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Oct 30, 2011 08:09 PM

The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs (Episode 1: "Primal: Heat and Meat) [SPOILERS]

Was it really a surprise that Spike was the first one booted?

Given the slate of contestants, I think he was totally out of his league. The fact that he chose Samuel M. (one of the most decorated chefs in the group) as his partner sort of showed that he even knew he was out of his league ...

Anyone else think that Anne Burrell looks awful without makeup?

Can't imagine Falkner winning this competition.

I'm really liking this format -- Chairman's Challenge followed by a death match in kitchen stadium.

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  1. You said everything I was thinking.

    Except ... did you notice the pair was called Chef Samuelson (not Chef Marcus) and Chef Spike (not Chef Mendelsohn)?

    17 Replies
    1. re: chicgail

      I don't think there was a disrespect intended. Spike Mendelsohn got his TV persona as "Spike" on Top Chef. I too thought he was outclassed, or at least he has the least experience, of all the chef contestants. There are some contestants on this show that I like better than others, based solely on their personality that I have seen on various food TV shows. I think Alex Guarnaschelli proved through her comments on the first episode that she does not deserve to win.

      1. re: John E.

        <<I think Alex Guarnaschelli proved through her comments on the first episode that she does not deserve to win.>>

        I don't recall that the nature of "comments" are a criteria for winning IC. It's a cooking show, not a likeability contest. I found her to be pretty authentic. What did she say that annoyed you so much?

        1. re: chicgail

          To me, it was her high level of stress in dealing with the competition and she couldn't seem to get it straight. I can't imagine having her as a partner.

          1. re: chicgail

            I didn't say she annoyed me. I did not say she was inauthentic. I did not say she was unlikeable. She said she was having a panic attack throughout the first challenge. If she cannot take the stress in this competition, how can she take the stress if she won?

            1. re: John E.

              I totally get your point of view. You're right. Unless she gets those nerves under control she probably won't make it.

              1. re: chicgail

                I thought Elizabeth Faulkner was going to have to comfort Alex Guarnaschelli like she did with Seth Caro on the first season of Top Chef: Just Desserts when he was having his anxiety attack.

              2. re: John E.

                I take the comments by contestants with a big grain of salt - regardless of whether they express bravado or panic. Even when they aren't scripted, they are still selected and edited to lend drama to the show.

                1. re: paulj

                  I understand that. I took Guarnaschelli at her word. She looked panicked to me.

                  1. re: John E.

                    Yet wasn't her plate one of the most highly praised?

                    1. re: LurkerDan

                      Sure it was. I did not put the words in her mouth, she said them all by herself.

                      1. re: LurkerDan

                        And their other plate almost got them in the bottom.

                2. re: chicgail

                  In between her obvious panicking and the edit, it seemed to me like Faulkner carried her through this week. Whether or not that was actually the case is harder to say for certain - I'm not 100% sure who contributed what exactly to their dishes.

                3. re: John E.

                  I hope Alex Guarnasschelli gets booted soon. I can't bear to watch Chopped because of her sour expression, and she doesn't come off any better here. IMO, she is also out of her league as Spike was.

                  1. re: roxlet

                    I agree. I think Alex will go fairly early. I don't think she's what she's cracked up to be. Maybe she'll be less of a harsh judge on chopped now!

                    1. re: wincountrygirl

                      Just like how closing pitchers in baseball have to have a certain "makeup" to be successful, so does an Iron Chef. Alex Guarnaschelli doesn't seem to have that "makeup" as everyone has pointed out. Not able to deal with pressure or gather her thoughts when stressed, borderline going into full panic mode. Just a breakdown of composure and thought process.

