HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >


Next Iron chef [spoiler]

Did I miss the thead? Is nobody going to post anything? Ming Tsai is on it!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I was surprised to see Ming Tsai on the show, but accolades for his willingness to lay it all out there. I hope he wins. I think he would be an excecptional Iron Chef.

    1. Wow -- Ming, certainly, is the one to beat. There's no question about that. And, given it's HIM, I can see curls of smoke rising from every other chef's head.

      The other cheftestant who impressed me was the Indian woman with the turkey. I'd never heard of her before last night.

      I'm also gunning for Dumont (is Mary her first name?) because, like Ming, she's local :)

      The other cheftestants are a blur to me right now. I've got that same "lost" feeling I have with the beginning of every Top Chef season, so I'll wait a couple more weeks before actually posting something concise :)

      1. I have mixed feelings. I would love to see Ming Tsai win, because he'd probably be a great iron chef. But it hardly seems fair to the other contenstants to be competing against someone who has already spent so much time cooking on camera.

        1. These are my first impressions on the contestants so far and I realize they're based only on the short snippets we've gotten to see so far:

          Ming Tsai--He is not just "the one to beat" because he has done so much in front of the camera but he's also one helluva chef.

          Marco Canora--looks like really good Iron chef material but oozes ego and attitude.

          Maneet Chauhan--I liked her cooking but wonder if cuisine so focused in the tastes of India could make Iron Chef. We're getting more and more used to Indian food in America but it's still where sushi was 15-20 years ago.

          Duskie Estes-- Nice lady but her cuisine is WAY too plain jane--not IC material. She only stayed last night because the other guy was worse by a hair.

          Celina Tio-- This lady really, really needs to lighten up. She looks like a deer in headlights, but not because of fear. She's so intense and serious you'd think her winning or losing meant she could or couldn't keep her children. Evidently an occasional smile is not in her repratoire.

          Marc Fargione-- My personal favorite. I think he has a good balance between skill, personality, camera presence, and creativity. He's good, he knows it, but doesn't have the snobbery of Marco.

          The other 3 didn't get enough camera time for me to make much of an assessment.

          1. Why do we need another "Next Iron Chef" competition? They hardly ever use the latest new chef, Jose Garces.

            1 Reply
            1. re: lscanlon

              Because it's wonderful to see such talented professionals competing - and treating each other with appropriate respect (mostly). I'd watch it even if there was no prize to be won at all, just to see what they do with the challenges.

            2. I've heard that Car Cora is leaving. I don't actually watch so don't know. But I loved this show last season (and the right guy won). There's something about seeing pros in the kitchen, mostly behaving well, that appeals. That's one reason I was almost sorry Chef Estes wasn't eliminated.

              What a shock to see Ming Tsai among the contestants! And what a blow for him if he doesn't win!

              The stuff they come up with is inspiring. I was drooling over the sandwiches.

              Chef Tio is local for me (Kansas City), so I'm rooting for her.

              13 Replies
              1. re: Parrotgal

                Here's what Alton said about it in an interview


                "It was very ballsy of him. We ask a lot of chefs of his level and almost all of them says no. They simply have too much to lose. It's three things: one, they can't be out of their organizations that long; two, they haven't kept their skills sharp enough to actually do the work; or three, they just don't have the guts to maybe lose. It's a huge, huge testament to Ming Tsai's fortitude and character that he would man up and jump into it. Because, let's face it, he didn't have to. He's got nothing to prove."


                "I've never seen an episode of 'Top Chef,' and the only time I flipped by and saw Gordon Ramsay he was not very nice to somebody, so I didn't watch. I'm really anti-reality. We're kind of breeding this whole level of TV performer that's based on taking amateurs and poking them with sticks to make them do things. That breaks my heart, because I love television."

                1. re: Shrinkrap

                  It's amusing that Alton has confused Top Chef with Hell's Kitchen (or perhaps Masterchef).

                  1. re: Fukui San

                    Alton's clearly got his shows confused.

