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The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs (Episode 3: "Lets All Go To The Lobby") [SPOILERS]

Tonight we're at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles where our chefs are asked to make one sweet and savory dish out of movie theater concession treats, e.g. chocolate raisins, malt balls, cinnamon candies, root beer, gummy candies, popcorn, etc.

Our hero from last time (read: winner), Chef Guarnaschelli gets the advantage and is allowed to choose which concession favorite she wants to cook with. Her choice? Chocolate raisins.

Our hero Chef Guarnaschelli also gets to dole out the other candies to the remaining chefs. You'll have to watch the show to figure out who gets what, but some highlights ... Anne Burrell gets root beer ... Hughes gets popcorn ... Zakarian those nasty oblong cinnamon candies ... Falkner is bequeathed those malt balls.

Apparently Zakarian is a control freak and cannot get the food processor to work -- even a Canadian can't help him out.

Guarnaschelli decides to make (what??) ice cream. Hmm.

Hughes is going to make (what else!) popcorn shrimp!

And I love, love the retirement home comment. Touché.

Onto judging ... and the reviews are in.

Judges love Burrell's riff on root beer desserts, as well as her inventive agrodolce.

Hughes makes a straight to Netflix dish with his popcorn shrimp -- "simply inedible" says one judge.

Malt balls in fish n chips? Why, yes! Falkner is Oscar-worthy, and her malt ball ice cream is said to be the "best thing I've eaten yet" by one judge. Yum.

How is Marcus going to compete? No duos for him, right? Meh.

Chiarello makes a lamb dish out of gummy candies and ... it works! His panna cotta? Not so much. "A funeral in my mouth" says one judge. Yikes.

MacMillan bombs with sweet and sour candy. Can't just hide an ingredient in garnish. Like trying to hide a $20M has-been, over-the-hill actress in a supporting role.

Chicken with cinnamon candy is a "winner" and "phenomenal". Zakarian is golden.

And last up is our hero from last time. Guarnaschelli makes friends with the lamb dish, but her ice cream is "off" and "grainy". Ick.

WINNER? FALKNER! (And she gives the judge a "food-gasm". Oy-ye-veh!)

Burrell and Zakarian are runner-ups.

LOSERS? MacMillan and Hughes.

Onto the Elimination Challenge! Secret Ingredient is ... tofu!

MacMillan makes (not a duo) but a trio?

Hughes stakes his claim on ... sauce? Yes, he does.

Well, looks like Hughes will have more "days off" than he had originally planned.

Lesson? Trio > duo!

Next week it's comedy night.

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  1. I liked the episode, though uneventful.I love how they help each other out, despite the time crunch. I wondered why Guarnaschelli didn't take a line from the Chopped chefs on the ice cream and add cream to thin it out. I'm happy Falkner won. I wish the other chefs would stop assuming she'll do great w/ dessert (or does great) just because she's a pastry chef. Does she automatically assume everyone will outperform her on every savory challenge? Does anyone ever say, "I knew xxx would perform well because he's a chef?" I'm not liking the British judge whose name has escaped me.

    2 Replies
    1. re: chowser

      I'm not liking the British judge whose name has escaped me.
      ~~~~~~~~~
      Simon Majumdar - he's definitely the villain of the three judges.

      on the subject of judges, i'm not the least bit impressed by Judy Joo and i really wish she would stop with the foodgasm thing. Donatella may have been a bitch, but at least her comments about the food were insightful.

      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        That foodgasm thing bothers me, too, Seriously, if you're not in a frat or sorority, it's time to grow up past that. I do prefer her to "Oh, the banana skin wasn't edible! That roasted hot pepper was spicy!!!" Donatell.

    2. What was the retirement home comment?

      1. The cook off dished seemed to be very close, and I kind of thought they'd let Hughes stay for the eye candy factor. No such luck.

        The chefs were incredibly inventive, but I thought it was a silly challenge.

