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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

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  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.

                                              2. I’m sad that really great chefs like Samuelsson, whom I consider to be more “serious” chef, would put himself on a show like this.
                                                Berkleybabe summed what I was thinking up very well
                                                I'd really like it if the best chef, not the best chef at winning ridiculous games, would win

                                                What’s next? Ripert vs Fieri on Chopped?

                                                17 Replies
                                                1. re: cgarner

                                                  Well Samuelsson has already competed on Iron Chef America and judges on Chopped, so I can't really see how this is any different.

                                                  1. re: Firegoat

                                                    He has already competed, and won, on Top Chef Masters. Is that a more serious competition?

                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                      That's pretty much open to opinion and speculation. I'm just saying he's already on these "types" of shows ... multiple times. Even more "serious" chefs like publicity and cash.

                                                      1. re: Firegoat

                                                        There were those who thought Hiroki Sakai demeaned himself (and his profession) by becoming an Iron Chef.

                                                        1. re: Firegoat

                                                          There is just an intangible for me about certain chefs, that when I see them on cooking competition shows, I am disappointed. I don’t know what it is… it’s like, you’ll never see Daniel Boulud, Keller, or Jean-Georges competing on a cooking show …not to say that Samuelsson has made it to the level of Jean-George or Boulud….

                                                          It’s hard for me to convey how I feel, I want to grab some of these chefs and say

                                                          Hey, you’re successful, you’re a great chef, you’ve got great restaurants, people look up to you… what are you doing this for? To feed your ego? To prove something? To who?

                                                          1. re: cgarner

                                                            Did you see the Top Chef Masters with Hubert Keller, Rick Bayless, Art Smith, John Besh? It was one of the best. I think it's a different level, for them, of competition and cooking against others and see what they can do. It's like Lance Armstrong or Apolo Anton Ohno running the NYC marathon.

                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                              That was brilliant... especially pasta in the shower as done by Keller. After watching these men cook, I was ready to buy a JetBlue season pass and visit each of their restaurants.

                                                              1. re: smtucker

                                                                I loved that--I think it really pushes the chefs out of their comfort zone (big well equipped kitchen w/ the best appliances, etc.) and makes them be so much more creative. I'll bet it's a fun problem solving challenge for them.

                                                              2. re: chowser

                                                                And they usually seem to be donating to charities.

                                                                1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                  Yes, I was thinking if they made the pot big enough for their charities, it would be hard for most chefs to pass up. A $250,000 donation to your favorite charity is too good to walk away from, plus there were the individual awards.

                                                                2. re: chowser

                                                                  Yet, Besh competed in season 1 of Next Iron Chef. Does that demean him as a chef?

                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                    maybe I have a skewed opinion, but I put Top Chef on a different level than pretty much anything on the food network

                                                                    I like FN, don't get me wrong, it's a fun channel to watch sometimes, but there are chefs who become well known because of their food and their restaurants, and then you see them on TV, and then there are chefs who become well known BECAUSE they're on TV
                                                                    I get your analogy chowser, completely

                                                                    1. re: cgarner

                                                                      I guess, but since you said on a cooking show, I consider TC, even TCM a cooking show. I may not like FN but Bravo gives us endless variations of Housewives and dating maturity stunted millionaires so I don't think it's a higher level channel. MIng Tsai was on the last IC and he's a high level chef, imo.

                                                            2. re: cgarner

                                                              Samuelsson, to his credit or detriment, just seems to like competing. Dude has a competitive streak and he LOVES to cook - that was one of the reasons I was rooting for him.

                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                  Yeah, he seems to thrive under the pressure and love thinking of creative ways to cook. It's almost like a fun problem solving exercise and he seems to do it for himself, more than how he's judged, although that's obviously important, too. It seemed that to him, producing something he was proud of was more important than producing something the judges enjoyed.

                                                              1. Has Zakarian ever done what the challenge was or what the judges asked for, I'm wondering? It seems to me that what he does is along the lines of what he is charged with having done to his former employees - just disregard them, do what he wants - even though his food is plenty tasty, so the judges say, which saves him all the time.

                                                                Too bad about the cook-off. It should have been between Samuelsson and Guarnaschelli in my view.

