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The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs (Episode 7: "Hamptons Beach Cookout") [Spoilers]

This episode we find our final four Chefs (Zakarian, Falkner, Chiarello, and Guarnaschelli) in the Hamptons in Long Island, NY.

The Challenge? 2 hours to cook a 3 course tasting seafood menu for 20 people (plus the 3 judges).

The theme? Passion.

The budget? $300. This is the Hamptons, remember, where Guarnaschelli tells us that a carton of eggs is $7!

And it's a double elimination challenge.

As the winner of last week's challenge, Falkner gets a 15 minute head start for her shopping spree.

Zakarian's Hello Kitty band-aids make another cameo appearance (several in fact). Love it. It's for good luck he tweets.

Everyone seems annoyed by Chiarello's "story telling". Shut the f*ck up seems to be the general consensus.

Onto the judging.

Guarnaschelli's clam chowder was found to be salty by one judge and not very original, and her lobster Hollandaise was "too rich".

Falkner's clam chowder was greeted with bowl licking and cries of "spectacular" but her scallops was too "one note" for some.

Zakarian's black fish minute steak dish was a winner -- "sensational' says one judge -- but the scallop sausage dish was not the prettiest food of the competition bemoans one judge.

Chiarello's clever use of basil was a hit and his "punny" story telling about his fluke dish got some polite laughter but the scallop was "slightly ... just a hair" overcooked. He begs to differ.

WINNER: Zakarian (1 of 2 finalists)
LOSER: Guarnaschelli

Secret Ingredient showdown: Chiarello versus Falkner (winner is the 2nd finalist)

Secret Ingredient? Town House Crackers and Entwine Wine.

3 bites.
30 minutes.
Crackers must be an ingredient and a serving vessel for each bite. Yikes.

WINNER: Falkner
LOSER: Chiarello

So it's Zakarian versus Falkner for, literally, the Next Iron Chef in next week's season finale.

Kitchen Stadium here we come.

By the way, hate that "NextIronChef" hash-tag that looms on the screen constantly.

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  1. BOO HOO! I really wanted Alex to win.

    25 Replies
    1. re: C. Hamster

      me too I love her.
      not sure how I think about MC. am I sad he's gone? not really.....his attitude
      and/or demeanor seems to have grown to the massive size of my hair.
      I want Chef Zakarian to take it.

      1. re: iL Divo

        I think MC didn't seem to be able to SEE when he makes a mistake... a big downfall.

        "I didn't overcook the scallop"!
        "My plating is brilliant!"

        Any of us is bound to fail if we can't see our own cooking with a critical eye and comments from peers who give us good feedback.

        And, he is kind of puffed up and boring.

        1. re: gingershelley

          "And, he is kind of puffed up and boring."
          gingershelly, that is something I never saw on his tv shows I've watched with anticipation.
          but watching him on ICA as well as Master Chef I can almost envision him pounding his own chest with Tarzan-esque vigor.

        1. re: hueyishere

          Can you say - AG -'I AM STRESSED!". I was pretty sure early on this was going to kick her butt on this show, and it did;

          Her indicating her stress in the 'get out of my way' while cooking on the lawn was a dead giveaway. Chef's in their kitchen's don't say that - they say 'Behind, behind, coming through, hot pan," etc.
          She couldn't handle it, even if her tomato jam had not been overpowering and too sweet.

          I like her as a judge on Chopped, I can handle most of her own show, and she does have a great background, but especially today's episode made me think. She is a kitchen yeller to her staff in the resto's she works in. If you get toward dinner service and something didn't turn out and has to be remade - is that the kind of (*&*)*^% you would say to your staff? Yikes..
          Alex, I guess the truth won out for you.

        2. re: C. Hamster

          Me Three!!! I was between Zakarian and Guarnaschelli.... so at least Zakarian won this challenge and has a shot to win it. I was very happy that Chiarello got kicked off though, I can't stand his pretentiousness. I always remember the episode of Easy Entertaining where he pretended he couldn't remember how to say something in English. All I could think was "Of course you know what it is, you were born here!!!!"

          Oh, and am I the only one who hates the past two Secret Ingredient Showdowns being products instead of ingredients? I mean, c'mon Keebler crackers?

          1. re: kubasd23

            I agree. The brand-name product placement is too much for me. The Kikkoman Ponzu challenge was slightly more bearable, but grocery store crackers and wine?!?! I was embarrassed for the participants.

            I still think Faulkner would make a good iron chef, and Zakarian shold have his own FoodNetwork show.

            1. re: jerryc123

              yeah the Kikkoman was more tolerable for me as well, because it was, in essence, just panko and ponzu. They were real ingredients, not a gimmick.

              1. re: jerryc123

                Falkner would make an interesting IC, yes.

                The store crackers and (what wine was that) wine cook-off was skating close to being ridiculous.

                1. re: huiray

                  The wine was FN's own brand. Of course. On ICA last week they revealed it is a partnership with them and Wente, not exactly known for high-end stuff.

                  1. re: acgold7

                    Didn't Alton make some comment about the wine being a quality ingredient?

                    1. re: coney with everything

                      he said something ridiculous to the effect that the chefs had turned out wonderful creations using the "highest-caliber" product.

                      perhaps the wine isn't awful, but the commercial for it sure was.

                      1. re: coney with everything

                        What did you expect Alton to say?

                        "Yeah, Entwine makes 2 Buck Chuck taste like a First Growth Ch√Ęteau Lafite Rothschild?"

                        1. re: coney with everything

                          Yes, that was laughable. The stuff cannot be anything but plonk, given its pedigree.

                    2. re: jerryc123

                      <I still think Faulkner would make a good iron chef, and Zakarian shold have his own FoodNetwork show.>

                      thats funny, because i think the opposite would be better! Zakarian's style (very technique and perfection driven) would be better suited to kitchen stadium and Faulkner's style (more energy and creativity) would be better for a show's host. especially with the spin she brings as a pastry chef.

                      That being said, i definitely dont understand all the love for Guarnaschelli. I have thought she was one of the weaker contestants the whole time.

                      1. re: mattstolz

                        Sounds like Guarnaschelli has people's opinions divided. I really like her authenticity and her food looks better than I think it will ('course I've never tasted it ...)

                    3. re: kubasd23

                      I had the same thought. Town House crackers. Really? The product placement here was so absurd as to have been embarrassing. I mean why not Velveeta. And what was that wine? Same parent company? I doubt if it was fine wine. I'm sure the chefs had their own comments about it that never made it to the final cut.

                      1. re: kubasd23

                        I find it hard to believe that turn out tasty dishes with some of the food they cook with.

                        1. re: hueyishere

                          I think the expression "in spite of" fits here much better than "because of."

                        2. re: kubasd23

                          And I wondered what Entwine wines were. Googling told me that Entwine is a partnership (cute: entwine, get it???) between Wente wines (great Cal history, not so great wines) and Food Network itself. So not just product placement, but flogging their own house brand. FN: cannot stoop low enough.

                          1. re: alfairfax

                            Did not know that. That is just dirty and pathetic.

                            1. re: alfairfax

                              I loved the comment Alton Brown made about how you shouldn't cook w/ wine you wouldn't drink and that they happily drink Entwine. Maybe it's telling that they've paired it with Townhouse crackers?

                          2. re: C. Hamster

                            So glad Guarnaschelli is gone. Gone, gone, gone.

                              1. re: huiray

                                If Alex had made it as an Iron Chef, I wouldn't be able to watch that show again. Something about her gets on my nerves - I think it's because she sounds like a douchebag as a judge on Chopped and during competition on this show.

