shows, (except for next fod network star) my problem is with the judges. Maybe the current Iron Chefs should judge? Knowlton just irritates me, he whines like a three year old that has to use the potty. (I also can't stand him on his own show, I forget the name....Shopping with Chefs?

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Herm

                          I couldn't agree with you more, they should be judged by their peers. Watching Alton and the three judges criticize the chefs is like watching the guy who got cut from the football team and became the equipment manager suddenly be in charge of determining who starts for the football team.

                          1. re: Bunson

                            Is it only me who seems to think that Alton has his tongue firmly planted in his cheek?

                            1. re: aimeezing1

                              Nope -- I always hear a wry tone in Alton's voice.

                          2. re: Herm

                            That's funny, I thought that Knowlton was the one from Shopping with Chefs when I first glanced at him. However, the chef from that show is David Myers, who hosts Shopping wtih Chefs with Jill Davie [who was voted off TNIC last week]. They do look similar. I thinks that Knowlton works for Bon Appetite or some mag.

                            1. re: bookwormchef

                              I stand corrected, thank you (now I dislike 2 tv personalities!!! lol)

                          3. Sanchez is a big baby. Symon all the way! I like Ruhlman as a judge..but the babyfaced long-haired kid needs to go. It would be a perfect world if Daniel Boulud was a judge..or maybe Mario. Not gonna happen.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: melly

                              my only problem with ruhlman is that in every shot of him he either scowls, wrinkles his nose, or looks constipated. i respect his opinions and i know he's a knowledgeable critic and an educated chef, but the guy just exudes negativity - i've never seen him smile. hell, even jeffrey steingarten's serious facade cracks once in a blue moon.

                            2. I won't be disappointed if Besh or Symon wins. They both have the skills and personality to be good additions to the Iron Chef line-up.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Chimayo Joe

                                Same. Hopefully it happens with them in the final duo in an Iron Chef competition as the final challenge and the winner is the new Iron Chef.

                                1. re: Xericx

                                  Yup yup. My thoughts exactly.

                                  Funny how very single person here has the same thoughts on the subject.

                                  As I said above, I'm pulling for Symon, but I cannot deny that Besh seems seriously talented.

                              2. Good episode. The editing has improved.

                                I'm still rooting for Cosentino. Sure he's a bit prickly on air, but he has a real passion for food and I love his restaurant. It's too bad he hasn't had more of an opportunity to work with offal - it's where he really shines. That said, the next challenge could be his undoing. For a market-driven, Bay Area chef, lousy ingredients are an Achilles heel, and I can't imagine Lufthansa shopping at the local farmers' market.

                                I'm sure TNIC planned the outdoor and airline challenges before Top Chef aired. I can just imagine the producers getting upset, realizing that everyone will think they're copycats.

                                Kaysen was a great sport. Not complaining when the Food Network employees destroyed his dish (see Ruhlman's blog), and offering fire to Sanchez who surely would have lost without the handout.

                                Knowlton has twice Steingarten's snark but only half the charm.

                                1. oh and Michael Symon is writing about the experience for Fortune small business. very based in his experience and restaurant and why you'd take this on so not like many other blogs but still interesting.
                                  http://money.cnn.com/2007/10/19/smbus...
                                  http://money.cnn.com/2007/10/22/smbus...

                                  1. This was easily the most interesting challenge yet. Like a lot of you, I wish there was more cooking, less judging. But they put so many impediments in front of the chefs, it was fascinating to see how they dealt with it. Personally, I thought Besh should have won. Frying stuff on a charcoal grill is no easy feat, and his food looked pretty terrific.

                                    The double elimation, though, was stupid. Particularly when they said one chef's dish was the best of the bunch, but sent him home for presentation.

                                    Nevertheless, the two best survived and the next episodes are going to be brutal. I think Sanchez is next to go; he obviously can cook, but he constantly screws up in really stupid ways.

                                    As I've said before, I ate at August just before Katrina, and the meal Besh prepared is among the most memorable of my life. So I have a rooting interest.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Pete Oldtown

                                      I didn'tlike double elimination either, but considering that presentation is 1/3 of the point value in an iron chef battle, Morou needed to go.

                                      1. re: MaspethMaven

                                        I didn't think Morou's problem was a lack of presentation, it was the judges' opinion that he kept the pieces separate because he had a hard time putting them together to make one cohesive dish.

                                    2. My main conclusion is the judge from Bon Appetite is an absolute, clueless moron..... Next Iron Chef's version of the Japanese lady from Iron Chef America.... opinionated with no substance to back up his opinions.

                                      Also, I think I have watched enough reality shows... to understand they edit the episodes in a way that forshadows the final result... based on camera time & they way they have edit it... I think Besh & Sanchez will be the last two standing.... the intriguing part is who will win... the Arrogant Southerner or the Difficult Mexican?