                4. re: chicgail

                  Spike is akin to that old saying one of these things don't belong. He is clearly outclassed by the rest of the field, and he did choose Chef Samuelson to compensate for that. While cooking the challenge, he deferred much of the decision making to Chef Samuelson. I found it poetic justice that scallops sent him home.
                  I, too, don't find Alex Guarnaschelli an inspired choice as an Iron Chef or a Iron Chef-testant. The whining and freaking out was not encouraging.
                  It was funny to see that the heat melted the make-up for Anne Burrell and Alex Guarnaschelli.
                  I hope to see a Chiarello vs. Samuelson finale.
                  Was it me, or did NIC purposely overused interviews from the chefs mentioning Top Chef? The Chairman's challenge seemed much like TC: Vegas (season 6) where the chefs had to cook in the same manner in the desert and build their own fires. Seems to me that NIC is using the Top Chef and Top Chef Masters series to validate itself.

                  1. re: attran99

                    Episode 1 of season3 was similar - at a beach

                    FN also had a short run 'extreme chef' series, that included a 'ghost town' setting

                    It's worth keeping in mind that many of these shows are not produced by the networks themselves. There are many independent production companies,

                    Triage Entertainment is the production company for NIC, which doesn't have a lot of other food related programs. And the director is is M Pearlman, who has also done Chopped, NFNS, Worst Cooks etc.

                5. Thought it was very ironic that Spike's advantage ended up biting him in the ass, especially as he lost on scallops.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    He must have known going into the challenge that he was outclassed. I can't imagine his ego being that big that he thought he could compete.

                    1. re: chowser

                      He didn't compete to win. He competed for the media exposure with chefs way better than he is. He got that.

                      1. re: chicgail

                        I agree. As I said below, he's a far better businessman than a chef. At the same time, even if he knows he's outclassed, he still doesn't want to be humiliated, even for the publicity--not that it would happen. The editing always makes it look like it's a close call, even if it isn't.

                      2. re: chowser

                        Agree with chicgail that he went for media exposure. He must have one hell of a PR person. What I meant was that it was ironic that he was booted off on Next Iron Chef in the same manner he was booted off Top Chef Chicago.

                        1. re: Miss Needle

                          Not quite the same. He got booted in TC 4 because of inferior scallops. The NIC scallops were apparently quite fresh diver scallops.

                          1. re: John E.

                            I think you're taking me quite literally. Spike got booted off both competitions where he had the advantage by cooking with scallops. Fully understand that the scallops were different. But it seems that Spike doesn't have good karma with that ingredient. Seems like nobody gets what I'm trying to say.

                    2. I'm also liking this format. It gives each of the bottom two chefs a chance to try to redeem themselves before ultimately, one has to be sent packing.

                      I thought this first episode was entertaining and I think that this season is going to be a good one. I have to say, I'm really glad they got rid of Donatella as a judge...I really couldn't stand her in the previous Next Iron Chefs.

                      Does anyone have a favorite to win amongst these contestants? I like a lot of the chefs, but I would really like to see Chuck Hughes do well. He genuinely seems like a nice guy and his passion for cooking truly shines through. On his show, Chuck's Day Off and even on this very first episode you could really see how enthusiastic and excited he is while cooking.

                      As for Spike, I'm not a huge fan, but I give him props for his scallop dish in the battle match. Even though he didn't win, the dish looked and sounded delicious and all the judges seemed to thoroughly enjoy it.

                      32 Replies
                      1. re: yummfood

                        I don't really have a favorite.

                        But I do have a list of those who I do not want to see win. For example:

                        - Anne Burrell. I need my Iron Chefs to have a waistline. Sorry. But true.

                        - Robert Irvine. Not digging the saggy muscles. He needs liposuction to tighten up those biceps. So sad.

                        - Elizabeth Falkner. Between her and Cat Cora, I think Food Network would exceed the lesbian quota (kidding folks, just kidding).

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          If a waistline is a necessity, you'll have to eliminate Beau McMillan too.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            So -- this waistline requirement.... is that only true for female contestants? I'm thinking of Garc├ęs & Batali who aren't exactly GQ models either.

