Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >
Nov 27, 2011 07:00 PM

The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs (Episode 5: "New York On A Plate") [Spoilers]

Today we find our heroes at NYC Grand Central Station and the theme of the Chairman's Challenge is "Storytelling".

Each chef must tell a story using various NYC landmarks as the inspiration, or the focal point. In other words, NYC on a plate.

Burrell: Central Park
Chiarello: Statute of Liberty
Falkner: Brooklyn Bridge
Zakarian: Times Square
Guarnaschelli: Empire State Building
Samuelsson: Broadway

Guarnaschelli says Zakarian is a rebel (that, or he can't color a coloring book to save his life).

Guarnaschelli's food takes a bath. Oops.

Two new additional judges today: Charlie Palmer and IC Marc Forgione

Onto judging ...

Burrell's story is about her journey to NY (e.g. small town girl makes it big in the Big Apple!) so she made cornish game hen, which the judges and they say it's "gorgeous" and "perfect"

Guarnaschelli starts with farm staples because the Empire State Building was built on a farm, but some judges did not like inedible things on the dish (no burnt items!). Dish is not as good as the story so say the judges.

Zakarian wanted to be magical because of his locale -- Times Square -- but ended up with a multi-course meal indicative of a Bento Box. One judge is confused, even though the egg is cooked "perfectly".

Chiarello is inspired to make a rabbit dish because of the Statute of Liberty because Liberty Island had rabbits. Story is good, but one judge had an issue with the plating but still thought the dish tasted "phenomenal" and "sublimely delicious"

Samuelsson's theme is "BIG" because it's Broadway, baby! But he (gack!) makes another duo, a steak salad and salmon. Does he never learn?? Judges don't buy the story.

Falkner goes German-Austrian because the architect of that darn bridge is German. One judge asks how the dish should be eaten -- i.e., in what order. But the dish is great, food is overall very good. The downer? Her storytelling sucks.

WINNER: Burrell (runner-up Chiarello)
LOSERS: Samuelsson versus Falkner

Elimination Challenge Secret Ingredient? Bagel, but of course.

Falkner makes "bagel with the works" which means ice cream and lox. Huh. Judges say it was "well executed" and "interesting" Ice cream was not a big winner. No surprise.

Samuelsson makes bagel dumplings (among other things), or "Lox, Bagels and Cream". He finally makes one dish, and judges say it was "well focused" but the gazpacho was a bit out of place. Overall? "Well done" says one judge.

LOSER? Samuelsson

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Wrong Samuelsson went home...he had the chops to be the next IC. Guarnaschelli has skated with a bunch of almost disasters. I know this is all reality TV but I'd really like it if the best chef, not the best chef at winning ridiculous games, would win. We thought it was between Samuelsson and Ciarello for cooking chops. Guess not.

    25 Replies
    1. re: berkleybabe

      I also agree, Samuelson was shocked he was going home. I am thinking they want a woman chef.

      1. re: smartie

        I was shocked too....unfortunately I had just turned it on. Will have to stay awake for the midnight showing.

        1. re: smartie

          "I am thinking they want a woman chef."

          That is really sexist...and I completely agree. Personally, I think it is a huge shame that the NICA challenges do not more resemble actual Iron Chef competitions (i..e Basic Ingredient, Professional Kitchen, best chef wins).

          1. re: DougRisk

            That was the rumor last time around and Forgione won. People always bring that up, as these competition go Top Chef, Food Network Stars, HGTV, etc. They never remember when they're wrong but they always remember when they're right--"See, I knew a woman would win."

            1. re: chowser

              Well, lets put it another way then. In your opinion, if Cat Cora is leaving the show (and I do not know that she is), what do you think the chances are that they would replace her with a man and have an all male staff?

              Again, the statement that I responded to was, "I am thinking they *want* a woman chef." (With emphasis on want)

              1. re: DougRisk

                On last night's ICA [new episode] shown immediately after TNIC, the ICA line-up did NOT include Cat Cora. Just Flay, Morimoto, Garces and Forgione. Interesting, no?

