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Next Iron Chef America - Indian Challenge (Spoilers)

OK. So who else was happy that Nate Appleman was eliminated? Chef Trevino cooked beef in an Indian cuisine challenge? What was he thinking?

Chef Mehta did not walk away with either the quick challenge with his one bite!

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  1. i do not mind at all that Chef Appleman is gone, and I was very happy Chef Mehta did not take either challenge. :)

    1. Clearly, these chefs should have participated in COTM this month so they knew what they were cooking.....

      1. Very happy to see both Appleman eliminated and Mehta not declared the winner.

        Apparently snapper prepared like southern American fried catfish with a side of sneering cockiness isn't enough to be the next Iron Chef.

        This was an excellent episode because it showed that you can't be an Iron Chef just cooking your own cuisine and if you cook your own cuisine it better be amazing.

        I was not happy to see how Alton Brown coddled Appleman at the axing. He gave him the usual "good chefs have bad days" line, but then didn't give him his own final, "You will not the next Iron Chef."

        10 Replies
        1. re: taos

          I'm actually a little bummed by Appleman and Trevino being eliminated. I like both of them, but after watching them prepare their meals, it was pretty much in the cards they were both going home.

          VERY glad Mehta did not win. I enjoyed the look of disdain in his eyes.

          HOWEVER, I really wish they would just give it to Freitag already. We pretty much know they are going with her and her sub-par style of cooking. I am NOT impressed by her, sorry. If I had my way, it would be Garces all the way.

          1. re: rocks67

            We seem to have similar taste. I think Appleman was one of the top contenders to win, and got robbed, although I think Trevino was a joke. Mehta lucked out this week, because if it was any other challenge, he would've been gone. He's one of the season's weakest. If he makes another shitty ice cream I'm boycotting.

            Freitag doesn't do it for me, either, but boy, they have a major boner for her.

            1. re: rocks67

              I'm not sure Freitag will win it. Might be those editing elves trying to mislead us. And I've actually been surprised with her versatility. Once again, none of us know how any of the food tastes, but hers looked good to me.

              1. re: mojoeater

                I'm wondering, in addition to how good the food is, if "how telegenic" will enter into the equation. Freitag seems to be a great "stone face."

            2. re: taos

              I agree! I, too, was disappointed he didn't get the "You will not be the next Iron Chef." He needed to hear it. Cocky needs to have the talent behind it. There's a Kid Rock song that goes, "They say I'm cocky and I say, 'what? It's ain't bragging, <female-parent><rude-word-for-fornicator>, if you back it up.'"

              I'm also not a huge fan of Chef Mehta. It seems like he's a very talented chef but his underhanded and sneaky food and tool hoarding just to screw over his competitors really turns me off. Yes, this is a competition but it should be about who makes the best food, not who the most devious person is.

              1. re: Ima Wurdibitsch

                Agree completely on both counts. Chef Mehta may be an excellent chef in his own right, but also seems rather one dimensional.

                On the following new episode of ICA, Iron Chef Morimoto presented a dish that one of the judges criticized for not being "Japanese" because he used Parmesan and tomatoes in his pheasant dish. Chef Morimoto responded that something to the effect that just because he is a Japanese cuisine specialist, it does not mean he can't expand or know how to do takes on dishes from other world cuisines. That shut that judge up rather quickly.

              2. re: taos

                Actually, I find that coddling to be a typical editing technique on the Food Network. If they say mostly nice things to a person when there have been obvious mistakes, that's usually the person going home. I think they don't want to kick these outgoing chefs when they are down. They will need them later on for something else...


                1. re: taos


                  Of course I agree with you on all counts except, perhaps that IC usually does cook his/her own cuisine, but with whatever the secret ingredient is.

                  Does anyone know if there's an IC leaving the show or if they're just adding to the number of ICs. If Cat Cora is leaving or wants to play a smaller role due to the new baby, it does look as though it's Fiertag's game to lose.

                  1. re: chicgail

                    chicgail, I was wondering the same thing--if Frietag is their pick to replace Cat Cora if, indeed, Cat Cora's going anywhere. I think someone with either a Latin or Indian culinary background would be fun, too, though.


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Given the background of the contestants in TNIC, I'm guessing the producers are thinking the same way you are about a Latin or Indian chef, TDQ.

