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Favourite Iron Chef America Judge

I have this argument with my roomate who hates Jeffrey Steingarten. I, on the other hand, think he is the best judge. He can be brutally honest - not only to the chef, but to other judges - but I think that's why I like him the most. What are other people's opinions?

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  1. I'm with you, and vote for Mr. Steingarten as my favorite.

    1. I loathe Steingarten with a passion, and am most pleased whenever one of the other judges starts openly mocking the pompous little twit.

      I'd have to go with Ted Allen and Karine Bakhoum as my favorites. Least faves other than Steingarten would be Marc Ecko (utterly clueless) and Mo Rocca, who I like in other contexts, but who tries way too hard to be quippy on ICA.

      7 Replies
      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

        I dislike Karine Bakhoum and I think her judgment isn't really trustworthy because she runs a PR firm for restaurants and she might not be completely honest if there is a chef she might do business with in the future.

        1. re: KTinNYC

          I should hope she'd recuse herself if there's a conflict of interest.

          1. re: MaspethMaven

            Look at this blog. The link was provided by another poster below.


            1. re: KTinNYC

              There was a smallish flap a couple of months ago re a "Next Iron Chef" judge's conflict of interest. (I will not name names, in case his minions hunt me down with axes.) So presumably FN doesn't really worry about these things. The apologists will say "It's just entertainment" and "the food world is small and everybody knows everybody," but there are situations in which the conflict really is egregious.

              I like the judges to be critical, but not mean (if that's possible). It bugs me when they love everything, and I like it best when they tell me things about the food that I couldn't guess just from looking at it. Of course, remember that what we're seen is heavily edited from hours of tape.

              1. re: jlafler

                I posted about the conflict of interest with Michael Ruhlman judging Michael Symon on Food Network a few months ago.

                Please understand, I am a big fan of both: I love Ruhlman's "...Chef" books and regularly recommend them on the appropriate boards. His website is topnotch. Turns out I was rooting for Symon to win as the next Top Chef Gladiator Best Chef American, or whatever they called it. But I couldn't ignore the conflict. These were not food professionals that met and connected and parted. Symon is a main focus of two of three of Ruhlman's best-selling books, which is reasonable since both hail from Cleveland. They aren't just professional acquaintances, they are very close friends and have played major roles in one another's success. So despite all the protests, and notwithstanding Ruhlman's scathing criticism of Symon in an early round of the series where he survived (to ultimately finish first), it just doesn't pass the smell test.

                1. re: nosh

                  Nosh- I couldnt agree with you more. Being a huge fan of both Symon and Ruhlman, great books and great food. Something just didnt seem right.

                  I think if one of my close friends was in a contest, as hard as it would be trying otherwise, I think there had to be some bias for your buddy on that one.

          2. re: KTinNYC

            I hadn't read this thread before and after reviewing, can't believe nobody brought up her firm's early relationship with Mr. Flay. Her firm represented him for a while. That screams more of a conflict than the Ruhlman/Symon relationship if you ask me.

            She used to judge almost every Flay contest and you would have thought he invented food by her response. Having said that, I've seen her on a few non-Flay episodes and she seems to be lightening up, as some other posts mention.

            I don't really have a favorite; I have many. I enjoy Jeffrey, Bonecrusher was a blast, Ted always has interesting commentary, Cady is annoying to me, Akiko has good food insight (besides the oily thing). I thought Andrew Knowlton would be a much better judge but he's rather whiny.

        2. I feel a sort of love hate thing for Steingarten. On the one hand he can be needlessly provocative at times with the other judges and childishly arrogant. On the other hand, he definitely knows what he's talking about, and I feel a certain sense of objectivity when I know he's on the panel. I also like Ted Allen, who seems to have the best balance of intelligent commentary and polite manners and humor. I actually do enjoy Mo Rocca, even if he is a bit cloying and obvious on the show, I still like the change of pace. And of course the best judge ever was Bonecrusher, especially side by side with Steingarten. I also like another judge, a blonde female whose name I can't recall who also seems knowledgeable and really enjoys the food.

          Karine Bakhoum is actually probably one of my least faves, because I find her also gratingly arrogant, randomly picky, and not that insightful with her comments. The worst judge ever though was Katie Joel, who seemed to just turn her nose up at anything that was unusual or exotic and made this really snotty face.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jeanki

            I had completely forgotten about Bonecrusher, but yes, absolutely: best ICA judge ever, not least because I think he genuinely frightened Steingarten.

