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Next Iron Chef America - Japanese Challenge (Spoilers)

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OMG. Amanda Freitag is eliminated! So much for the conspiracy theories about Chef Freitag being pre-selected! I didn't think that Chef Mehta really had better dishes, but of course, I didn't taste the dishes.

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  1. his skewers looked fab though!

    1. This show was an hour long commercial for Kikkoman. I'm fine with product placement... it helps pay for the show. But right off the start, when Alton was reading what was pretty much ad copy for the product, it became a farce.

      Will next week be about finding that 6th taste - Miracle Whip?

      2 Replies
      1. re: tastyjon

        That bothered me tremendously also. The product placement is getting way out of hand.

        1. re: NYCkaren

          I'm surprised that they're not forcing the chefs to get all of their ingredients from an American Airlines terminal and cook in an American Airlines plane while wearing chefs whites with an American Airlines logo on it. Actually, I believe last season they did cook in an AA plane.

          I'm probably rooting for Garces at this point. I doubt Mehta will win as they're not giving him the best edit.

      2. The editing certainly made it seem like Chef Freitag's dishes were well received by the judging panel apart from the raw mushroom, and made it seem like Chef Mehta was in trouble, but then all of a sudden Chef Freitag was eliminated. Now, certainly there's nothing wrong to edit a reality show to increase its entertainment value, but to me the editing of the judgment was very very misleading regarding how the chefs actually did.

        2 Replies
        1. re: gyc

          That was exactly my take - I thought the judges liked her dishes, and had only small criticisms. I really thought Chef Garces was going to be going home. Goes to show you what I know!

          1. re: jeanmarieok

            It's not you. It's the editing elves who seek to mislead us. And it's annoying.

        2. She will still be in plenty of other FN shows, but this is not her game. I never understood why CHers though it was her to lose...

          1. Mullen and Mehta seem like fine chefs, but they don't exactly stand out in the personality department. That's where I thought Freitag was great, both on this show and when she took on Flay on ICA, she was joking around and seemed to be genuinely having fun. I loved it when she said "This kitchen is too small for a large, white German woman" or something to that effect. Looks like its probably going to be Garces at this point.

            11 Replies
            1. re: jackbauer

              Fell asleep before the end, so finding out who was eliminated made my day today!

              I'm sorry with those of you who really like Chef Freitag. Nothing she has made really stands out in my mind.

              I'm behind Garces for the win on this but we'll see...

              1. re: rocks67

                <I'm sorry with those of you who really like Chef Freitag. Nothing she has made really stands out in my mind.>

                Have you ever eaten at the Harrison?

                1. re: rocks67

                  In one (perhaps convoluted) way, the fact that nothing Amanda Freitag made may stand out to viewers looking back at her turn in the competition is to her credit. By that I mean, when I think back on Chef Mehta's participation thus far, what stands out is his obsession with the ice cream maker. Yes, of course I realize I'm seeing those moments of the competition that editors have chosen for me.

                  I respect Chef Mehta's pre-NIC resume, and he's certainly been willing to pay his dues and he's had some pretty knowledgable teachers, but if I were judging only what I've seen of him on NIC, I'm left with the feeling that his participation has been more about "winning", whereas Chef Freitag's has been more about respect for the food. In her restaurant work, she's been known for her abilities with typically Mediterranean ingredients, and those married with American fare at the Harrison, but what's struck me watching her on NIC is her quiet, understated but comprehensive competency with diverse ingredients and cuisines.

                  I believe the judges made the most sincere judgments they could, based on the food, but I think that some of us out here (mind you, not saying *you*, rocks; I don't know) may have branded her a little bit as a lightweight, since we sometimes tend to think of FN that way, and she has been a presence on the Network before. And I personally have found her to be one of the most quietly, consistently substantive and versatile competitors that I've seen on NIC. She knows her food and without a lot of flash she understands how ingredients interact, and those qualities, to me, should be elemental to an "Iron Chef".

                  I see some of the same qualities in Chef Garces, and I can understand why he appeals to you. I was disappointed to see Chef Freitag eliminated at this point, but will be interested to see what else Chef Garces presents for the judges.

                  1. re: Normandie

                    Very nicely said.

