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Next Iron Chef- Episode 5- Inspire.....

"Have you ever had a Lobster Roll before? A properly made lobster roll from Maine? Do you know what you're talking about?"

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  1. Between the switch to Eastern Standard Time and a particularly hectic day helping our son move some of our furniture to his new place, I fell asleep before the end of the program. The last thing I remember is the judges beginning to talk about each chef's meal. The next thing I heard was Alton Brown prattling on about Challenge Turkey. My husband told me that Cosentino was eliminated. Can anyone fill me in on the judges' reactions -- the basis for their decision?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Indy 67

      here's what i got...
      the guests were mixed. each "loved" a different dish. the guy next to ruhlman pretty much hated everything.
      first course: seems like besh won, symon second (although some really liked the hot dog and the play on it) and cosentino third. snarky as it was, i think the comment on the lobster roll was to comment that they really are mayonnaise-y and not super flavorful. sorry to those that love them. i think andrew was actually defending cosentino just not the lobster roll as a delicacy! :)
      second course: they seemed split on this. the guests each liked a different one. many liked the idea of cosentino's but missed the cheese and bread. thought the meat was well executed. knowlton loved symon's. ruhlman loved besh's (although all admitted it was pasta not a dumpling).
      third course: liked the complexity of besh's but ruhlman said he didn't enjoy eating it (could kind of see that - it was beautiful but who wants watermelon sorbet on a biscuit with strawberry shortcake. give me something creamy!). they liked the goat cheese float with berry lemon fizz, commenting that the french were rather weirded out by ice cream and soda but ended up liking it - the point of the dish to pass on something american. they liked the harmonious taste of the melon with grappa and honey and mint but found it un iron chef worthy (particularly andrew).
      they had an interesting line about how the true nature of the chefs came out and they all were good. besh - complex with lovely plating. symon - playful. cosentino - fresh and simple.
      my guess is that cosentino was only a bit weaker tonight but overall was the weakest - and they got the heavy hitter showdown they wanted.
      should be interesting.
      besh's food is interesting and indeed complex. pretty. to be honest i'd personally rather eat symon's it's just more my style but it should be fun to see them head to head in kitchen stadium. they are both good and (with the exception of besh's sore loser comments last week where he said he should've just thrown olive oil on it like everyone else - poor form) i'd be okay with either winning. still rooting for symon though.
      there's an article on besh in the NYTimes.

        1. re: AMFM

          Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed and informative summary!

          1. re: Indy 67

            Indy - I too felt myself dozing off. But I pressed the "record" button before doing so, and watched it last night...............

      1. OMG he is so snarky, isn't he? I don't know how Donatella refrained from poking him in the eye with her finger.

        1. Is it just me, or does this show just keep getting better and better? I am in shock I am enjoying a FN show this much. (Though, admittedly, I am far from the FN hater that many on here are.) I almost think this show is more entertaining than the last season of Top Chef.

          23 Replies
          1. re: charmedgirl

            i enjoy food network, have for years..but now its more road shows and competitions than real cooking shows..alton brown is the best thing on the channel..part mad science part chef..next iron chef...john besh IMHO

            1. re: janebono

              I was a little surprised that the promo for next week's episode showed Besh and Symon meeting the chairman in Kitchen Stadium was shown BEFORE the final judging scene. OK, I figured that Cosentino was gone but at least wait until the show is over to show the promo!

              1. re: Squint

                should be interesting finalee...besh is my pick to win....and will make a good iron chef

                1. re: Squint

                  mmmmm, I don't think that happened
                  they showed the stadium show down preview (at least on Time Warner Cable in Brooklyn) after the show was done.

                  1. re: pitu

                    That's the only time I noticed it as well.

                  2. re: Squint

                    I thought the same exact thing! I thought it was just me because I TIVO'd the version that was replayed at midnight or 1am but was that also the case for the first airing?

                    That killed me- although I was not surprised by it, it kind of took the luster out of it. As much as I like Symon, I dislike Besh.. so freaking smarmy. But, I do kind of like have Iron Chefs that I dont like so I can root for the competitors. Either way, I think one of these two will definitely fit the bill.

                    There was no bigger Alton Brown fan than me, but has he gotten a little bit of a big head? He is coming off as completely pompous on some of these shows. Im pretty let down about that- get back to those raw Good Eats days.