          2. I can't remember the dude's name, but one time they had the guy who hosts Talk Soup...I think it's somehing like JOel Mckale or something...he was so silly and I have no idea why I couldn't stop laughing...it had something to d with chopsticks and he made a bit of a joke to the rude blonde b!tch that she didn't get and she wound up looking even more lame than I already think she is...it was great.
            And of course I love Ted Allen...he's great!

            1 Reply
            1. re: tatertotsrock

              Joel McHale. He's very good as a guest commentator on MSNBC's Countdown as well.

            2. Bonecrusher! Best judge ever! The only judge who can go toe to toe with Steingarten.

              "Jeffrey - if it's good it's good, if it's bad it's bad."

              I love that guy.

              1. Steingarten creeps me out...okay, I dislike his persona on TV. He's knowledgeable but he's the prototypical stuff shirt snob. Put a toga on him and he can play the decadent senator ready to keel over...but only after he makes a slobberly, semi-self serving comment and throws his gobblet at the chef. If I'm flipping through ICA and he's talking, I move on right away. Ted Allen seems totally reasonable..and he knows his stuff too.

                1. Steingarten is my favorite. I liked him better once I started reading his books & articles.
                  Love Ted Allen.

                  Cannot STAND Karine. She is so creepy.

                  2 Replies
                    1. re: AMFM

                      add another member to the anti-"kb" brigade. she's intolerable.

                      bonecrusher is undoubtedly the best guest judge ever.

                      as for regulars, i'm torn. jeffrey occasionally pisses me off because some of his comments are unnecessarily harsh, but for the most part i find him to be pretty amusing. i'm also a big ted allen fan. interestingly, i never had much respect for him as the food & wine expert on queer eye...but once i started watching him on IC & TC, he won me over.

                  1. I'm neither here nor there with Steingarten, but I do like Ted Allen. I also really love it when Martin Yan is on. He's delightfully sweet but still honest. And he always wears good ties. He keeps the show from becoming too snotty. Who is that woman who always thinks the food is "oily"? Boy, I find her irritating (and I always know what she will say before she says it).

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: bards4

                      do you mean akiko katayama? she's extremely annoying, and much too predictable.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        Yup, that's her. As I always tell my kids when they tell me that some famous person is really annoying -- "I'm sure that she is a very nice person."

                        But yes, I do find her annoying.

                        1. re: bards4

                          I was JUST thinking the same thing - everything is greasy/oily/fatty. Jeeeezzzzzz...

                          1. re: bards4

                            >>> Who is that woman who always thinks the food is "oily"? Boy, I find her irritating (and I always know what she will say before she says it). <<<

                            She will say, "the flavors are good, but I found the dish too oily."

                            GAWD, I hate her!

                            1. re: bards4

                              hehe, yes, she always complains that everything is "too greasy". I suppose that her sparrow-like frame probably isn't a result of extravagant dollops of creme fraiche or smears of olive oil, but come on!

                              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                I agree that Ted Allen is a funny, fair and qualified judge and I appreciate what he has too say. And I really enjoy watching Iron Chef. Its probably my favorite show on the network. However, most of the judges drive me wild. It seems that many of them either have food phobias, dont take it seriously or are simply impossible to please and that takes the fun out of it for me. They need fewer entertainers/personalities and more highly qualified pallets. I think everyone who judges, must also like to cook. That way they can not only appreciate the flavores but the process as well. That said: when I watched The Next Iron Chef competition, I finally realized that the food channel is moving away from food and closer to an entertainment based platform that includes food as a component. Instead of making this flagship program serious (not that they have ever really done that) they included all sorts of needless drama stirred up by a rediculous panel of three "food authorities" who did nothing but make bad faces, argue with each other and bash creative dishes that were whipped up with no time, under pressure and often few ingredients. Even Alton Brown bought into it. He was the most dramatic and rediculous of all. Right now they have a weird mix of personalities on the network and I no longer understand what they are trying to accomplish. Their two big hitters....Rachel....cant cook and her Iron Chef competition proved that...it was clear she was completely lost and if it werent for Mario she wouldnt have completed one dish. Paula......are you kidding me? Great personality or not, she has become so rediculous that its comical. One day recently she marinated some New York strip, removed the meat and poured the raw marinade back to some mayo to make Aoli. She whisked it up and said "now there you go ya'll, a perfect accompaniment for your steak" I couldnt beleive what I just saw. Shame on the food channel for allowing her (or not caring) that she could have killed some people for the sake of a good show.

