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I really enjoyed this episode - great idea with the Iron Chefs. Loved Tom, Aarti is irritating me, and just glad that it's Aria going home.

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  1. this was a fun episode, and i, too, am so glad Aria's finally gone. her behavior during the commentary portion of the challenge was really childish and disrespectful. i'm glad the judges were so wowed by Aarti's food, but i wanted to grab her by the shoulders and SHAKE her every time they showed her spacing out in the kitchen!

    Tom totally dodged a bullet. you *know* the judges must have really wanted to get rid of Aria if they kept him around after serving such awful food.

    2 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      What kept Tom in, despite his food not hitting the mark, was that he embraced the "Iron Chef"-ness of the challenge. He purposefully stepped outside the box and went for it. Aria did not. Her food was nowhere near what it needed to be.

      1. re: cmvan

        He also nailed the hosting, or at least was the best of the bunch for the challenge.

    2. I think that it was a little unfair that Herb and Aartie got shrimp, something that is usually a main component of a dish, and Tom and Aria got bacon, something that is rarely a main dish. What could they have made featuring bacon?
      Glad to see Aria gone, but Aartie's "Golly gee, you liked my food?" attitude is driving me nuts.

      22 Replies
      1. re: dmjordan

        What can you make with bacon?
        - TJ Dogs, really great street food in my neck of the woods
        - Bacon and Shrimp go extremely well together
        - Chocolate Cake w/Bacon (unbelievably good cake)
        - Rumaki and/or any of it's variants
        - Glaze it
        - Corn and bacon muffins/puffs
        - Bacon wrapped tenderloin
        - BLT

        As my sister has always said...everything's better with bacon. The possibilities were endless

        1. re: DiningDiva

          I agree with DiningDiva. Bacon should have been an easy ingredient to showcase. She didn't even come close.

          1. re: DiningDiva

            Mmmm, you're making me hungry DD! I still think that shrimp was a no brainer and bacon much more challenging. Notice that the bottom two both came from the bacon challenge.

            1. re: dmjordan

              Nah, I think the bottom two came from bacon because she had no imagination and he had too much.


              1. re: dmjordan

                How were they the bottom 2? I thought they picked a winner of each ingredient first (Aarti and Tom), leaving Aria and Herb to find out who was going home. But then, I watched it late and with some wine in me; I could have that wrong.

                1. re: debbiel

                  Well, Aria was the loser of the bacon challenge, so, she was the bottom of that pair. They didn't seem to like any of her dishes really. And they didn't like ANY of Tom's dishes saying that at least one of them was the worst dish in the history of TNFS. They loved all of Aarti's dishes and two of Herb's three (grit in the clams notwithstanding). So, even though Herb "lost" to Aarti, I think it's fair to say his dishes would be ranked of ahead of Aria's meh dishes and Tom's dreadful, but gutsy dishes.

                  Tom got to stay only because he way outperformed everyone on the commentary part of the challenge and because he failed because he took huge (but stupid, according to Cat Cora and I agree) risks.


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Oh, I agree they had the worst food. I thought dmj was referring to the final judging. My mistake. And I agree that Tom was saved by his hosting.

                    1. re: debbiel

                      I was referring to the final judging, but was wrong. I think it was so obvious that Tom and Aria did the worst, that they were the bottom two in my mind. It was obvious the Herb wouldn't be going home.

              2. re: DiningDiva

                Even if she wanted to stay with breakfast, I saw a Giada recipe where she put crispy bits of pancetta in the waffle batter. Still want to try that one...

                1. re: Philly Ray

                  I don't know what I would have done in that challenge. I cook all the time, and I try to do different things with food, but honestly, in that challenge, I think I might have frozen up. I would like to think that I would have come up with more interesting dishes than Aria's, but under those circumstances, who knows what I would have come up with.

                  1. re: kprange

                    Same here. Upthread somebody mentioned a few bacon-centric dishes, but in my mind, bacon is the major supporting role, not the main ingredient.

                    I kept thinking "pork belly" when Tom was attempting the bacon "steak". I've never cooked pork belly, but that certainly could have worked as a main dish.

