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Next Iron Chef Finale [Spoiler inside]

Well there you have it; the next Iron Chef is Michael Symon.
I was rooting for Chef Besh from the get go, but after watching each week, felt either one would do a great job. Thought the last minute dessert really was going to secure the coronation for Besh, but I think what tipped the scales to Symon was his interactive personality. Looking forward to his commentary while cooking in future competitions.
Only disappointment was that we didn't get to see as much of the food preparation as a regular episode of IC--had to save minutes for the two panels of judges.

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  1. I just wish they had shown how everyone voted. I was a little disappointed in that. Overall I think either would have been a great fit, but like you, had been rooting for Besh.

    2 Replies
    1. re: coasterphil

      In The Cleveland Plain Dealer they are reporting all chefs and Ruhlman voted for Symon, leaving Donetella and Andrew supporting Besh

      1. re: lyn

        love love love that they gave the chefs the vote, especially hearing THAT split

    2. YAY!!!

      I would LOVE to try Besh's cooking one day, but I was strongly rooting for Symon since I've had his food so may times and loved it each time. Also, I really like his personality..

      I wish they showed who voted how, too. And I am surprised at what the Plain Dealer is reporting... it sounded like Morimoto, Flay, and Andrew (he's the guy with long hair, right?) were all siding with Symon, it sounded like Cora was going to vote for Besh, and it seemed like Donatella and Rhulman were up in the air. But, assuming the Plain Dealer is right, that just shows the power of editing...

      1. I didn't see Mario Batali on the judging panel. Is he really gone?

        12 Replies
        1. re: septocaine_queen

          I hope not, but that's been the rumor. If he leaves the show, I will have very little motivation to watch any more.

          1. re: septocaine_queen

            Batali has publicly stated several times that he is not leaving Iron Chef America. My guess is that he simply was unable to participate in this filming, and they really only needed three iron chefs to balance the other three judges.

            1. re: Morton the Mousse

              He may have "stated" that, but the word on the street in New York is that he is gone from the Food Network, and that means ICA as well. The new Iron Chef is replacing him.

              I think Symon will be great in that mix, but I, too, was a Besh supporter.

              1. re: ChefJune

                man, i'm going to miss mario. he was one of the very few remaining reasons to watch TVFN.

                1. re: ChefJune

                  He's on Fine Living regularly, and FL is owned by FN, so how far gone is that? Word on the street is not infalible, but I have a sinking feeling he may have left ICA. But then ICA seems to be a sinking ship... They're advertising a "special" ICA with Paula Deen and Cat Cora as "southern girls" meeting a couple of the lesser male cooks on FN... If anyone is a great fan of the guys, sorry I can't remember their names. Anyway, FN has turned into a jumble of pie contests, barbecue contests, and half baked cooking shows...

                  Gee, am I crabby or what? :-)

                  1. re: Caroline1

                    the guys are tyler florence, whom i happen to adore...and robert irvine, the british guy on that show "dinner impossible" [or as tony bourdain calls it, "dinner slightly difficult"]. the man's built like a tank [again, bourdain has a more colorful way of describing chef irvine - i believe his exact words were "overmuscled f*ckwit]. anyway, the first time i saw him i had to wonder how he maneuvers around the kitchen without knocking crap over all the time!

                    i'd love to watch it for tyler florence, but i think an hour of seeing paula molest cat cora [and the butter-laden abominations they're sure to create if ms. deen has anything to say about it] would make me want to stab myself in the eye with a fork.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      No no no! Don't do that! How would you watch the upcoming special where Ms Deen has a butter-induced heart attack on camera live?

                      1. re: Caroline1


                        i certainly wish ms. deen no physical harm...and i don't think TVFN would air it if that unfotunate event occurred...mostly because the censors/standards & practices people wouldn't approve when her sons came running out of the audience to administer mouth-to-mouth.

                      2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        I once ate tyler's food off one of his healthy episodes and a scale of 1 to 10 it was not good.

                        1. re: tpigeon

                          tyler's not really known for his "healthy" food.

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            I ate at Cafeteria when Tyler worked there and the food was entirely unmemorable. He's been gone for years and the place hasn't missed a beat.

              2. I found the finale pretty anti-climactic because i was pretty confident that Symon would win. I was sure about this partly because of the Toronto paper's leak, and partly because of what we'd been shown of the judging. I don't have anything against Symon, and I think he'll probably do a good job, but my basic feeling is that I don't care.

