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Nov 19, 2012 04:03 AM

Next Iron Chef Redemption: Episode 3 (spoilers)

I actually took a couple half assed notes but I'll still get or spell some of their names wrong. They're taken to the LA Farmer's Market where some famous photographer takes their pictures at the stands supposedly capturing their essence. Then the assignment is to pair off with another chef and get that chef's essence in a bite of food. Since Mehta won last time, he can assign the pairs. That man is freaking creepy, do not like him at all. He puts himself (stuffed grape leaves pizza roll?) with Spike (bacon wrapped shrimp w/ an Indian flavored sauce), Marcel (truffled eggs) and Alex G. (souffled goat cheese) Faulkner (sea urchin w/ caviar) and Freitag (spaghetti w/ anchovie sauce) and Greenspan (deviled egg w/ sea urchin) and Applebaum (is that his name, the bald guy, surf & turf w/ caviar).

Marcel's is too foamy, Mehta's too spicy (I think), can't remember what was wrong with Faulkner and Greenspan. Their secret ingredient is Rice Crispies and Raisin Bran. Tough ingredient. Marcel makes a rice crispies treat w/ coconut ice cream served in a coconut shell which that Simon guy didn't like. Spike's all cheering for his "bro". Faulkner does a tartufo w/ chocolate that they love, barely gets it on the plate in time. Greenspan coats tuna w/ rice crispies and takes the raisins out of the cereal to make sauce, they say the tuna didn't work. Mehta makes crab cakes w/ the crispies and the woman judge insists they're too oily. Faulkner immediately gets props and walks away, Marcel is next and it's between the two savory dishes. Big Eric G. has to go. He's not happy but didn't leave in a hissy fit the way the other two did.

I was happy to see Spike beat Mehta (is he a serial killer on the side?). Appelbaum and Marcel had a little fight over the truffles and that led to A. making comments that Marcel doesn't belong there. So far I think Marcel has been pretty well behaved. I never hated him and Spike on TC the way others did but they are in a different class than most of the other guys. We'll see how it goes.

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  1. Thanks for the recap! So sad Greenspan went home.

    Is it just me or do they seem to be bending over backwards to allow Spike and Marcel to remain in the competition? I'm sure my impressions of all of these chefs has been formed by previous media coverage of all of these chefs (and, therefore, may be completely manufacturered/inaccurate), but Spike and Marcel just don't seem to be in the same league as the other chefs... I do think it's sweet that Spike cheers Marcel on.

    I thought it was interesting that Greenspan seemed miffed by the idea that he was outcooked. That's a common expression Alton uses, but I don't think he chose his words carefully enough this time. It wasn't the cooking that did him in but, as Greenspan said, the concept.


    18 Replies
    1. re: The Dairy Queen

      Spike is gaining some maturity. Slowly. Not sure Marcel will ever get there. Can't wait until they are both gone. I also can't wait for Alex and all her personal drama to exit the show.

        1. re: Brad Ballinger

          I don't want to get all psychological on you, but I think there's an ICD-9 or -10 billing code for Marcel's condition.

          1. re: Brad Ballinger

            What's all of Alex's personal drama? I haven't noticed anything besides being nervous about cooking.

            1. re: Joanie

              She overplays the nervousness. "I'm on the bottom, I'm not going to finish, this is an impossible task/ingredient/whatever." They all do that to some extent, but with Alex it tends to be a little more dramatic.

          2. re: The Dairy Queen

            Greenspan exit interview:

            He didn't quite say it was the concept that did him in (and certainly not that he was "out-cooked") but that he did exactly what he wanted with the combination he wanted according to *his* tastes/palate but it seemed the judges did not care for his taste/ingredient combination.

            1. re: huiray

              Greenspan used the expression "out-conceptualized" in what I saw.


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                From his Exit Interview that I linked to above:

                "Alton said you were out-cooked in the Secret Ingredient Showdown and it seemed to rub you the wrong way. You considered yourself out-conceptualized instead. What did Chefs Vigneron, Falkner and Mehta think of that you didn’t?

                EG: It’s not that I missed something versus the other chefs. My point was it was merely subjective. The decision was based on taste and, frankly, I thought my dish was well-balanced and the flavors spoke to what I find delicious based on past experience and my own palette. I know I wasn’t out-cooked, however. I was faster than any of the other competitors and my food was executed perfectly. Most importantly, I put on the plate exactly what I meant to. If they didn’t like the direction I took, so be it. Maybe they like a standard meringue or a soggy crab cake — it’s their call. But to say I got out-cooked was a stretch."