                                      12 Replies
                                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                        ROFL...you mean the fortune teller?!?!

                                        1. re: Bunson

                                          No, the fortune teller is on Iron Chef Japan. Eat Nopal refers to is the very slim woman who is always complaining that everything is "oily."

                                          1. re: Trixie Too

                                            Exactly.... she seems to only like Japanese food... and uses oily, rich & greasy as here excuse to not sing the praises of whoever is competing against Morimoto.

                                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                              Well she was on a non-Morimoto battle last week and seemed to have very lovely, even poetic things to say about both chefs' food, and finally did not mention the dreaded 'oily'!

                                              1. re: jeanki

                                                Wow... maybe we WILL get together and solve the global warming problem after all.

                                        2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                          Gosh, I don't see Besh as arrogant at all, rather good natured and gung ho - I also have eaten at August and it was a fabulous meal. Sanchez is indeed difficult and don't see how he will survive till the end....

                                          1. re: aimeezing1

                                            Besh has been proclaiming himself as the natural favorite... if you analyze his persona at the American Seafood competition he was also talking lots of smack... yes he is a likeable character but he is still arrogant... or if you prefer, over confident.

                                            Watch the shows... Sanchez & Besh get a disproportionate amount of camera time.. followed by Consentino & Symon... guess what the final four... reality shows tend edit this way. Further... they way they have edit it... they present Symon & Consentino as being a bit insecure... and thinking they are going to get eliminated each show.

                                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                              EN, I agree completely-when I saw Besh on ICA taking on Batali, he was definately arrogant, but likable as well. I'm rooting for Symon and Consentino, but I think Besh would make a great IC, not only because of his personality, but I think his food seems to be consistenly the best.

                                              1. re: martin1026

                                                I've seen Besh on a couple of other cooking challenge shows and he's always very cocky but, to me, he comes across as the type of person who uses that to psyche himself up. Some people tend to bring an "of course I'll win" attitude to the game, while others get motivated by an "oh crap I'm going to lose!" attitude. He's got a wink and a nod going on that let's you know that he knows he's full of it.

                                                1. re: dalaimama

                                                  I agree. I liked Besh in his battle with Batali on Iron Chef A. Feistiness can come off the wrong way sometimes, but I recognized it as feistiness and not merely being a dick.

                                                  1. re: famedalupo

                                                    Did I hear something about Besh being a former US Marine?

                                        3. Not sure I'm really getting into this show. My take is that it's Next Iron Chef meets Top Chef. When I saw those coolers come out and the no kitchen-kitchen it was like an episode off Top Chef.

                                          Besh and Symon would be my choices based on what I've seen so far. Kind of shocked Morou got the boot last on this episode. His food looked good and even though he likes to paint the plate.

                                          1. I'm gonna take a wild guess that the producers have most folks completely psyched out:

                                            Sanchez is gonna win this show, and will become the "iron chef folks most like to hate". He will win *because* he is competitive, confrontational, and willing to provide the drama that the TV-people like to see, regardless of any basis in reality.

                                            And he will provide more contrast to ICA than any of the remaining choices, the other three are just not that different from Batali & Flay in their presentation of good-humored personalities.

                                            Call me a cynic if you like (nah, it's just "realistic"), but this is the way I think it will go.

                                            9 Replies
                                            1. re: fussycouple

                                              I wouldn't be completely shocked if you were right-remember, he already has one IC victory under his belt-against Morimoto and with fish as the secret ingrediant, no less.

                                              1. re: martin1026

                                                actually, he didn't win - it was a draw...but an impressive performance nonetheless.

                                                still, i think he's a petulant, defensive PITA with timing issues...so although he's clearly a very talented chef, i'm not so sure he'd make a good IC.

                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  Yes, you're right-it was Besh who beat Batali (although the secret ingredient was andouille, which definately favored Besh).

                                                  1. re: martin1026

                                                    Batali wasn't exactly at a disadvantage, dealing with sausage
                                                    : )
                                                    That was one of my favorite ICAs, and the reason I think Besh is a shoe-in

                                                    Isn't it Batali that is leaving ICA??

                                                    I'd love to see Sanchez in there! I don't bother watching the Bobby Flay ICAs since he's no fun under IC pressure.
                                                    Which kinda makes his Throwdown show make sense -- he holds more of the advantages in that show...
                                                    someone, tell me Flay is leaving ICA!