                1. Interesting episode. Was a bit disappointed with swordfish as the ingredient, as it is not one I favor, but it gave a lot of room for creativity. With that, somewhat surprised there were so many overlapping dishes between the two contestants. FAR too much fluff with all of the introductions and repeated histories -- is there anyone here who cares about who helped inspire the designs of the new chef's jackets to be premiered sometime next season? I must admit I got caught up in the battle, but so much of Iron Chef is hucksterism ("The Chairman"? give me a break) and I think they do themselves a disservice by not revealing and televising the plating that takes place after the clock runs out.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: nosh

                    funny, Symon's plating as he went (a very practical move) kinda blew the illusion you get on regular ICA that they finish and plate within the 60 minutes, instead of getting one representative plate done during the 60 minutes that is not the one that anyone eats.

                    I bet they make him change that for tv drama during regular season play . . . .

                    1. re: pitu

                      All of that is done in the editing. We (the viewers) have no way of knowing whether that is the norm for all ICs, or if it was a one time only thing. Editing can accomplish anything, including making all of the plating *APPEAR* to be done at the end of the hour.

                      1. re: Caroline1

                        since this was a show even more edited than usual (time collapse)
                        they could have done that if it's the practice, but they didn't
                        actually, it would lead to too many continuity issues so
                        I *think* they more or less stick to the chronology of events

                  2. What I've got to wonder if this was Symon's competition (and finale) to lose. Looking up and down at the contestants, while he certainly has the skills to back it up, he certainly is by far the most "camera friendly" contestant in terms of entertainment value and how he would come across on TV as an Iron Chef. I wonder if the Food Network did indeed have some say in who became the next Iron Chef.

                    I would have liked to see the scorecards for the battle. I also wished they had neutral judges such as Steingarten, Ted Allen, etc. That's the only blind way to do this.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Xericx

                      In another post they listed the scores from the judges: all 3 Iron Chefs voted for Symon, and so did Rulmann among the guest judges. Donatella and Aaron voted for John Besh.

                      So I think it was quite clear that for the final battle Symon won. However, it was hard if you were to put all the battles into judgment.

                    2. Couldn't go wrong with either Chef Besh or Chef Symon. I'd pay more money for Besh's food, but Symon I think will make for better television. Certainly his food and personality are both great matches for the Iron Chef format...now when does Season 6 begin!?

                      1. they both certainly deserved to be in the finale, but based on the iron chefs' comments during the judging/tasting, i thought it was pretty clear they preferred symon's food...and of course we all knew ruhlman would vote for him.

                        i have to raise an issue about the promo that aired during the show for the upcoming holiday dessert battle with paula deen, cat cora, tyler florence & robert irvine. i won't even start with my thoughts about the battle itself. i just have to wonder WTF is going on with tvfn when no one there caught the fact that they misspelled the word "feisty" iin the promo...??!!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          It's a shame that Food Network is now overly cross pollinating/polluting Iron Chef with their other programming. Maybe they'll do an epic cake battle or Thanksgiving theme as well, with Emeril, Sandra Lee and special host, Rachel Ray?

                          1. re: tastyjon

                            If they continue to bring "cooks" and not chefs on there, I wil stop watching. I already decreased viewing on the american version. IC was one of the better shows on the foodnetowrk. lets hope they dont spoil it. Next thing you know they are going to have regular schmucks on there. Even more regular that RR and Paula, and that is scary.

                            1. re: lyn

                              It seems as if food network has its favorites and uses them in all different shows. I dont know if any of you remember but several years ago, at least 5 I think, Symon had a show on the food network along with Wayne Bracken (i think thats his name) and they cooked on a set that was made to look like a home kitchen. It did not run for long, but it seems as if Food Network was already prepping him then. I will admit I liked Besh better.

                        2. now hounds, please don't flame me out on this thought: is Symon the politically correct choice for "diversity" on the IC show? cat cora was the last "new chef", right?

                          i'm thinking the execs have a demographic in mind, esp. since one of their latest additions to programming is the "latina" with an accent that nobody can mistake. their ads focus on the "latin"-ness, in "Simply Delicioso."
                          (and if you look at the photo, the FN execs are also going for the "giada-like cleavage exposure" demographic that so many other FN female personalities are catering to.


                          i like symond from when he did a FN show a few years back on latin cooking, "Melting Pot," with the other "latin" contestant (whose name i cannot recall, but wore the headband). (or maybe it was wayne bracken....?)

                          i was going to make the prediction that symon would win, but just waited....

                          this last FN show was too tiresome to watch....sorry...and besh seemed arrogant. but, as i say, i couldn't really watch it. too much time wasted on silly fluff.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: alkapal

                            headband chef: aaron sanchez is his name.
                            brachman is the correct spelling. (my bad)
                            melting pot info:

                            1. re: alkapal

                              Is Symon not melting-pot-america white male?
                              I don't know a thing about the guy, but that's what I got from watching the show.