                    1. re: xo_kizzy_xo

                      I'm pretty sure during the bacon battle on ICA a few years ago, someone did a pork belly "steak".

                      1. re: debbiel

                        But they didn't have pork belly...they had bacon. Bacon is already cured and smoked, pork belly is uncooked. Pork belly would have been much easier to make into the "star" of a dish.
                        I agree with the posters above...shrimp was a much easier ingredient to showcase than bacon.

                        1. re: sibeats

                          I wasn't suggesting that he should have made it with pork belly. I was responding to someone else's comment about pork belly.

                          I still don't think bacon is that tough for a chef to showcase. One approach would be to think of non-bacon dishes that could be transformed with the addition of bacon. Bacon then becomes the star of the dish.

                          1. re: debbiel

                            Sorry...my reply was supposed to be attached to the one above yours, where the poster did say they thought about using pork belly.
                            However, Tom did exactly what you suggest, making bacon the star of non-bacon dishes...with terrible results...maybe he just couldn't pull it off, but I still think it's a tough ingredient to showcase...

                            1. re: sibeats

                              Well, paraphrasing Cat, you can do things dumb and you can do things smart. :-) Tom's combos were definitely bad. I'm not a chef, don't eat meat, and cook bacon just once a year (for my husband's birthday), but I might have tried something with wrapping bacon around fruit and grilling (the idea of bacon and a sweet peach appeals to me), done something with the new "craze" of bacon and chocolate, done some dish that pulled together different types of pork but make bacon shine in it. You could make a plate of different items that include bacon (maybe something like greens sauteed with bacon, with bacon wrapped chicken livers?)...just ideas. And who knows, maybe they wouldn't have worked either. And I am now struggling to figure out how a vegetarian just thought about bacon wrapped chicken livers. And am struggling with a craving for bacon-y mashed potatoes.

                              (Oh, and I should say that my comments are probably biased by the fact that, even when I was a meat eater, I loathed shrimp.)

                              1. re: debbiel

                                Yep, I'll agree that there were things that could have been done to make bacon more front and center...but I guess bottom line is that neither of the contestants had the skill to think of or execute them.

                                Now had the situation been reversed, what would "healthy" Herb have done with bacon as the secret ingredient? Or Aarti for that matter, because if I'm not mistaken, Indian cooking does not use pork.

                                1. re: sibeats

                                  Actually, I thought the ingredients were well-chosen for the participants. I though shrimp fit Aarti+Herb nicely and bacon fit Aria+Tom nicely.

                                  I am not aware of any prohibitions in Indian cooking against using pork, unless they are Muslim or Vegetarian Indians. Usually I associate the restriction on using beef with Indian cooking, but Aarti actually used beef in one of her challenges (can't remember which one), so even that doesn't seem to be a problem for her.


                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    Yes, that's what I said...if the situation were reversed it would have been more problematic. If Aarti and Herb had the bacon I think it would have been more difficult for them. I don't know if there are prohibitions against using pork, but I did read that Indian cooking generally does not use pork...maybe the source was wrong...

                                    1. re: sibeats

                                      Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say the same thing as you. I guess I was making the point that I thought they deliberately chose the ingredients to be compatible. It wasn't random--it was deliberate.


                      2. re: xo_kizzy_xo

                        Or fatback? "I've never eaten it, probably because it's called FAT BACK...why don't they just throw in 'hairy' while they're at it?" -- Jim Gaffigan.

                2. re: dmjordan

                  I also was annoyed by her inability to do the commentary with any pizazz at all. It's like when Ben wouldn't talk on Hell's Kitchen. You know you have to do it, so start talking and put on the personality, which she can have.

                3. One can only imagine the trepidation they felt when they walk on to the set and see not one, but four Iron Chefs to judge their food. OMG.

                  Tom only made it because Aria failed so badly, all the way around. I winced when the judges tried to cut into his "bacon steak". There was no way that was going to be redeemable. "The single worst dish in the history of Next Food Network Star"! Wow. I do agree with cmvan that his ability to "bring it Iron Chef style" also saved him. But will it be enough?

                  Aarti gets on my nerves, but she certainly brought the food in the competition.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: araknd

                    I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw Tom grinding up bacon to make bacon patties: this is just like the Hormel bacon bars I used to buy for backpacking: OK to eat at 8000 ft, but disgusting at any lower altitude! Yuck.