                                                    Cat Cora is growing on me, but I'd rather see Alice Waters or Suzanne Goins or Judy Rodgers or (ha) Ruth Reichel or the ghosts of Julia Child and Edna Lewis in there. Or Traci Des Jardins (cough) - she was great against Batali on ICA. There's many more top female chefs out there, but I don't know how many of them are suited and willing to do ICA.
                                                    There's a (half lame) article on women chefs in New York magazine
                                                    http://nymag.com/restaurants/features...
                                                    and a typical NYPost story about that story
                                                    TOMATOES IN THE KITCHEN
                                                    http://www.nypost.com/seven/10242007/... IN THE KITCHEN

                                                    1. re: pitu

                                                      Batali isn't leaving. That was a false rumor. There will soon be five iron chefs.

                                              2. re: fussycouple

                                                I REALLY hope he doesn't win.

                                                95% of us seem in agreement it should be Besh or Symon. If it comes down to those two I can see chosing Symon for the 'renegade' personality. Not so many chefs have huge tatoos and refuse to wear anything but black.

                                                Or they could get rid of Cat Cora and hire both Besh AND Symon.

                                                Yeah... that could work...

                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                    No, I agree... But I can hope, can't I ;-)

                                                    1. re: ChefJune

                                                      How did Cat Cora get that job anyway? I don't really mind her, but there must be some better female chefs out there.

                                                1. In the next episode, instead of eliminating a chef, I'd like to see them eliminate a judge. Or two. Or maybe a producer.

                                                  1. I was so annoyed at the end of this show. The challenge was RESOURCEFULNESS, but yet they kept the guy who couldn't light his grill? And they sent Morou home for plating?? So stupid. I must say that I don't hate the judge from Food & Wine as much as everyone else here. I'm not really fond of Arpaia, since I don't see what makes her qualified to judge them. Just because she owns restaurants doesn't mean she knows anything about cooking.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: samDC

                                                      I have to agree with you (except I loath the guy from F&W, and I'm into both Morou and Sanchez)
                                                      I'd rather they didn't eliminate people on each show -- it's a dumb format when they are all accomplished chefs. Wouldn't it be cooler to see them ALL in the game for four weeks, then cull the herd based on cumulative accomplishments?

                                                      1. re: pitu

                                                        I am with you.... this format is micky mouse. If it was done for real... it would be a long competition... ideally the food judging would be blind, with a point system so we know who is winning.

                                                        I just have to wonder if Besh was the one that grilled snails... would the judges (and some Chowhounds) have raved about what an innovative technique?

                                                        1. re: pitu

                                                          Only problem is, if they did this then everyone would complain that the show is too unfocused, and you don't get to see enough of each chef or each dish.

                                                      2. I feel so bad for Chef Kaysen after reading the Ruhlman blog and finding out how his dishes were ruined.

                                                        I probably would choose Morou over Sanchez too-- yes, compartmentalized plating can get boring but his dishes look better, he used the protein twice and he had a better demeanor overall (but unsure whether the judges get to see them cook). But alas, I'm not a TNIC judge. :P

                                                        While Donnatella Arpaia seems to be the least foodie expert of the judges, I can see her role on the panel (just like how Iron Chef has at least one non-expert on their panel) -- it keeps the dishes grounded, practical and approachable by the everyday diner, not just serious epicureans who can sense their way around every ingredient and cooking method.

                                                        ~H.C.
                                                        http://la-oc-foodie.blogspot.com

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: AquaW

                                                          I don't understand the dismissal of Donnatella Arpaia's food knowledge or qualifications to judge this kind of thing. The woman owns and is, apparently, a very hands on owner some very successful restaurants in New York City. She knows food, she knows restaurants, and she knows chefs well enough to hire ones that succeed in her restaurants. I wouldn't characterize her as an "everyday diner, not just serious epicureans who can sense their way around every ingredient and cooking method."

                                                          1. re: ccbweb

                                                            Sorry if I mean it the wrong way; I don't dispute that a successful restauranteur like Donnatella will have food expertise/knowledge nor do I think that she's unqualified, but I think she was brought onto the panel to bring a more consumer-oriented set of opinions in evaluating the dishes, whereas Ruhlman & Knowlton, who have more kitchen experience, are looking at more technical points.

                                                            ~H.C.
                                                            http://la-oc-foodie.blogspot.com

                                                            1. re: AquaW

                                                              That does make more sense. Although, I think many people overestimate Ruhlman's kitchen chops. The guy is a seriously gifted writer in my estimation but hasn't spent much time actually cooking in restaurants. By no means do I think that disqualifies him to judge this contest...I think he was a brilliant choice for the show. Likewise, Andrew Knowlton hasn't spent much time working in restaurants or cooking professionally.

                                                              From what I've seen...they're all doing a fairly good job at the judging. But none of them have serious cooking experience that one can glean from their various websites and bios. I'd have liked to have seen a chef on the judging panel, I think.