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The Next iron Chef - Down to Two (spoilers, including for finale episode)

  • c

Was I hearing things, or did Jeffrey criticize Mehta's flower garden as excessive, and then, at judgment, say it was lovely?

Plus, it was mentioned that Mehta didn't really meet the theme requirement as well as the other two, but then it was Mullen who got axed.

Generally a disappointing episode, although I did get a chuckle when Hattori-san disagreed about the doneness of Mullen's fish. The look on Steingarten's face...

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  1. I agree. Kind of a boring episode. I've missed a lot of this season but I don't find either of the finalists as fun to watch as Symon and Besh were.

    1 Reply
    1. re: NYCkaren

      I completely agree. The cooking skill is there but the personalities this season seem a little dull when you compare them to besh and symon. I think besh should have gotten another chance at it.

    2. It's obvious the editing elves are making Mehta the bad guy. Perhaps he is a jerk and certainly some of the things he says and does seem unsportsmanlike. But in the beginning of the show I remember liking him.

      My SO said he though Mullen limping around the kitchen would be depressing to watch on Iron Chef and might have had an influence on the result. Not sure I agree but interesting theory.

      Garces is my #1 pick. He's interesting to watch and definitely puts his personal spin on everything he makes. And his respect for the product is obvious.

      Why can't Donatella deal with spice? Any time there's even a little heat she winces. Might not be the best quality for a judge.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mojoeater

        Yeah, Donatella reminds of someone who would go to New Orleans, order jambalaya, and then say, "Please don't make it spicy."

        However, I think she has a major "food crush" on Chef Garces. I always notice how she perks up and smiles broadly every time he walks in to be judged.

        1. re: mojoeater

          I haven't been watching the show, but the thing you have to remember about this, as well as the New Food Network Star, is that it's much more about casting a successful TV show than it is about the cooking. Sad to so, if one of the contestants has a limp, that's going to work against him much more than another's bad food.

          These are the cold realities of casting for TV -- and they make for terribly frustrating home viewing. I'd never be able to watch that show, as I used to work in show business and saw it from the inside all the time. It literally comes down to a decision of which person more viewers find sexy. It's antithetical to cooking skill.

        2. Steingarten is a piece of work on the show (and on ICA). I find myself wondering about his personal relationships. Is he married or in a relationship? Do he have friends? How's all that going? But then I do tend to add story that I make up.

          3 Replies
          1. re: chicgail

            Jeffrey used to be mean and funny, but I've noticed that he's gotten just meaner w/o the wit and humor. He fights with all the judges now, not just a couple. Maybe he's having a hard personal life?

            1. re: Claudette

              I have no concrete evidence for this, but I've had the thought that he is not well. Physically.

              1. re: chicgail

                I was going to say something similar. He has had that sort of gray pallor, and vacant look as of late about him.

                the way he's gone after Donatella is just uncomfortable at times, as well.

          2. Finally got to watch the episode on delay last night.

            I thought that the criticism of Chef Mullen's effort was spot on. As soon as he said that he was going to do six dishes instead of five, I knew that he was dead. He was over reaching, but he almost pulled it off.

            The way they edited the cooking sequences, they wanted you to believe that Chef Garces and Chef Mullen would not be able to plate anything, and Chef Mehta had this huge display that was really over the top for the theme. My wife thinks that it will be Mehta and I tend to agree. I think that he's been sort of sandbagging up to now.

            9 Replies
            1. re: araknd

              They're really portraying Mehta as the villain of the show. For that reason I don't think it will be him. Food Network wants someone likable to be the next Iron Chef.

              1. re: Miss Needle

                Do they get to skew the results so the nice guy wins? Or prevent a substandard guy who happens to be on top at the right time over a more qualified person?

                I'm asking out of curiosity. It seems Top Chef couldn't, and got stuck with Ilan winning one season.

                1. re: Claudette

                  I do remember reading somewhere (and I don't remember where) that when Sam got kicked off in Season 2, the producers asked Colicchio to rethink his position. Obviously Colicchio didn't listen to them. On Season 2 you got 2 villains in the finale.

                  I don't think they skew the results. But I do believe they skew the editing. Hung won in Season 3. He was portrayed as an arrogant prick until the end where they started showing the whole "I'm doing this for all the immigrants in America" thing.

                  And Top Chef and Next Iron Chef are different. With Next Iron Chef, the winner becomes one of the iron chefs on Iron Chef America. It really is in Food Network's best interests to find a likeable Iron Chef. The winner of Top Chef serves a more limited function for Bravo.

                  ETA: On a show like Hell's Kitchen it is possible they skew the results for better ratings. Perhaps not in the finale, but I felt that there were contestants that lasted far longer than they should have.

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    I think Hung switching his strategy to "I'm in it for my people" was simply canny strategy on his part. They kept telling him (correctly) that his cooking had no soul, and he began to start telling a different story to make them think his motivations were different from his true, robotic heart. I wasn't a fan of Hung at all, and would have no interest in eating his food.

                    1. re: dmd_kc

                      My take is that Hung probably said the immigrant thing at some point during the competition and the editors didn't air it til later on. They have hours and hours of footage. With careful editing, you can spin any story you want.

                      And Hung won the seafood category in the US finals for Bocuse d'Or. I think that's quite an accomplishment and would be thrilled to try his food at some point (though not at Ajna where he is cooking now).

