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The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs (Episode 8: "Finale") [Spoilers]

ipsedixit Dec 18, 2011 06:58 PM

Falkner versus Zakarian in Kitchen Stadium.

Secret Ingredient? Nope.

More like secret ingredients -- as in a bevy of traditional holiday favorites from standing rib roast, to squash, to cider vinegar to parsnips.

First surprise? Chairman says the chefs have to make one dish with fresh cranberries. Zakarian and Falkner have to choose one additional sous chef from the ranks of the eliminated. The chosen one? Alex Guarnaschelli, who gets to work 15 minutes for Zakarian to prep his cranberry dish, and then 15 minutes for Falkner for her sweet and tart dish.

Second surprise? Ice cream machine. Must make one dish with said machine.

Zakarian asking Falkner for ice cream advice? 8 minutes for the machine says Elizabeth.

Third surprise? Create a holiday treat to fill a martini glass.

Onto judging ...

In addition to our series long troika of judges, we have ICA Bobby Flay and Morimoto as additional peanut gallery voices.

Falkner is up first. Black garlic aioli is welcomed with mixed reviews. Beef Wellington is a hit all around. But salad with sorbet? Sure, why not. And to finish off is a candy cane chocolate cake with peppermint snow. Yowza.

Zakarian starts off with a cranberry strawberry risotto?!! It's a hit. But his beef dish was "chewy" says one judge.

Most judges feel that Zakarian had the best meal, but Falkner had the best dish (the salad sorbet).

WINNER: Zakarian.

No big surprise, or really no surprise at all, if you've been following the spoilers leaked across the 'Net.

  1. Kajikit Dec 25, 2011 12:01 PM

    DH and I were both pretty sure the Zakarian was a shoo-in for the winner right from the very first episode. He seemed to be leagues above most of the others. The only times he messed up were right near the beginning when he wasn't quite 'with the game' yet and he didn't follow instructions closely enough. Even then he made something extraordinary, but it didn't technically fit the challenge requirements.
    But Falkner REALLY gave him a run for his money in the last contest. She was impressive too... and honestly, if she'd been the winner wouldn't people have been saying 'it's a fix, they just wanted another woman to replace Cat Kora...'? The fact is, every chef on that contest is well-known and has previous ties to the food network - that's why they were chosen. They ALL had demonstrated food chops.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Kajikit
      babette feasts Dec 25, 2011 01:47 PM

      Faulkner seemed a lot less creative to me in the final battle. Maybe the beef wellington seems too staid and traditional. I was surprised that she didn't seem more excited about having to make an ice cream, thought she would have been all over that. Zakarian, on the other hand, was on fire.

    2. bushwickgirl Dec 24, 2011 07:21 PM

      I wasn't watching spoilers, did not see the finale, but since I met Chef Zakarian early in his career and recognized the ability, aptitude and attitude, I say congrats, you'll be great.

      1. rozz01 Dec 23, 2011 05:23 PM

        Since I am an entitled middleaged man, I'll tell you not so excited to watch another one compete... but that's just me..

        1. c
          charmedgirl Dec 21, 2011 06:18 AM

          Huh. Surprised. I really thought they'd give it to Falkner to bring some new blood into the network, highlight her pastry talents which no other IC has, she's a woman, etc. But I realized once it was over, I don't really care. I enjoyed watching NIC, and have watched the previous seasons as well, but I can't remember the last time I actually watched ICA. And personality-wise, I liked them both.

          Did anyone else see Anne Burrell on the Daily Show last week? I just caught it on my DVR a day or two ago. She was there to promote her cook book, but they spent the whole time talking about NIC. She seemed REALLY bummed that she got eliminated. Talking about how everyone expected her to do so well since she had been Batali's sous chef, etc. She said she had only just started to get over it. If the fix was in from the beginning, it sure seems like no one told her!

          1. y
            ylsf Dec 19, 2011 08:22 PM

            Just watched the finale tonight. It is usual for them to have multiple ingredients like that? I would have prefered a more traditional "secret ingredient" type finale vs. having so many ingredients to work with. It seems that they almost tried to make it easier for Falkner, also throwing in the ice cream machine which is known to have used several times in the past challenges...

            7 Replies
            1. re: ylsf
              huiray Dec 19, 2011 08:41 PM

              It's often done for "holiday type" battles (Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc) on ICA. The finale for the last iteration of TNIC(America) was also a multi-component "Thanksgiving Feast" challenge. The one before that was "Racks and Ribs" with beef, pork and buffalo. The first iteration (Season 1) did have a single-component ingredient finale, swordfish.

              1. re: ylsf
                d
                DGresh Dec 20, 2011 02:20 AM

                Does anyone know if the finale was "different" here from real IC contests (where they know more or less what they *might* be getting so that they can prepare)? Do you think the food selection was a surprise? I'm thinking they might have been told something like "think holiday" so they could speculate what things might be on the table.