                    1. re: yankeefan

                      I have to admit, I am puzzled by all of these posts discussing Alton Brown's supposedly big head/attitude/whatever....He is just playing a slightly exaggerated version of his typical persona, IMO. and, as it happens, that persona fits with the tongue in cheek approach of ICA. Indeed, when the original Iron Chef started it was campy. (well, at least I thought it was campy). My take is that Alton Brown is just playing his character in line with that campiness. I mean, come on: who would take a character completely seriously when he pulls out a mini-TV while standing near the Eiffel Tower, to get a proclamation from a "Chairman" about his "favorite city", when the "Chairman" is really a TV actor?

                      1. re: susancinsf

                        "The Chairman" isn't really the other fake Japanese "Chairman's" nephew???

                        I'm shocked, I tell you, shocked...

                        1. re: susancinsf

                          i agree with the Campy aspect of Alton Browns tv personna..its all jsut fun and games to him...very tongue in cheek...at least thats they way i take it...

                        2. re: yankeefan

                          Well put yankee. I agree with your views on Brown exatly..
                          FYI, IMHO LOL, WTF, OMG.

                          1. re: yankeefan

                            My guess is that he is just mimicking the over the top style of the Iron Chef's nephew.

                              1. re: chemchef

                                Does he not have an "over the top" style?

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  yes, but he's not anybody's nephew.

                                  1. re: chemchef

                                    ah - yes - I've seen references to his being an actor - sorry!

                                    1. re: chemchef

                                      well, he might be SOMEBODY's nephew...

                                      1. re: chemchef

                                        I was being sarcastic...

                                        Obviously neither the original "Chairman" nor the new one is anything other than an actor.

                                    2. re: chemchef

                                      sorry. unfortunately sarcasm doesn't come through very well on the computer.

                              2. re: janebono

                                Brown is, sadly, the worst part of the show. From humble scientific food geek to haughty overly condescending food host/know-it-all. IMHO!!!!!!!!!!

                                I just feel that Brown has no business talking to the greatest chef's in the U.S. in that way....IMHO.

                                He needs to tone it down IMHO.
                                have we gotten tired of these letters yet?

                                1. re: Mattdub

                                  1) Brown is not a know it all expert... he has a team of writers & researchers that script his regular show.

                                  2) On his regular show... I have caught a number of mistakes about the origins of foods & techniques.... so there is a difference between appearing like a know-it-all... and actually knowing stuff.

                                  1. re: Mattdub

                                    i could not disagree more...Alton Brown makes the show fun...and these chef can't take themselves any more seriously...more AB less food BS

                                2. re: charmedgirl

                                  I'm also thinking it's getting better. I started out thinking "Top Chef ripoff," but the chefs are SO good, and the judges are disagreeing with each other nicely. I don't mean they're being "nice," I mean it's satisfying to watch the various opinions -- it's not just Padma parroting whatever Tom or the guest chef says, then they all come to the same conclusion about the strengths and weaknesses of each dish, taking turns sounding more snarky about the failures. (Although in general, I like that TC shows us more of the judges' comments.) The NIC judges are disagreeing, and we can see the palates and preferences (besides the obvious strengths and weaknesses of each dish). The chefs are clearly having fun, even in the midst of jetsetting and stress, and they're playing along with the contrived Chairman backstory in a way that doesn't make it seem like FN marionette work.

                                  And FN is pulling out all the stops, hooking them up with top people and ingredients in Paris in a gorgeous setting. Unlike some of their travel/festival shows where the top-name host isn't even at the site and they might rerun footage in different shows.

                                  I'm glad that next week we'll get to see a showdown in Kitchen Stadium, and not any goofy TC-wannabe challenges. Since Kitchen Stadium is the goal, after all.

                                  1. re: momjamin

                                    I thought it was hilarious that the US Ambassador was clearly avoiding saying the words "Iron Chef", preferring "the competition" etc
                                    Bet THAT was a negotiated setup!

                                3. "Have you ever had a Lobster Roll before? A properly made lobster roll from Maine? Do you know what you're talking about?" was my second favorite line of the night. Finally that brat from BonAppetit was put to good use. Donatella is almost as annoying as he is, so having them really bitch at each other is fun.
                                  And it was a fair point -- that's what a lobster roll is, love it or leave it.

                                  The big laugh for me was when Symon spun his own head by spending 700-something euros on lobster, getting to tell Cosentino about it (high five!)
                                  "wahtcha doin?"
                                  "lobster hot dogs!"
                                  I'm glad those guys had fun - it was fun to watch.

                                  And sorbet on shortbread? yuck.
                                  When Besh bought all the strawberries in the store, I wondered if he was doing that to block the other contestants. He is the guy to beat for sure, and still comes off as the annointed one for FN.