                      1. re: dmd_kc

                        I think "heart" and "soul" in cooking is a crock.

                        If someone makes a robot that can cook great food, I am just as happy to eat it as any human made food.

                        That said, I found Hung not only accomplished but also likable from the very beginning of that series.

                        1. re: Atahualpa

                          I've wondered about that, too. And cooking with "love" - huh? One of my friends loves to cook, and loves to cook for me, in particular, but her food still tastes really awful.

                    2. re: Claudette

                      I don't think they need to fix the results; they have plenty of tape to choose from, and they knew the outcome of the competition was known before the show was edited. That's why I think Miss Needle is right: if Mehta is the winner, they would have portrayed him more sympathetically. Or maybe they'll give us some kind of personality breakthrough in the final battle.

                      I've only watched the last two episodes, so I don't really know the cast of characters, but my impression is that Garces is the more versatile chef. There are several different basic "Iron Chef" personality types. Mehta would be the flashy, temperamental sort; Garces seems more practical and unflappable.

                  2. re: araknd

                    Mullen actually did eight dishes, since the first was a trio.

                    Bad judgment.

                  3. Chef Garces has already competed against (and beaten) Bobby Flay on IC America.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Philly Ray

                      And Morimoto beat Mehta in Battle Coconut.

                    2. So im just watching the final episode and no matter who wins or how I feel about the contest , I have decided one thing...Jeffery Stiengarden is a A Pompous Ass .......those that can not do judge.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: chris2269

                        agreed. He was really unbearable in the finale.

                        1. re: chris2269

                          Everyone laughs -- or perhaps snickers -- when Steingarten speaks. I have to wonder what they actually say when he's not around.

                          1. re: chicgail

                            Sad to say, I've never been a fan of Steingarten's. However, I'm starting to feel a little sorry for him, wondering if they told the judges to adopt certain personalities for this series. I wouldn't be surprised if the producers pulled him aside and said, "Be our Simon Cowell" and pulled Donatella aside and said, "Be our Paula Abdul."

                            Even if they didn't, I suspect they are editing him very severely. I am convinced that his comment in the finale (I can't remember which of the other judges he was addressing), "How dare you criticize me" was meant in jest because it was so awkwardly truncated. I wondered if he smiled or something immediately after saying it, and that's why the editing was so choppy, because they didn't want you to see that he was teasing.

                            I was pretty taken aback by his comment to the Iron Chefs that was along the lines of "You just want some one who cooks just like you," but, again, we don't really know how heated these discussions get. I don't trust the editing.

                            I really wanted to try that tartar with the avocado ice cream, but, I'll also say, I was really tired of Mehta and his love for the ice cream maker.

                            ~TDQ

                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              That's actually what I was wondering about the snickers. Are they laughing because they can't believe that he's so outrageously nasty in his comments -- or are they laughing because they can't keep an actor's concentration in the scripted characterizations they have been given or taken on?

                              1. re: chicgail

                                Ah, yes, now I understand what you meant. Yes, I agree. Someone in a different thread posted that they'd read that the judges on Chopped have been coached to be extra stern. I wouldn't be surprised if the Iron Chef judges are coached, as well.

                                ~TDQ

                                1. re: chicgail

                                  I really like him..and his books are wonderful and hilarious. I think it's all an act...him and Donatella. It's entertainment.

                                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  Simon to Steingarten: "If you're creative and you fail, are you creative or are you a failure?"

                                  Touche!

                                  1. re: junescook

                                    I loved that, actually. It's a great question and I think there really is no right answer.

                                    ~TDQ

                            2. Was it me or did it seem that Bobby Flay wasn't too keen on Garces winning. He seemed tougher on him in judging. I thought maybe that is because Flay maybe alittle worried that Garces will take over his territory.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                Funny, I thought the exact opposite, that Flay seemed remarkably supportive of Garces despite the fact that there will now be (paraphrasing Garces' words) "a real Latin Iron Chef." I wonder if Flay will feel compelled to drop the Southwestern approach he takes to everything and, if so, what his new approach/style will be.

                                ~TDQ

                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  Southwestern cooking may borrow certain things from Latin cuisine, but they are very different.

                                  1. re: chicgail

                                    Oh, absolutely, but Flay used to be the stand-in for everything Latin or even Latin'ish. I wonder if he's going to fade like Batali has. I just looked on wikipedia and Batali hasn't done a single episode this season.

                                    ~TDQ

                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      I believe Batali's contract was not renewed by FN in 2007 or 2008...
                                      However, I find it interesting that FN can still use Batali's image on ICA when he's not on their payroll anymore.

                                      1. re: dave_c

                                        I remember that, but I also thought they said he would continue as an Iron Chef, but, clearly, that hasn't happened, except that he still appears, as you say, in the intro and the pantheon.

                                        ~TDQ

                                        1. re: dave_c

                                          Batali is still an Iron Chef he is going to be part of the battle featuring White House Chef Cristeta Comerford. Flay and Comerford will face-off against Batali and Lagasse.

                                          http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33625671/...

                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                            But, that's a SUPER CHEF battle. I assume SUPER chefs are even more powerful than IRON chefs.

                                            But, yeah, it's basically an Iron Chef deal, but it will be the only one he's done this season (according to wikipedia, which is, of course, always right). :)

                                            ~TDQ