                1. re: DGresh
                  s
                  smartie Dec 20, 2011 05:44 AM

                  they've got to know up ahead, you can't direct your sous chefs in 1 hour if you have no clue what's there. I'd have thought it was more than just 'holiday food'. I do think that the surprises were surprises though.

                2. re: ylsf
                  a
                  AsperGirl Dec 20, 2011 09:38 AM

                  This seems like a good point. It seems that if you really look at the "multiple secret ingredient" and extra-chef juggling (with Alex picked as the extra chef without notice), the whole contest seemed to be about managing complexity and getting maximum use of teamworking in a short timeframe. There was just too much for one chef to micromanage, and still do it all well. Zacharian seemed to manage the complexity and, more importantly, delegate important tasks, a little better than Faulkner. And the fact that he had more successful dishes to present reflected that team leadership ability.

                  1. re: AsperGirl
                    chowser Dec 20, 2011 09:45 AM

                    I wonder if their management of AG was also due to timing. Maybe Falkner had her dishes underway by the time she had AG so resorted to using her to finish up.

                    1. re: chowser
                      d
                      DGresh Dec 20, 2011 10:37 AM

                      Also, GZ got AG *right after* the cranberries were introduced, so it might be that he could delegate a bigger slice of that particular job to her, since he was just dreaming it up then anyhow. 15 minutes later, Faulkner was already well into stuff, so there may not have been a big job for her to delegate.

                      1. re: DGresh
                        chowser Dec 20, 2011 01:06 PM

                        Exactly. She delegated bigger jobs to her sous chef initially when there was more time, eg. make the pasta and ravioli. Near the end, you're only tying up lose ends, not starting big projects.

                3. p
                  piccola Dec 19, 2011 07:03 PM

                  I was disappointed -- but not surprised -- by the outcome. Part of it is, yes, because I think there should be at least one woman Iron Chef, but also because I think Faulkner embraced the challenges throughout the season, whereas Zakarian just did whatever he wanted. And I think she was more creative, which as I viewer, I find more interesting.

                  1. s
                    sandramrma Dec 19, 2011 06:54 PM

                    Is the voting ever revealed-which judge voted for whom? Is there a break down on points for taste,plating and originality?

                    1. c
                      cookiedibs Dec 19, 2011 04:16 PM

                      Is "Iron Chef" still that big a show that the chefs on this "competition" would REALLY want to be on it? Or are they all on it for just a little extra publicity - It must be one sweet gig...Take Alex G-my-what's-schi, she has those easy critic roles, why would she want to be an Iron Chef? Isn't it kind of over, this "Iron Chef" thing? Or is any tv exposure such a $$ bonus that they are clamoring for it?

                      1. t
                        tjinsf Dec 19, 2011 12:54 PM

                        They both are skilled chefs but I can't help being disappointing Falkner didn't win. Zakarian is a good technician but didn't seem as creative and he already has a development deal with FN. He also comes across at times as a pompous blowhard which shouldn't affect the cooking but does affect whether you choose to watch a TV program. I just don't know what he will add to the line up they already have for IC.

                        1. Firegoat Dec 19, 2011 12:23 PM

                          Going into this episode, my favorites were already out (Anne and Alex). But I really didn't care for Falkner so went to watch it favoring Hello Kitty. After watching the episode.... I have to admit I would rather eat Falkner's holiday dinner.

                          1. t
                            taos Dec 19, 2011 07:00 AM

                            Ironic that both finalists, Falkner and Zakarian, are facing financial troubles. Falkner has had to close both of her SF restaurants. Zakarian's bankruptcy is well-known.

                            Would have liked to see Falkner win if for no other reason then to get a fresh face on ICA.

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: taos
                              j
                              jeanmarieok Dec 19, 2011 07:49 AM

                              I agree - I thought she was a fresh face for ICA, too.

                              1. re: taos
                                LurkerDan Dec 19, 2011 08:13 AM

                                We don't really know the details of their financial troubles. It was speculated that she was closing them because she had won, obviously wrong. And GZ declared bankruptcy not because he was bankrupt, IIRC, it was to protect his assets from a lawsuit.

                                1. re: LurkerDan
                                  j
                                  j45rpm Dec 19, 2011 08:35 AM

                                  According to the Gothamist, the bankruptcy was likely due to the lawsuit. The lawsuit is a class-action from 152 ex-employees of Zakarian's former restaurant, Country. They allege that Zakarian "never paid them time and a half for overtime, falsified pay records, and charged them for staff meals they never even ate." http://gothamist.com/2011/04/27/tvs_g...

                                  1. re: LurkerDan
                                    t
                                    taos Dec 19, 2011 09:00 AM

                                    The details of why Citizen Cake are spelled out here.
                                    http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/...

                                    It's not complicated. She moved and had to spend money to get the new location ready. It took too long and cost more money than expected to do that and she has to get out from under the debt.

