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Jan 3, 2010 06:47 PM

Super Chefs _ Iron Chef America [spoilers]

I was sure Emeril Lagasse and that other guy I don't like would win over Bobby Flay and the White House chef. I can't believe the three skinny ladies have much of taste buds going for them.

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  1. I disagreed with the plating scores. And I can't believe they were tied for taste. Really???

    I totally want to make the raviolo with the egg inside. I posted over on home cooking asking for suggestions since I didn't see any recipes on the Food Network site for the show. Here's the link , in case anyone else is interested.

    This isn't a show I watch regularly. Does Food Network usually put up the recipes for at least some of the dishes?

    12 Replies
    1. re: LNG212

      I think they may have won the plating with the "chowder" with that gorgeous bright green "soup" poured tableside. Stunning!

      At least two of the judges mentioned they didn't like Emeril's oyster dish, which seems to have been the biggest misfire of the evening. In addition, at least two of the Batali-Legasse dishes were criticized for not meeting the criteria of the vegetables being the most important component, which may have been reflected in the originality scores.

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Yep! I am not a Flay fan at all and thought the Obama's passed an opportunity by to get a more high profile white house chef. But to say they didn't deserve to win is silly. They executed their menu better. and it was more focused on the theme ingredient.

        1. re: AAQjr

          There was a long discussion at the time on these boards about the pros and cons of getting a high-profile White House chef. I didn't see any reason to fire someone who was doing a good job simply because she wasn't "high-profile" -- if having a high-profile chef is important for some reason, then you can make the chef you already have "high-profile" by doing things like having them compete on Iron Chef while promoting the White House garden!

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            I read recently that it's hard to get a "high profile" chef for White House duty because s/he is trading a time in their career to "make football munchies for the First Family." While that belittles the job, it is a very different type of position than executive chef at a restaurant or series of restaurants or even chef owner of same.

            1. re: jmckee

              I see it as the executive chef at a boutique hotel. You do High end banquets, room service. Prolly restaurant style service for WH staff. Maybe not what every chef wants, but if you combine it with possible elevated profile. You could make a case for it being a good job.

              1. re: AAQjr

                You're right -- it's very much like being the executive chef at a hotel, and there are a lot more responsibilities than a chef who has only worked in a stand-alone restaurant is qualified to handle. Furthermore, the number of people who can taste your food is limited, and your ability to put your own mark on the food is limited. If your goal is to be a "name" chef, there are much easier ways to do it. Afterall, how many of us can name the last White House chef? How many of us could have named the current White House chef before this week (I only knew her name because there was a long thread on this topic when Obama took office). The White House chef position is not some kind of semi-honorary gig where all you do is design a few menus, cook a few meals and make a lot of high-profile appearances.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  Remember, the Obama White House had Marcus Samuelsson in as guest chef for the first State Dinner.

                  1. re: pitu

                    Care to elaborate on how this relates to what I said? (Seriously, I'm not being snarky).

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      Re: White House chef -- they bring in high profile chefs for high profile events

                      1. re: pitu

                        I don't think one example by the Obamas is indicative of what "they" do. Anyway, what do you think Samuelsson did? Personally cook a multi-course banquet for 200 people? The role of a "guest chef" is to work with Mrs. Obama and the White House Chef to develop a menu and work with Chef Commerford on how the dishes are to be prepared, and maybe supervise on the night of the banquet to make sure the dishes are being prepared properly. But the White House Chef and her crew are the ones who actually purchase, prepare, cook and plate the food, and the White House chef is responsible for determining the staffing, budget, etc.

                        Organizing and preparing a large formal banquet is a very different skill set than cooking in a restaurant, since you have to serve hundreds of plates at the same time. There's no way someone who doesn't have extensive experience in that kind of executive role could just walk into the White House kitchen and take over.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          I'm not sure why you're responding like that, Ms Lafler: "Anyway, what do you think Samuelsson did? Personally cook a multi-course banquet for 200 people?"

                          Obviously, no. Nor does Commerford do all the cooking -- she's an executive chef. The digression was about high profile vs not in the WH, and in fact at the very first big event, a name chef was brought in and a big pr blitz was made about it. Whatevs...

                          Nice to see the gorgeous veg garden at the White House!

                          1. re: pitu

                            And my post, which is what you were responding to, was about the fact that simply being a high-profile chef is in no way a qualification to be the White House chef. Agree?

    2. The result was sooooo bogus I just can't believe it. Batali was so superior to the other two and the judges seemed so partial to his and Emeril's dishes. There is no way Food Network was going to send the sorry white house chef back without a "victory". What bull_ _ _ _! Poilitics as usual. Geez!

      6 Replies
      1. re: ddavis130

        not necessarily. We didn't taste the dishes. and I didn't see the judges being partial to either team.

        However, other than Nigella Lawson, what credentials did the other two have to be judges? Where was Jeffrey Steingarten when you need him?

        1. re: ddavis130

          You can't serve burnt food in a culinary competition and expect to win. F& C's dishes may not have been as technical, but they appeared to have made less mistakes.

          I thought the judges was better than the usual low standard, not that that's saying much. Crying conspiracy seems a little hasty to me.

          1. re: AAQjr

            I agree that the burnt radishes are what killed the team. They LOOKED burnt.

            1. re: DGresh

              They certainly looked burnt to me, but I don't recall one judge mentioning that.