                2. re: Parrotgal

                  Where did you hear the thing about Cat Cora leaving? You wouldn't happen to have a link, would you? *hopeful*


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    I read somewhere (TWOP, maybe?) that Marimoto was leaving.

                    1. re: coney with everything

                      I read that somewhere, too, though that it was just a rumor. And, if that's the case, I think that Ming Tsai is a shoe-in!


                      1. re: coney with everything

                        I thought it was a foregone conclusion that Morimoto was leaving. Speaking of having nothing left to prove.... besides, he is opening more and more restaurants in far-flung cities.

                        1. re: ChefJune

                          I've always wished that some programming genius would realize it would be a big time ratings win to give Morimoto his own show. I'd watch every episode at least ten times! '-)

                          1. re: Caroline1

                            You and me both.

                            I lived in SF when he assumed the Iron Chef Japanese role on the original IC. They built up his arrival quite a bit...he did not disappoint. He was a fan favorite from his first episode, especially with the ladies :-).

                            I was at a function at the CIA in Napa last fall and he was a presenter and participant. All I have to say is, the man is a 1) shorter than I thought and 2) he is a hoot. Great personality and sense of humor, not to mention his food was delicious.

                            I would absolutely watch a show with Morimoto has the host. I'm already used to subtitles from watching the original IC. NBD

                            1. re: Caroline1

                              I agree! And it's infuriating whenever they do the voiceovers on Iron Chef. Let him be on his own!

                              1. re: Caroline1

                                I agree. But I doubt Morimoto would be happy doing $4 dinners and tablescapes.

                                  1. re: Withnail42

                                    I think you're wrong there. I think Morimoto would rise to the challenge and enjoy himself immensely. And I'm sure his tablescapes would ooze with very polished Japanese aesthetics. "Shibui" was a much favored word back in the '60s. And I'll sign up for a $4 Morimoto meal any day of the week and twice on Sunday! '-)

                        2. It will be between Ming and Marco. Being very familiar with both Symon and Marco's cooking I can tell you, Symon will have a natural affinity for it. Also, Canora is just an excellent chef. Hearth is one of my 'go-to' restaurants when in the City.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: whiner

                            I don't know abou t that. I wouldn't rule Forgione out. He is quite the chip off the old block, and his dad can still bring it.

                            1. re: ChefJune

                              I think there's a lot of potential in this group. I was surprised by how much I liked Forgione and what he did. I thought Canora's food looked great, but had a bit of a hard time getting past his (perceived? real? edited?) arrogance. I also really liked the guy from Houston, Caswell? was that his name?

                              But, frankly, when I saw Ming Tsai was a participant, my first thought was that Morimoto was leaving and FTV needed a viable Asian replacement. While his sandwich in the challenge didn't wow, he sure brought it on the beach :-)

                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                Yep, that's pretty much what I thought, too, DD, when I saw Ming Tsai.

                                And (I can't recall which participant said it) when the chef said, "Ming Tsai, is that really fair?" I couldn't help but agree with him.

                                I love Morimoto, but I suppose he's been doing this a long time between the original and ICA and I can understand why he might be ready to move on.


                          2. I know it's not a popularity contest but Estes lost it for me when she voted for herself for the sandwich challenge. And, that she touts herself as a local seasonal chef and then used dried cherries because cherries are in season. And, then when she only had two small pieces of pork--if you have a whole pig, the most sustainable thing would be to use more of it, like Ming Tsai did, especially since she requested it. It feels like she's just jumped on the local seasonal train as part of a fad.

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: chowser

                              For the most part, I agree with everything you said (EXPECIALLY the part about the pig--in fact, did you catch her comment that she hadn't ever cooked one before??? ), except that I thought she ALSO used fresh cherries in her sausage because cherries were in season... I don't mind if she used fresh cherries and then additionally used dried cherries to add a different flavor element. Drying cherries is a legitimate way of preserving a local, seasonal food.