                                    Orson was earlier closed and put on the market to try to raise cash to keep CC alive.

                                    In the end, both are closing.

                                    1. re: taos
                                      ChefJune Dec 19, 2011 09:16 AM

                                      The situation with the economy had a lot to do with Falkner's closings. Not so for Zakarian.

                                      1. re: ChefJune
                                        t
                                        taos Dec 19, 2011 09:26 AM

                                        I don't know how much the economy had to do with Falkner's closings. It seems like a simple case of a business that tried to move and renovate a new place and ended up extending herself too much. A bad economy would not have even allowed her to undertake the expansion. However, the economy may have forced her creditors to be more insistent.

                                  2. re: taos
                                    t
                                    tjinsf Dec 19, 2011 12:48 PM

                                    The odd thing with Falkner's restaurants closing is that Citizen Cake was very successful and Orson was full most nights too although not as big a success. Sad that the just costs of her move to a new location totally fubarred her restaurants.

                                    1. re: tjinsf
                                      ipsedixit Dec 19, 2011 07:11 PM

                                      It was a matter of cash flow and bad management.

                                      90% of running a successful restaurant is about management -- and not in terms of front of the house management -- but rather managing money, and cash flow so that you have enough accounts receivables to meet daily accounts payable.

                                      9% is location.

                                      0.5% is cooking skill.

                                      The rest is just sheer dumb luck.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                        t
                                        tjinsf Dec 19, 2011 08:05 PM

                                        Yes I believe that not having cash flow for 12 months while relocating Citizen Cake was the reason which is why I stated that but thanks for repeating it.

                                  3. linguafood Dec 19, 2011 06:59 AM

                                    I was surprised. What I gathered from the judge's reactions, they seemed to like Falkner's food better overall.

                                    Oh well.

                                    27 Replies
                                    1. re: linguafood
                                      s
                                      smartie Dec 19, 2011 07:02 AM

                                      I didn't get that

                                      1. re: smartie
                                        linguafood Dec 19, 2011 07:07 AM

                                        You didn't get what I wrote or you didn't get the impression that the judges seemed to like Falkner's food better? I was surprised she didn't win. One of the judges had overdone beef in the GZ prep, whereas I can't remember ANY criticism regarding her food - be it flavor, doneness, presentation, what have you....

                                        GZ's food seemed to have a few flaws, which is why I was sure they'd give it to Falkner.

                                        1. re: linguafood
                                          s
                                          smartie Dec 19, 2011 07:39 AM

                                          sorry linga, the plumber is here so I didn't get to finish my post. I didn't get that the judges liked her food better, particularly in the final showdown.

                                          1. re: linguafood
                                            huiray Dec 19, 2011 07:45 AM

                                            Simon Majumdar complained about his beef from GZ. However, Judy Joo exclaimed in delight over it.

                                            I also thought the judges liked Falkner's dishes, including expressing surprise at some of the weird combinations** but I did not get the sense that, overall, they were delighted (rather than just pleased) with everything. When the judges were polled at the end, it was noticeable when Morimoto said in response to Alton Brown's question(s) that his favorite dish was Falkner's salad w/ sherbet, but that it was Zakarian who had the better overall meal.

                                            ** I made comments about the Judges' appreciation of Falkner's food further up here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8238...

                                          2. re: smartie
                                            DiningDiva Dec 19, 2011 08:41 AM

                                            I didn't either. But I thought Bobby Flay made the most telling comment...that Falkner was more creative and showed better scope and brought more tools to the IC table, which he felt was an important factor.

                                            I like GZ and am not necessarily disappointed he won, though I think Falkner would have made the better - if not more interesting - choice. What I've always appreciated about IC Morimoto - and this goes back to the days when he took over as IC Japanese in the original show - is the element of surprise, whimsy and willingness to experiement with new ideas and concept. I think EF comes closer to that model than does GZ.

                                            What I do see is the good old boy network at work. GZ has history with FTV, EF does not. With the exception of June Joo, all the judges were men...hmmm. EFs cooking style mirrors how I would like to eat and an approach similar to how I cook. Not surprisingly, I live in California so I "get" her food. Other than Chiarello, 8 out the 10 chefs on NIC were East Coast based, and early spisodes nothwithstanding, I think there was was East Coast bias. And I may be the only one that noticed this, and it may just be how it was edited, but for at least the last 3 epsiodes, Mike Symon has been overly critical of EFs dishes - with body language to support his intense dislike - while gushing over the dishes the male challengers produced.

                                            The judges liked Falkners food, they preferred Geoffery's. I think there is almost no debating the fact that GZ is a tremendous technician and turns out some damn good food. For me, however, he was a very safe choice made to keep the IC franchise operating between very safe lines. I would have watched EF, just like I'll watch Morimoto, simply to see what she does. With the rest of them, unless it's a really interesting secret ingredient, every episode pretty much looks the same after a while.