                                But I dont want to come off all negative either. There are some programs that I still really enjoy and I just wish that they would lose some of the fluff and get back to the food thing. Am I alone on this?

                                1. re: thomtompkins

                                  there are about 50 threads on CH about the changes at FN. Consensus is that it sucks for chowhounders, but someone must like it.

                                  1. re: thomtompkins

                                    On this same board I started a post called: 'Is Iron Chef for Real?' and the responses so far have been quite enlightening. Check it out...definately theater these days more than highminded culinary...

                                    1. re: thomtompkins

                                      Raw steak is perfectly safe. See tartar, kitfo, carpaccio. I eat it all the time.

                                      1. re: dagoose

                                        But pouring the raw marinade into a condiment that you're not going to cook is pretty much a no-no, in food safety terms.

                                  2. evidently Karine is lacking in integrity, or there is a conflict with her judging on Iron Chef. The one I really can't stand is Akiko...it's oily/greasy/fatty. I alos love Ted Allen,and enjoy Jeffery, because he i s so knowledgable and such an pompous a-hole, fun to watch.


                                    1. I find it unusual that normally hate Mo Rocca in just about everything he does EXCEPT ICA. I think he's a little less obnoxious on the show. I do like Ted Allen and Jeffery Steingarten also. I like Ted because he can critique without being nasty and I like Jeffrey because he is nasty.

                                      I'm still trying to figure out how Marc Ecko became a food expert.

                                      11 Replies
                                      1. re: MrsT

                                        he was on because he's having a cultural moment. He's a style impresario, and he's causing somewhat of a stir with his involvement in the barry bonds homerun ball. So he gets asked to do ICA.

                                        1. re: MrsT

                                          or cady huffman...or soledad o'brien...or joel mchale...or natalie morales...

                                          i think you get my point.

                                          bottom line, the guest judges are rarely food experts. for every melissa clark or martin yan, there are 5 marc eckos.

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            I like Cady Huffman, I think she has a really good palate and she sort of represents us: you know, people who don't have like culinary degrees but know a lot about food and really enjoy it. I really can't defend the other people other than Joel McHale because he's hilarious and he made fun of his own appearance on ICA on his show, "The Soup" I actually hate Jeffrey. He's really rude to people like Ted Allen: when Ted is trying to give a nice critique, Jeffrey criticizes Ted for making his words too flowery or whatever. I mean, Ted is just trying to pick nice words and Jeffrey wants him to be brash and crude. Some people actually like to employ the use of their vocabulary Jeffrey.

                                            1. re: digkv

                                              I think it's easy to miss Jeffrey's very confrontational sense of humor. He likes to provoke responses, I think, and he's very opinionated, but I think he's mostly harmless. I think he likes it when people talk back to him, especially if they have a valid opinion.

                                              He is the kind of guy who doesn't suffer fools gladly, though, and I think he loathes pretention and stuffiness, and some of the other judges are incredibly pretentious and stuffy.

                                              He is a messy eater, though. Literally mealy-mouthed.

                                              1. re: uptown jimmy

                                                Haha, I think I must have missed out on the joke then. I actually respect Jeffrey for his lack of pretention like when he called Bobby out on his serving food on cast iron skillets or when Cat used circular skewers. I think his tone is a bit unsettling though; if that's his humorous tone he really needs to work on it to keep from making people angry.

                                                1. re: digkv

                                                  Oh, no doubt. He's an irascible old fart. But I do think he's a little old-school, a guy who has seen a lot of stuff and nonsense appear on the food scene in the last few decades, and he sees himself as a dose of reality amidst a lot of silliness and pretention. I think he means well, though, as far as he bothers to care. Certainly not a man who cares what others think about him....

                                                  But I will be honest: I've seldom disagreed with him when he called a fellow judge on some insipid or nonsensical comments. I find him hilarious, really. He's faced off with some REALLY pretentious judges a few times, folks who seem to take themselves far, far too seriously, and who at the same time have really odd ideas about food. Like the "It's too greasy" woman. So weird. Everything's too greasy in her world....

                                              2. re: digkv

                                                Yes I also like Cady, she's the blonde female I was thinking about earlier who I thought was a knowledgeable yet friendly judge. She makes cogent comments and seems to really enjoy the food.

                                                1. re: digkv

                                                  i wasn't saying that i dislike cady huffman...in fact, i find her relatively pleasant to watch, and she clearly enjoys food. i just don't think she qualifies as an "expert."