                I agree with you. It IS sexist in a way if they are really intending to look for a female ICA to replace Cora. Why not just dispense with the whole song-and-dance charade and simply have a TNIC competition where only female chefs are allowed in? Hmm?

                1. re: huiray

                  Think of this way: if a woman does win, you can blame their bias, instead of admitting that a woman can be a better chef. :)

                  1. re: paulj

                    That's a spurious quip. A female chef can be a better chef than a male chef, but the way TNIC is playing out, that outcome seems to be getting more press than just merely "May The Best Chef Win". ;-)

                    1. re: paulj

                      Given that the women have performed well on this show so far, there are people who will believe that that if one wins, it's sexist because they wanted a woman, proof or none. Had Samuelsson won, it would be because there isn't another black IC.

                    2. re: huiray

                      They don't because it's all speculation from people who aren't involved. Last season, as I said, Cat Cora had announced her departure and people said a female chef would win to replace her and yet Forgione won. Really, if the heads of IC want a female chef, they could just hire one and not go through this. This is not the only way they've brought on the men in the past.;-p

                2. re: DougRisk

                  It is NOT sexist; it's diversity, equal opportunity and all that BS. They need to have a female on board. It's that simple.

                    1. re: huiray

                      Exactly. That's the term I couldn't think of at the moment.

                  1. re: DougRisk

                    It would make for bad TV while the field is so large to have several chefs using the same ingredient. The dishes would get repetitive.

                3. re: berkleybabe

                  It won't be Ciarello either. It will probably be Burrell. They need a woman to replace Cat Cora. The only real male competition is Geoffrey Zackarian.

                  More to the point, what was the comment between Burrell and Guarnashelli when Burrell referred to something Falkner put on the plate, "I hope it tastes good." And Guarnashelli responded with a quick glance at her saying, "No, you don't."

                  1. re: chicgail

                    No, what Anne Burrell had whispered was "I do not like the way it looks" (or something like that, to which Alex Guarnaschelli replied, "I know you don't".

                    1. re: DougRisk

                      Actually Burrell did comment on how she didn't like the way one of Falkner's components looked and then said "I hope it tastes good" to which Alex replied, "No you don't." I'm thinking she and Burrell view Falkner as a serious threat and both want to be the last woman standing.

                      1. re: DavidPalmer

                        oh, OK, that is why she gave that look. OK, thanks.

                        1. re: DavidPalmer

                          I personally thought that exchange was hilarious. It seems like Alex and Anne try to look out for each other a bit and know each other enough from their location and jobs that they feel comfortable with a little realistic snark.

                          I also got the impression from the commentary during the elimination round (altho it could just be editing monkeys) that the majority of the chefs were more impressed with what Marcus was doing and were genuinely surprised he didn't win.

                          1. re: Firegoat

                            That was good. Anne looked at Alex in faux surprise, and Alex did her best not to crack a smile. I also agree about Samuelsson, somebody called his elimination a game-changer.

                            1. re: Firegoat

                              I think they like to edit comments more often than not to make the loser look like the better chef so that the actual judgment come across as shocking.

                            2. re: DavidPalmer

                              Thanks David. I just watched that again and your version is accurate.

                        2. re: berkleybabe

                          "but I'd really like it if the best chef, not the best chef at winning ridiculous games, would win"

                          The thing is, iron Chef America is fundamentally a ridiculous game, not a valid test of who is the best chef.

                          Pitting two chefs against each other with 45 minutes (or whatever it is) to create five dishes using a secret ingredient (that's not even secret to the chefs but they pretend it is), overseen by an actor playing a character called "the chairman", and judged by celebrities and dimwits? If this is not a ridiculous game, what is?

                          1. re: taos

                            If it weren't a ridiculous game, it would be boring television.

                            1. re: FoodPopulist

                              Your are correct. And this is why things like how well the contestants tell a story matter so much. They have to be entertainers as much as good chefs.

