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Dec 19, 2007 07:51 AM

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.

      8 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.

          3. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

            Karine is really good, too. I do love Mo Rocca, but agree with you to some degree.

          4. 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.

            2 Replies
            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.

              1. re: jeanki

                Who is Bonecrusher? I thought i'd seen all the judges but don't remember him at all

              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 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 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.