                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                    Oh I know that you didn't mean you disliked her or anything, sorry if it sounded like I was saying that. I was just trying to justify her presence. I think the original series always had 1 "celebrity" in their judging too. Like there was that crabby old woman who was a "fortune teller" why a fortune teller would be judging food is something I wouldn't know.

                                                    1. re: digkv

                                                      What about "Rosanjin scholar Masaaki Hirano," who constantly complained if the food was too spicy or too difficult to chew?

                                                      Allstonian and I to this day have a family joke involving Hirano-san, or more specifically the wizened-old-man voice they used to dub his lines in English, which we use to proclaim "I'M OOOLLLLLLLDDDDD!!!!" whenever we feel like being cranky about something for no good reason.

                                                      1. re: digkv

                                                        She should have to judge the food before she gets to taste it!

                                              3. By all means, Steingarten is indeed the man. He is deadpan in all he says but is blunt too while being funny as all hell sometimes. His books are terrific too.

                                                My favorite one-time judge definitely has to be the rapper Bonecrusher. Mo Rocca was pretty funny too.

                                                My least favorites have been Jewel, Ecko, and Anderson Cooper.

                                                Bonecrusher together with Steingarten was absolutely perfect!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: yankeefan

                                                  agreed that jewel was awful. i just kept thinking "what in the world are you doing there?"

                                                2. I enjoy Jeffrey Steingarten - he's brutally honest and knowledgable. Ted Allen is good too. He's the good cop to Steingarten's bad cop.

                                                  Reading the above post, Martin Yan was funny. I bet he's the one that gave fractional points instead of whole numbers... too funny. That's probably the only time they've had scores in 0.25 increments.

                                                  Sounds like I missed an amusing judge's table with Bonecrusher.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: chow_fun

                                                    try to catch the bonecrusher episode in reruns if you can. definitely worth watching.

                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                      Which episode was Bonecrusher on? i will have to look for it and TiVo it.

                                                    2. re: chow_fun

                                                      I think they go into fractional points only if the rounded scores are a tie. The original series you would have a 30 minute overtime cook off if there was a tie.

                                                      I don't believe there's been a overtime battle to date on ICA, instead they show the fractions to determine the winner.

                                                    3. I like Steingarten, and Ted Allen. I do NOT like Mo Rocca or Karine Bakhoum. I liked Mark Ecko tho - his comments totally cracked me up but yeah, he was clueless. I also enjoyed Martin Yan. Um, at the risk of appearing clueless, who is BoneCrusher? Sounds like a pro wrestler? seems a weird choice for an iron chef judge. :)

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: jujuthomas

                                                        bone crusher is a rapper...and the way he stood up to steingarten was priceless.

                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                          I too will have to keep an eye out for that episode. Sounds like a blast. thanks for the info.

                                                          1. re: jujuthomas

                                                            here's a link to the FN web page for that particular episode. no indication of future rerun date, but i'm guessing it might appear during an ICA marathon...


                                                      2. I really like Ted Allen. I like the snark of Steingarten sometimes too, however, but he occasionally acts like he's the only person on the planet who can appreciate food.

                                                        What I do like about Akiko is that she always smells the food. I love that. Karine Bakhoum has atrocious table manners. She doesn't know how to hold a fork, and lady- GET THE ELBOWS OFF THE TABLE!! I can't understand how she's somehow a restaurant PR professional with those awful manners.

                                                        I enjoy when Martin Yan is on- he is knowledgeable, fair, and he's just all over cute.

                                                        I wish I had seen a Bonecrusher episode- I'll keep my eyes open for that. Anyone who snarks back at Steingarten would be excellent.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: cheesemonger

                                                          the bone crusher episode was tarbell v. cora in battle "apples."

                                                        2. My favorite is Ted Allen. He always looks happy to be there and has the right balance of specificity, honesty, and humor. He tends to play off of any of the other judges well too.

                                                          I also enjoy Steingarten, Bone Crusher, and Mo Rocca. I just wish that Steingarten wouldn't mumble as much or talk w/ his mouth so full. Sometimes I think he needs subtitling more than Morimoto. :-) Martin Yan was very direct and funny too. I like how he made fun of Akiko's penchant to label dishes as "too oily." Art Smith is gentle and polite and has offered some useful feedback IMO. I didn't care much for Bakhoum at first, but she has been growing on me as I see her more. She has seemed to mellow and become more playful.

                                                          My least favorite judge is probably Victoria Abbott Riccardi (author of "Untangling My Chopsticks...") who is def. one of the regulars. She seems to have many biases about the food before she tastes it and doesn't seem as open compared to others. She always looks a little constipated and uptight. She might have some food knowledge, but her personality just rubs me the wrong way.