                    1. re: mnosyne

                      I was thinking it would have worked much better if he had done bacon croquettes instead of bacon patties.

                      1. re: chowser

                        I agree. I think Tom doesn't do well under pressure. He just needs a little more time to think his ideas through so can execute them effectively. I was laughing so hard I was almost crying as he was coming up with his wacky ideas. I think his show would be fun to watch and I'll bet the food would be good too.


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          It would be fun to see a stream of consciousness show with him and cooking--start with xxx ingredients and see where it leads him.

                            1. re: Philly Ray

                              He would be perfect for Chopped! Or, a show like Ready, Set, Cook where they suddenly throw in an odd mystery ingredient midway and they have to incorporate it at that point.

                              1. re: chowser

                                I kind of miss Ready, Set, Cook.

                  2. yes it was fun, but in case you didn't know..... on ICA, they know ahead of time that their secret ingredient will be one of three items, so they have time to develop recipes they can whip up in one hour that will amaze. I doubt the cheftestants had any advance knowledge of their ingredients and REALLY were winging it.

                    Kudos to Tom for taking the risk. Loved his hosting skills.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ChefJune

                      ChefJune, I thought the same thing. Not even the Iron Chefs have to come up with their recipes on the spot!

                      The funny thing about Aria is that she was able to change mid-stream how she was presenting her dishes (calling her dish a BACON Waldorf salad) based on feedback she was getting, but she didn't seem to pick up any cues from from Alton Brown that she was bombing. I, too, was glad she finally went home.

                      For the first time, I almost believe I could watch a Herb show. I'm so tired of Aarti. I still think she's going to win, but I'm tired of her false modesty. I don't care how good her food is. And I don't want to hear another word about her mum. Grow up, lady.

                      Tom was hilarious. When they teased the "worst dish in TNFS history," I bet my husband it was going to be Tom because I just had the feeling he would go for it.


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        And, I'd *almost* be willing to bet that the winner will be Tom. Of the remaining 3 he's got the personality that fits in with FTV the most. He's kind of like Adam Gertler was the year he was on, except Tom has the cooking skill Adam lacked.

                        Adam has the prime-time show, not Aaron McCargo Jr. who won that year. Adam get featured regularly on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, not Aaron. The question is, did Bob and Susie learn from their mistake that season, or is history going to repeat itself.

                    2. Totally fun episode. Aarti finally got on my nerves with the golly gee attitude. That girl can cook, she's just got to step up and OWN it now! I'm glad Aria is gone, she really showed her limits last night. LOVED Tom's attitude, even tho the food didn't turn out great, he owned his mistakes and embraced the challenge!

                      1. I don't normally watch this show, but I saw this episode last night. I was pleasantly surprised that it was more entertaining than previous episodes I had seen years ago.

                        But I was also sort of appalled at the lack of cooking knowledge and talent on display during the bacon battle. The woman (Aria, I take it?) made dishes that your average person who doesn't cook can still make reasonably well, boffed them, and then claimed that was her style - as though lacking the technical skill to cut bread for french toast evenly and appropriately thick is some kind of philosophy.

                        The man (Tom?) showed utter lack of both technique (if he insists on serving a lump of cured pork belly in an hour, at least he should have known that a pressure cooker was the only way to go) and familiarity with flavor profiles - clam sauce on bacon french toast... really? These are really basic mistakes that I would expect almost everyone on the home cooking boards here not to make.

                        Has this been par for the course in terms of the cooking on this show so far? If so, wow. To be fair, the other two were much better. But bacon really was not that hard of an ingredient, especially since it's been so popular recently that other cooks have paved the way by creating a million dishes based on it, including desserts.

                        To be fair, the other two seemed much more competent. But I'm having a hard time taking at least Tom and Aria seriously enough as cooks to think giving them their own cooking show would be anything but a joke. Having they shown any talent or skill on other episodes?

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          It was the best episode of the season -- I could watch Junior Iron Chef battles every week.

                          Aria has been going downhill every week, and last night, she just quit. She couldn't cut it. That make-your-own-French-toast was so incredibly lame. It look like bad diner food.