                            1. I wanted Alex or Irvine.

                              Bleh at whatever happens at this point

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Jjjr

                                I, for one, am glad that Irvine got the boot long ago.

                                I don't need to see flabby, post-steroid, biceps every other week on ICA.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  He gets things done What do you want to watch Zakarian take his glasses off and put them on again over and over for an hour?

                                  I think he would have been great for Iron Chef because he puts the pressure on and it would have added some excitment to the show.

                                  1. re: Jjjr

                                    He gets things done What do you want to watch Zakarian take his glasses off and put them on again over and over for an hour?

                                    Better that than watching Irvine prance around in a shirt about 1 size too small.

                              2. I hope GZ wins it, for one I love the Hello Kitty bandaids! I think overall he is more rounded and experienced and would IMO do better in ICA against other chefs and against other Iron Chefs.

                                1. I also think Zakarian is just the better chef, technically. He might not be as inventive, but to me, his food is flat out better. Plus I love his Hello Kitty bandaids :)

                                  8 Replies
                                    1. re: kubasd23

                                      I just don't like his consistent disregard for the challenge. More than once, he's gone in with the attitude of "I don't care what the assignment is, I'll make what I want." If you don't want to play the game, don't go on the show.

                                      1. re: piccola

                                        That's part of what I really like about him. He sticks to making amazing food, and cooks food in line with his point of view.

                                        1. re: piccola

                                          The most successful Iron Chefs (and contestants - and contestants on Top Chef) bend the individual challenge to their own strengths. It's actually a really smart strategy.

                                          1. re: chicgail

                                            So it's fine for an IC to make 4 dishes instead of the required 5 dishes just because he didn't feel a fifth dish was warranted or he decided he always made 4 for himself so everyone else can simply love his just-four dishes or they can go jump in the lake? Or for an IC to use the "secret ingredient" as a garnish for his dishes here and there instead because he felt that the ingredient was best used as a garnish and he therefore bent the challenge to what he thought was the appropriate use of the ingredient? Etc etc.

                                            1. re: huiray

                                              I didn't say anything about 4 vs 5 dishes or using the secret ingredient as a garnish. You said that. I was talking about taking the wacko challenges of the competition and using them to best highlight your own strengths.

                                              1. re: chicgail

                                                Yet what I mentioned is the sort of thing that Zakarian might do in the sense of "bending the challenge" towards what piccola postulated as his tendency to disregard the challenge, the attitude of "I don't care what the assignment is, I'll make what I want." :-)

                                              2. re: huiray

                                                I think the chef's can do what they want (within reason... attempts to cheat obviously would be lame) and leave it up to the judges to decide whether or not the contestant is following the rules sufficiently.

                                        2. I agree. I think they're probably skewing it to have a female win...Cat Cora replacement. I would have MUCH prefered Alex G to Falkner. Of the two left, I like GZ much better.

                                          1. Sorry to see Chiarello going. I thought there was such a good case for dispensing with the cook-off round since, as AB put it, there were "only a few molecules" between Zakarian and Chiarello for the top spot. But then, they wouldn't have had the last chance for a female replacement for Cora to get in.

                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                I'm with you Diva! I hope she takes it all.

                                                GZ is technically excellent but I think EF makes for better ICA material.

                                                I've enjoyed watching this season. Lots of interesting food.

                                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                                  I'm in the Falkner camp, too. I think she'll bring something new and different to the competition where Zacharian brings classical training and we've BTDT. But, there hasn't been a pastry chef who can cook as well as she has. We'd see some cool desserts.

                                                2. Yeh to ZaKarian! I love the comments ' Darth Zakarian", Faulkner calling him "Ninja Chef"....

                                                  And most of all HIS "HELLO KITTY " BANDAGES in the Hampton's challenge!

                                                  Plus, his food sounded interesting and delicious, even if it was a little beige on the plate.

                                                  Way to go JZ - hey wait, JZ, is a new food rock-star born?

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: gingershelley

                                                    Faulkner calling him "Ninja Chef"....
                                                    actually, Falkner refers to *herself* as a ninja chef.

                                                  2. I truly think the thing that swept the show this time, and really made a distinction between contestants was....

                                                    The Hello Kitty Bandades!

                                                    Go JZ

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: gingershelley

                                                      You do realize that Zakarian's first name is "Geoffrey" right?

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        ha, ipse, I was wondering where the J was coming from, until I remembered that some people could think it was Jeffrey instead of Geoffrey. I was a bit confused!

                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                          oops - then go GZ! No, I did not realize the spelling started with G.... it is a common spelling that Geoffrey could as easily be Jeffrey - forgive my error. Thanks for pointing that out in such a kind manner.

                                                      2. My prediction is Faulkner takes the whole thing. She's been brilliant and deserves to win.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: virtualguthrie

                                                          I agree that she will probably take it. There is no female Iron Chef, but I'd much prefer to see Zakarian. Just one opinion.

                                                        2. At this point I realize I want it to be someone who can handle frustration, as in keep it to themselves on screen. It is not entertaining to me, to worry that someone is about to "lose it".

                                                          1. No matter how the food is next week, there's no way Zakarian wins. It's a done deal. Falkner wins simply because of who she is replacing, because of the management at FN, and because Zakarian already is featured on FN shows.

                                                            96 Replies
                                                            1. re: acgold7

                                                              And possibily because of Zakarian's legal woes, although F has shown that ethics isn't always a deal breaker with them.

                                                              1. re: acgold7

                                                                In the previous episode I posted a link to an interview with Alton. He insisted that he would have nothing to do with a rigged competition.


                                                                The peanut gallery has been speculating about an inevitable female win since day one. They saw it in Anne's book ads; in the ad with Alex and Bobby. If the powers that be really want a female IC why wait till the final battle to ensure that? If past series are any indication, the judging panel will include some guests, such as existing ICs. The more judges you have the harder it is to keep hanky-panky under wraps.

                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                  Yeah, I read that and while it's interesting, Alton is a meat puppet and doesn't run the show. His assurances mean very little. He has to say that.

                                                                  It *has* been inevitable since day one and the peanut gallery has been correct. You wait until the final battle to ensure better ratings, obviously. All of these shows are run by the production companies and the network and nothing happens that they don't want to happen. Nothing you see is an accident. Bravo is honest about it, with the disclaimer in the end credits of TC. Scripps is just a little less transparent.

                                                                  Every "judge" on every panel is being paid by FN, and wishes to remain so. All it takes is Tuschman saying "We'd *really* like to see some balance on the show" to ensure a female win.

                                                                  This is entertainment, folks. It's showbiz. It may be the armpit of showbiz, but it's showbiz. Emphasis on biz.

                                                                  1. re: acgold7

                                                                    If starting with 3 out of 10 does not achieve their nefarious ends, maybe next time they should start with an all female cast! Want to start the nominations?
                                                                    PD, RR, NG, LC, ... ?

                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                      I never said there was anything nefarious about it. Their motivations are not evil. It's just business. And it doesn't make the show any less entertaining.

                                                                      Cat Cora was anointed by fiat, not because she could cook. Before her appointment, she was a laughing stock around the executive floor of the building but she was all they could get.

                                                                      [I get the first two sets of initials -- Paula Deen and Rachael Ray, but the last two? Nancy Grace and Liz Cheney?]