        4 Replies
        1. re: roxlet

          I was hoping he'd stay - not just for the eye candy, but because he seems like a nice guy and had a good sense of humour throughout the whole thing. Didn't treat it like a life-and-death situation, you know?

          1. re: piccola

            I agree--a cutie with a fun personality. He had a really rough go of it that day :(

            1. re: piccola

              I thought he was a bit out of luck having to work with popcorn. Getting some of it stuck between the judge's teeth was somewhat predictable. But I do think he lost the cook-off fair and square.
              Too bad, I would have liked to see him go further in the competition.

              1. re: piccola

                Agree he lost fair and square but too bad because I would have liked to see more of him too. Loved that he thought he was lucky for even being there, that he refered to himself as a cook and that parting shot was funny. To Chiarello who said he'd come to eat at his restaurant he said well as long as you can get a reservation I'd love to see you there.

            2. I am somewhat surprised that Chuck Hughes apparently had never worked with tofu ever before and had made efforts to stay away from it before. Did he also say he had never eaten it?

              I didn't think the cook-off was that close. It was MacMillan's battle to lose IMO as the cook-off progressed and his trio was risky by dividing his attention and efforts, but which he managed to pull together. Hughes' sauce did seem to be a throw-everything-Asian-you-can-think-of-together thing, as one of the judges said.

              1. I'm really having trouble with that loud sliding door sound they use a each chef comes and goes for judging ... So distracting!

                This challenge was too gimmicky for me ...

                Disappointing since I enjoyed the first episodes but I am pay Faulkner is doing well.

                1. VERY nice review! Thanks.!

                  I missed the beginning...what was the retirement home comment.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Shrinkrap

                    I actually misquoted.

                    Someone in the background (Zakarian, maybe?) said, paraphrasing, "lets get going everyone, this isn't a rest home."

                  2. I sure would hate to have to be the judge in a Zakarian Falkner final -- they seem pretty evenly matched and on top of their games.

                    Best comment of the night was Symon grinning to Chiarello: "Nothing says rustic Italian like lemon gummi candies."

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jmckee

                      I liked that chiarello laughed. He is NOT having any fun!

                    2. So let me get this straight: Spike gets kicked off because he broke the rules by making more dishes than asked for but then McMillan wins for that. Also I thought the choice of tofu was a little one sided given McM's experience with Asian cuisine.

                      48 Replies
                      1. re: junescook

                        No, Spike only made one scallops dish. Marcus Samuelsson made two and did better on them so he won.

                        1. re: junescook

                          Spike actually only did 1 dish. Samuelsson did a duo and was chastised for it but won anyway. The same thing happened with McMillan - he was admonished but won anyway.

                          1. re: junescook

                            ...and why would you think that it is "one-sided" simply because McM had experience with "Asian" ** cuisine? Why was Hughes NOT familiar with tofu, even passingly? He's a high-level chef - his statement that he had never worked with tofu and had tried his darnedest to stay away from it did not speak well of him as a supposedly top-flight chef.

                            The "Chairman's Choice" of tofu would have been made before it was determined who were the bottom two chefs, I would imagine. It was Hughes' choice to shun tofu throughout his life but it was in no way 'one-sided' when he was presented with an ingredient that he had purposefully avoided in his career as a supposedly top-flight chef. An ingredient which is widely used by large swaths of the population outside of North America, and that includes many places outside of China & Japan. Why, are we to insist that the show canvass which ingredients the bottom two in each episode of TNIC were familiar with before selecting something for the cook-off?

                            **and by "Asian" do you mean Cantonese, or Szechuanese, or Japanese, or Indonesian, or Malaysian, or Turkish, or Persian, or Tamil, or Gujarati, or ???

                            1. re: huiray

                              If you don't like 'Asian', how would YOU (succinctly) describe the region of the world where tofu is widely used?

                                1. re: paulj

                                  Oriental (after Berkeley - great comment btw).