                                            Just my $.02

                                            1. re: DiningDiva
                                              b
                                              berkleybabe Dec 19, 2011 12:18 PM

                                              Good assessment Diva, I agree. As a Midwesterner I can't say I expected a chef from the whole MIDDLE OF THE COUNTRY to be there, as usual, but geez, they couldn't find anybody from outside both coasts? Also, I think GZ's personality is going to get old fast-- got the impressions at times he was "slumming" but the $ involved were quite alluring. Falkner did a great job...I grew more impressed with her in each episode.

                                              1. re: berkleybabe
                                                mattstolz Dec 19, 2011 12:54 PM

                                                i think its interesting that we're discussing not having reps from outside the coasts on IC and the fact that symon (a chef from CLEVELAND of all places) is being a hard judge. garces also has a place in chicago.

                                                in general i agree though. very easy-coast heavy. but in general i would also say thats where the most discussed chefs are

                                              2. re: DiningDiva
                                                t
                                                tjinsf Dec 19, 2011 12:46 PM

                                                Agree with everything you wrote.

                                                1. re: DiningDiva
                                                  goodhealthgourmet Dec 19, 2011 01:01 PM

                                                  With the exception of June Joo, all the judges were men...hmmm.
                                                  ~~~~~~~~
                                                  come on, do you *really* think gender bias was at play here? you said yourself Bobby Flay thought Falkner would make a better IC. *and* Judy Joo was clearly a fan of Geoffrey's food, and it sounded during the discussion as though she was leaning toward him as her choice. (i also can't help thinking for some reason that if they had brought Donatella Arpaia back this season she would have favored Geoffrey's style as well.) and going back to earlier in the season, Michael Symon was obviously hoping for Anne Burrell to make it to the end.

                                                  i just don't see it.

                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                    DiningDiva Dec 19, 2011 01:17 PM

                                                    Do I think there was gender bias? Having worked in male dominated kitchen, the thought crossed my mind, yes. Do I think it played a role? Yes, but not the primary factor. Gender bias is not dead in the food industry, nor in commerical kitchens. 6 out of the 7 people voting were male, that's a male vote any way you slice it. GZ probably *did* cook the better meal, but it wasn't particularly interesting or cutting edge.

                                                    GZ is the same-ole/same-ole. He's really no different than Flay, Symon or Forginone. It was a safe choice.

                                                    1. re: DiningDiva
                                                      goodhealthgourmet Dec 19, 2011 02:19 PM

                                                      i'll be the first one to agree with you about gender bias in the professional food world, but it didn't even cross my mind regarding the outcome here. and i don't think Symon, Forgione & Flay are a completely homogeneous group, but i guess we can just agree to disagree!

                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                        gingershelley Dec 19, 2011 06:00 PM

                                                        Appreciate your good attitude on all this discussion, Goodhealthgourmet..

                                                        Here is one more on the topic of agree to disagree!

                                                        This is a fun forum for us all to express ourselves, but no one should be made to feel bad for their personal opinion, that is the joy of discourse, non?

                                                      2. re: DiningDiva
                                                        cowboyardee Dec 19, 2011 03:28 PM

                                                        I'm not so sure that EF represents any more of a marked difference from other Iron Chefs that GZ does.

                                                        I guess I just don't see what's so innovative about EF's cooking. Admitted, she does bring pastry to the table, though everyone on the show does pastry to some extent. But take a look at this battle. One of her big surprise factors was making a sorbet on a savory dish. This was indeed cutting edge 10 years ago. Now, futzing around with ice cream and sorbet is an ICA cliche. Her other big surprise factor was using agar to make a jelly. As she made it, the show cut to someone mentioning her skills in molecular gastronomy, as though working with agar agar automatically makes you an Adria disciple. It doesn't. It's very similar to working with plain old gelatin (which was also in the gel). I suppose she might have made a fluid gel, which would be less common to ICA, but the edit made it seem as though she did not.

                                                        I actually think EF is significantly closer to Symon's style of cooking than GZ is, while GZ and Flay are more similar in general thought process.

                                                        So what makes EF so different from the other iron chefs? Anything beyond her pastry credentials? I don't see her as being all that creative. Instead I see her trotting out the cliches of Iron Chef-style creativity. IMO, the only chef in this competition who really stood out as markedly different from the others was Samuelsson.

                                                        1. re: cowboyardee
                                                          gingershelley Dec 19, 2011 06:03 PM

                                                          Please tho, coyboyardee, remember you are seeing an edited show, and you didn't TASTE anything:)

                                                          Sometimes, in all this, I think we all forget that we just saw what we saw, and the smell, the look of the plate in front of you, the textures, the TASTE; the combinations is where it's at.
                                                          How come there is so little commenting that seems to realize WE WERENT THERE? :)

                                                          1. re: gingershelley
                                                            cowboyardee Dec 20, 2011 09:27 AM

                                                            "How come there is so little commenting that seems to realize WE WERENT THERE?"
                                                            __________
                                                            Because starting every post on this thread with such a disclaimer would be
                                                            redundant and pointless, not to mention annoying. My discussion of the show is speculative by nature, just as were your thoughts upthread about AG's reluctance to cook in the finale.