              1. re: chicgail

                At least on WPIX last night (for us Cablevision customers who missed it last week) they kept showing the Olympic swimmer saying that in their little "previews" before commercial breaks. They they showed it in context as the judges were discussing the dishes after they were consumed. She said they "left a bitter taste in her mouth"

                1. re: chicgail

                  Maybe that's because they ALL mentioned the burnt radishes. imho, at least one of the oysters was indistinguishable.

          2. What a strange, strange episode. Why, if the challenge was to cook things to inspire an American audience using primarily American ingredients, were two of the judges British? And why, in an episode that they have been plugging for at least 2 months, were they using Alton as a second string chairman instead of having the chairman there himself? Why was Ted Allen not in a tux? And while I'm not ready to claim the fix was in, I would have been completely and utterly shocked if the WH chef had not won.

            12 Replies
            1. re: charmedgirl

              I'm American and it doesn't make any difference to me that two of the judges were British. They're more articulate than Steingarten who hasn't learned yet not to speak with his mouth full.

              1. re: taos

                Didn't say I minded two of the judges being British, just that it was strange. ;-)

              2. re: charmedgirl

                I was thinking that during the tapeing of IC the chairman may have been doing DWTS, hence in LA at the time?

                1. re: charmedgirl

                  also hilarious, this choice of English ladies: "why eat noodles when you can have cauliflower?"

                  1. re: pitu

                    yah, that was one of the funniest things i've heard. i like both, but.... wtf?

                    1. re: pitu

                      OMG! I almost spit my water out when Dr. Quinn said that! I was wondering why they did not have a high profile American food critic present. I enjoyed the show, but think the outcome may have changed if there was a male judge and/or another american food critic.

                    2. re: charmedgirl

                      Of course the WH chef won. They weren't going to let her lose. She's been at the WH since the Clinton administration.

                      I wondered if "Kitchen Stadium" was re-constructed in DC so Commerford could stay close to home. That MIGHT explain why the Chairman and the guy on the floor who always explains the rules and the scoring (sorry, I can't remember his name) were not there. Altho DC isn't that far from NYC.

                      And, as someone said -- I think on another thread -- AB didn't look well.

                      1. re: chicgail

                        And I was thinking that the Battle was filmed where it's normally filmed (I'm assuming NYC) and she came up for the 1 day of filming. While they might have shown the veggies being "collected" by the various chefs in the WH garden, I doubt that would have happened "a la minute" and then they go into wherever Kitchen Stadium would have been reconstructed to begin cooking.

                        And Kevin Brausch *was* there. Isn't that who normally explains the rules and scoring?

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          When Bobby Flay said he wasn't going to let her go home with out the victory, she said it was a "long drive" back home, so I assumed it was in NY.

                          It appears from the garden that it was filmed quite a while ago -- sometime in the early fall, perhaps.

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            THAT'S the line he said - I knew it was something along those lines leading me to believe it was filmed in NYC. Thanks Ruth.

                            And I thought the same thing - some people were in short-sleeved shirts being filmed in the garden, so I assumed it wasn't more recent than early fall as well.

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              I recall a (front page of food section?) story in the NY Times when they visited the white house garden. It was quite some time ago; perhaps September.

                              Edit: just looked up the article. Says it was filmed in late October. Guess it's a lot warmer in DC than up here in NY!

                              "ALTON BROWN, the host of “Iron Chef America,” fell into the turnip patch just before the show began taping several scenes outside the White House in late October. "

                        2. re: chicgail

                          The cooking part took place in the "Kitchen Stadium." Just the secret ingredient reveal was at the White House. rather confusing. They definitely weren't in the White House kitchen. It was the same setup they always have.

                      2. I enjoyed the episode although I did guess that they might let the White House chef's team win. And I'm sure Nigella woud be surprised to be described as skinny. I agree it was a little odd having two Brits judge an all-American competition.

                        1. Channel surfing brought me to this show about 1/4 of the way through last night. I like the camaraderie between Batali and Lagasse. But did anyone really think they (TFN) would have the White House chef lose? Highly unlikely, unless that dessert was a complete failure (which, having a look at the attempted dough roll-out, it could have been).

                          The two items used that I'm very interested in are the icicle and watermelon radishes, especially the latter. It looked beautiful on the plate (although I'm not sure I'd want it pickled). Has anyone ever used them or seen them in your local supermarket? (I'm going to check my local Whole Foods to see if they carry them.)

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            Used to use watermelon radishes mostly as garnish at the restaurant. They are quite mild compared to a standard red radish. I tried to grow icicle radishes this year, but was not very successful. I feel like my choice of soil became too hard and prohibited them from growing. Hopefully next year they will be better. I would say pickled radishes of any kind are always a good idea though =)

                            1. re: ktb615

                              I'm pretty sure I had an appetizer of icicle radishes at the French Hound Bistro in Middleburg VA recently (I didn't watch this ep until last night). At the French Hound they were called "breakfast" radishes but they sure looked like what was used on the show.

                              This was a very simple appetizer -- a pile of the raw radishes (very sweet!) with some sea salt to dip them in. Different and fun.

                              Maybe these radishes have a very high sugar content, leading to Batali cooking them longer than needed and the ensuing burning, but seriously, when has Batali screwed up anything on ICA? I marvel at his skills.