                                  1. re: smartie

                                    Though 'oriental' can also apply to the Near East, as in the Oriental Institute (of Chicago), and Oriental Express. And in some contexts it is regarded as perjorative.

                                    I'm not aware of a convenient shorthand that covers east and southeast Asia, but not south (India) or west (Middle East). Taken in context, 'Asia' seems to be as good a term as any.

                                    1. re: paulj

                                      I think one could indeed say "E/SE Asian" to at least limit it to the areas where tofu is a dominant item. Not too much 'additional' verbiage IMO.

                                      Remember, too, that "Asian" in the UK tends to mean "of the Indian Sub-continent". (Even if the discussion here is USA-centric)

                                      1. re: huiray

                                        A Brit who strayed on to this thread would be confused by a lot more than this American (and Australian) usage of 'Asian'.

                                2. re: huiray

                                  The fact that Chef Hughes has avoided tofu does not invalidate his being a top-flight chef. He doesn't like it and therefore has not cooked it. That's all. I've seen Tom Colicchio admit to not liking okra and I'm sure were it foisted on him he would not have known how to cook it despite his talents as a chef. Never mind that it is widely eaten by several people within the United States.
                                  In any case, the success of his restaurant which he jokingly refered to upon leaving Kitchen Stadium is a testament to his talent. And, yes they don't serve tofu.

                                  1. re: mtlmaven

                                    Colicchio has not, as far as I know, said that he has never used okra. (Please correct me if I am wrong; in which case my estimation of him would drop a bit more) He has said he does not like it. That is different from saying that you have *never* worked/cooked with it, as Hughes said regarding tofu.

                                    If you are a top-flight chef, I myself would expect you to have at least tried working with an ingredient so common as tofu. Or okra. You don't need to like it, or become proficient in using it, or serve it in your restaurants. It's not as if we are talking about an ingredient so obscure or rare that only specialized chefs in certain countries have worked with it.

                                    1. re: huiray

                                      There are probably lots of top flight chefs in American and Europe that have never used tofu. Top-flight to me doesn't necessarily mean they have to use ingredients common to other cultures. Reasonable people may have different opinions, which is a concept that you seem unable to accept.

                                      1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                        Not at all. You don't seem to be able to grasp that it is *my opinion* that you ought to have at least *tried* out tofu, even if at home, if I am to consider you a top-flight chef. I suggest you read my post above again.

                                        1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                          BTW I wonder if you have tasted or cooked with tofu yourself. Have You? I would hope that you, as a "Worldwide Diner" (as your moniker says) have done so.

                                          1. re: huiray

                                            I'm Chinese. I've eaten every form of tofu imaginable. I like certain forms of tofu but they're not something that I can't live without. Many people eat tofu as a healthy way of getting protein in their diet, not necessarily because they taste great. If someone doesn't like to eat tofu or even try tofu, I don't think they're missing out. I certainly don't think being a top flight chef means you have to go out of your way to cook some food from another culture that is more of a staple than a delicacy.

                                            Let's say the best Chef in China has never tried foie gras or cooked with it, is he/she not a top flight chef?

                                            1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                              "I certainly don't think being a top flight chef means you have to go out of your way to cook some food from another culture that is more of a staple than a delicacy."
                                              ------
                                              Your opinion. I think a top-flight chef in the western idiom ought to have **tried out** cooking with it, an ingredient so common nowadays everywhere, and it does not need to be even considered a delicacy. That does not mean they have to "go out of their way" to cook it. Oh, BTW, I'm Chinese. I eat a lot of tofu, just as many types you claim to, I suspect.

                                              In my view, if the best chef in China - nowadays - has never tried foie gras, yes I would think less of him or her, so long as foie gras was available in China. In Hughes' case, tofu is ***all around him*** and is such a ***common*** ingredient in North America [note: that includes Canada and Quebec] that your comparison is not a balanced one.

                                              1. re: huiray

                                                So you don't think one can be a top-flight chef if he/she just cooks the food of one culture? If Eric Ripert never cooked tofu, then he's not a top flight chef?