                                                            Anyway, you can tell enough to comment intelligently about someone's food from watching them cook it.

                                                          2. re: cowboyardee
                                                            t
                                                            tjinsf Dec 19, 2011 07:52 PM

                                                            having eaten her food I think what makes her food different is she is really good at mixing farm to table with molecular stuff and more experimental stuff without losing the flavour or the ingredients. I think she does have a different palate with more sweet in it and that can be appealing to some and not to others.

                                                            GZ's style from eating at his restaurants but probably not from his hand since he doesn't usually chef in his restaurants anymore is far more traditional techniques.

                                                            1. re: tjinsf
                                                              cowboyardee Dec 20, 2011 09:21 AM

                                                              I just haven't seen her do anything really experimental (maybe her soup with tuna jerky, and there her hand was forced), and certainly nothing I'd consider 'molecular.' What did she serve you that would qualify?

                                                              I tend to agree with your thoughts on GZ. I think his food stands out not because of his ideas or conceptual approach in cooking but because he is a particularly talented cook (differentiated from 'chef'). That is, he gets the flavors and the balance and the textures just right on dishes that might be lackluster or only OK were they made by someone else, and you'd have to eat food that he personally has made to really get a great feel for what makes him good.

                                                              1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                t
                                                                tjinsf Dec 20, 2011 12:20 PM

                                                                I've eaten at both her places many times. At Citizen Cake it was more farm to table, at orson there were dishes like pop rock cesaer where the flavours were just what you expect but the dressing was made into pop rocks and the cheese and the anchoives were served both traditional and in molecular caviar style. I such at describing dishes and the thing with lots of her dishes is that it was all molecular all the time, it was more the marriage of technique that made it work for me.

                                                        2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                          C. Hamster Dec 19, 2011 02:51 PM

                                                          Judy Joo's over the top girl-crush on Elizabeth Faulkner was on display practically every week, some weeks more than others.

                                                          I've got no doubt who she voted for!

                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                            t
                                                            tjinsf Dec 19, 2011 08:00 PM

                                                            I'm a guy and heck I think that there could be some gender bias just because there IS gender bias in restaurant biz and in most businesses. Just the fact they could only find 3 female chefs for this season says a lot and it's not that women don't want to be professional chefs. I had lots of male chefs tell me they don't want to hire women because they think they will leave to have babies, or they can't do the hours or they don't have the same palate as a man. It has gotten a heck of lot better in the last decade but still it's pretty crazy and there is still a ton of sexual harassment that goes on.

                                                            I think in this case GZ macho-man aggressiveness was treated favourably by the judge while EF's more restrained manner was considered a determent. I think they feel GZ will make better TV.

                                                            1. re: tjinsf
                                                              goodhealthgourmet Dec 20, 2011 08:42 AM

                                                              I think they feel GZ will make better TV.
                                                              ~~~~~~~~~~
                                                              but i don't see how that's gender bias so much as a casting/programming decision based on their audience and what's worked in the past.

                                                              as i said to Dining Diva above, i wholeheartedly agree that gender bias is alive & well in the food industry - i've worked in it on and off for years and seen & experienced it myself. i just don't know how much it played into this show. as for the beginning ratio of male to female contestants, we have no way of knowing how many chefs of each gender comprised the initial group of candidates they wanted to cast for the show...nor do we know how many turned down the opportunity. and since there are more male than female executive chefs in general, you can't fault FN for the lopsided selection pool.

                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                paulj Dec 20, 2011 09:47 AM

                                                                Chopped seems to pull in equal numbers of men and women. The list of episodes is available on Wiki, so one could check that (assuming you can reliably deduce gender from personal names). But that show generally draws on a younger, up and coming pool of cooks, not the more established ones on IC. How about IC challengers? I'd guess, off hand, maybe 2/3 men. IC judges - an edge for women; but that in itself might reflect a gender bias (the need for one or more pretty faces).

                                                                Speaking of pretty faces, did judge Judy Joo's couture add or detract from her role as judge? Majumdar in a nice suit was pedestrian by contrast, while the IC uniforms were downright frumpy. :)

                                                            2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                              paulj Dec 20, 2011 10:03 AM

                                                              Does the order in which contestants were eliminated suggest a gender bias? The initial field was 3 women out of 10 (same as in season 2). Anne was dropped around episode 4, and Alex hung on to the double elimination.

                                                              And until TVGuide used the 'he' pronoun, it was widely predicted that a woman would win (first Burrell, then Faulkner). Though one might argue that there was a gender bias in the argument that FN producers would force such a win (replacing the only female IC).

