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Next Iron Chef Redemption: Episode 4 (spoilers)

I forgot this was on and missed the first 10 min but the main thing was to transform a lot of canned stuff they'd never use. Faulkner had canned beef and made kind of a bourgignon w/ gougieres (sp). Freitag had lots of problems opening her corned beef, she mixed that in w/ greens and potato in duck fat. Judges thought the corned beef wasn't the star. Appelman made tuna three ways, some in pesto sauce which they hated, some frozen, not sure what else. Spike had vienna sausages which he made into a pate type thing w/ mushrooms and cooked in a crepe (they kept saying it should have been an omelette). Marcel had clams and did a clam cake 'aqua pazza' that was WAY too salty. Mehta took canned chicken and made pakoras w/ green curry and overdone rice. I didn't see Alex cook for most of the show (was that in the first 10 min?) then she presented spiced ham with chicory I think. The tops were Freitag, Mehta and Faulkner who won.

The "bros" were in the bottom, lots of mutual ass kissing going on as Marcel and Spike made dishes with lobster. Spike did Malaysian laksa (sp), lobster noodles with sauce that had lobster tail in it. Marcel did some hibiscus gel using liquid nitrogen, a black bean Thai sauce and there was mango in there too. They decided to present their dishes on the same plate which seemed cocky and/or disrespectful to many of the other chefs (and judges). The dishes were pretty successful, Simon said he wasn't a fan of fruit and seafood but this worked and while Spike's was good, they went with the more creative dish. They didn't carry it so far that they'd both leave if they weren't both allowed to stay so Spike left Marcel all by himself with the "big" chefs.

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  1. It was very interesting to see Spike and Marcel pitted against each other since they are the two I was most eager to see voted off the island.

    Marcel may be a more accomplished chef with more creative cutting edge technique, but he is also more difficult to be around. The "alliance" thing was odd. I had the thought that perhaps neither of them had the self-confidence to go it on their own with, what Joanie calls the "big" chefs. (LOL!)

    Although I was surprised as how much conversation their "alliance" sparked among both the judges and the other contestants. I wondered if the producers were asking questions that would heighten the controversy and drama about it.

    I am still rooting for Alex or Falkner to win this. I admire both of them.

    8 Replies
    1. re: chicgail

      I'm rooting for Alex or Freiburg. Faulkner seems like she has no sense of humor. I'd actually like to see Marcel knock someone off (but can't imagine he'll stay on too close to the end), don't know why he never bugs me as much as he does everyone else.

      1. re: Joanie

        I'd like any of the three women to win, including Faulkner. And I have the same "rooting for the underdog" feeling for Marcel you seem to.

        The sooner Mehta goes home, the better, as far as I'm concerned. I don't really enjoy watching him, though his food often sounds delicious. Of course, he might just be getting a bad edit (and something is telling me Alex in particular is getting a good edit), but that's all just speculation on my part. Then again, on the topic of getting a bad edit, if you don't say outrageously obnoxious things, they won't have those sorts of things to air in order to give you a "bad edit".

        ~TDQ

        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          I figure Alex has performed more roles on these shows (judge, contestant, soux and host) than anyone else this season (only Burrell shares the experience, I think) and probably has a better ear for dramatic soundbites. I like her because, while she does overplay the nailbiting aspects, she also talks about something other than herself once in a while, which the other contestants rarely manage.

          Despite being sweet on Alex, I have to root for Falkner just because I have so much rooting-for-Falkner left over from last season.

          1. re: ennuisans

            Me too E...I thought Falkner should have won last year too.

            1. re: DiningDiva

              I thought so, too, and I think she'll win this season.

              ~TDQ

      2. re: chicgail

        I was actually hoping the judges would kick both Spike and Marcel off. Maybe they wanted to, which is why Alton had to "discuss it with the Chairman" first. One could only hope. Marcel sure looks nervous being left by himself. We know he can cook but he should be intimidated by the others since they mostly have more experience than he does.

        I'm rooting for Faulker. She's a darned good chef and should have won last season. I know, I wasn't there to taste the food but she really did a good job.

        I don't think Alex will win. I think she'll make it far but I don't think she'll win. I see the final showdown being Faulkner and Frietag, for some strange reason.

        1. re: Dee S

          I disliked Faulkner's food the two times I ate at her restaurant. I didn't care to give her a third try because there are too many other really good restos and bakeries in SF. Her desserts were good-looking, but not that tasty.

        2. re: chicgail

          I shouldn't be but I'm anti-Faulker because her restaurant in SF was so snooty and pretentious and uncaring of the guest experience.After two times, I refused to go in and the other patrons complained a lot, too. Snooty, uncaring, just like Faulkner--it's about winning, not about the food and who is going to eat it.