                                                1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                  I would definitely think less of him if he said he had *never* worked with tofu at all, not even once in his whole life as a chef, not even at home, with this ingredient widely used all around him, in the sense I am talking about.

                                                  1. re: huiray

                                                    But what then does it mean to 'think less of him'? Do you retroactively reevaluate cooking at a chef's restaurant, which you once found extraordinary? Do you avoid his restaurant, now armed with the knowledge that he's not good at cooking the food he doesn't cook? Do you make sure whenever possible that the dude cooking your French fine dining also knows his way around Cantonese ingredients?

                                                    My point, I guess, is that it strikes me as inconsequential whether one thinks less of a chef for not being good at that which [s]he does not do. At the end of the day, a chef is a technician and a leader of men, not a professor or travelling academic. Plenty of great chefs are specialists.

                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                      Let's see...

                                                      "Do you retroactively reevaluate cooking at a chef's restaurant, which you once found extraordinary?"
                                                      ---> No. It's still extraordinary, for the food he serves at his restaurant.

                                                      "Do you avoid his restaurant, now armed with the knowledge that he's not good at cooking the food he doesn't cook?"
                                                      ----> No. He cooks the food he's good at in his restaurant.

                                                      "Do you make sure whenever possible that the dude cooking your French fine dining also knows his way around Cantonese ingredients?"
                                                      ----> No. He is not required to be proficient with Cantonese ingredients.

                                                      Look, I've been repeating myself ad nauseum in this subthread and yet everyone still appears to be unable to grasp my basic point:
                                                      If you are a top-flight chef - in North America - I expect you to have worked with tofu at least once sometime, somewhere, at home, wherever, in your life.

                                                      That does NOT mean:

                                                      • You are not still a great chef.
                                                      I, for myself, simply will have an asterisk besides your name indicating that you never even bothered to try out an ingredient so common around you and eaten by a billion or so folks, and that it is an omission on your part not to have done so.

                                                      • That you are required to be proficient in the use of tofu, a common ingredient in E/SE Asian cuisine and Chinese-American cuisine and available all around you.
                                                      I am merely bothered that you never even tried to use it for even one meal in your own kitchen, considering you are a chef of a high rank.

                                                      • That you are required to offer a succulent and delicious variation of tofu somewhere on your menu in your restaurant.
                                                      It's NOT your strength, and you are not expected to offer what you are not strong at in your restaurant.

                                                      It's PLAIN.FREAKING.TOFU, not Abalone, or Bird's Nest, or Fugu, or any number of other esoteric or expensive ingredients that one would need to make an effort to try it out. Hughes made.a.point of saying he had never worked with it and that he had gone.out.of.his.way to avoid it.

                                                      1. re: huiray

                                                        I suspect that at some point, possibly between revealing of 'secret' ingredient, and the start of cooking, the producers take the contestants aside and ply them with questions like 'what do you think of this ingredient?' 'Is this ingredient going to easy?', etc. During editing they pick, and clip, the most interesting ones - that is, the comments that heighten the sense of competition and challenge.

                                                        While the words are Chuck's, the emphasis might not be his.

                                                        1. re: huiray

                                                          I don't fail to grasp what you're saying. I just disagree.

                                                          "If you are a top-flight chef - in North America - I expect you to have worked with tofu at least once sometime, somewhere, at home, wherever, in your life."
                                                          __________
                                                          That's only true in the sense that it's more likely than not. But it's clear from reading your posts that you mean more than that... that it's the responsibility of a top-flight chef to be familiar with common ingredients from cuisines that aren't necessarily applicable to his professional career. That's nonsense. A chefs responsibilities include making great meals so that his customers are happy, running a tight shift so his restaurant makes money, and keeping a restaurant supplied and operational. Making sure that some guy on the internet doesn't include an asterisk next to his name on an imaginary (right?) list falls somewhere around shining the nickels in the cash register on his list of responsibilities and priorities.