                                                              1. re: paulj
                                                                t
                                                                tjinsf Dec 20, 2011 12:25 PM

                                                                one might argue that if there has actually been a female winner of NIC. All of your conjecture is based on the idea that they couldn't have made it on their own merit. Sadly when a women wins anything her gender is usually brought in to it and the possibility she didn't really "deserve it".

                                                                1. re: tjinsf
                                                                  a
                                                                  acgold7 Dec 20, 2011 12:26 PM

                                                                  But this is true of every under-represented group.

                                                                  1. re: acgold7
                                                                    chowser Dec 20, 2011 01:05 PM

                                                                    And also sad.

                                                                    1. re: acgold7
                                                                      t
                                                                      tjinsf Dec 21, 2011 12:50 AM

                                                                      and we were taking about other groups when?

                                                        3. huiray Dec 19, 2011 06:48 AM

                                                          From my sofa, GZ did seem to put out the more accomplished overall meal. Over the course of the series he has shown very good technique and the judges kept saying his food tasted wonderful etc, which often saved him from not following the guidelines on many occasions. Perhaps he also really has developed appreciably since his trouncing by Morimoto on ICA a little while back.

                                                          Let's recall that the judges gave Falkner her due - that she was creative, put out tasty and unexpected food, had a rare melding of capabilities in both savory and sweet foods and so on. The best dish of the night was hers - prominently said by Morimoto, no less. They did say that she was on the cusp of even greater glory and perhaps that is true too - so let's look forwards to hearing more about her ventures and her fame in coming years.

                                                          As others pointed out upstream, Zakarian was considered to be at the peak of his prowess by the judges. It would seem so. What he might have a recurring problem with in Kitchen Stadium might be his scoring in "Creativity". Falkner thumped him in this category. :-) Still, his advantage in "Taste", which is the larger score, will probably be his constant saving grace.
                                                          [What he might also need to work on a bit is to not look as if he is going to faint at any moment when standing there for 'judgement'. ;-) ]

                                                          p.s. I was a bit disappointed that Chiarello didn't make it (so close...) but glad Guarnaschelli did not not.

                                                          16 Replies
                                                          1. re: huiray
                                                            macca Dec 19, 2011 08:13 AM

                                                            Agree about being glad that Alex didn't win. I find her off putting. I did not want to see Chiarello win- I think he would have a hard time as an Iron Chef- he really cant take any critique, and that is what Iron chef is all about.

                                                            1. re: macca
                                                              monavano Dec 19, 2011 08:37 AM

                                                              So true. The chefs have to stand there and take it when their food gets critiqued, sometimes harshly. Especially from Jeffrey!
                                                              GZ deserved the win, but he didn't take the criticism well at all. He finds no fault in any of his cooking. But Burrell was such a bad loser! I do like her show, however, find her use of salt to be excessive.

                                                            2. re: huiray
                                                              w
                                                              Worldwide Diner Dec 19, 2011 08:35 AM

                                                              Despite what she said in her aside - Alex did not look like she wanted to cook in kitchen stadium to help the two finalists. I can't stand looking at that little troll.

                                                              1. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                gingershelley Dec 19, 2011 11:30 AM

                                                                I like AG in general, but she was so flustered as a contestant that no suprise when she got voted off, and for the finale - wow! She looked like she would rather get beat up than go on that floor and help cook! Clearly she was meant to NOT be an IC.

                                                                Suprised at the result, but looking forward to seeing GZ do battle. Time will tell.

                                                                1. re: gingershelley
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                                                                  Worldwide Diner Dec 19, 2011 12:17 PM

                                                                  I don't know if its' creative editing or not but Alex had her head down and seems to be ducking as the two finalists were mulling over who to pick. I was shocked to see them pick her!

                                                                  1. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                    mattstolz Dec 19, 2011 12:46 PM

                                                                    i think that would be really nervewracking to help in that situation! what if what you did was the reason someone didnt become an iron chef??

                                                                    1. re: Worldwide Diner
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                                                                      AsperGirl Dec 19, 2011 07:11 PM

                                                                      I think they picked her as someone who was going to be fair and not work harder for one chef over the other. She seemed to be everyone's friend, and comes off as thoughtful.

                                                                      1. re: AsperGirl
                                                                        j
                                                                        Janet from Richmond Dec 20, 2011 05:07 AM

                                                                        I agree....Anne Burrell would have been the obvious choice but her mindset, especially towards Faulkner, could have been a recipe for disaster.

                                                                        I like Alex G. and unlike others always have (I see a bit of myself in her in the way she reacts to things) and thought she was the best choice (especially since they had virtually no time to think about the decision or discuss it).