                                                                      1. re: acgold7

                                                                        Nadia G, Laura C (she's been a judge); Think Canadian, like Chuck. :)

                                                                        In Chef's Story (French Culinary Institute book) Cat remembers:
                                                                        "I was in New York doing the Today show, and Bruce Sidell call me from Food Netowrk and said, 'What do you think about being the first female Iron Chef?' I didn't even think. I just said 'Yes'.... I felt I had all the tools, I could cook. I had loved compeition.., and I knew about cardiac rehab - just in case Bobby or Mario needed some help." p 93

                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                          Ah, got it, the Cooking Channel third stringers who aren't even good enough to be the FN "B" team.

                                                                          I'm sure Cat's recollection is as she recalls it, typos and all. Looks like she writes about as well as she cooks. But that's from her perspective at the time the offer was made. Actually it sort of confirms my story about her being anointed. But the feeling about her from all the executives, including the one named (but misspelled in her report) was as I posted above.

                                                                          She had this embarrassing website at the time where she tried to look all sexy and sweaty and semi-dirty, and shook her boobs relentlessly in a pathetic effort to appear "hot." This mostly grossed everyone out, and she wasn't exactly in the closet at the time. Everyone regarded her as a joke and was disappointed in all the test shows we did with her, which didn't perform well with viewers.

                                                                          Ah, memories. Good times.

                                                                          1. re: acgold7

                                                                            When you say "we" are you implying that you worked for the food network? Just curious.

                                                                            1. re: donovt

                                                                              Yes, I was there.

                                                                              I shouldn't assume that everyone's read all my posts, but yes, I've mentioned that more than once. All of my snarky cynical opinions are based on my actual experience and events I have personally witnessed and participated in.

                                                                              1. re: acgold7

                                                                                Good to have you here, acgold7. Your perspective is valuable, although I'm sure the FN is somewhat less than thrilled to have you here.

                                                                                1. re: chicgail

                                                                                  Yeah, I'm sure that's true. But as I don't guess I'll be applying for another career there, I figured what the hell.

                                                                                  Maybe I should just write a book.

                                                                                  1. re: acgold7

                                                                                    I'd read it. My professional background is PR and I've seen a lot of this kind of thing - not with FN, but with other media resources.

                                                                                    1. re: acgold7

                                                                                      How long ago did you leave and move to Washington?

                                                                                  2. re: acgold7

                                                                                    Cool. Nice to have an insiders perspective.

                                                                            2. re: acgold7

                                                                              Paula Deen or Rachel Ray an Iron Chef? Oy.

                                                                          2. re: acgold7

                                                                            AC, They don't even have to do that much.

                                                                            Simply bring in the various guest judges early on when there are lots of female chefs to choose from. By the time we get down to the final rounds, make sure that only the powers that be are judging. Voila, almost guaranteed Female Iron Chef.

                                                                            PaulJ, I am not one for conspiracy theories, and I don't think that is what is happening. However, I would be really surprised to see Cat Cora replaced with a male chef making every Iron Chef they have ever had being male.

                                                                            My guess is that they really, Really, REALLY want a female Iron Chef...and one that came from the actual competition.

                                                                            1. re: DougRisk

                                                                              I think you've nailed it, Doug.

                                                                              BTW, I'm not saying Falkner isn't terrific or doesn't deserve it. It's just that when she wins, it won't be because she deserves it, but rather because it's what the Network wants.

                                                                            2. re: acgold7

                                                                              "Nothing you see is an accident. Bravo is honest about it, with the disclaimer in the end credits of TC. Scripps is just a little less transparent."
                                                                              I've watched a lot of Top Chef. And I've come to the conclusion that it's a straight forward honest contest, where the judges really do ultimately decide who goes home based on their impressions of the food. I could list the many reasons to think so - a lot of it is repeatedly watching contestants go home early that no producer in their right mind would have sent packing.

                                                                              My inclination is to think that this season of TNIC (i didn't watch previous seasons) is straight forward and honest as well. I'm not as certain as I am about Top Chef, in part because I haven't seen as much of TNIC, and in part because the network has to live with the winner on another program. Still, fixing a reality contest, even one involving celebrities is problematic. Reality TV shows would probably fall under the guidelines added to the Communications Act after the quiz show scandals of the 1950s; as such the practice would be not just prohibited but criminalized. Which is to say nothing of the very real potential for a scandal, the difficulties of maintaining secrecy when many parties must be in on the secret, and the fact that there's not necessarily much to be gained by rigging a TV cooking contest anyway.

                                                                              So my question - if Zakarian wins, would you decide that you're wrong about the show being rigged? Or figure that the producers must have had some elaborate reason why Zakarian was the one they wanted in the first place?

                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                If Zakarian wins then I'm wrong. But we'll see.

                                                                                And the TC credits at the end clearly state that the eliminations are done in consultation with the producers. My only point was that just because FN doesn't have the same disclaimer doesn't mean it isn't happening.

                                                                                And I never said it was rigged. Only that things happen for a reason and what you see is what they want you to see. It's not rigged any more than Survivor is rigged, but it's far from Reality.

                                                                                1. re: acgold7

                                                                                  "And the TC credits at the end clearly state that the eliminations are done in consultation with the producers."
                                                                                  I suspect that is mainly so they don't get sued when the producers tip off the judges about something they weren't privy to during the competition. Or when no one or multiple people are sent home. It's happened in rare instances - the infamous Marcel incident, for example. Or when they decided to do restaurant wars over again during season 3.

                                                                                  All of the judges have gone on-record and stated that they alone make the decisions about who gets sent home. And as I said above, if the producers were pulling the strings and being as active in deciding eliminations as you've said, then the producers of TC have made a great many extremely odd choices from a production point of view.

                                                                                  "And I never said it was rigged. Only that things happen for a reason."
                                                                                  I'd call that rigged. I'd call it rigged if it was predetermined that a female would win.

                                                                                  I'll admit that these shows are edited in very creative ways, and that you don't always see what is actually happening. But that's different from the winner being a foregone conclusion.

                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                    Well, I think we're talking about subtle semantic differences. There's completely rigging and predetermining the outcome, and then there is subtle pressure to make sure it works out the way you want it to.

                                                                                    1. re: acgold7

                                                                                      TV producers will be producers, so I guess you'll get no argument there.

                                                                                      With Top Chef, everything I've heard is that Tom Colicchio is stubborn to the point of obstinacy about who goes home and why. Couldn't say whether judges on other shows might be a little more vulnerable to suggestion.

                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                        While I believe that about Colicchio, both the latest TCM and the Voltaggio season were done deals from the get-go (in my opinion). From episode 1 it was clear the producers wanted a brother-on-brother showdown, even though there were at least two chefs more deserving of making the final. I have no evidence to prove this, but there's no doubt in my mind.

                                                                                        FN, for its part, has been shoving Samuelsson down our throats since the beginning of the Network and Chef Du Jour. The old ladies there just love him and think he's cute as hell. And who wouldn't be inspired by his story? But he has yet to make a plate of food I'd want to eat.

                                                                                        Don't even get me started on Tyler Florence.

                                                                                        1. re: acgold7

                                                                                          So are there any chefs (and I'm using that term loosely) on FTV that can really cook a plate of food you'd want to eat?

                                                                                          To me the whole channel has been dumbed down beyond belief. And I don't really believe that Americans are that stupid all their offerings need to be geared to a pre-school level. Treat me like an adult and I might be a more loyal viewer

                                                                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                            Oh, absolutely. Mario, Bobby, Morimoto, even Puck (the first four ICAs in the pilot week we did) are all incredible. Mario and Bobby both personally put spoonfuls of food in my mouth during the breaks while we shot that week -- and it was all head-explodingly good. If you're ever in a city where these guys have restaurants, you owe it to yourself to go.