                                                                I thought Burrell's "Central Park Dish" was barely evocative of its purported locale, as another poster here also said. Faulkner's dish and story was fine, I thought – her delivery was less polished and her being faulted so severely for it was, I guess, in keeping with the "mostly flash little substance" attitudes of TPTB.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: huiray

                                                                  I completely agree; I thought her idea was good, and her execution seemed good. Her delivery was, to be honest, pathetic. Where did her confidence go? So when we got to the final two I thought-- here's a situation where I thought that Samuelson clearly lost out of the six, but if he pulled it out in the "cook off", that it wasn't quite fair. So in that sense I was glad of the result. Agree that Burrell or Guarnaschelli should have been there instead of Faulkner.

                                                                  1. re: huiray

                                                                    Zakarian is also funny in that he doesn't follow the rules of the challenges, and then in his 'asides' to the camera, says - 'well, that is how I cook', but just as Geurnaschelli, on Chopped he would fault any contestant for not using the ingredients or not following the rules.
                                                                    I find this amazingly funny to see them in 'the fishbowl' themselves, with the same issues to deal with, and how differently their personal choices on the show where they are the competitors vs. the judges to be.
                                                                    Just observing, and amused....

                                                                  2. I like Anne a lot more when she doesn't realize the camera is on her. She drops her FN show persona and really shows some real emotion. Like the look on her face at the foodgasm comment, and the look when Alex went snarky on Falkner. So much more refreshing than her forced antics when the camera is on her in a talking head, etc. That said, at this point, I would be fine with anyone that is remaining winning.... other than Falkner. Her Iron Chef battle against Cat Cora didn't impress me at all. I think she missed getting one or two items plated. Forgivable in Chopped, but not Iron Chef.

                                                                    1. Considering that the judges really fawned over some of the chefs stories and faulted others, I found most of the storytelling fairly lame.

                                                                      All of em seemed kind of like patched together excuses to cook more or less what they wanted to. To be fair to the chefs, I'm sure that was at least in part because they were given no time to plan and very little time to shop. But a lot of the storytelling didn't hold up particularly well when you think about it.
                                                                      "The empire state building was built on an area that was once farm land" - Almost everywhere was once farmland - seems like a nice justification to cook anything that's plausibly from a farm to represent just about anywhere.

                                                                      "The French gave us sous vide" - Actually, they gave us the term and popularized its use in restaurants, but the chief developer was American. Partial credit.

                                                                      "There are pigeons in central park, so I made cornish game hens [or whatever]" - there are pigeons anywhere in NYC. And a cornish game hen isn't squab. If that's the criteria, it seems to me that you could come up with small, edible birds represented just about anywhere.

                                                                      "I came to NYC via Italy, so here's some Italian food." Wait, you can do that?

                                                                      You get the point.

                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                        "There are pigeons in central park, so I made cornish game hens [or whatever]" - there are pigeons anywhere in NYC. ...

                                                                        For some reason I was reminded of Tom Lehrer - Poisoning pigeons in the park ... :)

                                                                        Didn't they have to get their food from some market in the Grand Central Station? Maybe no one carried squab.

                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                          I assume she would have bought squab if she had seen any.

                                                                          Still, if I had been planning to serve oysters and champagne to tell the story of Times Square on New Years Eve, but all I could find was clams and riesling, I would think I'd have to pick a different dish.

                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                            "All the world seems in tune on a spring afternoon as we poison the pigeons in the park....."....Oh how I loved Tom Lehrer.

                                                                          2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                            "'I came to NYC via Italy, so here's some Italian food.' Wait, you can do that?"

                                                                            I was wondering why that was acceptable but Samuelsson using salmon w/ his history wasn't. It was all uneven and the fact that Falkner was slammed for not being an enthusiastic story teller was disappointing.

                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                              Samuelsson lost because he made another fucking duo. That dumb-ass.

                                                                              He was warned (what?) twice already not to do a duo. Idiot.

                                                                              I'm pulling for Falkner.

                                                                                1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                  I read the tone as more of exasperation and not hositility. The judges had repeatedly told Marcus not to prepare duos, and yet he did it again. Almost seemed he was trying to spite the judges as to he knew better. Guess not.

                                                                                  1. re: ellenost

                                                                                    I read the tone as more of exasperation and not hositility.


                                                                            2. I thought all the contestants pretty much pulled the stories out of their respective asses. Can we say 'far-fetched'? But then I also thought it was a really dumb idea to begin with, trying to come up with some idiotic background BS for your dish. A NYC connection with the dish would have sufficed in my book.