                        3. Alex is definitely bringing the entertainment value to this show this season.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Firegoat

                            I find it sooo funny that Alex is always doing these 'aside' comments to the camera, about how scared she is, and how the competition freaks her out, when week after week, she is judging people on Chopped going through the SAME experience...
                            Am I the only one that finds her sincerity at her fear, etc. a little ironic? I can't believe she hasn't addressed this directly, as in 'I used to watch people going through the same thing, and now here I am", etc.

                            And, I sure do agree with above posters that the network may really want a last-woman-standing.
                            Also glad to see the women doing SO WELL in competition this time. Finally, unlike chopped, etc. the women don't seem to be leaving because they are women.
                            On Chopped, this became a joke with my BF and I a couple years ago - getting better these days - but still, the first joke when the lineup includes women, we say ' well, we know who is first to go"....
                            I am voting for any of the women, but have been VERY impressed with Faulkner's performances and dishes. She has serious chops, with her background in pastry, and has done equally well in savory dishes. Tho, I think maybe the money is on Ann Burell, with her many appearances in kitchen stadium as an assistant.
                            I just say a late-night rerun of an episode last week (sorry, forget who against, but she was assistant to Batali), and there she was, just prepping and doing, with no one even saying who she was - I laughed, since this was clearly before she had her own show and cookbook.
                            Anyone else find it funny that at least 3 times during Sunday night's episode, they advertised her new cookbook?
                            Is that supposed to be the finale spoiler?

                            1. re: gingershelley

                              Or the people in charge of promoting her book are just taking advantage of her air time.

                              If you were in charge of 'FoodNetworkStore', when and where would you advertise your wares?

                              1. re: paulj

                                Right there on the show she is on, but, hey, it is the same network - doesn't it say something that the ad's are all over the show?

                                1. re: gingershelley

                                  On Amazon you can get a special deal on her book along with Nadia's. :)

                                  Who else has a book that they should be pushing?
                                  Irvine - Impossible to Easy 2010
                                  Symon - Live to cook 2009

                          2. So upset about Samuelsson. I think his skills are beyond the show. What was surprising was that everyone seemed to like his dish. How is ice cream (again) more skilled than those dumplings he made from frying the dough and then kneading? I thought that was far more creative. I like Falkner, too, and was sad it came down to these two. I hope she takes it in the end, since Samuelsson is gone now. Oh, and that you have to be an animated story teller, too? I didn't see a connection to Central Park in Ann Burrell's dish--just a connection from where she's been to get to NYC and the cornish game hen for pigeon. Samuelsson's story made sense to me--about the variety of people you see in Times Square. At least he considered the exact location. Burrell could have made her dish no matter what she drew.

                            Thanks for the recap, ipse.

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: chowser

                              The judges did not find anything wrong with Samuelsson's dish. The stated reason for giving Falkner the win was that she gave the secret ingredient, the bagel, greater prominence. That is an aspect of the 'real world' ICA judging. Technique, taste, presentation and creativity are all part of ICA judging. But if the judges can't taste the secret ingredient, or find that it is incidental to the dish, they comment on it, and quite possibly award a lower score for it. I write 'possibly' because we don't see the score details.

                              1. re: paulj

                                Symon said that Samuelsson's sauce muddlied up the dish.

                                1. re: huiray

                                  That was Judy Joo. Symon effused about Samuelsson's dish and said he thought Falkner's ice cream didn't taste good as much as it was interesting. I thought from his remarks that Samuelsson would have won.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    Was it? Hmm, I'll have to watch it again.

                                    I thought it was Majumdar, however, who said that Faulkner's ice cream didn't taste as good as it was interesting. Actually, quite sure of it.

                                    1. re: huiray

                                      Yes, that's what I said--that Symon effused about Samuelsson's dish and said he thought Falkner's ice cream didn't taste as good as much as it was interesting. Oops, meant Simon.

                              2. re: chowser

                                Bummed out about Samuelsson myself. His departure leaves me with no one that I really root for. I guess now I'm in Faulkner's corner by process of elimination.