                                                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                                          ipsedixit Dec 20, 2011 06:08 AM

                                                                          Faulkner = literary genius

                                                                          Falkner = culinary savant

                                                                          :-)

                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit
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                                                                            Janet from Richmond Dec 20, 2011 06:42 AM

                                                                            Thanks :-)

                                                                          2. re: Janet from Richmond
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                                                                            AsperGirl Dec 20, 2011 09:26 AM

                                                                            I like AG a lot too. If you're like her in the way you react to things, you must be a really interesting person, too. She's a fine, nuanced critic/commentator!

                                                                    2. re: Worldwide Diner
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                                                                      mtlmaven Dec 21, 2011 07:43 PM

                                                                      Did anyone else notice that Robert Irvine was missing from the pool of ousted contestants? I guess being a sous- chef is beneath him (pun intended)!

                                                                      1. re: mtlmaven
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                                                                        Janet from Richmond Dec 22, 2011 06:09 AM

                                                                        I did not notice this...but now that you mention it..........

                                                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                                          chicgail Dec 22, 2011 06:39 AM

                                                                          I was surprised to see Spike there, but then he seems to take on any opportunity to self-promote ...

                                                                        2. re: mtlmaven
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                                                                          soupkitten Dec 22, 2011 09:34 AM

                                                                          more likely a heavy "plonking" schedule or a filming of something something "impossible" har-de-har ;-P

                                                                      2. re: huiray
                                                                        l
                                                                        lenwood Dec 20, 2011 01:51 PM

                                                                        ". Perhaps he also really has developed appreciably since his trouncing by Morimoto on ICA a little while back."

                                                                        I didn't see the episode, but wouldn't conclude anything about a chef if they got trounced on Iron Chef. Food after all is a subjective matter and the judges tastes are unknown before the judging.

                                                                      3. mattstolz Dec 19, 2011 06:46 AM

                                                                        I am pretty happy he won. think he'll make a pretty good IC.

                                                                        the only issue i have with this whole season is calling it "Super Chefs"
                                                                        And thats only because, any time you are picking a new Iron Chef, shouldnt being a super chef kinda be a pre-rec for consideration?

                                                                        1. DiningDiva Dec 18, 2011 10:13 PM

                                                                          Chef Falkner was robbed

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                                                                            attran99 Dec 18, 2011 07:06 PM

                                                                            While I find him deserving of the win, I also find it terribly disappointing that Food Network chose to give it to a chef who already has a pre-existing relationship with them. With him on the Network, it's possible for him to make a back room dealing to ensure success. While I could be wrong, it just seems that it could have been easily done. I also didn't like how the version of Iron Chef seemed to compare itself a lot against Top Chef...the challenges were awfully familiar to me, and having Spike in a group considered super chefs seems like a joke to me.

                                                                            17 Replies
                                                                            1. re: attran99
                                                                              boyzoma Dec 18, 2011 07:30 PM

                                                                              "While I find him deserving of the win, I also find it terribly disappointing that Food Network chose to give it to a chef who already has a pre-existing relationship with them. With him on the Network, it's possible for him to make a back room dealing to ensure success."

                                                                              My DH and I agree here. I believe his pre-existing deals had a lot to do with the whole competition. Personally, I think he would have won no matter what with the way this comp. worked. I have to admit, I was rooting for one of the women, but that aside, there were other really great chefs that deserved this one. I feel like we just watched a railroad match. I think Faulkner should have definitely gotten this one. She has so many new things to bring to the table.

                                                                              1. re: boyzoma
                                                                                paulj Dec 18, 2011 07:40 PM

                                                                                Review the subtitle - 'super chefs' - in other words, nearly all the competitors were already familiar. Zakarian was not the only one known to both FN executives and audiences. Among the women, Faulkner was the least known.

                                                                                1. re: paulj
                                                                                  boyzoma Dec 18, 2011 07:44 PM

                                                                                  Thank you for the reminder, but I am well aware of that. My point was Zakarian just has more inroads to the food network than the rest of them. Otherwise, they all have a connection. And you are correct about Faulkner.

                                                                                  1. re: boyzoma
                                                                                    ipsedixit Dec 18, 2011 07:51 PM

                                                                                    If you're talking about FN connections then I think Alex Guarnaschelli has more inroads than Zakarian does.

                                                                                    In addition to Chopped, she has had at least 2 other cooking shows on FN. Zakarian hasn't had any that I can recall.

                                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                      boyzoma Dec 18, 2011 08:00 PM

                                                                                      Apologies. I didn't see it that way. But that was just my take. Guess it's just me and I just didn't care for him. But that is why it is a competition. If I had my way, it would have been Ann B. But that's just a personal choice.

                                                                                      1. re: boyzoma
                                                                                        goodhealthgourmet Dec 18, 2011 08:07 PM

                                                                                        If I had my way, it would have been Ann B. But that's just a personal choice.
                                                                                        ~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                                                                        and she's another one with existing ties to/shows on FN...yet she didn't make it into the top 4.