                1. re: huiray

                  "palette" (rolling my eyes). You would think whatever food writer blogging on FN would use the right word: "palate."

                  1. re: Brad Ballinger

                    I daresay *many* Chowhounds use "palette" as well. I've certainly read many instances of it. :-)
                    [Yes, not using the right word - "palate" - bugs me too]

              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                At his best, I think Marcel is capable of reaching the same highs as many of the other chefs, but he is more likely to stumble than they are. Spike's food sort of feels like an elevated version of food you might find at Applebee's or PF Chang's.

                1. re: FoodPopulist

                  Agreed on Spike. The dishes he produces just have a $13.99ish type feel to them.

                  1. re: FoodPopulist

                    I absolutely agree with you. I might also say, "I could do that" with what Spike does. I'm a good home cook, but no genius.

                    1. re: FoodPopulist

                      I agree. I don't know if Spike is just playing it safe enough to stay in the competiton but he's staying in on seared scallops and bacon wrapped shrimp. I wonder how Mehta felt about losing to that. Has Spike ever cooked anything really outside the box and done well in any competition--in the beginning of this show he tried and failed w/ that amalgam of ingredients. Simon's comment about this not being the next home dinner party was appropriate for Spike's dish here.

                      1. re: chowser

                        "Has Spike ever cooked anything really outside the box and done well in any competition"

                        Well, with all those unmarked cans with question marks on the label in the previews for next week's episode, we may find out...

                  2. Appleman.

                    Zakarian and Arpaia thought Faulkner's dish was lovely and sexy but didn't think it represented Freitag. Majumdar thought it was beautiful but lacking something and it was "flat". Freitag commented in a voice-over that she thought she herself was anything but "flat".

                    Greenspan's dish was not "devil-ed" enough and though to only weakly portray the perceived devilishness of Appleman's gaze/eyes.

                    Glad Mendelsohn edged out Mehta.

                    1. Pardon the interruption folks, but we've removed a potential spoiler for next week's show from this thread. If you'd like to discuss spoilers for future episodes, please feel free to start a new "spoilers for future shows" thread. Thank you!

                      1. Aw come on...lighten up on poor Mehta. He's only proving he's the Vulcan love child of Mr. Spock. It's high camp and he's playing the role to the hilt.

                        More seriously...I thought Elizabeth Falkner outcooked Geoffery Zakarian in the last final of the NIC, so I hope she finally breaks through and gets the win this time. I like her and her cooking sensibilities and she appears to be much more comfortable this time around. Early predicition for the final...Falkner vs. Mehta...two pastry chefs duke it out for the IC crown ;-)

                        I'm also liking Nate Appleman a whole lot more this time around. I wouldn't be upset if he won, in fact, he seems like he might be a good bookend for Michael Symon.

                        And...has anyone noticed that in some of the ads for upcoming ICA shows that Bobby Flay is no where to be seen. Could it be his run on the show has come to a close?

                        17 Replies
                        1. re: DiningDiva

                          I think of him as more Romulan. I think my wife's take on him is pretty good -- "He doesn't seem to get any enjoyment from cooking the way the others do."

                          1. re: jmckee

                            Perhaps he's actually the head chef on the Borg Cube.

                          2. re: DiningDiva

                            Mehta does have that death stare -- esp. when Spike called him out with the bacon bit.


                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              So the bacon thing; I guess I remember that Mehta is half Indian (which is against cows, not pigs) and half "Persian" (his words not mine) so I guess Muslim. Is that where the thing about pigs come from? Or is it a vegetarian thing (though he's never indicated that he's veggie)

                              1. re: DGresh

                                He was raised as a Zoroastrian. He's a Parsi, which is a group of Persian Zoroastrians who fled from Arab Muslim oppression to India.

                              2. re: ipsedixit

                                Care to elaborate?

                                1. re: huiray

                                  Mehta: "I'm not a bacon type of a person. Maybe my 3rd world background didn't teach me that." (paraphrasing).

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    Ah. That sounded to me more like sarcasm on his part rather than an inferiority complex.

                              3. re: DiningDiva

                                I always liked Mehta and had no idea he had the show villain reputation until very recently. I'll have to try to figure out what I'm missing...

                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                  In general, I do really like Nate Appleman. But even more than that, I love the idea of the whole Iron Chef drum roll mentioning the competitor's Michelin stars and James Beard Awards - competing against Iron Chef Appleman from the Chipotle test kitchen in Chelsea.