                                  I'm totally rooting for Symon now. Didn't know who he was before, but now . . .
                                  Anyone else think he was toast tonight because of all the airtime they gave him interviewed being unhappy and insecure about a bad day in the kitchen?

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: pitu

                                    My favorite line was the one about the caviar in Besh's "BLT". Made me immediately want to never to Tour d'Argent. Thought it was a great episode.

                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                      I thought that line was great & very accurate. You can't just make up stuff for it to sound cool... it has to have substance. Its interesting that Besh made two faux pas... caviar & shortbread with sorbet... yet everyone still sees him as a golden child... I think his personality & presence might be more commanding than his actual food.

                                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                        I've eaten at his restaurant and his food is the real deal!

                                    2. re: pitu

                                      I agree - sorbet on shortbread just doesn't work for me.

                                      1. re: pitu

                                        yup, i kept panicking thinking that all of symon's interview snippets meant he was going home! but i had a feeling the "melons & moonshine" dish might be the final nail in cosentino's coffin...and when the woman at the table said how perfect his lobster hot dog was, i figured symon was safe.

                                        based on my pretty limited knowledge about many of the contestants at the beginning of the season, i expected/assumed besh would win the whole thing. but i've fallen more in love with symon's food and style with each episode, and i wouldn't be surprised to see him pull off an upset at the final challenge. i think he'd be a terrific iron chef. he's fun and exciting to watch.

                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          Re: Symon pulling an upset...It's a FN competition after all...do you suppose they really checked out Besh's military record? ;-)

                                          1. re: momjamin

                                            funny :)

                                            but i doubt there will be any last-minute skeletons jumping out of besh's closet. he's been in the public eye for many years now.

                                            1. re: momjamin

                                              Oh you're good. I see what you did there!!!

                                          2. re: pitu

                                            If you are interested in knowing more about Symon, he and his restaurant Lola are extensively profiled in Michael Ruhlman's second book in his ...Chef series, "The Soul of a Chef." The book begins with an account of the CIA's Master Chef exam and ends with a profile of Thomas Keller and The French Laundry -- the whole middle section centers on Symon.

                                            1. re: pitu

                                              I came into this biased toward Symon because of the character that was created in Ruhlman's book where he comes off as passionate about cooking and truly fun in the kitchen.

                                              Im just hoping I can get a business trip to Cleveland (cant believe I just said that) so that I can hit his two restaurants- they are sure to be terrific.

                                            2. IMO the best episode to date; it was a real competition, barely any gimmicks and even less of that Alton snark. I would've like to see a little more of the contestants' dynamic with their sous chefs, however.

                                              All the dishes prepared looked & sounded good, though I would be taken aback by a philly cheesesteak that barely contained any bread & cheese.


                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: AquaW

                                                i adore alton brown.....don't thinks hes snarky (whatever that means) at all....i think hes funny and entertaining...much better than Padma with that silly smile of her's

                                                1. re: janebono

                                                  I normally like Alton too (in Good Eats/Iron Chef Ameria/Feasting on Asphalt), but feel in this show he's often making too many astringent remarks at the chefs' expense while they're slaving away in the kitchen.


                                                2. re: AquaW

                                                  Totally. I thought since part of the challenge was to "lead and inspire" the sous chefs, then the judges should have listened to the sous chefs' opinions, just like they listened to the diners' opinions. I would have loved to hear what the those three had to say!

                                                  1. re: charmedgirl

                                                    agreed. they weren't really focused on at all. could've been that once started they noticed troubles or difficulties with them but still it seems that it was part of the challenge that was left out.

                                                  2. re: AquaW

                                                    Also I agree with Knowlton on feeling sorry for the losers so far for "they never had the opportunity to cook what and how they wanted. Test "Lead and Inspire" didn't involve mandatory head-scratching dessert ingredients, wacky kitchen tools, or inflight meals."



                                                  3. FYI - not really related but to those of you who might be interested...


                                                    it's for charity. if you live close enough would be SO fun.

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: AMFM

                                                      the timing is interesting...it makes me think he doesn't win next week. the listing identifies him as "NIC Finalist," and the auction ends several days before the final episode airs.

                                                      i'd imagine that if he really is the next iron chef, they would have waited to start the auction so that it didn't end until after the results were revealed on the show...with the expectation that people might be willing to place even higher bids if he won.

                                                      does anyone else agree, or am i overthinking this?

