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Next Iron Chef Finale - Spoilers

well, well, well! I am happy Chef Garces won, I liked what I saw of him better than Chef Mehta. What do you all think?
Jeffrey did seem even more pompous then ever... (did I spell that right???) WTH was the comment that the Iron Chefs all want someone who "cooks like them"!
I thought it was an exciting secret ingredient and there were several dishes I would have LOVED to try!

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  1. Was it me or was the episode strangely edited and produced? At the half hour mark they were already doing the countdown.

    I realize they need a longer intro for the finale and a longer, final debate, but they also picked roasts and ribs for the ingredient, foods that deserve time to cook.

    Would you want ribs or buffalo steamed in a pressure cooker for 20 minutes? Blah.

    3 Replies
    1. re: joninaz

      No, I wouldn't, jon, but perhaps that was part of the design behind tonight's particular challenge.

      I've never seen experienced rib cooks or recipes agree on whether the ribs should be simmered, in order to render out some of the fattiness, before grilling or roasting. I can imagine what those opposed to simmering phase would think of the pressure cooker.

      1. re: joninaz

        I like ribs cooked in a pressure cooker. It does a great job of softening the connective tissue.

        1. re: paulj

          TY, paul.

          I myself *do* simmer my ribs prior to seasoning and dry-heat glazing. I'm not brave enough to take on a pressure cooker, though. I'm kinda clumsy, and if there's an accident to be had...I'll find it. ;-)

      2. I was pleased with the secret ingredient's accessibility and was relieved that for one night, we got a break from IC's obsession with fish and seafood.

        Chef Garces' victory was a pleasant surprise, for me. I thought for sure "the fix was in" for Chef Mehta. While I can't deny Chef Mehta's talent, I have to say that after a while, I tired of his predictably over-presented, overwrought platings of too many ingredients. Occasionally, such preparations are great, and welcomed. But I think an Iron Chef has to be a disciplined editor and know when to exercise restraint, to prevent sensory chaos. JMO.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Normandie

          Well said, Normandie--"overwrought" is exactly right. In the "integrity" battle in Japan, Chef Mehta's platings were breathtaking, but somehow seemed wrong in kitchen stadium, and with such a robust secret ingredient.
          Having said that--I felt badly for Chef Mehta when the judges found his burgers undercooked, and I remembered that it was one of Chef's assistants who'd taken them off the grill.
          Does that exonerate Chef Mehta, or should he have checked the burgers for doneness?

          1. re: AnneBerryWrites

            No, it does not exonerate him. It was his responsibility to either check them for doneness or to make sure he had a sous who could be counted on to do it. It was his challenge, not hers.

            When his burgers were overcooked at the table though, I did recall AB making a point of saying she pulled them off rather quickly and that they were probably headed for another application. I guess not.

            1. re: dagwood

              Yeah, I have to agree. If he's serving it, it's his responsibility to make sure it's up to what I would hope are his standards.

              1. re: jlafler

                Mehta should be responsible but he shouldn't be accused of not knowing the fundamentals of cooking - that criticism makes no sense.

                1. re: Ericandblueboy

                  My recollection of that criticism was in regards to his undercooked french fries. It could have been the burgers too but I remember the french fries specifically. I don't remember who cooked those.

                  1. re: dagwood

                    You're right, the fries were undercooked too (but I don't know who fried them).

                    1. re: dagwood

                      I believe Mehta's sous, the Asian gal, made the burgers... when the camera showed the burgers flaring up on the grill. I had a feeling she was going to undercook the meat.

                      I don't know who made the fries.

                      Too bad the final score wasn't shown as done during a typical NIC episode.

                      1. re: dave_c

                        Also, not mentioned by any of the judges, but I noticed that Alton Brown had a lot of interaction/banter with Chef Garces during the episode, where AB was asking what he was doing, "Making carnitas" " Making pizza" etc. whereas AB had little interaction with Chef Mehtas during the episode (except at one point near the end AB mentioned that the pressure cooker was open now and Mehtahs replied, "It is?" or something along those lines indicating that he didn't know that it was) Mehtahs seemed like such a stress case, particularly with the pressure cooker not opening.

                        Of course, it could all be editing, but I wondered if "entertainability" was part of the discussion, off camera. Personally, I find watching Mehtas a little stressful, and not just in the finale. He's kind of a wisp of stress (I was going to say "a ball of stress, but he's more wispy")

                        I swear, though I'm sure I'm imagining it, AB referred to Chef Garces as "Iron Chef Garces" at one point. I've been meaning to go back and see if I can see it again, but, again, I'm probably just imagining it. Did anyone else also imagine that?