                                                          The popular media keeps on making out chef-dom as being all about one's overall mastery of food. That's just not so. A chef - even a great one - has to know HIS food, and he has to know the restaurant business.

                                                          Also let's be realistic. It was obvious from the episode that Hughes had some familiarity with tofu. You're taking his word more literally than he probably intended. He probably just disliked tofu, and hadn't worked with it extensively as he had the many foodstuffs that are actually applicable to his professional career.

                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                            Our expectations about very high level chefs just differ, then.

                                                            As for whether Hughes really had experience with tofu - well, if he DID have experience then he simply should not have made that emphatic statement that he had never worked with it etc. If the editors manipulated the scenario - as paulj speculates - he ought to have realized that he could be grossly misrepresented if he uttered those words. Instead say something like "tried it once (or however many times), hated it, didn't do anything more with it" - something along those lines.

                                                            1. re: huiray

                                                              It struck me as a pre-emptive and over-stated excuse on his part (I guess it might not have been pre-emptive, given the way the show is shot and edited). But from the rest of the footage of the challenge, I think it's pretty unlikely that he had never tasted or worked with tofu at all. OTOH, his dipping sauce made it seem as though he is mainly familiar with East Asian cooking through North American mash-up fusion.

                                                              Whether or not he should have made that excuse... eh, it's a toss up, as far as I'm concerned. No offense, but I don't think many other people really care if he hasn't tried tofu.

                                                          2. re: huiray

                                                            And this is the statement with which I totally disagree: "If you are a top-flight chef - in North America - I expect you to have worked with tofu at least once sometime, somewhere, at home, wherever, in your life."

                                                            I do not think it is necessary for a top-flight chef to have worked with tofu. Any more than I think it is necessary that a top flight chef has worked with, say, Jerusalem artichokes or chitlin's or beef heart or durian.

                                                            1. re: jmckee

                                                              I agree, I don't expect them to have worked with tofu. That said, I expect an "Iron Chef" to be able to skillfully work with tofu, regardless of their past experience or lack thereof.

                                                              1. re: LurkerDan

                                                                "That said, I expect an "Iron Chef" to be able to skillfully work with tofu, regardless of their past experience or lack thereof."
                                                                ________
                                                                That may be a useful distinction - tofu is very much the kind of thing that can pop up in a cooking competition. OTOH, on ICA contestants are notified of the possible main ingredients a while before the competition starts.

                                                                Still, it would have been smart for someone who knows he's going to be on TV in an off-the-cuff cooking competition like TNIC to familiarize himself with particularly common ingredients he hasn't work with much.

                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                  But I don't think that the judges had a problem with Chuck's tofu prep. They thought the sauce overpowered the tofu. It looked and sounded delicious to me, though.

                                                                  Beau's dishes were beautiful, too, though. Tough call.

                                                                  1. re: bear

                                                                    True, which is part of the reason I've said I don't buy that he had never tasted or worked with tofu before.

                                                                    I can see why the judges voted in Beau's favor though - if you are charged to feature an ingredient and you bury its qualities and flavors in an overpowering sauce, even if the dish tastes pretty decent, then you're probably not going to score very well.

                                        2. re: huiray

                                          Huiray, You didn't mention French-Canadian. How come? I guess you don't like Hughes (or me), but do you really think that every ICA show starts with unknown and equally fair ingredients?

                                          1. re: junescook

                                            Often the ingredient on ICA (and on IC) has tie ins with the contestants (the challenger more so than the Iron Chef). Hughes got 'Canadian Lobster'. Tofu pitted Yeo against Morimoto.

                                            1. re: junescook

                                              No no, I have no reason to dislike *you*, junescook. I took issue with what you *said* about the cook-off being one-sided, that is all.

