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The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs (Episode 6 "Food Auction") [Spoilers]

We're at the Chelea District in NYC.

And the theme of the Chairman's Challenge is "Risk", so the setup is a reverse auction.

Chefs must use their allotted time of 60 minutes to bid for the ingredient they will cook with. The lowest bid in terms of time, wins the ingredient. But the chef's winning bid in time equals how much time each chef has to cook.

The chef who loses in the auction -- i.e., none of the bids wins an ingredient -- is stuck with the fifth and last ingredient and by default is given 5 less minutes to cook than the otherwise lowest winning bid time.

Confused? Sorry, pretend to understand and just follow along.

Burrell = canned sardines, 50 minutes to cook
Zakarian = Wagyu Beef, 35 minutes to cook
Falkner = tuna jerky, 25 minutes to cook
Chiarello = lobster, 25 minutes to cook
Guarnaschelli = leg of lamb, 20 minutes cook

But wait, there's more! Burrell won the last challenge, so what's her advantage? Burrell gets to be the 4th judge! Or more precisely, she gets to choose 1 of the 2 "losing" chefs who has to compete in the Secret Ingredient Challenge.

With great power, comes great responsibility ... and irony?

So who did Burrell ding as a loser? No quite yet. It's signed, and delivered ... in a sealed envelope.

First, onto our regularly scheduled panel of judges.

Judges said Zakarian's dish was "fantastic" and the Wagyu was "light and fantastic"!

Burrell makes a trio (uh-oh!) of sardines maybe because she had too much time? Bread pudding was a loser. Cute little sardine can as a plating technique? Cute, yes, but it still has to taste good. And it didn't.

The butter poached lobster from Chiarello with risotto was "thoroughly enjoyed" by one judge even though some felt that poached lobster, in and of itself, was not very risky.

Guarnaschelli's leg of lamb in 20 minutes resulted in a lamb sausage and the effort was lauded as "well done" but the sauce was not a hit and maybe the sausage was a bit bland? Tough crowd. 20 minutes. Leg of lamb. Sheesh.

Tuna jerky souffle from Falkner was said to be "incredibly risky" and who would've thought that tuna jerky could be mistaken for bacon bits! Seems like a winner.

WINNER: Falkner
LOSER: Burrell
LOSER per Burrell: Zakarian (he would've been runner-up to Falkner)

(Sidenote: Wasn't Burrell's nasty comments towards Falkner sort of out of character?)

So the irony of ironies. Burrell chooses the loser and ends up being one. Hmm, takes one to know one, I guess.

Secret Ingredient Challenge: Burrell v. Zakarian
Secret ingredients: Panko and Ponzu (courtesy, of course, of Kikkoman)

But wait, there's more! No savory dishes. Must create dessert from Panko and essentially diluted soy sauce. Yikes.

Zakarian makes a ponzu blackberry souffle with a panko dipping sauce
Burrell goes with a zucchini involtino with a ponzu ginger kumquat ice cream

NON-LOSER: Zakarian.

Irony of all ironies. Bye bye Burrell.

Next week it's the Final Four and we find ourselves looking at eliminating 2 chefs!??!

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  1. Just like last week, I'll say again...can the best chef win? Not the chef best at working with weird ingredients and ridiculous rules and games? Maybe next they'll have them jumping through flaming hoops to deliver food. Sorry to see Burrell go--Zakarian is a master but just seems like kind of a jerk as well (and a complicated history with his restaurants that might add a not-so-halo effect to the Iron Chef franchise.

    1 Reply
    1. re: berkleybabe

      No one cares about their business practices. Batali is exhibit one to that effect.

    2. thought Anne Burrell was unkind about Chef Faulkner - 'she's made 3 ice creams and a souffle wonder when she'll make some real food'.

      I'm rooting for Zakarian.

      10 Replies
      1. re: smartie

        She probably made that comment after she was eliminated already so she was probably pretty upset.

        I love Zakarian's arrogance, as well as watching his "flawless technique". Its actually pretty inspiring to watch, much as Hung from Top Chef was fun to watch in that regard.

        1. re: Xericx

          I'm a little tired about hearing about "technique". For crying out loud, does it TASTE GOOD? It just seems a bit precious to me.

          1. re: DGresh

            Well, seeing that we can't taste the food, I think watching good technique is better for television purposes.