                        ~TDQ

              2. re: AnneBerryWrites

                (This is to AnneBerry)

                Hi, Anne. I agree with those here who believe that Chef Mehta cannot be excused from being responsible for his sous-chefs' work. The implications of underdone food vary. With some items, it would merely render them unappealing. But with some proteins, or other foods that haven't been stored under optimal conditions, serving them undercooked represents a health and sanitation risk. To me, that is so fundamental that the chef in charge must be on top of it.

                But particular to this show, part of an iron chef's job during battles is to supervise and coordinate what his staff produces. Chef Mehta needed to display that consistently in his final contest against Chef Garces. For that reason, I was taken aback when it was Alton Brown from whom Chef Mehta first heard that the pressure cooker was opened. It was obvious earlier in the program how important that pressure cooker was to him. It follows, logically, that he should have assigned one of his sous-chefs to check it periodically and let him know when it was opened. So either he didn't do that, or someone on his staff failed to tell him. Either way, a management-communication glitch. JMO....but I'm interested to know...what do you think about it?

            2. I have had the pleasure of dining at 4 out of the 5 restaurants that Chef Garces owns in Philadelphia and I have eaten something very similar to 2 of the dishes he prepared tonight.

              I had the carnitas taco at his Mexican inspired Distrito, but it was prepared with black beans and pineapple salsa. And at his Spanish tapas Amada, I had something very close to the beef flatbread he prepared. The version I had did not have the balsamic drizzle on it. It had parmesan cheese and horseradish.

              I'm so glad Chef Garces won, but now it will only be tougher to get a reservation at his restaurants. And it can be really tough now!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Philly Ray

                I also read in our local paper today that Chef Mullen was one of the guests at a viewing party that Chef Garces hosted at one of his restaurants last night.

                1. re: Philly Ray

                  This was true. I saw Chef Mullen last night at Distrito. Seeing him there did give away the outcome a bit, but it was nice that he came down to Philly for the party.

              2. This was pretty much what I expected -- as has been noted by many here, Mehta has been given a "villain edit" all along. It did seem to me that, despite what Alton said, the theme ingredient stacked the deck in Garces' favor.

                It seems pretty clear that Garces is technically skilled, so it's not a bad choice. I just hope he opens up and gets more creative in future battles.

                Steingarten also gets a villain edit -- he's "the East German judge" -- Kishi's old role. I don't like him much, but I think he's probably not as much of an ass as he looks on the show.

                3 Replies
                1. re: jlafler

                  I might agree with you re the ingredient, but at the same time, some of the challenges have been stacked in Chef Mehta's favor (certainly the Indian cuisine themed challenge and I think one or two others, too).

                  But that all begs the question, j...do you feel, when the judges rule (whether tonight in the finale or the individual eps) that they consider the whole body of work the competitor has shown them, or do they tend to make their judgments based solely on that night's work?

                  1. re: Normandie

                    I only saw about the first half of the Indian challenge, but one of my first thoughts was that it could work against Mehta since the judges would have higher expectations for him (justifiably enough). But that didn't bother me so much because it was a group challenge. When you have only two, and the ingredient so clearly favors one over the other, that seems like more of a big deal. I'm not complaining (no ingredient or theme is perfect for both contestants), but it did seem odd to me that AB specifically said the ingredient was good for both of them.

                    I meant to ask before, why did you think the fix was in for Mehta?

                    1. re: jlafler

                      That's a very good point you raise--that Chef Mehta's familiarity with the food and precepts behind the Indian challenge could have have worked against him. Of course you're right about that, and I had failed to consider that.

                      I'm not *100 percent* sure why I had thought prior to the conclusion that "the fix was in". I can't even tell you with certainty whether I meant by that that the Network had pre-determined Chef Mehta would win or simply that, to me, he seemed "fated" to win. But I do know that one factor in my thinking that way was due to some of the challenges and ingredients involved. Another *possible* factor in my thought process was that I thought I had seen chefs dismissed from the competition for lesser mistakes than Chef Mehta had made now and then. But, really, j, all I can say to you is that, fair or not, it's just a feeling I'd had for a couple of weeks. Obviously, I was wrong...so if I start shouting out lottery numbers or NFL game predictions, you'd do well to ignore me, LOL. ;-)

                2. The secret ingredient clearly favored Garces. Mehta said it was all stuff he doesn't eat much. But I think I prefer Garces anyway. We'll see if he relaxes into the job. I do wonder whether Steingarten is that nasty in real life.