          Alex, on the other hand, seems like such a nice person and such a good cook.

          Being a chef is about the patron's experience, total.

        3. I loved Alex's comment that this wasn't a secret ingredient showdown, but a "bro-down". That made me laugh.

          ~TDQ

          1. I'm hoping for Faulker to win - I want to see what she does with desserts in her ICA battles. Secret ingredient ice cream gets old.

            1. I hope Mehta wins.

              We need a bit of sinister on ICA. And more importantly a bit more of Eastern ethnic flavor to the show, esp. if Morimoto is slowly fazed out.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ipsedixit

                The Magic 8 ball says the final redemption battle comes down to Mehta and Falkner with Falkner taking the win...

              2. Like some others, I was thinking, give Marcel and Spike what they are asking for: send them both home. They both had some pretty immature reactions and comments. Although most chefs, to some extent, struggle with criticism, these two belong with the Chopped chefs who feel that "the judges got it wrong."

                I like Mehta and his food. Thought he should have beaten Garces. But I think a female will win because Faulkner should have won last year, and because the females remaining are better chefs.

                17 Replies
                1. re: Brad Ballinger

                  Has anyone considered that maybe Marcel and Spike staged the whole thing? They seemed too ready to me to plate together, like they had an agreement beforehand. I wouldn't be surprised if they both also agreed to throw their performance in the main challenge so they would compete against each other. All the other chefs seemed very upset, not just because they plated together, but because something was fishy. The judges smelled it too I think. And given the way Marcel and Spike both behaved, it seemed like it was part of a bigger stunt. They both know they can't win, so they were tweaking the Iron Chef show and the Food Network establishment. They know they were being used for ratings so they decided to subvert. Of course, it is all very rude if that was indeed their calculus. I don't mean to impugn their character. There is something to be said for such a big cosmic joke. Iron Chef is a great franchise, but it is also overly serious (albeit self-consciously silly), with its dramatic music, martial arts editing and Iron Chef militaristic uniforms. I dunno. Just seemed way too smooth to me and coincidental. I'm not a conspiracy theorist. But I even wonder if the producers smelled the fish and decided in the end to play along to milk it for what it was worth given how much the thumb was being put in their eyes. So, playing along, they almost embraced the idea of judging their plate as one. Now Marcel is dead meat. Another reality TV bizarro fantasy....

                  1. re: ghostcheetoh

                    On the one hand, Alton seemed genuinely cheesed after he saw the plating, and said later he would have disqualified both of them, so at least to him there was a serious breech of gamesmanship. On the other hand, it's hard to know what's serious and what's not since they insist on framing the whole contest as if it really is an esteemed challenge, going so far as to defer to THE ENTIRELY FICTIONAL CHAIRMAN.

                    Not to mention clucking their tongues that the Iron Chef is a solo gladiator in an uncaring culinary world (despite the at-least-two group Iron Chef America challenges this season alone). My suspicion is that a major rule was broken, but that rule was obscured by a phony narrative.

                    1. re: ennuisans

                      Honestly, I thought everyone was overreacting a little. (Of course, ICA is all about faux drama)... It was weird to plate on the same dish, but it didn't change their food or the ability of their food to be tasted separately. It's not as if they collaborated on a dish with one guy doing the sauce and accompaniments and the other doing the lobster... So, I too wonder if there was more going on that was obscured by a phony narrative. I think, in this case, the conversation Alton had "with the chairman" was with FN executives...

                      ~TDQ

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        My thought exactly. They were still two separate dishes that happened to sit on the same plate. Big whoopie.

                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          As it turns out, and unbeknownst to the audience, Alton could have saved Spike.

                          http://www.thebraiser.com/spike-mende...

                          1. re: ennuisans

                            I think they'd save that "Save" card for someone who has a shot at being a great Iron Chef, not someone who's into fame for the sake of fame. Spike didn't wow them, never wowed them, and that wouldn't change whether they plated together or not.

                            1. re: chowser

                              I think that is a misunderstanding of how the "Save" seems to be described. It sounds like it would be used if the judges legitimately can't decide who cooked the best dish in a Secret Ingredient Showdown, not to bring back someone who was deemed to have had a bad day and was eliminated too early.

                              The scenario for using it, I think, is if two chefs cook dishes so great that it would be considered a shame to send someone home for what might be one of the top five dishes of the show. They are not going to waste it on two acceptable but not knock-out dishes which you expect other chefs to be able of surpassing.