                                                          I don't mind the occasional appearances from news journalists, etc. but I would not be sad if they never have Andrew Firestone as a judge again. He doesn't contribute much IMO. I think it would be fun if they would invite food bloggers now and then. Man, I envy the young Chairman who gets to sample every dish and observe the judging dynamics without having pressure to comment...

                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: Carb Lover

                                                            that's my #1 peeve about jeffrey! i'd be very grateful to live the rest of my life without ever again having to see half-chewed food falling out of that man's mouth as he speaks. it's truly nauseating. every time it happens, i lose a little bit of respect for him.

                                                            1. re: Carb Lover

                                                              There was another female judge I really couldn't stand, and I think it's Ms. Riccardi (she's blondish, right?) I agree, she definitely looks constipated and is overly judgmental over things that have nothing to do with skill or flavor. It annoys me that she is a so-called expert on Asian food but during Morimoto's battles she was ridiculously harsh and unadventurous at times with regard to his dishes.

                                                              1. re: jeanki

                                                                that's her.

                                                                i wouldn't necessarily call her an "expert" on asian food...she spent a year in kyoto studying kaiseki, which is a specific form of japanese cooking. she's got a degree from le cordon bleu so she obviously knows quite bit about food and cooking in general. but you're right, she typically uptight & pretty harsh. someone should give the woman an enema...or at the very least, a stiff drink!

                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                  Agreed. She is soooooo uptight. It's weird how stiff she is.

                                                                  1. re: uptown jimmy

                                                                    I like Ted Allen. He is witty, articulate and knowledgeable.

                                                              2. re: Carb Lover

                                                                >>> I would not be sad if they never have Andrew Firestone as a judge again. He doesn't contribute much IMO. <<<

                                                                At least with a comedian, he/she can be funny. Andrew Firestone contributed NOTHING to the program.

                                                                1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                  Ted Allen and Bonecrusher all the way.... It seems about taste before getting the one liner in...

                                                                2. whether or not you like his delivery, his observations and judgements are spot on more than they are off.

                                                                  1. I think Jeffrey is a funny old man - he's okay. Is Karine the overweight woman? She's not my favourite. Ted Allen isn't my favourite either. I like Akiko.

                                                                    1. Ecko was awful! Embarrassing. I like Ted Allen. And there was one episode with Lidia Bastianich where she played Margaret Dumont to Mo Rocca's Groucho. I found them very entertaining.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: NYCkaren

                                                                        battle farmer's market...that WAS a good one. cat cora went up against the chef from butter restaurant.

                                                                      2. Martin Yan is great. The focus is on the food, not him.

                                                                        Ted Allen is fine. Well balanced.
                                                                        Steingarten....eh. I could live without his attitude.

                                                                        Mo Rocca.:Annoying and provides zero insight.

                                                                          1. Ted Allen is my favorite.

                                                                            1. Another vote for Ted Allen. He knows his stuff and comes across as fair. I used to hate Steingarten but the more I listened to his comments he grew on me. Now if he could learn to not talk with his mouth full he'd be a candidate for my favorite.

                                                                              1. Steingarten is the best. The most qualified. The most interesting. Read his books, the guy knows his stuff and is quite funny to boot.

                                                                                The fat chick who talks about "texture" all the time needs to go away. And Ted Allen seems smug and not terribly knowledgeable.

                                                                                1. I guess I will dissent from the popular opinion and say that I am not Ted Allen's biggest fan. I would consider him to be an expert in food, so I don't think he is underqualified. He just annoys me a little bit. He's rather snarky and sarcastic. I don't really care too much for Iron Chef America either though, so I'm not sure what that says about me.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: linz_e_moore

                                                                                    It's funny, but that's the exact opposite of my objection to Ted Allen: I think he's too nice. He never seems to have anything critical to say. Not that I think the judges should be mean, they should just show some evidence of discriminating between good and bad, or even "delicious" and "supremely delicious."

                                                                                  2. OK, in the interest of deconstructing snarky comments...when Jeffrey tells Cat (IIRC) her bacon ice cream "should be illegal" -- I've never been able to satisfy myself whether that's in praise or condemnation. Any general consensus?

                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: momjamin

                                                                                      Given Jeffrey's predilection for fatty flavors, it seems he meant it as a high form of praise.

                                                                                      1. re: momjamin

                                                                                        Jeffrey makes no apologies for his love of fat.