                    1. re: Normandie

                      Indeed. I have been struck by the editing of the episodes in that during the prep and cooking it appears as if she's flailing and "in the weeds", but at judges table she is composed and her explanations of her dishes were precise, giving us the image of someone who really understood the ingredients and had a clear direction for her dishes. I said to my wife while the Chefs were being judged, that just one bad dish in the bento box could be the deciding factor.

                      IMHO, Chef Freitag will have more appearances on FN and probably eventually get her own show to host.

                      1. re: araknd

                        Thank you Normandie, for your comments. Very nicely stated, I might add.

                        I will debate with you anytime! I do see some of your points. I would just welcome a "real" latin presence at ICA, Not taking anything away from Bobby Flay, but he is more southwest as opposed to true Latin, and I think that's missing on the show.

                        I'm sure Chef Freitag is a very compentent chef, I just wasn't overly thrilled by her presentations. And perhaps, maybe some of my dislike of her comes from too many "Chopped" episodes where we are subjected to her sour puss on a non-stop basis. For that matter, Alex Guarnaschelli is equal in my mind, and I absolutely ADORED her when she competed two or so years ago.

                        You know who would have been a great addition to these chefs? Gabrielle Hamilton. Now there is a Chef's chef. Loved her appearance on ICA, too.

                        1. re: rocks67

                          Interesting article regarding her "sour puss"

                          http://www.nj.com/homegarden/entertai...

                          1. re: rocks67

                            Well, thank you, rocks. Thanks for reading my comments in the spirit they were offered.

                            You know, if Amanda Freitag's presentations didn't appeal to you, then they didn't, and that's a fair comment, IMO. If her countenance doesn't appeal to you in some way, then I'd say that's not something that should disqualify someone from receiving the Iron Chef designation--*except that* so far as I know, at least in the American version, the IC is a creature that was created for television, and why would you want to spend time watching via a visual medium someone you don't find appealing. So even if I disagree with you on her likability quotient, it's an opinion I have to respect. I would just want to see someone like Chef Freitag get due acknowledgment for her professional achievements, and of course it's not necessary that someone be selected FN's next IC, in order to do that.

                            I've never been to Prune (at least I don't think I have; hard to remember sometimes), but from what I've read of Chef Hamilton, I understand your "Chef's chef" remark. It's all very nice in Donnareedland (aka, "television") when The Chairman lifts the cover and the finest specimens of swordfish or blowfish or Casaba melons or hazelnuts or Hostess Twinkies ever known to history are there for the IC and challenger to use, free of charge, of course. But real life for a working chef or executive chef or even this lowly little housewife doesn't work that way. Those working chefs of course have to turn out high-quality, appealing and sanitary food on a high-volume basis sometimes, working in cramped conditions, often, and they have to be able to do it while turning a profit. I identify with Gabrielle Hamilton because I, even here in my little world, have to deal with some of the barriers she does. I want to give my family the most beautiful produce in creation, and I want to do it while supporting our local farms and farm families. But that means I'd have to settle for using beautiful tomatoes in July and August only, build myself a root cellar and feast on turnips for most of the year. (I don't care for turnips.) So I appreciate that her particular creativity is rooted (no pun intended) in the real world. Like the rest of us here in the Northeastern United States, she has to acquiesce sometimes and use frozen or canned or imported foodstuffs. I like that she talks about this in this era of Local Foods, because if you go out to my New English backyard in January, there ain't much back there you'd want to eat. Unless you're into the bow-hunting method of food procurement, of course.

                            I know this is getting lengthy, and I apologize, but I was interested in what you had to say about a Latin presence on ICA. First off, I happen to be one of those throwbacks who thinks the three, and only, *truly* great cuisines are French, Italian and Chinese. So my first problem with ICA is that I don't think there's a chef there now that represents the classical French background, is there? So I would like to see that covered. Chefs Batali and Morimoto, fine. No problem. Chefs Cora and Simon seem somewhat redundant to me, in the viewpoints they represent, but maybe I don't understand their backgrounds well enough. I respect Chef Flay's tremendous food knowledge, but I see your point regarding the Tex-Mex. So when you mention the "Latin presence", are you thinking really of a pan-Latin expert? When I think about your suggestion, I want to see an Iron Chef who is as expert in Argentinian and Brazilian food as he or she might be in Spanish and Mexican. Is that your thought?