                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                        No. You may be right. It depends who put this online. Is this something Symon donated to a charity and the charity put it online and Symon was legally banned from telling them the results so they made a calculated decision to put it up now? OR is this something Symon is personally involved in? Did he cheat and tell the results to someone?

                                                        IF the poster knows the results, then it means Symon lost. If he/she doesn't it means nothing.

                                                        I really really want Symon to win. I really love his food and his general attitude towards food and life.

                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                          I am from Cleveland, and closely associated with several of the players involved in this thing. The auction is raising money for the children of a well-known local drummer, Freddy Perez-Stable, whose wife Rachel passed away a few months ago. Symon and Lola/Lolita are involved because the restaurants (like most good restaurants I know) have employed/still employ quite a few musicians, many of whom are tight with Freddy. Nolan, the manager at Lolita probably was the one who put the whole thing together, and probably the one who posted the auction. Whether he knows the outcome of NIC or not, I couldn't say (he probably does) but I'm sure as a loyal employee, he's not divulging any details. As far as the timing goes, I think it's purely coinicidental. The actual benefit concert for Rachel's kids is Nov. 24, and this is just timely publicity for the show. Just my two cents as a semi-insider. Symon, incidentally, is very generous in giving away cooking lessons, meals and what-have-you for all kinds of good local causes, and remember too, locally, he was a HUGE name long before this Iron Chef business, so that auction would get some play with or without the national exposure. I'm sure the benefit's organizers are probably counting on the big publicity to bring in higher bids, though.

                                                        2. re: AMFM

                                                          No one bid on it. Hilariously, the section with "similar items from Ebay sellers" includes a Three Stooges video - The Cooking Lesson. I'll bet Symon would get a hoot out of that!

                                                          1. re: dalaimama

                                                            that sucks, particularly since it's for charity. if i lived near cleveland [and could afford to give away that much cash] i'd do it in a heartbeat!

                                                        3. This show has convinced me that Top Chef is right to judge contestants on a challenge by challenge basis. There have been many critics on this board (myself included) who feel that cumulative judging would be more fair. It would be more fair, but it makes for worse television. We all knew Cosentino was toast from the beginning, because he had had the weakest performance of all the contestants. Unless Symon or Besh seriously screwed up this week Cosentino did not have a chance in overcoming his past performances. Add the fact that he was an Italian chef cooking American food in France, and he didn't have a prayer. I'm sorry to see him go, I love his passion and sense of humor, and he should be proud to have made it to the top three.

                                                          My vote is for a Symon upset next week. Everyone has been calling Besh the winner from the beginning, but Symon has consistently performed better in the challenges. Seems like Besh's food is a bit more refined, but Symon's just tastes better. Either way, it will be a fun challenge and I will be happy to see either as the Next Iron Chef.

                                                          1. One comment about the 'philly cheese steak' -- the arrogant Frenchman had it EXACTLY right, he should have used blue cheese, not mozerella.

                                                            I actually assumed Michael Symon was going to do something like that... At Lola at its past location, the best thing on the menu was a huge bone-in rib chop covered with melted blue cheese and sauteed-grilled onions that maintained a slight amount of their fresh crispiness. It was called the "Fred Flinstone" and was served with his rosemary shoe-string fries.

                                                            I was actually somewhat shocked that Cosentino used a loin as opposed to rib and that he used Mozerella.

                                                            7 Replies
                                                            1. re: whiner

                                                              yes - but ruhlman would've known! :) just like the 6am special. those fries were awesome. that was when i lived in cleveland and actually ate there!

                                                              1. re: AMFM

                                                                You are SO right about the 6am special! Oh my! That would have KILLED! I cannot tell you how much I love that dish...

                                                                And you are right. I don't know why he is able to make better fries than anyone else, but those fries are maybe the best I've had. They are still on the menu as a side dish at the new Lola.

                                                                1. re: whiner

                                                                  he did though the first episode didn't he. and ruhlman nailed him for lack of creativity even though it tasted good - how he was in the bottom two. or so i thought.

                                                              2. re: whiner

                                                                I admittedly know almost nothing about Philly cheesesteaks, but hubby professes to do so, and has PA credentials to back up his view, and FWIW his reaction to the Frechman's comment was something along the lines of, 'Has he ever had a Philly Cheesesteak before? A properly made cheesesteak from Philly? Clearly he doesn't know what he is talking about.....'

                                                                1. re: susancinsf

                                                                  Well, yes...