                          Tom is a bit wacky, and usually has interesting ideas but can't always execute on them. He should've known the pork belly cube wouldn't cook -- that's basic cooking. But at least he knew where paprika came from.

                          1. re: Reignking

                            In retrospect, i could see Tom as a sort of Tim-the-Toolman Taylor of the cooking world. If you gave him a show where we got to watch him hilariously f*** up a new dish each week and then see what we can learn from the effort, that might be entertaining enough. Like I said, this episode was fun, at least.

                            And it was nice to see Tom knew what paprika was - in other words, sheesh, how did Aria make it this far into the competition? And how godawful were the people they already cut?

                            1. re: cowboyardee

                              "And it was nice to see Tom knew what paprika was - in other words, sheesh, how did Aria make it this far into the competition?"

                              Exactly. Anyone that stupid --- and worse, stupid about food -- deserves to go home.

                        2. You have to think the judges felt they screwed up by choosing Aria over Brad in last week's elimination.

                          I have no evidence to support this statement.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Longhorn13

                            No evidence, but I agree with you. My sense was that Brad had a bad outing and was gone. Aria was on that long downhill slide all along. Plus, the "smile so you can see my molars" personality is forced and, I think, rather phony; I think she's a fake. And her cooking this week finally ran out of gas.

                          2. I think Tom could have served raw Hormel bacon and still have beaten Aria.

                            What a vacuous dolt!

                            Since they have to choose the HOST of a COOKING show, her performance on every level was horrendous.

                            None of the others were perfect, but at least they "got it."

                            I agree that it was an excellent challenge.

                            I can't see how Aarti isn't going to win this thing. Her food is delicious. And even though WE want to slap her silly, I know many viewers would like her pleasant demeanor. And Food Network's line up is seriously devoid of serious ethnic food shows.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: C. Hamster

                              C Hamster, I think you're probably right about Aarti, but I hope you're wrong. Honestly, I think Susie thinks she's a twit (and I agree.) I mean, it was almost a backhanded compliment: "I'm so glad you were able to be there for yourself during this challenge." or whatever, which is pretty much a follow-on to her comment last week that FN would not be providing Aarti with a team of therapists to keep her confidence up.


                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                think the therapists will need to be on call if either Aarti or Herb wins. And I think one of them will

                                I honestly don't see Tom having an actual COOKING show, which is what this is all about. His point of view is less than clear -- and I know FN will give him one if he wins -- but his food is too inconsistent.

                                Shows based on Indian or Healthy Latin might help bolster their line-ups. Assuming that they care anymore about the how-to actual cooking shows they produce (which may be in question).

                                I dont think Tom is near as personable and witty as Adam Gertler, but he might be a better fit for a non-cooking show.

                                1. re: C. Hamster

                                  And just how much of Aarti's "woe is me, I'm soooo uncertain of myself" do you think has been manufacturered for this show? How much of Herb's manic flip flopping was due to editing?

                                  Trust me, she cooks well and she knows she cooks well. Herb? Who knows, but I doubt that he's as erratic as portrayed.

                                  Tom is probably the most real. He's unemployed and had nothing to lose.

                                  1. re: C. Hamster

                                    Problem is, Guy Fieri already is the person with the BIG flavors and the one doing all the sucsessful non-cooking shows.

                                    I guess, for the most part, I tend to overlook the personlaity quirks (perhaps with the exeption of the "Restaurant Chef''s Hello beautiful!, over and over. I would watch Aarti's show; I think once it was in production it would be more professional once the writers, directors, editors etc. got a hold of her. Honestly, she does, indeed, lead Tom by a margin of 3 to 1 in the fan ratings:


                                    1. re: junescook

                                      What's interesting is that Brad is #2....

                                      1. re: BubblyOne

                                        My wife thought he was number 1 and says that his would be the only show she'd watch.

                                2. re: C. Hamster

                                  That's exactly it--people who love Sandra Lee, Robin Miller, Rachel Ray would love Aarti, as long as she remembers to simplify her cooking and flavors.