                              1. re: FoodPopulist

                                Come to think of it, this Save card might explain the unusual amount of bitterness the losing chefs seem to be feeling when they leave. Everyone who has left (except Spike) has been spitting fire on their way out the door, with none of the usual forced grace you usually see in these shows. Granted the stakes are high what with a second chance and all, but knowing you could have been saved and weren't would extra suck.

                                1. re: ennuisans

                                  I agree with eunnuisans, that this could explain why the judges felt so strongly that "they had been played" by Marcel and Spike and also why all of the chef-testants seem so incredibly bitter as they leave this season.

                                  If you're going to have a secret save card, why not keep it secret? What did they think they were going to accomplish by telling the chefs they might be saved? Why not just let it be a pleasant surprise the one time they use it?

                                  ~TDQ

                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    I've been thinking about why the producers might fess up that one chef might be saved, and the most generous reason I can come up with is it might just be the rules that game shows have to play by. If the contestants didn't know, and at some point the Save came into play, previously booted contestants might argue that it was an arbitrary unfair save. But who knows?

                                2. re: FoodPopulist

                                  Yes, in theory. But, I can't help feeling like they'd only use it to save a chef they want to keep in the competition, not just when it's close. They've had chances to use it before, eg when Greenspan, who could have been a contender, left. That was even closer, it seemed. If they didn't use it then, why would Spike think they'd use it for him and Marcel just because they plated together?

                              2. re: ennuisans

                                Neither Spike nor Marcel is worthy of being an Iron Chef. Not because they are not good chefs, but because it would be too distracting for ICA to have that many 'likes' thrown around Kitchen Stadium.

                          2. re: ghostcheetoh

                            I think they totally tried to take advantage of the need for drama by playing up the bromance and self-sacrifice narrative. I bet they were hoping the judges wouldn't want to risk coming across as insensitive jerks by separating them. Kind of a culinary version of the Hunger Games fake double-suicide attempt. :)

                          3. re: Brad Ballinger

                            As far as I remember, Mehta only does Indian-ish stuff. That limitation would kill him on IC. Not even Morimoto sticks only to his personal style all the time.

                            1. re: sal_acid

                              Your memory is incorrect.

                              Mehta is CIA-trained, a former pastry chef at Jean Georges NYC, and by all accounts his cooking is American and French with Indian influences.

                            2. re: Brad Ballinger

                              I'm not a fan of Mehta (because of his personality, not because of his food), but I wish he'd beaten Garces. Garces seems like a lovely man, but he's sadly boring to watch on ICA.

                              ~TDQ

                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                I have never thought that Garces was "iron chef worthy" does seem like a nice enough bloke however

                            3. not sure how I felt about the episode.
                              didn't want Spike or Marcel to leave.
                              although not sure if either of them could
                              win against the more experienced chefs
                              there. weird to say but I'll miss Spike.
                              I know the 2 I'd like to see depart but it's not likely
                              any time soon.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: iL Divo

                                Falkner and Mehta? Actually Appelman (sorry if I keep spelling these wrong) has zero sense of humor too. A lot of sourpusses on this show.

                                1. re: Joanie

                                  the way I think of an IC has a lot of inclusions.
                                  it's likeability in several aspects.
                                  think on their feet
                                  tepid personality-not too hot not too cold
                                  step off the proverbial box
                                  zone in
                                  imaginative
                                  non typical
                                  possesses a personality
                                  some degree of humor

                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                    More if you count the judges. ;-)

                                    I loved all of the "original" ICA chefs (well, not the original ones, because that would include Puck), but Flay, Batali and Morimoto. Then Cat Cora and Symon. All of those folks had senses of humor, except Bobby Flay who just takes himself way too seriously. But, for whatever reason, I still enjoy watching him. I think it's because he is so fiercely competitive. I see that in Faulkner, too.

                                    ~TDQ

                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      I find BF very amusing. plus he's just magnificently talented in a kitchen.
                                      we all have ones we enjoy better than others.
                                      I for one don't enjoy:
                                      mean face
                                      lackluster personality
                                      very different personality that I can't relate to

                                      different strokes though right :)

                                      1. re: iL Divo

                                        Oh, my criteria are much more random and arbitrary than that! HA!

                                        ~TDQ

                              2. I have to agree with the 'big chefs' that plating together was juvenile and ridiculous, and not the behavior of an iron chef, or really even any chef. They should have both been sent home.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: babette feasts

                                  It was a stunt for the sake of being a stunt that made it so immature to me. Had they planned it out with flavors/dishes that belong on the same plate, it would have been more interesting. What they did was meaningless.