                                              I'm not sure what you're getting at regarding my not mentioning 'French-Canadian'. If you are thinking of my mentioning of geographical locale, wouldn't 'North America(n)' cover 'French-Canadian'? ["North America" does not equal the oft-used "America"=USA]

                                              I am aware that the unknown ingredients on ICA or IC are not "unknown" but the contestants do not know which one exactly (out of two or three or so) they would get on the day of battle. paulj mentions the skew towards one contestant in his post above. In this regard, Hughes is not yet an Iron Chef. ;-) In many cases, especially on the original IC, there have been ingredients that have seemingly confounded the IC - as presented in the show seen by the viewer - and they had flailed around a bit before going on to actually even win.

                                          2. re: junescook

                                            There isn't a rule about the number of dishes to make. But there is a strategic consideration. You are likely to be judged by the worst of the set, not the best.

                                            1. re: junescook

                                              I think all chefs have areas of expertise, but that comes out in the wash I think. One week its tofu, the next week it could be aubergines. The thing is, an Iron Chef needs to have an all around esthetic but no doubt will play to their strengths as required in a competition. So it really wasn't one-sided, I don't think.

                                              1. re: freia

                                                Exactly--there are few ingredients that could be chosen that would be completely fair to every chef. And, those that are would be so basic as to be meaningless. Battle: salt anyone?

                                                1. re: chowser

                                                  ...and the secret ingredient is.....SALT...
                                                  Can't
                                                  Stop
                                                  Laughing
                                                  :)

                                                  1. re: freia

                                                    I think they may have actually done this on the original ICJ. I could be wrong. I know they had a challenger on who was a salt specialist who used all different kinds.

                                                    1. re: acgold7

                                                      It wasn't an actual "Battle Salt".

                                                      Challenger Hiroyuki Hakogi, "Sorcerer of Salt". The 3rd challenger from the "Ohta faction" in that long-running "feud" they had with Morimoto [over "preserving the sanctity of Traditional Japanese cuisine"]. :-D He and Morimoto faced off in "Battle Yellowtail" in which Chairman Kaga also had for them a special salt "harvested only under a full moon".
                                                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmyiCk...
                                                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_... (episode 259)

                                                      Hakogi brought along with him a few other varieties of salt as well. Fun episode. Lots of chit-chat and reminiscences about Morimoto's early life as an aspiring baseball player too, with one of the judges a former boyhood rival.

                                                      1. re: huiray

                                                        I knew someone could clear that up for me. Thanks.

                                                        [Damn, I really miss the older dubbed versions of ICJ, before the rights to the "Backdraft" music lapsed.]

                                                        1. re: acgold7

                                                          Best of all were the subtitled versions shown on Japanese language TV in the SF Bay Area (and a few other places).

                                                          1. re: acgold7

                                                            WORD to the old JIC..anyone remember Battle Asparagus? The giggly ingenue Japanese actress...."hee hee hee you have offended my tastebuds hee hee hee"
                                                            Best. Episode. EVER. :)

                                                            1. re: freia

                                                              I guess you mean this one, between Masaharu Morimoto and Yasuhiko Habuchi... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoeTKk... (this is part 1 of 5). It seems to be Hosoki [the older female critic] who said that Morimoto's dish offended her taste buds. The giggly ingenue actress was Miwako Fujitani, who at one point when sampling the challenger's dish went off on a riff about floating above the clouds, gazing down on he dish (giggle) then exclaimed "What am I saying" (giggle giggle). :-) This was the second of three asparagus battles on ICJ.

                                                              The first one between Hiroyuki Sakai and Toshihiro Komine starts here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSUC8h... which became a sort of grudge match/"I'll show you what I can do" for Sakai.

                                                              The third one was the overtime battle between Chen Kenichi and Dominique Corby (Battle Foie Gras; which was a draw) which in turn ALSO ended in a draw. Kaga proclaimed both to be joint winners. :-)
                                                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSKVZW...