                                                                                            [I don't know if those original four episodes are available on VOD, download or DVD, but if you ever see them, the Lobster Zeppoli that Mario made may have been the best single item I have ever eaten in my life.]

                                                                                            Chiarello consistently makes the best food I've ever eaten, hands down.

                                                                                            Remember, these guys were all chefs before they had TV shows.

                                                                                            In the old days, Sara Moulton could cook the pants off anybody. I think Ina knows what she is doing although her tendency to pour sugar all over fresh fruit at every opportunity is getting to me. People like Giada's food but I haven't had good luck with it.

                                                                                          2. re: acgold7

                                                                                            Dude, you are not gonna convince me that Samuelsson is a bad cook. If anything, he cooks far and away the most interesting food of anyone this season. His style does seem a bad match for the Food Network though, because he incorporates techniques and ingredients from cuisines that are not popular in the US, whereas the Food Network audience generally seems to have very little tolerance for anything they're not already familiar with.

                                                                                            I'll grant you that Blais winning seemed a little storybook-ish, but that doesn't mean it was a set up. And if the producers rigged it, I don't see why Mike I would make it to the finals when there were more compelling villains and fan favorites from that season to choose from. Doesn't a Blais vs Marcel finale sound more buzz-worthy? Or how about Blais vs his man-crush Fabio?

                                                                                            As for the Voltaggio bros finale, I'm sure the producers asked that Kevin be made to leave the stage first once the judges determined that he wouldn't win. But that's it. Take a look at the recipes - they're still online. Michael V earned every bit of that win.

                                                                                            You can talk all the shit you want about Tyler F though, I won't object.

                                                                                            1. re: acgold7

                                                                                              Whoa, whoa. Please, get started on Tyler Florence. What is the problem?

                                                                                              I always put him in the Ina Garten category: pretty straight forward food done in classic ways (with, maybe, a slight twist...like Grapfruit Juice instead of Lemon Juice).

                                                                                              I am not saying that I am in love with the guy, but I can understand why he has a show.

                                                                                              1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                For me, it's not really him personally. He just seems particularly emblematic of some of my longstanding beefs with the direction of the food network, most of which you've probably heard before: the trend of featuring media specialists over great cooks; the trend towards airing simplistic and/or familiar recipes that most skilled American cooks don't really need instruction for. Rather than keeping pace with the growing skill set of their audience, the food network opted to go the other direction and replace cooking cred with personality and emphasis on the 'story' behind food (which is always the same damn tale, BTW - "my mom made it for me")

                                                                                                Probably, Tyler Florence is a perfectly nice guy. But he also hosts cooking shows where he cooks simple, technique-based recipes where he doesn't emphasize technique, instead presenting the basic recipes while glossing over all those little touches that actually makes such a simple dish good. He's so interested in making cooking un-intimidating, that he leaves out much of the thought process and the attention to detail that mark a good cook in the first place. Just not a fan.

                                                                                                ETA: Ok, I'm reading my second paragraph again, and it's probably an overstatement. I'm making him sound like Rachel Ray, and he's not that bad. But he's still sort of middle of the road and uninteresting to me; whereas TFN seems to deliberately shun more interesting and distinctive cooks.

                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                  OK, I understand now.

                                                                                                  Personally, I did not have an opinion on the guy until after I saw one of his latest cookbooks where it seemed like almost everything in there, I wanted to make. But, again, there was a lot of emphasis on American flavors, which I really appreciated.

                                                                                                  1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                    Before I met him, it seemed to me he had all the arrogance of early Bobby Flay but none of the talent. Then I met him and realized he's just an idiot.

                                                                                                    Before my first meeting with him, the head of programming for the Network warned me: He's like a German Shepherd puppy, running around the room and licking everyone and peeing all over the floor.

                                                                                                    That pretty much sums it up.

                                                                                                    I have no objection to someone doing mostly simple American food. But he can't cook and he has no taste and no integrity -- much of the stuff he raves about on camera he'll tell you, later, was the nastiest stuff he's ever tasted.

                                                                                                    He can parrot back stuff he's heard but he has no understanding of how anything really works. But the powers that be think he's really "adorable" -- that's the word they use. Or at least they used to until he started to resemble the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

                                                                                                    Someday for fun, count how many times he says "Awright" in one half hour. My top count for one episode was 56.

                                                                                                    1. re: acgold7


                                                                                                      You really SHOULD write a book! It would be super fun to have a 'behind the scenes of the Food Network; the early years" - or however long you were with them.
                                                                                                      Wow, I would like to have a thread where you just dish stories of meetings with execs, and the chef personalities and behind the shows action there!

                                                                                                      1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                        That is really funny. Thanks for the info.

                                                                                                        1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                          Thanks for summing up my opinion (it's so nice to be validated!) of TF. He doesn't seem to be doing much with TFN these days, which is a good thing.

                                                                                      2. re: acgold7

                                                                                        " All it takes is Tuschman saying "We'd *really* like to see some balance on the show" to ensure a female win."

                                                                                        If they want a female chef on IC, it seems like it would be much easier for them to hire one, aside from the Next IC show rather than rig a national competition and risk being outed for it.

                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                          "Hiring" a new Iron Chef doesn't acrue ratings.

                                                                                          1. re: chicgail

                                                                                            Does it really matter who wins this competition and goes on to be one of 5 ICs? If these threads on NIC are any indication, people are far more interested in NIC than IC itself. The last time anyone got very excited about IC was when Alton went on a diet, and we debated whether he was sick or just starved.

                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                              It matters as much as we say it matters and judging by the length of just this thread, it matters quite a bit to a lot of people.

                                                                                              Every one of us, plus a lot of people who watch but have never even been to this site = a boatload of NIC viewers and big-time advertising and product placement dollars.

                                                                                            2. re: chicgail

                                                                                              Bingo. Why would you just "hire" someone when you can exploit it for several million bucks in ad revenue? That'd be bad business.

                                                                                              1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                That's assuming you can only do one or the other. Why would chefs/judges want to be part of deceit when they don't have to be? It would be far easier for them to hire someone and have the show. And, we've heard this argument enough last season that Tia would win because Cat Cora had announced she was leaving. And, they were wrong. The thing is, if Falkner wins now, you will think it's rigged, whether or not she did the best.

                                                                                      3. re: acgold7

                                                                                        I'm not sure where the paranoia of "the show is fixed, a dame's gonna win" comes from.

                                                                                        1. re: jmckee

                                                                                          It comes w/ all these shows, eg. the last winner was a guy so the next winner of Next Food Network Star will be a woman; or there isn't a show on Korean food so Debbie is going to win, etc. Last season's IC, people said Tia would win because Cat Cora had announced her resignation. But, Mark Forgione won. But, if these prediction comes true, people can gloat and say they were right, even if they were wrong all the preceding times.

                                                                                          1. re: jmckee

                                                                                            It's not paranoia; I don't think anyone is out to get me. My opinion is based on knowing a little bit about how TV works and how these people think and produce shows from 25 years in the biz, three of them at FN.

                                                                                            1. re: acgold7

                                                                                              So why didn't Food Network pick Tia to win last time?

                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                2 seasons back they started with 3 women. That's the one where Garces won. He's done fine in the IC judging, but hasn't been particularly photogenic (not like Symon). On the other hand, Amanda Freitag has gone to have other FN roles, such as a Chopped judge, and commentator on CC's Usual Eats.