                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                She did use fresh cherries but I think she could have used it in other ways. I have nothing against dried cherries and wouldn't have thought twice about someone using both fresh and dried cherries but she made a point to talk about using cherries because they were in season and how important that was to her. Dried cherries are always in season (or never in season, depending on how you look at it). Use them, talk about how wonderful they are but don't tout your use of them because it's summer and they're in season. I know I'm being nitpicky and that probably just struck me more because of how she came across the whole show.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  Her posturing annoyed me, too, and also, it seems, Alton Brown. She did seem appropriately humbled by the end of the show. Maybe she'll be better on the next episode.


                              2. re: chowser

                                She also used fresh cherries. She made a quick pickle and served them as a garnish. You didn't see them on the stem in the front of the plate in the close-up of her dish? Dried cherries in the lamb meatballs echoed the cherry choice. Lamb + dried cherries is a regional Turkish kofte, so I think it showed her ability to combine traditional flavors with a seasonal lift. At least one of the other chefs commented that the fresh cherry pickle was the reason for voting her sandwich #1, so I imagine it tasted good as well as being seasonal.

                                I thought it was pretty crazy that she only used the two tiny pieces of pork. I mean, I'm a member of her bacon CSA, and her two restaurants cook all manner of pig.

                                You're entitled to your feelings, but any idea that she's on the local seasonal train as a fad is delusional to me. She's Sonoma County's hometown girl and we are the breadbasket (and vegetable garden) for San Francisco's food culture. Here's her post from 2003 on the SF Bay Area board where she says she said, " . . . i did discuss the awesome product that we have access to here as being something we gain for what we lose of an urban environment. i moved here with my children to raise them in the best place i believe there is. . ."

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  Yes, as I said to DQ above, she used fresh cherries and she said she was using cherries two ways because it was summer and she likes using seasonal produce. I don't have a problem with her using dried cherries but when she talks about them, in conjunction with saying she used them because it's summer and she likes to use seasonal produce, that doesn't sit right with me. It's summer and grapes are in season so I'll use raisins?

                                  I've never heard of Chef Estes so when I said it seems like she's on the local seasonal train as a fad, I mean from what I've seen on the show. Her actions on the show, thus far, haven't shown that. Thanks for the post from her but honestly, it doesn't make her seem to embrace what's local and seasonal. I'll take you for your word that she does.

                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                    Thanks, Melanie!

                                    I've known Duskie and her husband, John Stewart for 5 years, and the two of them are absolutely devoted to local and fresh. Between the restaurant garden and their own farm, they regularly provide fresh to their customers. But when it comes to whole pig, that's more John's forte.

                                    And regarding the whole suckling pig, I was told that Duskie actually did make an initial effort to use more of the pig, but the Magical Elves edited that out (as you would expect, due to time constraints).

                                    As for her voting for herself, remember that the Puerto Rican chef had just voted for himself as worst and nobody got ruffled about that...

                                    1. re: cmvan

                                      "As for her voting for herself, remember that the Puerto Rican chef had just voted for himself as worst and nobody got ruffled about that..."

                                      Well, yeah, we didn't think he was being arrogant when he expressed disappointment in his own performance by voting for his own as "worst". Someone who is humble is a lot easier to like than someone who thinks she is better than everyone else. Even Alton Brown cautioned her against voting for herself, although, frankly, once she asked the question, "Can I vote for myself"" she might as well have followed through, because the damage had already been done in terms of how she'd be perceived.

                                      "but the Magical Elves edited that out"
                                      Chef Estes has known since at least 2003 (see thread Melanie links in her post above) that the media sometimes takes things out of context. The truth is, the public can only judge her based on what ends up on our screens.


                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        Exactly--I wasn't sure if that comment was tongue in cheek because it seems obvious that there's the ego factor in voting for your own. That's a good point that once she asked, she should follow through. I was thinking she shouldn't but at that point, it would come off as false modesty if she hadn't

                                        1. re: chowser

                                          She was pretty much trapped the moment she asked the question. Instead of letting it slide, and responding with a simple, innocuous, "Sure, why not?" Alton Brown took her to the mat.