                                3. I have to say that I was glad that Aria was chosen to go home. I was very unimpressed by her entire performance, but as I said in another post, I don't know what I would have done in the same circumstances. Tom freaked me out with the food that he made. I had to laugh out loud when they were trying to cut the bacon steak - totally cracked me up. Aarti's food looked fabulous to me. Your thoughts?

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: kprange

                                    i want to eat Aarti's food, and learn how to make it! it looked SO good.

                                    1. re: kprange

                                      I *did* laugh out loud when they tried to cut his bacon steak

                                    2. Aria had a flashback and thought she was helping out in her three year old's preschool class. Did she really say "poop chute" and giggle? She talks like she's been with toddlers a little too long, and has through the whole show.

                                      Aarti's food looks good and she can think on her feet but I wouldn't watch a show with her. The "you like me, you really like me?" got old pretty quickly. Is Tom really a trained chef? I like how Cat Cora told him you take educated risks, not stupid ones. And, if you're experimenting, why wouldn't you taste it first??? How much longer would it have taken if he had thrown one more piece of bacon steak in the oven? Really, if bacon steak like that was good, we would have heard of it by now from Paula Deen. Clams, chorizo, french toast? He's lucky he presented well because they proved that it didn't matter that Herb cooked 2/3 dishes well and was a decent presenter, they still put Tom above him.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: chowser

                                        Each IC challenge had a loser. So Herb was only competing against Aarti and Tom was against Aria.

                                        1. re: dmjordan

                                          That's right--I forgot about that. Tom got lucky that he was against Aria.

                                        2. re: chowser

                                          "if bacon steak like that was good, we would have heard of it by now from Paula Deen"


                                          1. re: debbiel

                                            Didn't her Uncle Bubba used to deep fraah that?

                                          2. re: chowser

                                            While satirical and full of humor, this is perhaps a sensible take on the three finalists.


                                            The section and satire of Aarti's WWMD is hillarious.

                                            I think the competition rules should ban contestants from mentioning family members or kids when presenting dishes and during challenges. Does anybody else have anything creative to say aside from some scripted or prosaic memory about a former relative or child?

                                            None of the finalists are interesting and just because somebody incorporates curry and her "mums" ingredients into every dish, doesn't mean people will watch the program. This is 2010, if people want to watch a specialized cooking program, there are tons of online shows, clips, and better sources to learn than from the FN.

                                            I'm wondering how the curry sauce will be marketed at Koh'l's, Odd Lots, or the Dollar Store??

                                            1. re: vinhotinto75

                                              If they don't mention their family, however will Susie and Bob get to know them??

                                              1. re: vinhotinto75

                                                "I'm wondering how the curry sauce will be marketed at Koh'l's, Odd Lots, or the Dollar Store??"

                                                With plenty of ketchup.;-)

                                                Food Network has encouraged these personal stories over the years and I'm surprised all the contestants don't have a supply of cute family stories or horribly family tragedies since they seem to eat it up. Cooking for the sake of cooking takes a back seat to how they can market you.

                                            2. I just want to know how in the world does Morimoto know about "diner food"?

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                Doesn't he live in NYC? Don't they have diners there? (Or maybe he watches DDD. HA!)


                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  Morimoto saw movie by that name on Turner Classic.

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    Hitting the diner after a late night of drinking?

                                                    Actually, I've seen him having dinner at an Italian restaurant in NYC. So I'm sure he's familiar with all sorts of dining.

                                                  2. It's a good thing I like Tom, because he's about on par with Ben from this season's Hell's Kitchen in the "I'm a great cook" : "I botched the challenge" ratio. Certainly if the judges didn't like his personality as well he'd be gone by now.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: ennuisans

                                                      Wow, I don't see how you can equate Ben and Tom at all.

                                                    2. Aarti is beyond annoying. I don't care how good her food may be. I will not watch her. She makes me cringe.
                                                      Sad Brad went but happy Aaria went. She was also borderline annoying and her Iron Chef debacle with, as Morimoto said, "diner food" was the nail in her coffin.
                                                      Totally rooting for Tom now. Despite his bacon steak mess, he can cook and his personality is warm, inviting and not the least bit grating on my nerves at least!
                                                      I also wish they'd send Bobby Flay home.