                                                                                                As with NFNS, winning NIC isn't a guarantee of fame, nor is loosing the end of the road.

                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                  Because they already had a female chef on the show, but no one representing Hispanic cuisine.

                                                                                                  1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                    For what it's worth, Garces (Hispanic) won in season 2. Celina Tio got down to the double elimination in season 3. What special demographic did Forgione represent?

                                                                                                      1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                        Forgione is Hispanic? They already had Mario. If they were going by demographics, he wouldn't have won (and probably shouldn't have). I was disappointed.

                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                          Forgione is of Italian descent, but he cooks Modern/Contemporary American.

                                                                                                          Batali has not been officially on the Iron Chef America roster since 2007 when his contract w/ the FN was dropped. His last broadcasted "regular" battle was episode 11 season 6 (2008) against Paul Bartolotta. He made a special appearance partnered with Emeril Lagasse vs Bobby Flay & Cristeta Comerford in that White House Garden cook-off in Season 8 Episode 2 (2010). They haven't even used his likeness in that promotional lineup at the start of ICA episodes since 2010.

                                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                                            If I understand AC, he is not saying that the fix is in like with Paul Newman and Robert Redford in The Sting. But, rather, they would really love it if so-and-so would win. But, they can't force a particularly underwhelming chef to advance.

                                                                                                            1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                              She was in the finale, or pretty close to it so it would have been pretty easy.

                                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                You're assuming they want the same thing every time.

                                                                                                                1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                  People are speculating that they'll replace Cat Cora with a woman. If so, they could have done it last time when she first announced (and which a lot of people assumed they would). They lose no money if they pick a chef this time and hire a woman to replace Cat Cora. Why go through a whole contrived mess that could get out to the public? Of course, this is FTV and they're fine with Irvine's deceits so that might not be an issue for them.

                                                                                                                  What bothers me is that Falkner has done really well in the show but regardless, some people are doing to discount her win, if she does, because she's a woman. I don't buy that. If she wins, I think it was as deserved as Forgione's.

                                                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                    My understanding is that the competitions (NICA) gets better ratings than the actual show (ICA).

                                                                                                                    1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                      Sure, so have the NICA to get a new IC and then hire one, too. Who says there must be xxxx Iron Chefs? It's their show.

                                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                        I don't think anyone is saying that anything must be anything.

                                                                                                                        I think that they since they are replacing Cat Cora, they went with a new NICA series to:
                                                                                                                        1. Replace her, and
                                                                                                                        2. Get the ratings.

                                                                                                                        But, it is not like there is a law that says there must be X Iron Chefs.

                                                                                                                    2. re: chowser

                                                                                                                      agreed, what people are failing to realize is that Cat Cora's contract with FN has been over since before Garcia's season, not all her episodes had aired but she was already off the channel the execs of NICA knew that. So they could have gotten a women Garcia, or Forgione's season. But of course if a women win, then clearly it's because they wanted to replace her and not because she is a damn good cook. Please Faulkner may have started out a pasty chef but she's had two savory restaurants, one for years.

                                                                                                                      Garcia has been a dud for FN, he isn't scheduled to do more NICA episodes.

                                                                                                                      I've eaten both Faulkner and Zacharian's food and Faulkner is far more modern, she takes more risks and her palate is more current. Zacharian has excellent skills for sure but forward-thinking is not his strong point and he is very inflexible at time both in his cooking style and personal manner.

                                                                                                                      1. re: tjinsf

                                                                                                                        Garces (not Garcia) was IC in 5 of the 20 Season 11 episodes. He won 4 of those, with one perfect score.

                                                                                                                        He sided with Forgione in the latest Thanksgiving battle, and I see him listed for a new episode in January

                                                                                                                  2. re: chowser

                                                                                                                    Again, NOT rigged.

                                                                                                                    There is a big difference between rigging a competition, like these, and the producers really wanting someone to win.

                                                                                                                    1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                      We all want someone to win. But, if the producers are telling the judges that a woman needs to win, then it's rigged, whether it's subtle or not. I'm not saying they're beyond rigging a show because I don't think they are. I just don't think it's worth their time, given that there's an alternative and it could come back to bite them. Disgruntled judge leaves the show w/ salary dispute...

                                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                        "But, if the producers are telling the judges that a woman needs to win, then it's rigged, whether it's subtle or not."

                                                                                                                        I do not have the insight, or experience, that AcGold has/had, but, I doubt that is how it works.

                                                                                                                        Here is my guess:
                                                                                                                        When looking to replace Cat Cora, the producers start speaking amongst themselves that it would be great to have a female Iron Chef. Not "need" to, but that it would be nice.

                                                                                                                        This is said around the various water coolers and in front of the judges.

                                                                                                                        They make sure that they have a healthy number of good female chefs in the competition as well as a few male ones that are not that great (i.e. Irvine and Spike...that is just my opinion).

                                                                                                                        Then, let the cards fall where they may.

                                                                                                                        If they get a female Iron Chef, then great. If not, so be it.

                                                                                                                        At the very least, they would probably be "protected" from accusations of sexism.

                                                                                                                        1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                          Stacking the deck would be a very smart way to get the results you want. No guarantee but definitely smarter than coercing the judges.

                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                              My speculations on a potential all female starting cast did not go very far. :)


                                                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                You missed Sandra Lee on that list. She would have KILLED the Townhouse/wine contest.

                                                                                                                                I didn't count the number of female chefs who started this but it seems if they really wanted a woman to win, they might have reversed the numbers (7/3 instead of 3/7)? Why start with Spike and not Jen Carroll or Stephanie Izard? What about Carla? She would have hit a different demographic. I would have loved to see Anita Lo on this show. So many fun possibilities.

                                                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                  Chowser... You just made my night !!!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                    Well, let's put it another way: how many female chefs have 3 Michelin stars.

                                                                                                                                    I understand that Michelin and Iron Chef are not the same. But, it gives you an idea of how many of the highest end chefs are female versus male.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                                      You don't need 3 Michelin stars to compete on NIC. How many of the men who've competed on IC have? All they need is enough strong female chefs to field more than three spots on the NIC challenge IF their goal is a female IC. You'd think that would be a no brainer if they wanted to stack the decks. "We want a woman to win. Let's only start with three!"

                                                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                        "You don't need 3 Michelin stars to compete on NIC."

                                                                                                                                        I understand, and I said that from the beginning. It was simply an example to highlight the differences between the sexes in how they are represented at the top of the cooking field. It is still mostly men who make up the best of the best. I understand that ICA does not get 3 star Michelin chefs like Keller and Achatz and Boulud...but, that is sorts the idea. The best of the best.

                                                                                                                                        And, again, the goal is not to guarantee that their is a female Iron Chef, but, (and, again, this is a guess) to tilt things so that a female Iron Chef is more likely to happen in this latest round of NICA.


                                                                                                                                        Chowser, I (and AcGold) have made our argument pretty clearly many times so far. You don't agree. No big deal. I am not omniscient; I don't know what they are doing. It is simply a guess.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                                          We'll never know what they're thinking but I'm just saying that if they wanted a woman to win, they should have logically started with a more weighted field. It's just illogical to start with only three. I'm sure they could have stretched to find two more qualified women to at least even out the odds...

                                                                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                            "..they should have logically started with a more weighted field. It's just illogical to start with only three."

                                                                                                                                            They could have done whatever they want, but, considering the demographics of the top chefs in America, a 7-3 ratio sounds reasonable.