                                  That completely tickles my heart.

                                  1. re: cresyd

                                    I was totally blown away by Appleman's Chipotle connection. How much testing does Chipotle need to merit having a Chef of Appleman's caliber on staff? I swear the menu has barely changed in years...


                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      According to this article (, Chipotle has 3 test kitchens that are a bit more experimental and the test kitchens make everything in house.

                                      But nevertheless - it is still Chipotle.

                                      I have to believe on some level that the appeal of working for Chipotle is a bit beyond the food that he's making. I imagine that he'd be receiving good benefits and fairly relaxing working hours compared to being a chef or chef owner in a smaller operation. That I could see being an attractive professional arrangement (depending on where someone is in their life).

                                      1. re: cresyd

                                        That is so interesting, thank you! Actually, when you read what he's doing, it sounds kind of awesome. Wouldn't it be great if every fast food chain operated like this in terms of trying to improve the food and source its ingredients more carefully?

                                        And, yes, it's probably a much more stable job than working at a little indy restaurant.


                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          No problem - I too find the story fascinating. While my first post talking about "Iron Chef Appleman from Chipotle" may have sounded a bit snarky, I really don't mean it that way. If anything, I kind of take glee with his ability to compete against a stereotypical food snob crowd.

                                          Here's another article that goes a bit into Appleman's personality and his fit with Chipotle. Clearly time with his son is a huge benefit of the corporate gig.

                                          1. re: cresyd

                                            That's so great! Actually, I was exactly thinking that the Chipotle gig would be perfect for a family man. I vaguely remembered (from his time on Chopped) that he had a son. Sounds like he's had quite a life transformation. Good for him for changing his life to suit his priorities.


                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              I've actually worked with a few chefs that have made similar decisions to work in the non-commercial food service segment in order to have a family life. Not working every holiday, having at least 1 weekend day off (if not two), working sane hours and (usually) having some degree of benefits can make non-commercial food service a good choice. I didn't realize that Nate Appleman had done tht until Cresyd posted the links above.

                                              The first time around on NIC I didn't like him very much. He was clearly cooking very good food, but from the personality standpoint I didn't want to see him as the NIC. I first noticed the chip, or edge, was gone when he did the Chopped special. And now after watching 3 episodes of this incarnation of NIC, I'm really hoping he makes it to the final. He's definitely a happier more relaxed person and I've got to believe that's coming out in his food too.

                                              P.S. the photo of Nate with his son in the Grubstreet link above is adorable.

                                2. Regarding your comments about hissy fits, I certainly felt that Tim Love left in a snit, especially considering how he didn't really seem to want to be there in the first place, and had been making snide comments. Duskie just seemed shocked and blind-sided, since it was sort of looking like Freitag's dish was less well received (perhaps they didn't want to eliminate a well-known chef when there was a relatively unknown one to cut?...). She did get a hug from Elizabeth Falkner (whom she already knew from the Bay Area), but the other chefs hadn't really had time to get to know her. As for Greenspan, he seemed so mad, especially at Alton's comment, that he made quite a gruff exit from judges' table. I suspected he'd be the one when they more than once had a clip of him saying how he'd be the next IC. That's almost always an Elves clue. (And yes, I know they also showed a lot of Mehta doing the same thing, but he did end up at the bottom.)

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: cmvan

                                    I felt bad for Duskie, actually. She was genuinely shocked and crushed. For some reason, she was taking this all so seriously. It's just a stupid game show Duskie!


                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      I wonder if Duskie watches either shows, IC or this one. It didn't seem like she did, on the last series. It isn't just about basic good cooking. It really comes down to how outside the box you can be and still make it taste good.

                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          Duskie and her family don't actually own a TV, so I think she'd watched a few episodes at a friend's house before competing the first time. She and her husband are deeply dedicated to the farm-to-table and eat local concepts (hence the tshirt), and own 2 restaurants and a meat company called Black Pig (specializing in her husband's excellent bacon), so a good part of doing NICR was a marketing move. If you want to see what they're about, here's a link ; And by the way, the pigtails are a relatively new thing. When I first met Duskie back in 2005, she pretty much had a crew cut (as in the photo at the head of the web page).

                                          1. re: cmvan

                                            I would probably enjoy eating at her cooking, seems like homey comfort foods. It doesn't seem like Iron Chef material, though. I think a few of them are doing it for public relations. No problems with that, imo. It just seemed that she didn't seem to realize the type of competition ICA is which is what made me think she might not watch it.