            1. re: DGresh

              I suspect it ALL tastes good. They have to find SOME way to sort them out, and it can't solely be taste simply because these guys are most likely at the top of their games. And unless you have the identical ingredients side by side, its hard to figure out what tastes better I think. Is this souffle a better souffle than the sardines are better sardines?
              In any event, I love the odd ingredients, prevents the chefs from using tried and true recipes from their hip pockets. This is another way to sort them out.

              1. re: freia

                I agree with what you say, but the emphasis on "technique" gets to me; what does that mean, really? It was cooked well. It *can* mean other things, but in this case, he cooked the darn souffle well.

                1. re: DGresh

                  That's a good point, we do tend to bandy about that term without really knowing exactly what they mean. I guess I understand it to mean that in terms of how to prepare and serve a souffle, it was done well. I imagine with respect to, say, lobster, a well cracked claw and meat extraction in one piece shows good technique. Now, mangled claw meat might taste darn good and be cooked perfectly (I dunno, they're seabugs with an exoskeleton but I digress) but the technique of removing the meat may not have been done well. So I think that maybe they are looking for the results of good knife skills, proper step completion and so on? I don't know, just speculating...

                  1. re: DGresh

                    Good technique is just that which leads to delicious flavor, pleasing texture, attractive presentation, etc.

                    I think the issue is that the chef and judge knows what 'good technique' is in the context of the dish in question, but the viewer doesn't necessarily. And the editors don't think having someone explain that is worth the time it takes away from pithy remarks and cheftestants bitching about how hard the challenge is and reiterating that they REALLY don't want to go home today.

            2. re: smartie

              agree smartie, plus with her comments about Chef Faulkner, she rolled her eyes.
              to me Chef Burrell has been the underdog as I always relate her to the sous-chef sidelines of MB on Iron Chef.

              I'll be the first to say that I have watched all these cooking competitions and Chef Faulkner has not impressed me much. this time around, I'm thinking she's brilliant. so all this time, she's fooled me into thinking she really was just a pastry chef, like she said on TC Masters once, if only this challenge was to bake chocolate chips cookies. inferring that she did 'that' really well.

              for me, I'm betting on Chef Zakarian: a. he is so talented and has so much fineness and 2. I find him lovely to gaze at *+)

              1. re: smartie

                I'm glad she left. I love that she turned around and then made....ice cream. Even her comment about Zakarian's steak being underdone for her tastes--we all like steak done differently but as long as it's done well, in an acceptable manner, it shouldn't matter in the judging.

                1. re: smartie

                  I frankly thought the Burrell comments were within character. I find her remarkably unpleasant to watch and listen to. In this episode, she was so over the top snarky I think she's finally revealed her true colors.

                2. This week I fully expected alex guarnaschelli in the bottom two. I was shocked when she wasn't. Keep in mind that I am torn between wanting her and zakarian to win, so it wasn't wishful thinking. I really thought that hers was the worst (based on what the judges and anne burrell said). I was glad that she WASN'T in the bottom though. Watching the secret ingredient showdown was a nail-biter, because both of their desserts looked really good, and I didn't really want either to go home. I guess that's to be expected as the competition continues on and the field narrows. Overall I was sad to see Anne Burrell go, but I was glad it wasn't alex or geoffrey. I do want to see Chiarello go, because I just dislike him in general, and felt so since I first saw his show. The fact that his risotto wasn't cooked all the way, and that his lobster was prepared in such a pedestrian manner did not reflect very well on him, so i was surprised that he was in the top two. I felt really bad for alex, because she got the ONE item up there that needed significant time to cook, and she had to do it in the least amount of time. But she pulled it out even with her sausage that she felt had a ton of fat in it, and it STILL seemed dry to the judges. Ok this was thoroughly a stream of consciousness post with no discernible order, so I apologize.

                  ETA: I didn't think burrell's comments regarding faulkner were out of character, remember the commentary between burrell and guarnaschelli about the brown pasty stuff on faulkner's plate in the last secret ingredient show down? I think she is definitely looked down on for being a pastry chef and consistently using those techniques. 3 ice creams and a soufflé have been on her winning plates, so maybe it's deserved, but then again, isn't she just using all her skills? She just happens to have a whole other skill set that the other chefs don't have, and using that to her advantage is not only smart, but she'd be stupid to NOT do so.