                              1. re: pitu

                                holy moly, was symon the latin chef on melting pot, or eastern european? calling all hounds with better memories than alkapal, apparently!

                                symon's bio on fn site re melting pot show:

                                alright, maybe the fn execs are going with the latina demographic AND the NATO-expansion eastward" demographic! ;-0

                                1. re: alkapal

                                  Symon did the Eastern European stuff on Melting Pot, appropriately enough for a dude from Cleveland who features a beef cheek pierogi on his restaurant's menu. I still have a recipe for a mushroom casserole that he did on Melting Pot, which I have, in fact, never made.

                                  1. re: LeslieB

                                    bless you LeslieB! i think he'll be a good iron chef. he seems like a nice guy. good for tv. (think about it, cat cora was on melting pot, also padma. she was that same affect-less persona then. annoying!)

                                    1. re: alkapal

                                      Agreed on Cat. She never looks happy (or much of anything else), and it leads you to imagine she's just really not a very pleasant person to be around. I think Symon is a fine fit too. He looks good on TV, doesn't seem to take himself too seriously (good for the camp factor involved in IC) and, of course, has that ridiculous laugh. There's an Everyguy appeal there.

                            2. Besh's food looked great throughout the competition but Symon is less arrogant and more entertaining. Part of the appeal of IC is watching the chefs scramble under pressure. It's less fun watching a guy like Besh, who acts like he's always in control, than it is watching a guy like Symon, who takes chances and half the time seems on the verge of a complete meltdown. I do think Symon can be too dramatic sometimes but a big personality is an asset on an over-the-top show like IC. To me he's the more interesting competitor and a better fit for the show.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Grubbjunkie

                                I'm glad it was Symon, as he was my pick from the beginning. Cleveland Rocks! But, the whole show was such a disappointment. FN Reality TV couldn't have been more predictable. They totally set this up to cater to demographics, and ultimately, TV ratings. I think the whole competion was as much of a farce as "the chairman's nephew". I picked the top 5 in order after watching Episode 1. Where's the Iron Chef drama in that?

                                1. re: egbluesuede

                                  My only regret is that they didn't use this format for picking Cat Cora. '-)

                                  Off for a fresh saucer of milk!

                              2. I had John Besh pegged to win it all, and listening to what people are saying (OK, Andrew Knowlton and Donatella), sounds like Besh had the better tasting food in the finale. But odd that all the other Iron Chefs chose Symon. (Um, maybe they felt threatened by Besh and voted for the more acceptable partner?? Conspiracy theorists talk amongst yourselves!)

                                I think the winner should have just been based on the kitchen stadium results, because really of all the challenges, this final one has the closest to what the Iron Chef will do day-to-day, compete in an hour to come up with five dishes.

                                Anywho, I think Symon will make a good Iron Chef. He does seem to be creative. But is he going to be the male version of Cat Cora in terms of culinary specialty? Not much of a diversity of culinary points of views.


                                2 Replies
                                1. re: singleguychef

                                  It sure did seem like the chefs preferred Besh's food during the episode, but maybe they didn't think he was a good fit for the show as a whole with his personality. They may have been looking more towards that then the actual food in front of them. Otherwise I can't understand why they voted that way as everything they said during the tasting made it seem like Besh's was the winner.

                                  Besh seems like he would've been more of a challenge as an IC, based on the fact that he beat Batali (pretty soundly if I remember correctly) in his appearance on the show and just seems like he always has a handle on things.

                                  1. re: singleguychef

                                    Or another conspiracy could be foodnetwork has too much invested in an inferior chef from New Orleans & could not have him shown up.

                                  2. Two things:

                                    1) I wanted to see the scoring. I thought it was ridiculous that this wasn't included.
                                    2) Besh seemed to get net more positive remarks than Symon from the three chefs. How then did they vote for Symon?

                                    10 Replies
                                    1. re: famedalupo


                                      editing. we didn't hear most of the comments. to me it sounded like flay clearly preffered symon, cora besh, morimoto toss-up.

                                      1. re: whiner

                                        re: editing

                                        from what we saw of the judges' comments i got the impression flay and morimoto both preferred symon's dishes. morimoto's praise for symon was more effusive than his positive comments for besh's food.

                                        i also got the sense that cat cora was trying to be the hard-ass of the group. jeffrey steingarten is better at it, but at least she doesn'tt talk with her mouth full :)

                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          I'm not normally a conspriacy theorist, but I think Cat actually voted for Besh, as her on-air comments would lead me to believe. My theory is that FN wanted Symon, and broke the (3-3) tie in favor of Symon. They are trying to make it appear as if the 3 iron chefs were all in agreement on the decision. I wanted Symon to win, but the whole thing seems fishy to me.