                                          On the other hand, if she can really bring it, why not be cocky? It's an attitude we see in men on TV, it would be kind of fun to see it in a woman. But, there are two problems. First, I don't think she is sincerely cocky. If she were, she wouldn't have asked. She would have just done it. Also, since she fell down on the very next challenge in at least a couple of significant ways, it's seems clear that she was a bit premature in being cocky.

                                          Anyway, I hope that comment doesn't haunt her all season. I am kind of inclined to like her.


                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            I agree that she isn't really cocky. I don't like to see it in men, either, and would have had the same thought if one of the guys said/did it. But, then again, that's one reason I'll never be a strong competitor. I don't dislike her at this point (and Melanie and cmvan's posts helped) as much as she had a series of little bumps that caught my attention. Being from Boston, and having heard good things about Ming Tsai and what a nice person he is, and having really liked East Meets West way back when, I'm still a Ming Tsai fan. But, it's still early on.

                                            1. re: chowser

                                              I like Ming Tsai so far, too. He knows he's the guy to beat and so far he's behaving accordingly. Cool as a cucumber. Based on what I've seen in one episode, I'd love to watch him on ICA.


                                2. Ming Tsai was one of the original chef's that made FoodTV the hit it is. Why he has to compete when fellow FoodTV (yes, "FoodTV" is intentional) hosts (Mario, Flay) were simply hired (or put themselves on) is beyond me. Ming deserves better. Actually, we deserve his show to be back on Fook Network

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: JohnOort

                                    Agree with you re: Tsai. That said, I don't really think of Tsai as your typical Iron Chef.

                                    I still maintain that Susur Lee would make a great Iron Chef.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      agree with you about Susur.

                                      as for Ming, he said himself that he's not doing this to prove to *others* that he can cook or host a show, he's doing it to test himself and see if he's still "got it" - which he clearly does!

                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        Susur just looks the part, doesn't he?

                                        He'd be the perfect Morimoto replacement if in fact Morimoto is leaving the show (either de facto or formally).

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          looks the part, and COOKS the part ;)

                                          you know, i was wondering which IC might be leaving. my guess was Morimoto or Cat Cora...though i'm sure the producers would be loath to let Cat go unless the replacement was another woman.

                                    2. re: JohnOort

                                      Simple. He wanted the challenge. Nobody forced him to do it. He's a highly successful professional who's made a packet over his career - it's not as if this is going to make or break him. I think it's pretty awesome that he was ready to do it. Because look at it this way - he has as much chance of being eliminated as the younger chefs.

                                    3. When I heard Ming was on I thought this is a publicity stunt of some sort. It is certainly a step down for him. He certainly doesn't. Need to do this he is certainly ether than some of the Iron chefs they have and equal to the others.

                                      They'd be lucky to have Ming on the show.

                                      1. i just happened to catch the beginning of the episode again. Ming Tsai's exact comment regarding his choice to compete:

                                        "I'm not doing this to prove to the world that I can cook. I'm doing it to prove to myself that I've still got game."

                                        One challenge in and he's already proved it! :)

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          Love it!!! He can hang with the young guns!

                                          1. re: Shrinkrap

                                            i'm nominating you to start them from now on ;)

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              I second that nomination!
                                              I started one last week, but my work schedule general has me on call during the weekends. Besides, I lose interest on FN shows quickly.

                                                1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                  well then, my primary thoughts about last night...
                                                  - Pagan needed to go, and Dumont will likely be next.
                                                  - Estes really irritates me. my take on the judges' comments was that they want to see her to put up plates that are more *refined* but she got huffy about not wanting to do "precious"...meanwhile, she's bopping around the kitchen in pigtails.
                                                  - i was incredibly relieved to see Ming Tsai make the cut, and i suspect that's the last time we'll see him in the bottom.
                                                  - Forgione and Caswell impressed the heck out of me.

                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                    Thank You! I SO much prefer reading to writing! I DID like that there was actual cooking,