                2. Very very happy to see Appleman go. He was just obnoxious and I would have had no desire to watch him on ICA.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: dagwood

                    hmmm... so who at this point in the competition would we watch???

                    I like Garces, I would watch him. I think Mullen is an excellent chef, but I'm not sure he'd be a great ICA.

                    1. re: jujuthomas

                      All three of us at my house are rooting for Garces. Watchable, interesting food, and a good addition to the show.

                      1. re: jmckee

                        I'm a Garces Girl, too. He's been under the radar a good deal, but he's definitely the most talented, famous (if that counts) and best looking (which gets him bonus points, in my book!) of the chefs.

                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                          Freitag was very good when she was on Iron Chef battling Bobby Flay doing Wild Alaskan King Crab or something like that. She was very relaxed, bantering, entertaining, and lost to Flay who was serious and sweating it the whole time by only one point.

                          If she wins, I think she'll be an excellent addition to the show. She's not as cocky as Appleman, Mehta, Mullen and a lot of the boys on The Next Iron Chef and for that reason her talent is being overlooked.

                          1. re: taos

                            Her food just seems boring. What'd she make last night, a pakora? And a crab cake a couple weeks ago? I don't know, she just seems kind of meh to me (at least onn the show-probably not in reality).

                            1. re: invinotheresverde

                              I have to agree. I think she's just "meh..." Not saying she's a good or bad chef, just not my cup of tea. She really doesn't bring anything to the table for me. I'd be hard pressed to watch ICA if she became of the chefs and had a battle on tv.

                              Garces, on the other hand, now HE I would watch!

                        2. re: jmckee

                          I would prefer to see Garces win as well, though I would be honestly surprised if he did. At least he uses some creativity and takes some risks. Freitag has seemingly been given a pass on these first few weeks (making chicken again? Oh, but it's "heavenly!"), plus doing eclairs for Mexican, etc. She has more exposure on the Network. In addition, her areas of expertise are Asain and French. Next week Japanese, then....

                          1. re: junescook

                            eclairs can be found in Mexican panaderias. The country was 'colonized' by French bakers around the time of the US Civil War.

                            1. re: paulj

                              Very true. Much of the breads at panaderias are French pastries with Spanish names.

                      2. re: dagwood

                        I viewed Appleman as being like Symon w/o the good personality. They seemed fairly similar to me in a lot of other ways. I didn't see them keeping Appleman based on that, if they wanted a surly & obnoxious Symon they could just tell Symon to act more surly & obnoxious

                      3. The editors seem to be making it easy now to figure out in advance who's leaving.

                        Like last week, lots of footage of Crenn saying how great her dishes were and she just knew she'd be staying on. Same thing this week with Appleman in particular. Lots of talk about how he'd be at the top, ha-ha to the other chefs that I took all the snapper (didn't that end up biting him...), etc. Roasting a spice-studded banana is going to keep you in?

                        Well, we'll see how the remaining chefs deal with Tokyo and Morimoto next week. Should be pretty serious.

                        1. I'm very happy to see Appleman go. I'm also a bit disappointed to see Trevino go, but glad that Chef Freitag bounced back after last weeks poor performance. Asinine conspiracy theories aside, I hope she wins.

                          1. Oh we were surprised at my house about how THRILLED all three of us were. My son put it best: "Appelman is NOT an ethical person."

                            1. I did the happy dance!!! Yay! Appleman is gone!

                              1. Not sure why, but none of these folks are really inspiring me. Maybe I'm waxing nostalgic as a fan of the original show from Japan. Those original chefs were bigger than life, and (rightly or wrongly) presented as the top experts in a particular style of cooking. You never knew what old school Sichsuan recipe Chen would apply to an ingredient, or how Morimoto would shock traditionalists by breaking rules in Japanese cuisine. Each had a certain expertise... like comic heroes.

                                Even the earlier American version kept some distinct styles... Flay/Southwest, Puck/EuroCali, Mario/Italian, Cora/GreekMed, etc.

                                Now it seems the drama of this "NICA" show is taking chefs completely out of their element, rather celebrating their unique interpretation of an ingredient. It's become more like a Top Chef meets Hells Kitchen rather than Iron Chef. One can appreciate the idea of chefs being well rounded and worldly in view, but judging their ability to create a 5 course Indian feast when many of them have never cooked Indian seem more about drama than skills. If you picked your 5 favorite chefs in the world, it's very likely they might falter at creating a feast outside of their specialty. I wouldn't want to watch Joël Robuchon cook a Thai dinner if he wasn't experienced. That doesn't make him a bad chef. But I would be interested in a challenge where Joël Robuchon was given Thai chiles and see how he adapted it to classic French cuisine. That would be fascinating and more original to the show's roots.