                                                                                                                                            A 5-5 ratio, while doable, would seem out of place within the context of truly accomplished chefs.

                                                                                                                                            Could they have found 9 great female chefs and added 1 great male chef...sure. But they were not going to do that.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                                              "Could they have found 9 great female chefs and added 1 great male chef...sure. But they were not going to do that."

                                                                                                                                              But they were fine with starting with three and encouraging the judges to pick one of the three? That's FAR more of a stretch than starting with 6-7 excellent women and 3-4 Robert Irvine type men. Either they're that incompetent (it is food network) or they're not as deceptive as you think.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                IMO, it was not 7-3 nut 5-3. I could never see Spike or Irvine winning. Ever.

                                                                                                                                                Again, Chowser, I will repeat:
                                                                                                                                                "Chowser, I (and AcGold) have made our argument pretty clearly many times so far. You don't agree. No big deal. I am not omniscient; I don't know what they are doing. It is simply a guess."

                                                                                                                                                1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                                                  My horse in this race is the discounting of Falkner if she wins. "Well, she only won because they were looking for a woman." So, it's no big deal unless you've know people who deserve something discounted or it's happened to you. So, I still maintain that if they insist a woman win, they would have started out w/ more qualified women chefs. Because they didn't, they're probably not that vested in your theory.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                                        That's ridiculous. I could also point out the lack of Michelin starred chefs except in California and NY as proof that the best chef are located there rather than the reality that Michelin doesn't rate outside those areas.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: tjinsf

                                                                                                                                          I was scratching my head over that one, too, as if having three Michelin stars had any relationship to Iron Chef or that it was the reason they couldn't find more than three qualified women to compete on NIC.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: tjinsf

                                                                                                                                            Well, there is Alinea in Chicago.

                                                                                                                                            And, I am hoping you already know this: that was not my point.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                                              You forgot to point out the others there besides Alinea if one is also considering "lack of starred chefs (whether 3 or 2 or 1-starred)..." :-)

                                                                                                                                        2. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                          You missed Sandra Lee on that list. She would have KILLED the Townhouse/wine contest.
                                                                                                                                          i'm sure she would have *killed off* most of the wine before any of it made it into her dishes. i'm picturing Lisa Lillien (aka Hungry Girl) in that battle too...although they probably don't stock the pantry with things like fat free cheese, Fiber One and artificial sweetener packets, so i'm afraid her head might explode when faced with the challenge of cooking with actual food.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                            But, boy, if they had a fat free, sugar free pudding challenge, she'd be all over it!

                                                                                                                                          2. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                            I highly doubt Jen Carroll or Stephanie Izard would have agreed to appear. They don't seem to be quite the media whores Spike is...

                                                                                                                                            ETA: I'm not sure why this appeared all the way down here, but it is in response to chowser's post much further up.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                                    the producers don't sit around rooting for someone to win. They have the power to make it happen. That's a very different position to be in.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                      I didn't say "root" and I don't think that I am being unclear about what I am saying.

                                                                                                                                      It is just a guess, but my guess is that the producers really want a female to be the next Iron Chef. However, I do not think that they would "rig" it. I do not think that they would tell the judges to make sure that a female must win. But, they may tilt things here and there.

                                                                                                                                      It is just a guess. I have absolutely no inside knowledge.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                                        Are the producers of IC also producers for NIC? For that matter, who do we have in mind when we talk about 'the producers'? Some nameless executive high up in the FN or Scripts management? Or the people listed on the credits or IMDB as producer, director, etc? What if IMDB lists a 'production company' other than Food Network?

                                                                                                                                        When I look on IMDB, I don't see overlaps between ICA and NICA. Some of the staff have credits for other FN shows (e.g. the Throwdowns), others have mostly been involved with non-FN shows, e.g. Style Off.

                                                                                                                                        I'm sure there are management meetings where people like Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson (who have also been NFNS judges) help set themes or goals for NICA. But they probably discussing the judges than the gender of the winner.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                          Both shows are produced by Triage Entertainment, a small production company, under the very close direction of FN management, mostly Tuschman and his minions.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                            I was aware of the Triage credits on NICA; but don't recall seeing them on ICA. But I shouldn't be surprised.


                                                                                                                                            lists a lot more shows than just these two, most of which don't involve food.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                              I did some consulting work for Triage when I still lived in LA, in between my Network gigs at CBS and FN. They're a small LA-based group and hadn't done anything on a National scale at the time, so I remember being surprised FN would pick them to do ICA when we shot the pilot week.

                                                                                                                                              But it turns out they've done a decent job, although I could do without all the "swooshes" every time the Chairman moves his head or hands or they move the camera.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                Regarding those swooshes: Please, please, pretty please, if you still have any influence with your former colleagues could you get them to STOP. DOING. THAT. Please? Oh, and stop with the bug-eyes and the histrionics/screaming at the unveiling of the secret ingredient and ESPECIALLY in the "Allez cuisine" claptrap routine??

                                                                                                                                                1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                  Oh please. It's supposed to be super-cheesy and campy.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                    Chairman Kaga's routine in the original IC Japan was cheesy and campy but tastefully so. :-) The ICA stuff is just ridiculous and cringe-inducing.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                      That's just your opinion, man '-)

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                    Believe me, I didn't have that much influence with them at the end when I was *there*... which is one reason I left.

                                                                                                                                                    I'm guessing they know how much you (and other people) hate those cheesy effects... which only makes them love them all the more. They bother us enough for us to spend time talking about them, but not enough for us to stop watching the shows.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                        You said it! I kind of love the stupid drama at the secret ingredient reveal... campy!
                                                                                                                                                        But, down with the 'swooshes", plus 1.

                                                                                                                                                        Again, thanks for the 'insider trading' in FN secrets ACgold!

                                                                                                                                              2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                Paul, again, I do not know these people (though, ACGold, who has chimed in, has a better idea as to how these things work).

                                                                                                                                                This is simply my guess as to how things would go down. That is it. And, it was mostly based on one idea: that is Cat Cora is leaving the show, they would prefer to NOT have an all male cast of Iron Chefs.

                                                                                                                                                Would they rig the NICA to guarantee a female winner? I doubt it.

                                                                                                                                                But attempt to influence it in that direction? Yeah, that is my guess.

                                                                                                                                                I do not see smoke filled rooms.
                                                                                                                                                I do not see meetings with nefarious characters in remote garages.
                                                                                                                                                I do not see ominous characters sitting in leather backed chairs stroking cats.

                                                                                                                                                I simply have a guess that they would *prefer* to NOT have an all male Iron Chef cast.

                                                                                                                        2. Two things pleased me this week: Alex is gone and Falkner is in the finals. Alex seemed to be cooking at a level below that of the other chefs, but Falkner is always kind of cool and in control and has had some wonderful dishes. I love that, despite being a pastry chef, she doesn't try to sweeten things up.

                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                            Me too. The Cooking Channel ran an "in The Kitchen With..." show featuring her and I gained a whole lot of insight and respect for Chef Falkner as a result. Very level headed, artistic, with good well rounded cooking chops.

                                                                                                                            1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                              She was also a "Quickfire Judge" on an episode of Top Chef, Just Desserts. Well, this one guy (who always had drama) had a complete meltdown...literally kneeling on the ground crying. She kept her cool and dealt with him in both a professional and compassionate manner.

                                                                                                                              I am guessing that her food is good, but her class was, at least on that day, great.