                          2. re: araknd

                            araknd, in a way, although I (obviously) think highly of her, I hope she will find a different route. I don't think serious, professionally trained, experienced premier chefs get the respect they've earned once they become a fixture on FN. Or if they do, perhaps it's sometimes for the wrong reasons? E.g., has Bobby Flay become--it almost seems at times--one of the deans of the network because of his significant abilities with food, or because he was marketable and received for some alleged rock-star-chef quality?

                            Look at some of the ridicule that comes Emeril Lagasse's way sometimes, and yet, unless I'm mistaken, not only did he, along with Paul Prudhomme, bring the set of various cooking styles in Louisiana to the fore as one of America's most worthy regional cuisines, he is also an expert classical chef. I know perhaps the way he is on camera and his commercial angles have something to do with this, but I wonder how much is about his presence on FN, too?

                            Not new questions I'm asking, and certainly not profound, but just as you point out that during prep scenes, Amanda Freitag is portrayed sometimes as a lightweight, I don't happen to think she is one, at all, and I think it would be a shame if she were labeled that way, due to an association with the increasingly "slick" FN.

                            If *I* were Queen of the World, it would be, "Off to PBS!" with my favorite chefs. Which may be a little hypocritical of me, because there are a couple I might not know about if I'd never seen FN. ;-)

                            1. re: Normandie

                              Interesting that you mention Emeril. I, too, think that he advanced the culinary tastes of the general public in the early days of FoodTV. Once he found stride on camera, he had an appeal as he was somewhat iconoclastic, but he certainly had the chops to earn the respect of the "old timers", like Julia and Paul Prudhomme. I think that he did his best work on camera when there was a live audience. Perhaps he became a bit "overexposed" and some of the ridicule comes from "johnnie come latelys" that did not see him early on.

                              I have much respect for any trained chef and I think that in today's world, many of them see FN or Bravo as a way to expand their brands and gain exposure. I'm on the West Coast, so if it weren't for these shows, I would not know of any of the NYC or DC chefs that appear. And I would never have thought of Cleveland as a place for an Iron Chef's restaurant, like LOLA or Michael Symon.

                              1. re: araknd

                                To reply, I was quite honestly thinking more of a well-rounded Latin presence. I am hoping that if Chef Garces does, indeed, win, he would bring that type of cooking presence to ICA. But, who are well all kidding?!? This IS Food Network. They will put on what they want too, and we will have to accept it.

                                I never really thought about the "why's" of Bobby Flay. But now that you mention it, I do see his marketability as his strongest asset. Remember when Food Network began, and how truly cocky and arrogrant he was? I HATED that man, wouldn't watch his shows, etc. Someone (Tushie or Susie, perhaps) got to him and probably told him to dial it back a notch. And behold! The FN World/Oyster was lain upon his feet.

                                If my local PBS station (WTTW) would show cooking shows more often than on Saturdays, I would probably never really watch FN. But it is my guilty pleasure and it has actually gotten my two daughters more into food and where it comes from/how to create things. So if nothing more, I will take that from the channel. That and the knowledge of other chefs. I'm pretty lucky to be in Chicago with Rick x2, Gail Gand, Stephanie Izard, Charlie Trotter, Paul Kahan, Koren, Grant, Laurent and a few others.

                                And now I sit, wondering who will be selected to as NIC, and do I honestly care anymore? LOL...

                    2. Ding Dong, OMG. Amanda Freitag is eliminated!

                      I'm thrilled to have been wrong about her preselection as IC. Her work at The Harrison may be excellent, but I thought that her work in this competition did not stand out as particularly clever or creative. Nonetheless, I don't believe that her invlovement with the FN is ending with Chopped.

                      And I think that her contemptuous stance toward competitors on Chopped, is not the kind of attitude that would be seen as appealing in an Iron Chef. I have to agree with Rocks that Gabrielle Hamilton would have been a better choice, a competent chef and a lot more fun to watch. Now I would be happy to see either Garces or Mehta win. Either of them would bring an interesting perspective to the ICA lineup.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: junescook

                        If you read the article I linked above, you will see the execs tell all the Chopped judges to sneer and be intimidating. She said off-camera they are always laughing and joking around. Throughout her battle with Flay on ICA she was very affable and funny.

                      2. This is kind of a sidebar from this episode, but we dined at one of Chef Garces' restaurants in Philadelphia (Chifa) last night and one of the specials was Vietnamese Pho. I started laughing to myself considering that the pho he made during the competition was called "unservable" by the owner of the Vietnamese restaurant that was judging him.

                        And no, I did not order it.