                                As it stands, it seems this series is all about getting lucky each week, depending on who hits near the mark. Like horseshoes. I can't get excited for horseshoe throwers. Half skill. Half luck. In fact, I like the guest judges and cooks in the ethnic places just as much... why not give them the shot?

                                1. I'm curious as to how chefs like Appleman who are supposedly totally unfamiliar with Indian cuisine can end up creating same, and even attaching the proper names to them. One can only speculate that they must have been given some sort of information to go by. Otherwise, how would they know?

                                  Any insider info on whether FN allows that in a case like this?

                                  4 Replies
                                    1. re: cmvan

                                      Good point, CMVan. Perhaps it is similar to the IC show for which the contestants are given two or three posibilities for "secret ingredient" some days ahead, then an hour (after the unveiling) to prep just before the contest, and finally two hours to prepare the food to be served to the judges. It is certainly not unrealistic to believe that the NIC chefs might be given some time to at least plan their dishes and make the final products more professional. The show is all in the editing.

                                      This time length, plus the fact that two ICA shows are shot back-to-back, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, may account for things like Jeffery's "mood changes" over the course of the contest. (I also noticed that at the beginning of, I think, NIC Mexican, the judges had bloody marys and mimosas in front of them. Must have also been a morning session.)

                                      1. re: cmvan

                                        There was a Dinner Impossible episode (1st season) that took place in a cooking school (CIA), that had a distinctly international character. Robert had to work with students to recreate dishes prepared by 'seven internationally renowned master chefs'. There were a couple of Indian dishes, Thai, Tunisian, etc. That suggests that schools like this are expecting their students to be knowledgeable, if not expert, in a wide range of cuisines. This education is no longer an immersion in classic French cooking.

                                        1. re: cmvan

                                          I don't think it was ever stated that they are "totally unfamiliar" with Indian cuisine. They are, after all, professional chefs, a job that has exposed them to a variety of cuisine in their training and/or jobs. They also at least have eaten Indian food. At the very minimal, they knew they were going to be participating in a high profile, high stakes cooking competition so maybe they studied up on the basics of cuisine from various countries.

                                        2. We were happy Appleman, or “Applehead” as we call him (it’s also a term of endearment we use for the dog, it’s nothing personal) was eliminated. We weren’t connecting with him and his arrogance was grossly unwarranted. At home we are divided between Freitag, Garces and Mullen, either one would be a satisfactory winner, but are united against Mehta – again, arrogance and bad sportsmanship.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: cuccubear

                                            I really don't understand why so many of the contestants are engaging in such poor sportsmanship this season. They don't behave that way on ICA. When bad things happen on ICA, they lend each other equipment and ingredients and such... Some of these contestants don't seem to get that a victory is sweeter when it's fairly won.


                                          2. I never understand when you get credit for adding your own twist to a cuisine and when you don't. Garces got credit for adding a Latin twist to the Indian cuisine, but Appleton got slammed for adding an American twist to the cuisine. Mehta lost because he didn't add any personal touches to his home cuisine. I guess the key is, it only helps to add your own twist when it's successful (and/or they really want you to move ahead...)


                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              The difference is that Garces added a Latin twist; Appelman's offering was more like an American dish with an Indian twist.

                                              1. re: jmckee

                                                Appleman also had a dessert that they all thought was disgusting.

                                                1. re: mojoeater

                                                  Maybe I'm missing it but Iron Chef is not about cooking in different styles. Batalli doesn't all of a sudden cook Korean food and Flay doesn't bust out British cuisine. It's about cooking the with whats given to you to highlite that element. So to me these challenges are lame. I don't knock my favorite bistro for not having sushi on the menu. Knocking a Chef who has spent years studying and perfecting a certain cuisine because they all of a sudden can't produce (insert other cuisine that takes years to perfect) is kinda lame IMO. I am not saying posters are doing this its the stupid show so much worse than last year.