                                                              1. re: huiray

                                                                Thanks for the links! I still remember the "you have offended my tastebuds" and I remember me and husband saying "oooohhhhh ...ouch...." ..that was for the asparagus coated and baked in salt. And I recall the asparagus boiled/cooked with lobster and THEY THREW THE LOBSTER OUT! Wanted to impart the flavor of lobster in the asparagus.
                                                                Thanks for looking all that up. I guess I was thrown by the giggly ingenue heeheeeheeeheeheee...LOL
                                                                :)

                                                                1. re: freia

                                                                  You're welcome.
                                                                  It was a very nice episode, yes. :-)
                                                                  Personally, I think I liked the 1st battle just as much, while that 3rd one in combination with the main foie gras battle was very enjoyable too.

                                                                  1. re: huiray

                                                                    BTW, do anyone notice how they pronounce "foie gras" on IC? FOIE-gre.

                                                                    1. re: rteplow

                                                                      Heh.

                                                                      Then there's Chairman Kaga's "AAHHH-SUUUU-paragas" as one commenter on Youtube pointed out. :-)

                                                    2. re: chowser

                                                      "Battle: salt anyone?"

                                                      Heh...have you ever seen Anne Burrell's show??

                                                2. Here's my problem with The Next Iron Chef, and the way that the judges pontificate about how the Iron Chefs have to be inventive on the fly-- in point of fact, the Iron Chefs and guests chefs know ahead of time about the "secret ingredient." They are given two possibilities, and they are able to plan their dishes. Until the beginning of the show, they don't know which one it is, but they are not being given an ingredient like popcorn without having had the ability to plan and taste. I also truly dislike the solemnity with which the judges speak. It is so forced and overly serious for me. Chopped is the biggest example of this unappealing attitude. I'm kind of over Alton Brown at this point. He's turning into a nit picker in the worst possible way.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: roxlet

                                                    yet you are still watching these competitions? :)

                                                  2. i wasnt a fan of this challenge. two very gimmicky challenges that were essentially the same back to back frustrated me. i would much rather see what the chefs can do with an ACTUAL ingredient.

                                                    11 Replies
                                                    1. re: mattstolz

                                                      I think tofu is an actual ingredient. To me, anyway.

                                                        1. re: kubasd23

                                                          Third it. It's no lesser than scallops as an ingredient.

                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                            Agreed. Actually, I think it's probably more versatile than scallops, and lends itself to more techniques. It's a good ingredient for a cooking competition for that reason.

                                                        2. re: huiray

                                                          After that amazing smoked tofu with beef drippings that Richard Blaise did on Top Chef in his first (?) season, there really is no end to what's possible with tofu. I think it was a great ingredient for a challenge.

                                                          1. re: huiray

                                                            I think he's referring to the candy in the challenge, not the cook off.

                                                            1. re: roxlet

                                                              Yes, you're right. Sorry mattstolz. I'd read the two gimmicky challenges as two in one episode, not in two consecutive episodes. I do think they had actual ingredients in the ball park round, I was surprised at all the food they found.

                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                It's unclear as to whether he was talking about the tofu challenge or last week's baseball stadium food challenge. I'm thinking the latter is more likely, but I couldn't really say for sure unless he clarifies.

                                                              2. re: roxlet

                                                                Ah, is that right? OK, then.

                                                                But it did read as referring to two gimmicks in this single 3rd episode, as chowser also mentioned above, not as two gimmicks in consecutive episodes back-to-back. Wouldn't the cook-off also be considered as a challenge?

                                                                I also thought the ball park ingredients were 'real ingredients'. They were actual, real food items, and a lot of different ones at that.

                                                            2. re: mattstolz

                                                              Just curious as to why you don't think tofu is an actual ingredient...not being argumentative, just wondering about your rationale...:)

                                                              1. re: freia

                                                                The challenge he refers to was using candy. The face off used tofu.

                                                            3. Did anyone else get the feeling that the British judge was a lot more negative than the other two guys, particularly on the last two guys standing? It seemed like she had *nothing* nice to say and the other guys would find good things to say.