                                "I think his skills are beyond the show."
                                In a sense, I just think Samuelsson's style is a bad match for ICA. The judging on ICA has always seemed skewed towards a more or less stereotypical American palate. Most of the 'innovation' and 'creativity' comes in the form of the techniques or presentation, but the underlying flavors are usually very familiar. Whereas Samuelsson draws his inspiration from a wide array of world cuisines in a much more profound way, often drawing from cuisines that are not as popular or well known in the states, and presenting them in a way that will actually challenge the judges' palates. I feel like shows like Top Chef tend to appreciate that kind of risk taking, but ICA is more likely to penalize it.

                                "How is ice cream (again) more skilled than those dumplings he made from frying the dough and then kneading? I thought that was far more creative."
                                Making unconventional ice cream is a fairly technical endeavor. But I agree that it's really not all that creative anymore. Frankly, it's a cliche in competitions, the kind of thing where you can learn a technique and apply to damn near anything for a nice presentation without thinking too hard about it. The dumplings struck me as no less technical and far more creative - something that I've never seen before at all.

                                "Samuelsson's story made sense to me--about the variety of people you see in Times Square."
                                I think Samuelsson had Broadway. Ehh, none of the storytelling impressed me particularly anyway.

                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                  In the same way, at times I think Morimoto loses because the (USAmerican) judges can't grasp or appreciate the Japanese/Pan-Asian underpinnings of his dishes.

                                  1. re: huiray

                                    I tend to agree. Though even for a Japanese chef, Morimoto can be pretty unconventional.

                                  2. re: cowboyardee

                                    I agree w/ what you've said. I don't see Samuelsson on IC at all. I think the ice cream is almost cliche, especially for her. Why are judges so enthused about ice cream on these shows?

                                    I thought the whole storytelling was a useless exercise.

                                    1. re: chowser

                                      Michael Symon has to defend unconventional ice creams - he abuses the heck out of the technique himself.

                                  3. re: chowser

                                    I'm a big fan of Marcus but for some reason (that I can't put my finger on) he seems to lack the gravitas that the ICA producers are probably looking for.

                                  4. So I'm guessing even though they were buying and cooking for six, only one dish had to be finished in the 45 minutes? I only saw the cooks working on, carrying out one dish at time. I know in the actual Iron Chef competitions they have more time to go back and cook the additional judging dishes, was just wondering if that's the case here.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Firegoat

                                      I thought the same thing but I think that's also how IC is done--they only plate one in the time frame and then go back and do the rest.

                                    2. Anyone else feel like this thing is fixed?

                                      Anne Burrell is being given the winning storyline.... clearly FoodNetwork likes her. Every other commercial is for her cookbook, she already is on the "star" lineup with her afternoon cooking show, and it just feels like she is a shoe-in via the editing alone.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: smtucker

                                        The constant cookbook plugs are definitely a red flag for me.

                                        1. re: smtucker

                                          But when I watch it online on the Food Network site I get constant plugs for Alton Brown's new book.... maybe there is going to be a surprise twist at the end and Alton will win!

                                          1. re: smtucker

                                            If they say one more time that they're glad she's coming out of her shell, I'll scream. Really, how many times can she be coming out of her shell???

                                            1. re: smtucker

                                              I doubt it's fixed - having multiple judges (and guest judges) would tend to make that very hard to do without someone spilling the beans, and ever since the quiz show scandal of the 50s, 'game shows' have been pretty careful to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

                                              Much more likely: since the whole show is shot before it is edited and broadcast, it is edited with the eventual winner in mind. Anne Burrell may well be getting the winning storyline, but that can be accomplished via editing rather than the show being fixed. Anyway, I'm still not ruling out Chiarello by any means. He's got a fairly neutral edit so far, which could go either way; he seems to have the best strategy; the judges respond well to his style; and he's just a little less vulnerable to the 'played it too safe' criticisms than Burrell.

                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                I also doubt that it's truly fixed, but my guess is there's a definite advantage to folks already "stars" on FN, such as Burrell, Zakarian, Alex.