                                                  1. re: chris2269

                                                    I agree that TNIC is not the same as an actual Iron Chef competition and perhaps the challenges are more for entertainment than expertise. But Appleman's food wasn't good, even for American style with Indian influences. His "paneer gnocchi" was "hard and rubbery" his banana was "off-putting" his fish was "a little greasy" etc.

                                                    1. re: mojoeater

                                                      While I really liked Appleman, I agree that this wasn't his finest performance. It's a shame they didn't take his past showings into account.

                                                      As an aside, WTF is up with that judge who can't tolerate even minute amounts of spicy heat? It was an Indian challenge! For most of her "critiques", she repeated that everything was too spicy. Wow, what a palate.

                                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                        I noticed that too. Even before the Indian challenge she'd make a face if something had a few hot peppers in it. Not a good trait for a judge, if you ask me.

                                            2. Nate Appleman is really upset about getting eliminated from the The Next Iron Chef, blames it on bad judging, says he stands behind his dishes and wouldn't have changed them even if given the chance:


                                              Roberto Trevino, reacts a little differently:


                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: taos

                                                In other words, Trevino handled it like a pro, while Appelman whined and blamed the judging (including Steingarten, who arguably know as much about food as anybody writing today).

                                                No surprise there. What a baby.

                                              2. Personally, I thought this challenge was absurd. I have liked this show all season, but even at the start of this episode I thought it was stupidly set up.

                                                Of course, it was totally fine to give the chefs Indian ingredients and have them create dishes with them. But obviously, they should be told to impart their own personality and cooking into the dishes as well. Instead, in this challenge, the chefs seem to have been told just to basically duplicate actual existing Indian dishes (which they obviously were able to study in advance, and that's why chefs who didn't know anything about Indian cooking gave very specific names to some rare dishes). What does this demonstrate? Why would someone who cooks, say, Italian, have to be able to totally recreate authentic Indian dishes?

                                                As I say, it would have been cool to have them incorporate Indian ingredients or do their own twist on Indian but what they required of the Chefs was absurd. And, the result was absurd too in that even if you didn't like Chef Appleman, he clearly was among the top of the chefs in terms of talent.

                                                I was so pissed off at this challenge, and to top it off they have to kick off two people from a challenge that is totally extraneous to actually being an Iron Chef.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: film_score

                                                  Why would someone who cooks, say, Italian, have to be able to totally recreate authentic Indian dishes?

                                                  My point you just said it better. :) Iron Chef is about top chefs in thier field puting thier twist on ingredients not trying to cook in styles out side thier experience. I have never seen Morimoto does Italian.

                                                  1. re: chris2269

                                                    I think you both make excellent points. The other thing I'm going to mention is that for food network, you really become an all-purpose food network personality they can tap into for a multitude of scenarios. RR and Paula Deen (and someone else, too, Tyler Florence, perhaps?) both appeared on "baking" Iron Chef awhile back. I just saw an episode of the Paula Deen show where Bobby Flay made an appearance (then challenged her to a showdown). All kinds of food network personalities appear on TNFNS as well as Next Iron Chef etc. etc. I think for these Iron Chef contestants, doing these silly challenges, no matter how ridiculous you think they are, is just part of being associated with the food network and you'll need a high tolerance for these kind of shenanigans. At the end of the day, it's about food entertainment. As a chef, either you're on board with that, or it's not going to be a good fit for you.


                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen


                                                      Well said. It is much like the old movie system where the studios had their actors under contract and the actors were "told" what movies they would be appearing in. Only in this case, the chefs/cooks have all kinds of exposure from their own shows to developing cookbooks and signature pots and pans.

                                                      I feel that a well trained chef should be able to adapt to the situation and be able to prepare just about anything and be flexible enough to either include his/her own touch if the ingredients dictate or go completely off the reservation.

                                                  2. re: film_score

                                                    I totally agree, most American or French for that matter are not well versed in classic Indian technique. I don't see the point of these challenges.

                                                  3. I hate the concept of forcing the chefs to cook within one particular cuisine. Especially since that is not at all how Iron Chef America operates. So I don't see the point of these challenges. Instead stick with secret ingredients, not secret cuisines.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog

                                                      Why don't they just stage a bunch of round-robin ICA style cookoffs to determine who will be the next IC, forgetting about all these challenges and exotic locations? I'll tell you why. Because NICA is primarily TV entertainment, not a formal chef competition.

                                                      Evidently the producers decided that this format would attract the most viewers. That's what matters.