                                  The other chefs don't see them in the same league as the remaining, even in interviews on who they think is their biggest competitor; neither are ever mentioned. I wonder how Alex G felt being left with the two of them after the canned food challenge.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    Too bad they didn't learn after Chef Love got sent home: the judges this season don't appreciate stunts.

                                    ~TDQ

                                2. Alton Brown is such a pussy. He's going to 'tell' the chairman? Marcel and Spike were definitely showing off, but does Alton Brown really think that his adult audience buys into the authority of the chairman? How contrived! What a douche.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: catroast

                                    You're kidding, right?

                                    Everything involved with the "Chairman" is contrived. In fact, describing the Chairman as "contrived" would be like describing Google as just a "webpage".

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      Exactly, that an angry alton brown would defer to a fictional chairman is insane. the show was just barely stupid before and alton's hissy fit took it over the edge.

                                      1. re: catroast

                                        Then I fail to see your gripe, which sounds almost as contrived as the Chairman.

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          Ok no meeting of the minds here, moving on...

                                    2. I thought the stunt was pretty entertaining. I mean, we are watching this show to be entertained, right? I liked the judges and "real chefs" all having their panties in a bunch.

                                      That said, I loved Freitag's appearance on ICA as a challenger. She was so warm and funny and could totally tweak Alton. I think she'd be great fun to watch on the show as a regular.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Firegoat

                                        I'm really liking Freitag on the show, too. I thought it was nice that she didn't take a better can from a competitor. She wants to win but not at the risk of bringing someone down.

                                        1. re: chowser

                                          I like her as well-she seems to be the only one with a sense of humor- she seems like a really nice person-someone you could have a friend-and she can cook as well-or better-then any of them.!

                                          1. re: Firegoat

                                            Fire-agree about Ms. Freitag-love everything about that sweet lady-plus she has serious talent-good for her!

                                          2. The two "bros" are totally outside their league I am afraid. I actually thought they were going to make one dish together so the fact that they made two dishes was perhaps more mature; like middle school. I don't really even understand why either of them was selected to be on this show.
                                            I work with boys like this far too often. A very annoying breed.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: smtucker

                                              smt, completely understand your thoughts.
                                              think they were brought on for a few reasons-certainly have no evidence to shore up my opinion:
                                              TV drama value
                                              one's a known stinker
                                              one's often at or on the bottom rung on the leader board of previous shows he's been on
                                              one seems to have a temper and is easily ticked off
                                              one may have a good agent

                                            2. As someone who loves the original Iron Chef, watches the Next Iron Chef - but rarely watches ICA - clearly this show is a beast of its own. However, I find that the style of cooking of a number of the chefs on this season - as well as those already to be Iron Chefs to be rather similar and less appealing in the context of Iron Chef.

                                              Having never eaten at any of their restaurants and strictly going off of their tv personality - the difference in the food of Zakarian and Forgione isn't readily obvious to me. And were Freitag, Guarnaschelli, or Appleman to join - I don't think either of them would offer something so new and not present amongst the existing chefs. Falkner brings pastry , and Vigeron can hype the molecular gastronomy - which are both different spins. But to me, Mehta is really the only option for a truly different style of food/flavors.

                                              I get that the pigeon holing of distinct food styles probably worked better for a Japanese audiences compared to the American culinary landscape that has a lot of fusion. But I feel like the tone of Iron Chef has become too uniform in its emphasis on "American" cooking (aka French techniques influenced by various cultures/styles/ingredients present in the US). With the exception of Mehta and Ming Tsai - this show has sought out very few chefs that emphasize Asian cooking styles. And that's when you open the umbrella to literally include all cuisines in Asia.

                                              I don't know if making Iron Chefs more disparate would make the show more interesting to me or not - but I find myself seeing the Next Iron Chef more and more as a sister/cousin to Top Chef/Top Chef Masters than anything related to ICA. And I find ICA being less and less interesting.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: cresyd

                                                Much of the drama in the original series centered around traditionalist Japanese battling innovators like Morimoto. Somewhat less dramatic were the cases where chefs had to use ingredients that weren't common in their pigeon hole, e.g. milk for IC Chinese. Otherwise the chefs were limited by their specialty, whether it was repeat version of fried rice and ma po dofu, or 'broth of strength', or classic French sauces.

                                                The American show has more emphasis on platting and innovation; less on traditional interpretations. That drives all chefs, competitor as well as the home team, toward the same cutting-edge style. In a sense Morimoto still leads, though no one dares draw on Japanese aesthetics to the same degree. ICA chefs often take a tour, of the USA, or of the world, in an attempt to present the ingredient in 5 different ways. Mario was as good at doing that as anyone.

                                                I wonder if the revived Japanese IC feels more like 1990s original, or the newer American copy.