                                                              7 Replies
                                                              1. re: DGresh

                                                                You mean Judy Joo? She's Korean-American, actually; but is an Iron Chef on the UK show and currently lives in London. Born in NJ. She grew up watching her Korean mother cook lots of Korean food - which she presumably ate - including lots of tofu, I dare say. ;-)

                                                                I think her having little good to say by comparison with the other two judges was true regarding the cook-off. I wouldn't say she was off-base either. There was simply too much going on with both dishes - too much stuff in the sauce for Hughes' dish, too many ingredients for McMillan's dish. As someone who eats a lot of tofu myself, done in many ways, I could see where she was coming from - the tofu was "lost". Tofu *does* have a subtle taste to it, and certainly the texture of different kinds of tofu factors in greatly as well. Even though none of us here on the thread sampled the dishes, I could easily believe that one could still taste the tofu and the textures more with McM's dish, than with Hughes' dish where I suspect the sauce was practically all that one tasted. (...and I doubt the battle was that close in the end) My opinion. However, it did also seem to me all the judges said things along those lines, with AB at the end summarizing up that aspect by saying that Hughes tried to put all of Asia into one sauce.

                                                                (p.s. I just re-watched the cook-off part to check on what was said and to look again at the dishes)
                                                                (p.s.2. Simon Majumdar is also British)

                                                                1. re: huiray

                                                                  I have no problem with tofu being a means to convey the sauce. I suppose if someone cooks up a great plate of mapo tofu, you'd complain that the sauce overwhelmed the tofu?

                                                                  1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                    Not at all. The use of tofu in 麻婆豆腐 is meant to be as an *adjunct* to the sauce, and when properly done one ***still*** tastes the texture of the tofu, and I think you *know* it. It is disingenuous of you to blithely consider otherwise. **Many** dishes in Chinese/Korean/Japanese cuisine dwell on the taste and texture of the tofu, others use it as a conveyance. You ought to know this yourself since you say you are Chinese.

                                                                    1. re: huiray

                                                                      Seriously, Huiray, do you really think that if your best Chinese/Korean/Japanese chef in Indianapolis came into IC battle with Batali with ingredients tomatoes, anchovies, basil, parm reggiano and mozzarella, the battle would be fair?

                                                                      1. re: junescook

                                                                        If the challenge was to cook classic, traditional & authentically Italian dishes straight out of Tuscany or Emilia-Romagna then, yes, the Chinese/Korean/Japanese chef is likely to be at a disadvantage. Although, who knows, perhaps he/she may have a previously unknown knowledge and experience with the cuisine. ;-) [I'm also assuming you are referring to Chinese/Korean/Japanese cuisines, rather than the ethnicities, although both can be the same]

                                                                        If the challenge is not that, then if he/she is of Iron Chef caliber I am inclined to say he/she has a reasonable chance.

                                                                        Naturally, Batali being Batali, that would skew it a bit; and that would be an issue with your set-up versus the one with Hughes and MacMillan. MacM has "Asian" experience but is not a Chinese/Japanese/Korean chef or a specialist in those cuisines. (Nor has he been proven to be an Iron Chef yet FWIW)

                                                                        The food is judged on Inventiveness, taste and plating, not on "authenticity", unless a definite ethnic identity was specified as part of the challenge. After all, think of the battles in the past where ICs presented with a foreign ingredient still won over someone whose designated cuisine was more closely related to the ingredient.

                                                                        BTW, Batali is half French-Canadian, Seattle-born. :-)

                                                                        1. re: junescook

                                                                          in morimoto vs wadi, i thought it was kind of a set-up in favor of morimoto when they had mackerel as the ingredient. (wadi is american from minneapolis, background palestinian, restaurant cooks upscale/contemporary middle eastern food). wadi was just 25 when he competed and lost by 5 points. . . so maybe it does happen.

                                                                    2. re: huiray

                                                                      Yeah, I was off-tangent due to the fact that she cooks on the British show. I just thought it was notable that (as I recall) in each case she went first, said something pretty negative, and the other guys seemed to (somewhat) contradict her.