                                                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                          ipsedixit Dec 18, 2011 08:15 PM

                                                                                          All of them did with maybe the exception of Spike.

                                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                            paulj Dec 18, 2011 08:52 PM

                                                                                            I'd put GZ in the bottom half in terms of FN presence, tying with Samuelson (both on Chopped, 24 hr RB).

                                                                                            Note that in the previous thread, there were strong opinions that FN executives were going ensure a female win. After all, think of who she was going to replace. Those voices were quite after TVGuide used the 'he' pronoun. And before that Anne was strong favorite.

                                                                                            Why can't people admit that Hello Kitty bandaids are an effective lucky charm?

                                                                                            1. re: paulj
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                                                                                              Bunson Dec 18, 2011 10:17 PM

                                                                                              If you take out all of the FN ties prior to the show and just went by how they did in the challenges and the food they cooked (based on the judges' comments) it's hard to make an argument against GZ as the winner. He's shown his skill throughout the competition and I think Michael Symon said it perfectly when he described GZ as a chef hitting his "prime". GZ has been in the game long enough to perfect his technique/style, and is still has the energy in the kitchen as a chef just out of culinary school. I thought GZ was just another "Executive Chef"/restaurateur that worked his way out of the day-to-day kitchen grind and just oversaw his empire creating menus, but he showed me he has the goods in the kitchen as much as anyone.

                                                                                              1. re: paulj
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                                                                                                acgold7 Dec 19, 2011 12:32 AM

                                                                                                I was sure Falkner was a lock. Guess I was really wrong about that.

                                                                                                It had to be the band-aids.

                                                                                                1. re: acgold7
                                                                                                  LurkerDan Dec 19, 2011 08:10 AM

                                                                                                  No no no, the fix was still on, you just read it wrong.

                                                                                                  1. re: acgold7
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                                                                                                    AsperGirl Dec 19, 2011 07:07 PM

                                                                                                    It really looked as if faulkner didn't hit the kind of home runs she scored in other contests. There were more high points on zacharian's side.

                                                                                                    I was wondering in advance if it would be fixed, but since Faulker seemed to choke and fall short of her past dishes, anyways, if there was a fix in for Zacharian, she made it easy for them.

                                                                                                    1. re: acgold7
                                                                                                      scubadoo97 Dec 21, 2011 01:52 PM

                                                                                                      I was pulling for Falkner. She hit every challenge with a great attitude and produced nice food and this style of cooking is not something she does every day. I give her great credits for doing as well as she did and being a pastry chef.

                                                                                                    2. re: paulj
                                                                                                      chowser Dec 19, 2011 04:10 AM

                                                                                                      I'm off to buy a box of Hello Kitty band aids. I'm sad that Falkner didn't win and hope to see more of her cooking. I don't think she has the personality to carry off her own show but she's an amazing chef, both savory and pastry. That beef wellington was impressive with her dough and how beautiful it looked. Her pastry skills really shined. I have to say, when they unveiled the ice cream makers, I thought, now the conspiracists will use THAT as a reason to prove they want her to win.

                                                                                                      1. re: paulj
                                                                                                        goodhealthgourmet Dec 19, 2011 05:25 AM

                                                                                                        Why can't people admit that Hello Kitty bandaids are an effective lucky charm?
                                                                                                        ~~~~~~~
                                                                                                        ha! nice :)

                                                                                              2. re: paulj
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                                                                                                attran99 Dec 19, 2011 01:54 PM

                                                                                                I would respectfully disagree. Chef Faulkner was previously Cat Cora's sous chef during her beginning matches. Additionally, she's competed on Top Chef: Masters. Until recently, she was relatively successful in SF with two restaurants.

                                                                                                1. re: attran99
                                                                                                  paulj Dec 19, 2011 03:49 PM

                                                                                                  I know Faulkner competed against Cora once. She may also have been a sous, but that is a relatively anonymous role. Some standout, most do not. I was writing as a member of the FN audience. I do not follow Top Chef or SF restaurants.

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                                                                                            smartie Dec 18, 2011 07:04 PM

                                                                                            to me it was a surprise cos I didn't read the spoilers. Was glad for him, Faulkner has age on her side and has time to achieve more in her life.

                                                                                            Kevin Brosch had a cameo role tonight I think he was on for all of 10 seconds.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: smartie
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                                                                                              taos Dec 19, 2011 07:06 AM

                                                                                              "Faulkner has age on her side and has time to achieve more in her life."

                                                                                              Falkner is only about seven years younger than Zakarian. Is that a big advantage?

                                                                                              1. re: taos
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                                                                                                smartie Dec 19, 2011 07:38 AM

                                                                                                wow didn't realize, thought she was at least 20 years younger than him.

                                                                                            2. d
                                                                                              dolly52 Dec 18, 2011 06:59 PM

                                                                                              how sad, niether one but was rooting for Falkner

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