                                                                  A good Philly cheese steak is made with provolone (imo) and finely slices, basically, sauteed beef, and onions, and maybe some peppers and mushrooms... but, the point is... hotdogs aren't made with lobster either. If you are going to do a variation on a theme, you should try to make it taste as good as possible. But, I agree, if he was trying to mimic a philly cheese steak he should not have used blue cheese -- but also not burrata.

                                                                  1. re: whiner

                                                                    in cleveland they're all made with provolone but in philly they're often made with american or cheese whiz so to each his own!

                                                                    1. re: AMFM

                                                                      The proper Philly cheesesteak should have meat fried outside in an upside-down garbage can lid over packing crates burning in a 55-gallon drum...provolone melted into it before dumping it in a hoagie roll.

                                                              3. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict a tie. I actually think it's probably been set up that way from the very beginning. I think FN has to look a bit beyond food and attempt to find "acceptable" personalities for TV - not too reserved, not too arrogant, not too "sweet" (the women - and I'm a woman). I think with Besh and Symon they have both - the right personalities and the great chefs. They will keep them both and add two new iron chefs - just a theory.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: wintersummer

                                                                  now that would be a great idea.....both of them are wonderful...

                                                                  1. re: janebono

                                                                    would be interesting - they've had ties before. and would explain both NYT article and Toronto article. hmmmm.. i can live with that! :)

                                                                  2. re: wintersummer

                                                                    I think that if Symon doesn't win NIC he should get his own show -- he has a great personality for TV.

                                                                    1. re: Amuse Bouches

                                                                      Symon had some episodes on old FoodTV show, Melting Pot.

                                                                  3. It's kind of strange that the definitive American cuisine is a twist on:

                                                                    - chicken pot pie
                                                                    - hot dog
                                                                    - philly cheesesteak
                                                                    - milkshake
                                                                    - lobster roll
                                                                    - meatloaf
                                                                    - strawberry shortcake

                                                                    Really? I can't believe the Besh being from New Orleans didn't do something like Jambalaya or Gumbo instead? Where's the corn bread?

                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                    1. re: notmartha

                                                                      I'm guessing he was trying to stay away from things that he could be called out on as being "in his comfort zone". Not that I know if he serves either of those dishes at his restaurant - I don't recall seeing them when I ate there, but that was awhile ago.

                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                        Good point, notmartha
                                                                        In this particular competition, I was wondering why "comfort zone" would be a problem -- it was about definitive haute American, not the chef stretching or experimenting. I would have loved to see them play their best dishes, even as they are served in their restaurants, not work regional diner food.

                                                                        1. re: pitu

                                                                          i did hear one of the chefs (no recollection who) comment that very few things were really american. it had to feel like a really hard challenge. i mean there's always the risk that you get taken to task by the europeans for doing something that they take offense at because they think arrogant americans are laying claim to it. so i could see why classic american comfort food was a good way to go. surprised no one did mac and cheese - symon has had a great one on his menu years back but i'm certain he thought he'd get called out for that too.

                                                                          1. re: AMFM

                                                                            Yeah, I bet he would. I think it is available as a side now... I think it has truffles in it iirc.

                                                                            1. re: AMFM

                                                                              The only food that would be TRULY American would be a Native American dish. But who wants to eat pemmican at an embassy dinner?
                                                                              and my favorite part of the show was wondering if Donnatella's dress was going to continue to cover her overly exposed American breasts.

                                                                              1. re: lucyis

                                                                                true. but i'd eat some fattening navajo fry bread like i had at some street fair in santa fe pretty much any time! :)

                                                                                1. re: AMFM

                                                                                  The green chili topped fried bread I had while at an Indian reservation near Tucson was really good also.

                                                                                  Now those spicy chili would give the French something to talk about!

                                                                                2. re: lucyis

                                                                                  Well prepared Native American cuisine with modern flourishes... I might prefer over some of the boring & naive dishes presented in this episode.

                                                                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                    some looked boring - agreed. but i did want to drink the float. other than that nothing did that much for me. :)

                                                                                    1. re: AMFM

                                                                                      The float was definitely the best sounding dish to me... it also accomplished what the Embassy people seemed to seek... approval from their "culinarily superior" French counterparts.

                                                                          2. re: notmartha

                                                                            it was chicken and dumplings bot chicken pot pie...a southern classic. Alton couldn't understand why he used pasta instead of a real dumpling.

                                                                            Lobster rolls are always simple, but the mayo content is a hugely debated issue: some are light on the mayo. I wonder if Knowlton realizes how obnoxious he came across! The editing can make anyone look good or bad.