                            1. re: linguafood

                              Seriously, that would be the last thing I'd think as being a disqualifier. Never trust a skinny chef!

                              1. re: coney with everything

                                I trust both Marcus Samuelsson and Susur Lee. Both have girths the size of toothpicks.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  Doesn't answer the question, really.

                            2. re: ipsedixit

                              Seriously? Anne Burrell is a great chef and a fierce competitor. This is not a beauty contest!

                              1. re: wincountrygirl

                                Hear, hear. I'm hoping the original comment was a joke.

                                1. re: wincountrygirl

                                  She's on TV.

                                  If I'm staring at the screen for an hour, I want some good eye candy. Anne Burrell is like stale Saltines.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    So an all male IC would be the death of the show for you?

                                    1. re: chowser

                                      He could still watch Bobby's sous-chef, Christine! But on cooking shows, including competitions, you rarely see the chef's waist (or lower). For example, how often do they show a chef's shoes? Only two come to mind - Mario's trademark orange, and Nadia G's heels.

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        Christine is a train wreck on ICA...burns or messes something up almost every time.

                                    2. re: ipsedixit

                                      Then maybe you should watch America's Next Top Model instead of a cooking show.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        Then watch next model or some porn. this is a cooking competition.

                                    3. re: ipsedixit


                                      well, i am very sorry if this is a news flash, but it is generally a good idea, when meeting a female pro chef (not talking about a food media person, but a career restaurant industry person), to assume that the lady is not straight, until informed otherwise. i am going to leave it at this, but many, many, many of the best female chefs in the biz are out and proud. got nothing to do with the food on the plate, y'know?

                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                        You think the majority? There are definitely a lot, but I don't know if people should go assuming all female chefs are gay. Or do you mean to say one shouldn't really make any assumptions either way?

                                    4. re: yummfood

                                      Not surprised to see SPike go first. He is clearly a good chef, but his talent is also in marketing, as he has marketed himself as a great chef.

                                      As for favorites, I'd have to think that the ones who have done more competition shows have an advantage.

                                      1. re: yummfood

                                        I'd say my two favorites are Samuelsson and Chiarello. The former won Top Chef Masters, and the latter made it to the finals ( I forget if they were the same season?) So they both have that under their belts and they are both very accomplished chefs. I liked Zakararian's dish, but still have the memory of him being pummeled mercilessly by Morimoto on Iron Chef a few years back.

                                        I wonder if FN feels like they need to replace Cat Cora with another woman?

                                        1. re: DavidPalmer

                                          I was wondering if they'd find a woman for Cat Cora, but that was also the speculation last time around. I think if they wanted a woman, they could hire one, outside of the show. I'm voting for Chef Samuelsson, even though it takes me forever to spell his last name correctly.

                                          I think it would add an interesting twist to Iron Chef, if at the end of the season, chefs who won less than 50% of the time (or another percentage) were asked to leave, and a huge bonus for exceeding say 80% wins, like the real world. The first season could be a gimme.

                                          1. re: chowser

                                            I'm late to the game in knowing, it appears, but what happened to Cat Cora?

                                            1. re: pine time

                                              The only thing I've heard is that she was leaving but don't know any of the details. Amicable. Maybe it was because she had a baby?

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                her and her partner were pregant at the same time...4 children now...
                                                She also opened a new restaurant in Orlando, FL

                                        2. re: yummfood

                                          I couldn't agree with you more about Donatella. I watched the filming of Iron Chef America when my cousin, Chef Rachel Yang of Joule, was on the show. Donatella and Jose Andres were both judges. Donatella had a 'better than thou' attitude and fought the Jose Andres though out the judging. Needless to say, I'm not a fan.

                                          1. re: marcellalala

                                            +1. Couldn't stand Donatella. My least favorite judge -- at least running neck and neck with Karine Bakhoum.

