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Jan 2, 2009 05:32 AM

Iron Chef America 1/1/09: Appleman v. Symon

I particularly liked this episode because I have extensive experience with *BOTH* chefs' cooking and they are two of my more prefeffered chefs in the States. IMO, the better chef won. But it was nice to see two people whom I have so much respect for, and knowledge of their cooking, 'doing battle'. The dishes they created were also quite representitive of the foods they serve in their restaurants, though I was actually expecting a dessert from Symon, and not expecting one from Appleman. (Symon's signature dessert is maple, bacon, eggs ice cream wonderfullness.)

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  1. I enjoyed watching the chefs and the butchering of the suckling pigs (the secret ingredient) was particularly fun to watch, but nonetheless, I found myself muttering and yelling at the TV: the judges, especially the radio morning show guy, drove me crazy. I can see having one judge without a real food background, but two out of three? I could have been projecting, but I thought both Chefs looked a bit embarrased by the radio guy's comments and antics (including trying to reach over to take food off of the plate of another judge!), and perhaps the Chairman was too (at one point he cut him off mid-sentence).

    Boomer Eliason (also a judge; I suppose so that Alton Brown could make 'pigskin' jokes) said at the start of the show that he had never really tasted most parts of the pig, and that he was apprehensive about doing so, and yet in the end I thought his comments were more thoughtful and well-reasoned than that other guy (sorry, don't know his name, tried to look it up and see no mention of the show on the Food Network site, could it have been a rerun?).

    Would really have so much preferred seeing Jeffrey Steingarten's take on the food...

    On a good note, the show did remind me that I have been remiss in not checking out the Monday Meatballs at A16...

    14 Replies
    1. re: susancinsf

      Ditto. Did you notice how crazed the one sous chef looked?? The girl who made the blueberry sticks.

      1. re: melly

        I damn near thought she was going to burst into tears at one point, while she was cutting the toasts for the Elvis sandwich. That's about the most harried I've ever seen an IC sous chef look.

        1. re: melly

          I called my husband away from the computer to show him my opinion of the hottest sous chef yet on Iron Chef. He agreed with me.


          Of course, there was Tre Wilcox..but back to the food.

          1. re: sommrluv

            Yes she was gorgeous, anybody know her name? LOL

            1. re: theGent

              I think she's Jane Tseng from A16 in San Francisco
              Happy Eating!

        2. re: susancinsf

          I thought Boomer was surprisingly good. And it looked like he cleaned his plate for every course.

          1. re: Frodnesor

            true enough. and he definitely appreciated the beer. I'd have had no problem if he were the only non-culinary expert. Since I don't follow football, I know virtually nothing about him (it is thanks only to the fact that some members of my family seem to like the sport that I even recognized that he was a football player). I now realize I even spelled his last name wrong. However, he definitely came across as a nice, and as I said, thoughtful, guy.

          2. re: susancinsf

            susancinsf, not that i think you *realy* care :) but the other judge was Craig Carton - he and Boomer Esiason co-host a sports radio show here in NY.

            i'm pretty much in agreement with everyone else. i thought it was a great battle, really fun to watch. they couldn't have chosen a better ingredient for those two, but they certainly could have chosen more appropriate judges. i really was scratching my head at the choice of Boomer & Chris. but Appleman was really impressive, and as always, i'm in awe of Michael Symon. i think he may now be my favorite Iron Chef.

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              thanks for the info, but wow, that's amazing...I wouldn't have guessed the two worked together from their interactions. Again, it must have been projection on my part, but I could have sworn that even Boomer was embarrassed by Carton's antics! (Can you tell I wouldn't tune into that show, even if I were in NY... :-))

              1. re: susancinsf

                i was impressed that Boomer managed to warm up to the ingredient and get into the spirit of it all, and yes, i agree he seemed to be a little embarrassed by Carton's was i. he's a pretty talented broadcaster, but he rubs *a lot* of people the wrong way - he's actually quite controversial. and believe it or not, he's married with 3 kids - i just hope he sets a better example in terms of table manners in front of his children!

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  For those who don't remember or who don't follow football, Boomer's family issues have been documented very closely. here is a link to his charitable foundation and why it was formed.


                  1. re: chipman

                    growing up in cincy in the 80s i remember boomer well, but i do think that the family comments were in regard to the other guy. that said, thanks for posting this as it's a great reminder of a wonderful guy (who i agree was surprisingly good for a non food person) - although the actual food person had NOTHING to contribute it seemed!

                    1. re: AMFM

                      yes, if chipman was responding to my post, i was actually talking about Craig Carton.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        My mistake, I should read more closely. As Gilda Radner used to say "Oh never mind".

          3. it's weird. it's like this episode didn't exist on i was just trying to see when it might air again and it totally isn't there. strange.

            3 Replies
            1. re: AMFM

              You are right, it is totally absent from the FN website! I found reference to it on a different site and it is being re-aired on the following dates:

              FOOD Sat, Jan 3
              5:00 PM Symon vs. Appleman
              San Francisco chef Nate Appleman goes up against Michael Symon in Kitchen Stadium.
              FOOD Sat, Jan 3
              11:00 PM Symon vs. Appleman
              San Francisco chef Nate Appleman goes up against Michael Symon in Kitchen Stadium.
              FOOD Sun, Jan 4
              2:00 AM Symon vs. Appleman
              San Francisco chef Nate Appleman goes up against Michael Symon in Kitchen Stadium.

              I thought it was a great show. I'm not familiar with Appleman at all, but am a fan of Symon. My daughter is an avid (stuffed) pig collector and the look on her face when they lifted the cover off of the secret ingredient was priceless!
              Symons food definitely looked more appealing to me. I agree about the judges though...when they were introducing them I was ranting to my husband about having not one but two non-food judges. It made for some pretty boring commentary about the dishes. Even the one foodie judge didn't have that much to say, especially towards the end. Looking forward to a new season!

              1. re: AMFM

                My on-air guide shows it on "airing" (cabling I guess technically) next on Saturday Jan. 3 at 5 pm.

                In other matters, I'm not super experienced with the whole suckling pig thing and was simultaneously fascinated and appalled at the tearing apart of the cute little piglets. I played back my TiVO several times because I didn't see how the heads were removed. Oh, they didn't show that. To make matters more interesting, I was eating dinner while watching. Scallops wrapped in what else, bacon.

                And, yes, why only one culinary expert among the judges? Was everyone keeping Kosher?

              2. I thought Boomer was good. His comments were much more thoughtful than that other guy's, I agree. I enjoyed this episode.

                3 Replies
                1. re: NYCkaren

                  I thought Boomer was one of the better "non-culinary expert" chefs they've had on the show. He was professional and courteous to the chefs and dishes, and though food isn't his field of expertise did he best to provide honest commentary without drawing attention to himself or making lame jokes (i.e. Marc Ecko).

                  1. re: Bunson

                    No one will ever top Bonecrusher, though. More Bonecrusher!

                    1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                      BFP, i'm with you on that one! Bonecrusher would have been such a fun judge for this battle.

                2. I agree with all the posters who said they would have preferred at least one more 'foodie' judge. Steingarten, ideally.

                  1. I actually thought Symon was going to lose this one; judging by the initial reactions/comments/criticisms of the judges originally

                    Does Symon even have a loss yet?

                    Needed another foodie judge, gotta agree.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: duckdown

                      Symon lost to Morimoto when he ws a guest. He has one loss as an Iron chef and Ithink 5 wins. Something like that. His one loss was to the chef at The Spotted Pig in NYC (who is also a friend of his and who he invited to cook at Lola for a special dinner several months back).