                                          1. re: egbluesuede

                                            It looked like that Cat was all over Besh. Maybe a llittle fling sometime?

                                            1. re: catsailor

                                              Pretty unlikely as Cat Cora is a lesbian.

                                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                                Is she out? I had assumed she was a lesbian but I did not know for sure.

                                                1. re: whiner

                                                  She is definitely out. I saw a profile of her and she introduced her partner and they also mentioned that they are raising a daughter together.

                                        2. re: famedalupo

                                          Re: scoring -- did they even do regular IC score cards with taste/plating/originality? Or did they just talk a while then have a secret ballot?

                                          1. re: momjamin

                                            Nope, they didn't do typical scoring based on the three categories. In the end, Alton Brown just asked all six judges to write the name of the chef who should win and pass the name up to him, and he delivered it to the chairman. I think the scoring should have been more traditional kitchen stadium way.

                                        3. Judging by all of the discussions of NIC on these boards, and despite all of the format flaws, it appears FN has pulled off a great programming coup and scored incredibly high on regenerating interest. Even if it is to bitch.

                                          I thought the format sucked.

                                          1. Check out Ruhlman's blog at blog.ruhlman.com.

                                            He talks about the outcome, and clarifies a few things.

                                            Also check out Andrew Knowlton's comments at http://www.epicurious.com/bonappetit/...

                                            It's one thing to second-guess the judges, another to hear it directly from them.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: cmvan


                                              Wow. I can't believe Donatella attacked Flay and Cora for their decision! lol!

                                              Also, it is funny reading Andrew Knowlton's blog. He comes across as far more intelligent and considered when writing than in his off-the-cuff comments made on the show.

                                            2. FYI: Symon has a blog (you can access it by going to the Lola/Lolita website: www.lolabistro.com ) and he seems actually to read the comments and then respond to them. Some of the responses are recipies that people ask him for -- for example, he posted what sounds like an amazing recipie for brussel sprouts that I am going to try reall really soon.

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: whiner

                                                It is no secret that Bobby Flay has no respect for New Orleans cuisine and heritage, for him to be there was a given negative.

                                                1. re: Tonto

                                                  flay has no respect for cutting boards, either (remember how livid morimoto was a few years back on American Iron Chef?)

                                                  what food heritage *does* flay respect? why no respect for NOLA cuisine? is he just jealous of all the great NOLA chefs?

                                                  1. re: Tonto

                                                    why do you say that? he did his jambalaya throwdown in new orleans.

                                                    1. re: Shiloh

                                                      He has been quoted for having said that he doesn't consider New Orleans food a credible cuisine.

                                                      1. re: Tonto

                                                        he isn't that crazy, is he? i would be suspicious of that quotation. geez, now i have to track this down. i actually like bobby flay (not at first, though.)

                                                        1. re: Tonto

                                                          I suspect the quote was taken out of context. At least the time I saw/heard him discuss New Orleans food, what he was saying is that there is no single type of food that is NO. NO food includes Cajun, Creole, French, Southern, Soul, and American cooking, and I'm sure I've left out a few. And I have to agree with that. Unless you want to categorize a muffaletta as "New Orleans cuisine." '-)

                                                          The only thing I fault Bobby Flay with is too damn much chili in everything. He's on the verge of becoming a Johnny One Note. But then maybe it's just me. I'm getting pretty fed up with the current top two food trends: flame out your taste buds and/or bury it under a mountain of basil. Helloooooo...? Too much of a good thing is NOT a good thing!

                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                            caroline, who is the "mountain of basil"?

                                                  2. I think what made the difference in the finale is that Symon ventured out of his known style - Mediterranean/Midwest - and tried different techniques and styles such as using the sous vide. Besh, however, stayed too comfortably in his French/Southern zone.

                                                    Going into the finale, I honestly thought Besh would win and that the judges were biased in his favor. His style is French, something the ICA lineup is lacking. He's telegenic and handsome. He's got the "support New Orleans" vibe going as one of the visible leaders of the dining revival in the region. Also, I think he appealed to Donatella's and Andrew's snobbery - New Orleans has cuisine in their eyes, while Cleveland does not.

                                                    But I think the right chef won. Besh was consistent, but consistently second place is still second place.

                                                    1. Just an FYI, here is a little clip of the happenings at Lolita when it was announced.

                                                      1. I agree I could see either one.I did vote for Symon.I just like him.I was happy to see Besh won the next Iron Chef competition after the finale.