                                                                              And have none of these "judges" EVER heard of Wylie's everything bagel ice cream? Ya know, it's been done before. They reacted like this was the first time anyone had ever attempted such a dish.

                                                                              Rooting for Burrell, if only to diminish her ubiquity on so many other competition shows on FN. And that Guarnaschelli (whose name nobody seems to be able to pronounce correctly, but hey -- maybe she pronounces bruschetta the same way) woman is insufferable.

                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                                                Linguafood, thanks for the info about Wylie D's. bagel ice cream...You are so right! I Bing'ed it, and it is all over the food news, and likey that Faulkner, truly remembering or not, had it in her psyche to use as an idea. I cannot believe either, that any of the judges didn't know about the reference. Probably just expecting the average IC viewer to not know about it, and for tv, made it sound all new. Wow, best spoiler comment for the show yet.
                                                                                You are a true font of food info:)

                                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                                  i'm rooting for Guarnaschelli and i find Burrell insufferable. Of all the chefs on the show, Guarnaschelli is the one i would want to make my last meal, dine with at a really great restaurant or cook my food each day. Burrell is more grating to me, like nails on a chalkboard.

                                                                                  Guarnaschelli's insufferability is the same kind of temperament many introverted artistic and creative people have.

                                                                                  1. re: TheFoodEater

                                                                                    "Guarnaschelli's insufferability is the same kind of temperament many introverted artistic and creative people have."
                                                                                    Hmmm. The vibe I get is more of an anxiety-riddled-corporate-human-resources-toolbag-'lets-her-hair-down'-by-drinking-two-and-a-half-woodchucks-and-talking-low-level-shit-at-the-company-picnic type thing.

                                                                                    1. re: TheFoodEater

                                                                                      Funny. To me, she just comes off as a bitch. But I'm more of an "extroverted creative artist".... that must be it.

                                                                                  2. Am I the only one that wants Alex to win? i'm rooting for either her or zakarian. I like alex's personality, and she seems to infuse her food with that quirkiness and honesty. Zakarian... well I like that he cooks what he knows, and does it well, regardless of where the lines in the coloring book are, so to speak. I was disappointed to see samuelsson leave, because he is a fantastic chef, but I do agree that he doesn't really fit in with the iron chef set.

                                                                                    12 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: kubasd23

                                                                                      I DO like alex as well! I am not a fan of her oozy quality on her own cooking show - but I will chock that up to bad directing/coaching. I am a fan of her comments on Chopped, and I certainly am clear that she has a GREAT credibility in the NY resto scene, and has wonderful relationships with people she has worked for. Clearly, as a working chef, before she ever got invovled with FN, she was a force and a talent. I would LOVE to see her win, just keep that no-nonsense way about her from her judging on chopped, bring her clear knowledge with her, and stop the deer-in-the-headlights comments and actions as if she is a victim of competing!
                                                                                      For heaven's sake - she is a JUDGE of competitors regularly - don't they have to know anything about what it feels like to be a contestant to be a judge? How is this seemingly so out of left field for her?
                                                                                      I can get down with her as the winner, as I said, but perhaps the editing has to ask her to address this in her comments on IC?

                                                                                      1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                        I think the fact that she HAS been on the judging side gives her a bit of an advantage, because she knows more than the average cheftestant would about what they are REALLy looking for. I think her reaction when she won the stadium challenge (I think) was so.... cute (for lack of a better word). She seemed genuinely shocked that she won. She obviously knows what she's doing, she just has to "keep it real."

                                                                                        1. re: kubasd23

                                                                                          I agree - kubasd, that she 'has to keep it real', I think that is what with Guarnaschelli I find so slightly incredulous/disingenous? She doesn't seem to keep it real... she cooks great, she seems to be in the moment of the competition and fear of being eliminated, but she never, ever reffers to her background and experience of being a JUDGE herself, that should inform her experience. Kind of wierd.
                                                                                          But as a cheftestant, I know her background, so would like her to win, if she can 'come clean' and be truthful about where she is at - and not act all ' OOOh! I am scared". again, disingenous knowing her story...

                                                                                          1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                            You don't know that at all. For all we know, she spends 90 percent of her time talking about it and it all falls to the edit room floor.

                                                                                          2. re: kubasd23

                                                                                            Zakarian has been a judge on Chopped nearly as often. Samuelsson has also been a judge, though not as often.