                                                                                                                              1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                                "...this one guy (who always had drama) had a complete meltdown..."
                                                                                                                                Seth "Red Hots for my Mommy" Caro.

                                                                                                                                1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                                  I lived in the Bay Area when Citizen Cake (her pastry shop) first opened. It was an almost instant hit and I always said "I gotta go check it out". But I never made it before I moved back to San Diego. After seeing the Cooking Channel show and now the NIC I am bound and determined to hop a jet and fly up. Her restuarant Orson was extremely well received, but closed in October for a make over and should reopen shortly after the first of the year.

                                                                                                                                  If she really wins this thing, I really want to make it a point to go eat her food. I like her sensibilities

                                                                                                                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                    You will have to move quickly. As noted in another posting with link to local SF news site, Falkner is not going to reopen Orson (closed for ostensible makeover) and is going to close her new version of Citizen Cake at end of year. When I read that I supposed she was going to be next IC--then, she can open a new place if she wants that and with the IC cachet. BTW, at Orson she has been doing special events only such as Iron Chef dinners where guests dine on her IC menu while watching on the big screen.

                                                                                                                              2. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                Ditto--I feel exactly the same way.

                                                                                                                                1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                  she's been cooking savory food for over two decades in her restaurants. That could be why it's not a big deal for here. Her pastries are also pretty amazing.

                                                                                                                                2. It certainly seemed like chef Z had it running away (despite what they *said*, and that chef G was clearly in the bottom. Personally, I was happy that chef F beat chef C. Should be an interesting finale, though I think on pure talent basis (on what I've seen), chef Z should win.

                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                    Mind you, Zakarian was trounced by Morimoto when he was the challenger in Kitchen Stadium back in Season 8 of ICA, in Battle Sardine. The score was Morimoto 57 : Zakarian 43. (Taste/Presentation/Originality: Morimoto, 28/14/15; Zakarian 23/10/10)

                                                                                                                                    1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                      And Falkner lost to Cat Cora (I find that hard to believe) 39-38 in Battle Honey. She apparently was also a sous for Cat Cora in several episodes?

                                                                                                                                  2. Chef Guarnaschelli didn't come across as Iron Chef worthy, she got too flustered and scattered when under pressure and wouldn't have done well in Kitchen Stadium, or at least would have been painful to watch.

                                                                                                                                    Chef Chiarello's smugness and constant self-ego massaging was like nails on a chalkboard. Great chef, great food, but a perfect example of someone who's food you want to eat, but would rather not have a long drawn out conversation with unless it's about him.

                                                                                                                                    Chef Faulker is great! The pastry/chef/sweet/savory combination has been a killer and would add something to ICA that's always been missing - an Iron Chef that can kill pastry/desserts. She also has a Michael Symon-esque demeanor where she's confident but can work under pressure and can have a little fun at the same time. She'd be good TV to watch.

                                                                                                                                    Chef Zakarian is like a the technique assassin. He comes across as a sociopath in the kitchen with his calm monotone demeanor and doesn't let the moment get the better of him. He'd be a great Iron Chef too just because of his technical skills and his ability to put out dish after dish of flawless execution. Might not have the most entertaining soundbites when Kevin Brauch or The Chairman asks him questions though.

                                                                                                                                    I think the right two chefs made it to the final, I can't wait for the finale. I just hope the secret ingredient isn't another cheap brand tie-in. "Battle Van De Kamp Pork And Beans" "Battle Dinty Moore Beef Stew" "Battle Dole Pineapple"

                                                                                                                                    28 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bunson

                                                                                                                                      Wow, now that's an awesome synopsis.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                        It really is. I love GZ (even before the Hello Kitty Band-Aids) and am pulling for him but have a bad feeloing EF will win.

                                                                                                                                        Totally random thought....I adore Michael Symon with every fiber of my being.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                                          I hate how Michael Symon always says "it is cooked perfect". Otherwise I like him fine.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                            Every time I hear that I shout "perfectLY" at the screen!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                              He does that "cooked perfect" thing real good. (SIC)

                                                                                                                                              1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                every time he does it i say to the TV, "perfect-LY, Michael! it's cooked perfect-LY!" i can't remember what the word was, but he dropped the -ly from another adverb this week and it made me cringe. aside from his grammatical challenges, i adore him :)

                                                                                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                  I think he's great also, but stuff like that - gramatical errors Are. Like. Fingernails. On. A. Blackboard. for me.

                                                                                                                                                  Don't even get me started about putting apostrophes in plural words.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                                    Are you saying that Symon speaks apostrophes?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj


                                                                                                                                                      No, I was just expanding on my personal grammar; punctuation peeves: written and spoken.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                                        Courtesy of YouTube, you don't have to wait for a PBS fundraiser to watch Victor Borge's phonetic puctuation

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                                      "gramatical" errors? Ha. "for me" after a period? Ya sure that F shouldn't be capitalized?

                                                                                                                                                      Oh, the humanity!

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                        "gramatical" errors really get to me, too! ;-P

                                                                                                                                                        symon's enduring unpretentious cook's sensibility is one of the reasons i'm a fan of his. he could so easily start to take himself too seriously and become an insufferable blowhard like other chefs i could mention. i appreciate that symon still talks to his peers as if he's trying to be heard over a 16 foot hood vent, not bothering with grammatical correctness or overthinking or mincing words for the sake of an invisible audience.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                    Ooohhh! That drives me nuts every single time! And my grammar sucks -- scored 50% on the TSWE portion of the SAT.

                                                                                                                                                  3. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                                                    I don't know, the food might be great, but GZ is so wooden.. I don't think I would watch him.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: rozz01

                                                                                                                                                      He really isn't wooden. Met him a few times IRL and he is actually very warm and friendly. I think he is just really serious when he cooks!

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                                                      I reiterate: If you're picking an Iron Chef to go out on the town and have some drinks and food with, Michael Symon's the one I choose.

                                                                                                                                                  4. re: Bunson

                                                                                                                                                    CC is playing the 1st episode of season 2 (the one that Garces won). In the fearless challenge, each contestant was assigned a different exotic ingredient, e.g. durian, cocks combs, unlaid eggs, sea cucumber, stinky tofu, etc

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bunson

                                                                                                                                                      I almost fell off my couch laughing at the last paragraph :D

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                        Faulkner's restaurants in SF are closing, I wonder if it's because she won...


                                                                                                                                                        1. re: calalilly

                                                                                                                                                          Do these Iron chefs "work" enough to justify leaving their restaurant? Somehow I doubt it.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                            It would seem like they'd do it, in part for the publicity for their restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                              That's exactly why they do it; it certainly isn't for the money. Morimoto only does a couple of episodes a year but it keeps him in the public eye.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                              None of these chefs actually work in their restaurants. They're Executive Chefs, or just sometimes Chef-Owner.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                  In this interview Chef Tio from Season 3

                                                                                                                                                                  " The toughest part about being on the show, aside from the actual competition, was the fact that for the first time in years and years these Chefs were required to do all of their own prep work."

                                                                                                                                                                  and she also held 'watch parties' at her restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                    not true at all for Faulkner, I have personally seen her cooking in her kitchen at citizen cake and later at orson. she doesn't do the prep for sure that's true.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                                    they film in NYC and she was pretty personally involved in her restaurants in SF. If she does win, she may be considering reopening in NYC which is a bigger market and easier for a celeb chef to be successful in.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bunson

                                                                                                                                                                Guarnaschelli seemed to go a couple of episodes past where her performance justified. But she's a great commentator. They got a lot of good content from her. The recent episodes pretty much relied on her comments to provide a lot of the narrative context.