                  43 Replies
                  1. re: kubasd23

                    speaking of Alex Guarn, has anyone seen the commercial where she and Bobby Flay are dousing a bundt cake with powdered sugar? I truly think Alex Guarn [sorry her name is too long for me to type that much] is beautiful

                    1. re: iL Divo

                      i'd say watching her walk away from behind is a bit less beautiful.

                      1. re: linguafood

                        Ouch!! haha She really is very pretty though, especially in that ad.

                        1. re: kubasd23

                          I still tend to change the channel, though, when she is a judge on Chopped. I find it quite hard to watch her on that show.

                          1. re: huiray

                            Gotta agree with you -- I can't stand her on chopped, and that has colored my feelings towards her in this competition.

                          2. re: kubasd23

                            yea, to me, her face is lovely and I have no problem saying when I think a woman is beautiful, to me, Alex is beautiful

                            1. re: iL Divo

                              Dunno about beautiful, but Alex G is certainly more pleasant on the senses than Anne Burrell.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                My one-eyed cat is more pleasant on the senses than Anne Burrell. In the words of the late Ron Luciano, "a voice perfect for mime and a face made for radio."

                                1. re: jmckee

                                  She doesn't need a beautiful face or a pleasant speaking voice. She's a chef.

                                  1. re: chicgail

                                    On TV, even as a chef, she certainly does.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      So Julia Child wouldn't make it with that criterion?

                                      1. re: pine time

                                        Most likely not. Americans only want to see pretty folks on TV.

                                        1. re: linguafood

                                          I'm not sure that's accurate. I think it's more like, the television execs, producers and their advertisers have a perception that Americans like to see pretty faces on TV whether or not it's true. So that's what they put on, thus leading the viewing public to a belief that they possibly didn't possess before seeing a person on TV.

                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                            It's likely a chicken and egg thing.

                                          2. re: linguafood

                                            What about Paula Deen or Ina Garten? Americans only want to see either really thin women, like Giada or really large women but average sized women fall by the wayside. Anyway, it's a moot point about Anne Burrell because she has a show.

                                          3. re: pine time

                                            Julia was very telegenic, had a great sense of the "showmanship" involved in hosting a TV show.

                                            1. re: pine time

                                              I was about to post that response about Julia when I saw your post. I also think that there is a much stronger expectation that a woman on TV be attractive than a man on TV.

                                              1. re: chicgail

                                                I think the gap has narrowed a lot since the rise of the metrosexual.

                                                And regarding Julia Child - she did great things and yes, had a great tv show, but telegenic she was not. She always reminded me of Monty Python doing drag.

                                                1. re: Chatsworth

                                                  I thought JC *was* telegenic with a sense of fun and, yes, "showmanship" as jmckee posted. There was a swashbucking quality about her demos and devil-may-care attitude yet she could produce very good food while teaching you. That episode where she had a glass of wine for herself, one for the chicken, (another for herself) was hysterical. She was quite smashed at the end. In fact, she was not infrequently sllghtly merry at the end of various episodes. :-) Naturally, nowadays the TV networks would never allow that kind of footage to go out!

                                                  1. re: huiray

                                                    Yeah. Now it's all about drinking 'responsibly'. As if it were a secret that part of cooking with wine is... well, drinking some of it, too.

                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                      If FN cares about responsible drinking why are we still seeing Sandra Lee's cocktail time?

                                                      Anne Burrell often enjoys a bit of the wine that she is cooking with on her shows. Can't think of any other hosts who do.

                                                      Laura Calder (French Food at Home) often discusses wine and cooks with it, but usually saves the drinking for the end of the show with her guests and the meal.

                                                    2. re: huiray

                                                      I don't know--have you seen Sandra Lee and her cocktails?

                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                        No indeed I have not. Does she get drunk? Babbling at the end? (Not that she needs any help doing so without benefit of alcohol, so I am given to understand)

                                                        1. re: huiray

                                                          I haven't seen much but have seen clips of the cocktails. My friend said she way an episode where she kept messing up what she was calling things and wondering if that had to do w/ the cocktail. But she must have had a drink or two, at least, to create this:

                                                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dK21SZ...