                                                                                            All of them are far enough along in their cooking careers to know what it is like to be judged by their superiors, and to judge the performance of their own staff. Plus there's the evaluation by their peers, the public, and professional food writers.

                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                              That is true, Paulj,
                                                                                              so then my comments about how BADLY they respond to being judged themselves is a little wierd, right?
                                                                                              I mean, FN, can't you think we see your OTHER shows, so know who does what? I mean, isn't it disingenous that Zakarian or Guarnaschelli - or Samuelssen... would act suprised at the pressure they are under in judging?
                                                                                              Pleae, CH's, let me know if you think this is beyond, and a little strange amongst the competition narative?

                                                                                        2. re: kubasd23

                                                                                          Annoying personality, an unsightly back end, and a mug only her mother could love - I'm referring to Alex.

                                                                                          1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                            And exactly how do those attributes--if anyone else accepts your comments are accurate--relate to her cooking abilities?

                                                                                            1. re: pine time

                                                                                              None whatsoeve - she's on a food show, and I think she's butt ugly. That's all.

                                                                                          2. re: kubasd23

                                                                                            I like Alex and am surprised that most people don't seem to think she is competent. I hope she wins.

                                                                                            1. re: hueyishere

                                                                                              I kind of like Alex. Anne Burrell makes my face hurt.

                                                                                            2. re: kubasd23

                                                                                              I like Alex best too. I think the reason many people don't like her is because she presents as intensely introverted, which is easy to misread in many different ways. I'm an intensely introverted person, as are most of my friends, and so i recognize it when I watch her. I think her anxiety in the first few episodes stems from that introversion as well.

                                                                                            3. It was not a surprise to me that, of the remaining contestants, the two that I felt most lacked - for lack of a better word - "soul" in their dishes were the bottom two in a task based on storytelling.

                                                                                              16 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                I don't recall Samuellson ever doing well on the many cooking competition programs inwhich he has competed. The judges complaints are always similar -- unfocused, muddled, incohesive, etc... and he doesn't seem to take the criticisms to heart. I think it was Top Chef Masters when he kept insisting on 'painting' the plates. he also seems to shoehorn in his 'story' regardless of the challenge, like it's the only story he can tell. He never fails to mention his journey and background. It gets boring after awhile. As for his food I've never tried it nor do I have any particular interest in doing so. I can't recall him ever making something I found appetizing or interesting on any of the shows. His New American Table book has been in a used bookstore in my neighbourhood for ages and I always glance through it and I'm aware of his reputation but for even ten bucks I can't be bothered to pick it up. Maybe his restaurants are stellar but I'm wondering how he has earned his reputation since people rarely seem to enjoy his dishes. I guess he does have the best chef's jackets. I'll give him that.

                                                                                                1. re: jamesm

                                                                                                  "I don't recall Samuellson ever doing well on the many cooking competition programs inwhich he has competed."
                                                                                                  You didn't actually watch the second season of Top Chef Masters, did you?

                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                    I may have, like I said i don't recall him doing well. My aggregate memory of his various appearances was that he didn't fare so well and often recieved the same criticisms from the various judges. Maybe I'm recalling incorrectly but that was the impression I had of him last night.

                                                                                                      1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                        For myself, I'm not convinced he was the right person to win.

                                                                                                        1. re: huiray

                                                                                                          That's because Susur Lee is so damn amazing. Also, even Waxman, who didn't make the finale, came off like a champ.

                                                                                                          But Samuelsson was still pretty impressive.

                                                                                                    1. re: jamesm

                                                                                                      I thought he won Top Chef Masters once. I dont' like him. His food leaves me flat and I totally agree, the same story every time. I had the dubious pleasure of dining at Aquavit once and it was AWFUL. I'm glad he was eliminated. The other chefs are doing really inventive stuff - Zakarian, though he never follows the rules, is amazing, Michael's food is apparently wonderful (I've had it, it is) and I love Anne Burrell. She is totally at home in kitchen stadium too, as she was a great sous for Mario Batali.

                                                                                                      1. re: jamesm

                                                                                                        I understand why he has a great reputation. He has strong technical mastery. Some of his dishes strike me as being fancy for the sake of being fancy, which doesn't appeal much to me. He lost me with the use of wagyu beef in a dish intended to represent the common man. That's the sort of confused thinking behind his cooking that I think bothers judges.