                                                                                                                                                                Neither Faulkner nor Zacharian have sparkling personalities for the camera. They're more like Wooden Chefs, brilliant though they be.

                                                                                                                                                              2. The product placement overload on Town House Crackers and Entwine wine was enough to make me nauseated. Were they even allowed to say the word "cracker" or "wine" once without prefixing the brand? I'm not sure that anyone ever did.

                                                                                                                                                                Massively, incredibly lame.

                                                                                                                                                                1. Hmm.. I am watching this show online after it airs each week but it looks like people that are going to the Falker screening at Orson get to see it early?? Show teh screening time as 2pm which would be 2pm PST... Figure this show airs on tv around 8pm est?


                                                                                                                                                                  EDIT - AH, forget it. Just realized it is episode 7 being aired which was the previous episode.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. TV Guide may have given away the winner in it's episode detail of NIC winner's debut ...

                                                                                                                                                                    25 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                        Warning: Possible Spoiler.
                                                                                                                                                                        Be certain you want to read the linked page.


                                                                                                                                                                        Note the pronouns used.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                          FN's blurb for the same thing:
                                                                                                                                                                          "In their debut battle, the Newest Iron Chef takes on Challenger Chef Victor Casanova. Judges are Karine Bakhoum, Art Smith and Jill Zarin. Chef Casanova is Executive Chef at Culina, an Italian restaurant at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills."

                                                                                                                                                                          Is TV Guide working from additional knowledge, or just doing a sloppy job of paraphrasing?

                                                                                                                                                                          So who is going win, Hello Kitty or a Ninja?

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                            all i'm seeing is an interview with Spike - whatever you read earlier must have been yanked after someone realized they inadvertently spilled the beans.

                                                                                                                                                                            ETA: found another mention of the slip-up elsewhere on the web. interesting.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                                              It's still there, you have to scroll down the page a bit.

                                                                                                                                                                              If it's accurate, then I'll be disappointed :-(

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                                @ghg: what DD said about that page.

                                                                                                                                                                                @DD: Considering your preference posted elsewhere in this thread, your reaction might be a spoiler - or it might be what paulj said instead. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm so glad I'm not following you.....but stop now, okay?

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                                    Yeah, please. I've got a lousy memory for names and what people might have said up-thread, but I really don't want to be spoiled here.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                                    ah, i was looking at the *articles* instead of the listings. they've changed it so it's no longer a spoiler, but i saw it yesterday anyway on the other site i mentioned. i'm not saying a word about it either way so i don't spoil it for anyone else.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kubasd23

                                                                                                                                                                                        ok, you all who found the 'spoiler' article! DON"T wreck out fun and tell us any more.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Let's just all wait till last episode, and then we can have our last thread of discussion on what happens in the end, complete with love it, hate it, and 'I told you so's" :)

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                                                                                          ha, i made sure I didn't say anything to give it away, because I know I wish I didn't know anything. I will use the flashy thingy from Men in Black to wipe my memory clean for all intents and purposes :P

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                                                                                            I've asked moderators to spin the subthread off with a spoiler warning.

                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                                    Who cares about that battle! This is the one I want to catch:
                                                                                                                                                                                    "Two Iron Chefs are teamed up with special guests in this All-Star Kitchen Stadium battle. Marcela Valladolid, who appears on Food Network's 'Mexican Made Easy' is paired with Iron Chef Bobby Flay; and Andrew Zimmern, of Travel Channel's 'Bizarre Foods,' joins Iron Chef Masuhara Morimoto. Judges are Penn Jillette, Donatella Arpaia Stewart and Simon Majumdar."
                                                                                                                                                                                    What's the appropriate secret ingredient? Grasshoppers? Some other taco ingredient that Andrew tried in Tijuana?

                                                                                                                                                                                    This line up shows that there are ways of getting a pretty face on the ICA lineup, even if the winner of NICA is not one.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                      Is this a real episode or are you just into creative writing tonight?

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                                        I clipped it from the TV Guide

                                                                                                                                                                                        If you want more ICA entertainment, consider this article (with photos) about 'battle doritos'
                                                                                                                                                                                        Apparently they staged a mock ICA battle to hone the skills of the production staff, and chose doritos as the secret ingredient. I don't see a date.

                                                                                                                                                                                        It almost makes this chow tip look serious

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                        are you not aware that andrew zimmern was a pretty respectable classically trained chef prior to going into the media end of the biz? his restaurants were good, they served french food, not grasshoppers. i have no idea who that valladoloid person is but unless she's some culinary ninja, i'd put the vegas odds on team morimoto.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                          Marcella Valladolid is a Mexican, born and raised in Tijuana, currently living just slightly north of the border. She does a show on Mexican cooking for FTV. She'd like to consider herself the Martha Stewart of Mexico, but she's not there (yet). She is knowledgable and has some valid cooking skills, unlike some of the other presenters on the network. But I too, would bet on team Morimoto ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                          I have watched Marcela, I like her but think of her as more of a good cook than a true chef.

                                                                                                                                                                                          But then again, Rachel Ray made it

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: dolly52

                                                                                                                                                                                            "I like her but think of her as more of a good cook than a true chef."
                                                                                                                                                                                            What's the exact distinction, to you? As per wikipedia, she's run a catering company, but hasn't headed any restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                            IMO, cooking competitions are more about your abilities as a cook than about your abilities as a chef anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                              TO ME: a chef has formal training, and a cook is someone who cooks without any FORMAL training.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I think Marcela has had formal training and is actually a chef. As I said, she seems to be a good cook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: dolly52

                                                                                                                                                                                                  You're entitled to your opinions, but by your definition Thomas Keller and Tom Colicchio are cooks, not chefs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                                                                                                                    As is Patrick O'Connell of The Inn at Little Washington.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I only now caught up on this episode, and I'm shocked to realize that I actually like all 4 of the chefs who made it this far. I think Michael C. has the most talent and would have been a great IC, but I'm not super bummed he didn't make it. He's got other stuff going on, he'll be fine. (The only reason I would have wanted him to win is because I think he was robbed of the TCM title. Anyway.)

                                                                                                                                                                                      I also love Alex G's personality. I just think she's funny, and she comes across like she'd be a great girl friend to sit and gossip with over brunch. I'm ok that she didn't make it though because I'm not convinced she is the same caliber of cook as the others. Plus, she has a bajillion FN shows, she doesn't need another.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I have been pleasantly surprised this season how much I really like Zakarian. He comes across as a total DB on Chopped, in my opinion, but I have liked him here. I like his comments; it seems like he has a dry sense of humor. (Which, when I think about it, has been hinted at before. I remember an episode of 24 Hour Restaurant when he was acting as a judge, and Conant, another seeming DB in my opinion, was like "Geoffrey, speak to the scallops," meaning, talk about them. As host, I guess he was prompting comments to be edited later. Instead, GZ leans down to the plate and is like "Oh scallops, so overcooked, why would someone do that to you?" or something like that. I thought it was awesome. Anyway.) He also apparently is a WAY more talented chef than I ever gave him credit for.

                                                                                                                                                                                      And Faulkner just seems like a nice person who, apparently, is an amazing chef. So good on her. In the end, I think I hope she wins because she seems more well rounded and more suited to Kitchen Stadium. As someone said upthread, I'm rooting for a Faulkner win, and GZ to get his own show... preferably one where the producers aren't urging him to stare stoicly at the camera and say jerkface things, like they do in Chopped.