                                                                                        However, last night Karine (Grrrr...) turned to Jeffrey and said "you probably like it [the dish] because it's FRIED, Jeffrey." And if I were Jeffrey, I would have told her "you like it because it's food, Karine." I have an awfully good time performing my own, private Mystery Science Theatre commentary.

                                                                                        1. re: stellamystar

                                                                                          Oh, I'm laughing so hard I just about fell out of my chair. That is WONDERFUL. She is absolutely one of the most grating people on any TV show.

                                                                                          You know, it would be fun to do a MST3K commentary on some of those shows. My son and I are both fans of the show, and we sometimes fall into the trap of doing so. To the chagrin of my wife.

                                                                                          1. re: jmckee

                                                                                            Hey, well, food network is airing about ANYTHING nowadays so why don't we pitch it? I think the commentary would be a sort of goofy throwback to the original Iron Chef voiceovers.

                                                                                          2. re: stellamystar

                                                                                            Well that was the best part about the original Iron Chef when they were showing it on channel 26 here in San Francisco in Japanese. It really WAS Mystery Science Theater 3000! ;^)

                                                                                        2. i'd love to see them bring back bone crusher one of these days [on the condition that jeffrey steingarten is on the same panel]...but in the meantime, alexandra guarnaschelli is definitely my new favorite.

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                            I like her too....now if only they'd pronounce her name properly.

                                                                                            1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                                                                                              Tritto on A. Guarnaschelli. I thought she had a nice balance of knowledge, insight, self-deprecation and humor.

                                                                                              And Karine the other night seemed to be pained not to put her elbows on the table- like she didn't know what to do with her arms.

                                                                                          2. Ted Allen is my favorite. He is knowledgable, and even when critical of a dish, he is not rude about it.
                                                                                            As far as Jeffrey Steingarten goes, I love his books, but sometimes think he overdoes his criticism a bit. I also sometimes get queasy watching him eat, blech.
                                                                                            Karine, I find to be infuriating. She's a snoot, and the only thing she conributes that I appreciate is a target for Jeffrey's snarky remarks. The interplay between those two can be downright icy.
                                                                                            I adore Tina Fey, but boy was she a fish out of water. I literally found it painful when she was trying to come up with insightful things to say. I was really praying for someone to rescue her there.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: ArikaDawn

                                                                                              Jeffrey, Martin Yan, Cady. Ted Allen is okay but very predictable...and nice. I'd love to see some of the original Japanese Iron Chefs as judges.

                                                                                            2. Korn - He was the best ever (but he's from the Japanese version)

                                                                                              1. I know this is an older post, but I cannot stand Akiko Katayama. Aside from the fact that I do not like her critiques, I cannot watch her eat or listen to her speak. I do happen to love Steingarten, but I like people who are straight shooters.

                                                                                                1. My favorite is Jeffrie Steingarten, but there was one episode where Donatella Arpaia. Andrew Knowlton, and Michael Ruhlman went at it in a somewhat contentious yet playful manner, unable to agree on vitually anything. I also think Donatella is very, very attractive, dare I say hot.

                                                                                                  1. I like Jeffrey.

                                                                                                    He is sort of the "House, M.D." of the Food Network.

                                                                                                    I laugh every time he critiques the judges comments... the looks they give him.

                                                                                                    I have to agree with the Karine dislikers...

                                                                                                    I get mad every time I watch the Battle Clam with Sam Choy. Sam is a great guy and chef and a local celebrity for us here in Hawaii. When Karine looked at one of chef Choy's dishes, one he presented proudly to the judges for them to enjoy, she said, "I feel like I am on Fear Factor..."

                                                                                                    I don't care who you are. If you are presented with someone's cooking, you don't be rude.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: Dave Spielman

                                                                                                      I have to turn away when they show Steingarten eating. He holds his fork like a child who hasn't been taught, and chews with his mouth open. And he has that tired attitude of "I know everythng because I'm a LAWYER." He's the image of what "gourmand" used to mean in the old days, before its meaning shifted to mean something positive.

                                                                                                    2. My favorite judge is Jeffrey Steingarten. Although I sometimes still watch the episode if he is not a judge, it isn't as enjoyable. I also enjoyed his book, "The Man Who Ate Everything." Second place would definitely go to Ted Allen.

                                                                                                      1. I think Martin Yan is a very good judge: he knows food and is very thoughtful in his pronouncements. I like Ted Allen too. The "oily" lady is creepy!