                                                                                                        I don't think he would make a good Iron Chef because there are some battles where he is just going to score embarrassingly low. The show needs someone who will be more consistent, even if he or she doesn't reach similar heights at their best.

                                                                                                        1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                          "He lost me with the use of wagyu beef in a dish intended to represent the common man. That's the sort of confused thinking behind his cooking that I think bothers judges."
                                                                                                          I have no idea if it came through in the final dish (or how it had anything to do with Broadway in particular), but he hinted at the makings of a good story there. The story of America and of New York in particular isn't about the humility or the pride of the common man, but about the ambitions of the common man. I heard a quote once, and now I'm about to butcher it: New York is the land where every man, no matter how poor, thinks he's a millionaire who just hasn't gotten his big break yet. So it made perfect sense that Samuelsson would make a dish that would feature a tiny portion of a luxury item, sitting prominently atop more humble fare.

                                                                                                          "I don't think he would make a good Iron Chef because there are some battles where he is just going to score embarrassingly low."
                                                                                                          I think he would have made a great iron chef because he wouldn't serve the same stuff that the other iron chefs are serving. He'd keep the show from becoming a boring and predictable culinary wasteland. Who cares if he wins or loses his battles?

                                                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                            For the very reasons you stated, Samuelsson and Susur Lee are (or were) my top two choices to be Iron Chefs.

                                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                              I would love Susur Lee as an Iron Chef!

                                                                                                              I like Marcus, but I'm glad to see him go. Too much soup. Or in the case of the dish that sent him home, "sauce." Same soupy stuff, different name, barely disguised. I always thought that the reason he won his season of TCM is because the judges weren't as familiar with his cuisine and gave him more credit for creativity than was perhaps deserved.

                                                                                                              I couldn't believe how poorly Faulkner articulated her concept to the judges when she did it so well on camera. I think one of the judges even asked her about the horizontal presentation, trying to prompt her into telling more about her concept and "bridging" various elements. Alex G.'s aroma in a paper bag concept was hilarious, but was never going to help her win. Zakarian was more out of control than ever with his multiple dishes. Good thing his food was amazing, but I agree with Forgione that his story was too confusing.

                                                                                                              I missed the first couple of minutes. What was Chiarello's advantage?


                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                Everyone else chose their landmarks (numbered postcards, which they then revealed), and then he had the choice to either "steal" or "take what's behind the door". He stole Lady Liberty from Faulkner so she ended up with the "door" which was the bridge.

                                                                                                        2. re: jamesm

                                                                                                          While he won Top Chef Masters (which I totally did not agree with), I was never excited by any of Samuellson's creations. I never though "Man, I really want to taste that!". I don't know, I guess I never really "got" his food. While his reputation is that he's a master chef and he obviously has a lot of technique, his food never excites me.

                                                                                                          I just got back from a trip to NY and his restaurant was never on the list of restaurants I considered. I'm usually inspired by a chef's appearance on a show like TCM or NIC and plan to try their restaurants as soon as I can. (Had dinner at Annisa and it was great!) For some reason, I never had the urge to check out anything from him.

                                                                                                          1. re: chefhound

                                                                                                            Do you mean Red Rooster? (not Aquavit, I presume, as he left that one a while ago) I've not eaten there but it has been both praised and damned. I also gather he basically flutters around there, meaning he does not actually cook that much. (Does he?) One notes in passing that his previous Riingo and Merkato 55 apparently also got mixed-bag reviews.

                                                                                                            1. re: huiray

                                                                                                              I mean Red Rooster and Aquavit. I go to NY at least once a year and as a Chowhound, I have all my meals researched and planned far in advance. I never had any interest in going to Aquavit when he was there, nor am I interested in Red Rooster now. His stuff just doesn't interest me, especially with the other choices available in NY.

                                                                                                      2. Just a random interesting point. I was looking at the Food Network site at the "behind the scenes" photos. They say that the challenge in this episode took 15 hours to tape.

                                                                                                        1. In other news, Michael Symon's judging has gotten painful to watch. Everytime he criticques a dish, he tilts his head sideways and then, as if he's declaring that he discovered the meaning of life, proclaims, "The [whatever] is cooked perfect."

                                                                                                          Even aside from his incorrect grammar, he comes off as if he's trying to be smarter than he is, which probably is a stretch for him. And just saying something is cooked perfect(ly) is neither sufficiently helpful nor entertaining