                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                            Wow. Just WOW. Since all the glasses were on that hideous tree she must have been chugging straight from the bottle.

                                                            Maybe faux artistes like SL get a pass because they are so, so...incredibly eyebrow-raising.

                                                      2. re: huiray

                                                        Plus unlike Anne Burrell, not only did she know what a comb was she could obviously find hers.

                                                      3. re: Chatsworth

                                                        "Monty Python doing drag."
                                                        --------
                                                        You mean like this? http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/seaso...

                                                        BTW if you can avoid studying the url of the link or avoid reading any of the surrounding blurb around the picture (heh) (yeah, right), take a guess as to who that fellow on the right is. :-)

                                                        1. re: huiray

                                                          I honestly wouldn't have recognized him!

                                                              1. re: hueyishere

                                                                Look at the legend/description of the photo. :-)

                                                                1. re: hueyishere

                                                                  you kidding? the name is in the URL, on the video.... everywhere.

                                          4. re: iL Divo

                                            I think this blog
                                            http://eater.com/archives/2011/12/05/...
                                            commenting (rather irreverently) on this episode, has a still of that Alex and Bobby commerical
                                            http://eater.com/uploads/nic-s04e06-2...

                                            I love his idea for a new FN cooking show:
                                            " I think this dude should have a Food TV show TODAY. People talk about cooking through Julia Child or the Momofuku cook book, but come on... Do a show called On Food and Cooking and have Zakarian cook America through the kitchen Bible. Done, hands down, would be the show America needs TODAY."

                                            1. re: paulj

                                              Wow, I don't know if I'm just too old or what, but that blog was pretty much unreadable to me.

                                              1. re: sharonlouk

                                                I quickly grazed through it and agree with you sharon...........

                                                1. re: sharonlouk

                                                  Isn't it revolting? I have been trying to read his blogs but find them totally incomprehensible. He's trying so hard to be "gangsta" that nobody can figure out what he's saying.

                                                  I think Max Silvestri who writes the Top Chef recaps on Eater should take over. Now that is one funny guy!

                                                  1. re: chefhound

                                                    Completely agree. Eddie Huang tries so, so hard to be a badass rapper-gangsta wannabe. He's unreadable and his "reviews" of TNIC on Eater have been repulsive to me. Apparently that's the way he writes. Sad.

                                                    Some folks might remember that Xiao Ye debacle of his (http://www.observer.com/2010/culture/...) while he has been touted as he "Jay-Z of the NY restaurant scene" (http://newyork.metromix.com/restauran...) Pathetic.

                                                  2. re: sharonlouk

                                                    I feel the same way. Can't stand that recapper's style. I gave up on it and just come here and foodnetworkhumor.com for the recap.

                                                    1. re: sharonlouk

                                                      I couldn't get past the first couple of paragraphs. It sounds like someone trying to be too creative and funny.

                                                    2. re: paulj

                                                      paulj, looking and reading that was interesting.
                                                      I never view that commercial thinking it's the tvfood networks' ploy of trying to promote Alex to be the winning contestant. guess we all see things differently..........

                                                    3. re: iL Divo

                                                      Ironic. Did you mention it because Chef Zakarian almost got eliminated because of powdered sugar?

                                                  3. My preference would be to see the two guys go home next week with the final cook off in Kitchen Stadium between Alex & Elizabeth with Falkner winning. Now whether that will happen, of course, is anyones' best guess.

                                                    Pastry chefs generally do better cooking savory, than chefs do in pastry. Tonight's challenge was interesting to watch. I think it played out about right, tho' I think it could have been interchangeable whether is was Geoffery or Michael in the bottom 2 along with Anne. Not necessarily sorry to see her go. She's fun to watch, but I think the remaining 4 chefs probably have a more refined skill set.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                                      ''I think the remaining 4 chefs probably have a more refined skill set''
                                                      I completely agree Dining

                                                      1. re: huiray

                                                        WIth you on that ... she is so immensely irritating and unpleasant. No idea what her food is really like but these food network chefs all see pedestrian compared to Faulkner for example.

                                                            1. re: huiray

                                                              I would like to see a final between Falkner and Zakarian. Second choice would be Falkner and Chiarello.

                                                              And huiray, so glad to see we agree on Burrell. I think she's a blowhard phony.