                                            1. re: jmckee

                                              Donatella has been my least favorite judge of all shows. I'm not a big fan of the English judge this time, either. When asked what he's looking for, he said it's all about taste. But, with Marcus's scallops, he complained about presentation, not taste.

                                              I don't think the judging was that close. I think they wanted to make it seem like it was but Spike's dish seemed to pale in comparison to what Marcus did, with each dish. Marcus was far more sophisticated. As I was watching the liquid nitrogen, I thought it would have been much better to have Richard Blais in this show.

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                Blais could have been a serious contender in this competition, even if he doesn't have the resume and recognition of some of these chefs. Spike was way way way down the list of Top Chef alums who deserved the nod, but he does market himself well!

                                                1. re: LurkerDan

                                                  If he were here, Blais would definitely be one of the front runners IMO.

                                                2. re: chowser

                                                  Blais would have been amazing. He can cook, has had experience in the Top Chef format, and also has had ICA experience as he's worked as Cat Cora's sous chef on ICA.

                                                  Even Ed Cotton, who's also worked as Cat Cora's ICA sous chef, would have been a better choice than Spike.

                                                3. re: jmckee

                                                  Nailed that one. Both of them are just awful!!

                                              2. re: yummfood

                                                I also love Chuck Hughes. His enthusiasm is wonderful to watch. When he said he almost cried watching the guys cook in the elimination the following clip seemed to indicate he actually meant it. He's fun to watch.

                                                1. re: mtlmaven

                                                  Yeah, I am rooting for Chuck too.. And not just because I am a Canadian... I saw him speak at a show around here last year (he did a cooking demo) and it was the best cooking demo I had ever seen.

                                                  1. re: ylsf

                                                    I'd never seen Chuck before this show. Somehow his facial expressions bugged me. He looked kind of goofy. And when he talked about crying it seemed just plain odd to me--over the top. Maybe you have to know his personality to appreciate him.

                                              3. How did Spike get thrown into the mix? A Top Chef Master winner vs a loser of Top Chef who only got as far as he did because he played games? Spike's made do with a burger and pizza place--he's a better businessman than chef. I've seen this episode to the Chairmans challenge but there was no doubt the Chef Marcus was going to win--not only based on skill but on previews of future episodes where you see Chef Marcus up front.

                                                I like this format, too, and think the chefs, for the most part, are very high level, much better than last time. I've been impressed with Chef Geoffrey Zacharian when he won Chopped All Stars. He can critique because he can perform. Alex Guarnachelli, on the other hand, fell apart. I'd like to see Elizabeth Falkner do well. Good to see a pastry chef competing in savory.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: chowser

                                                  "How did Spike get thrown into the mix?"

                                                  I think the producers have to add a couple sacrificial lambs to the lineup to function as early eliminations so that the featured chefs can stay on a few weeks before they get eliminated, and it saves them the embarrassment of early elimination. For Iron Chef, the early elimination victims could not be utter unknowns to the FN audience, and they can add some drama before their big (early) exit. I think Spike was a perfect choice for this ... he displayed enough puffery and bravado in one episode for a whole season, and gets to make a big exit. But an Iron chef?!? ... In reality, he's a burger and pizza guy here in DC. It seems to me that Iron chefs need to have a lot more range.

                                                  1. re: MartinDC

                                                    Good point. Can you imagine being the sacrificial lamb? That's like being Seth or Craig on Top Chef Just Desserts.

                                                  2. re: chowser

                                                    I was surprised with Zacharian in this first episode...he's like a more polished Jonathan Waxman-esque jedi chef. A silent assassin. I still like Beau MacMillan to win, but if this first episode is any indication Zacharian is in the top half of the field.

                                                  3. I'd like to see Anne win. She was always an entertaining sous chef for Batali on Top Chef. And she already has a fan base from being on Top Chef and her other shows.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Firegoat

                                                      I'd love to see her win. She certainly can handle the kitchen stadium!