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Next Iron Chef Redemption Episode 5 (spoilers)

Roland Parker Dec 3, 2012 07:23 AM

I thought I'd start a new discussion thread for Episode 5 of the Redemption series.

I have to say it was a very odd episode for a variety of reasons. I thought the auction format was intriguing but deeply flawed as it gave all the chefs wildly different cooking times. Plus the secret advantage that Faulkner won on the previous episode was terrible and poorly thought out. A contestant should never have to judge his/her fellow contestants when there's already three judges for the whole series. I noted that Faulkner's criticism of the dishes were quite different, often the complete opposite, of what the judges later said of the same dishes.

As for the showdown in the second half I was surprised to see Faulkner lose. It was also the most emotional part of the entire series to date. The judges themselves were even in tears. The secret ingredient was anchovies, the theme was taking risks, and it seemed that Faulkner had a stronger emphasis on anchovies and did take greater risks in her preparations than Appleman, who made something much more conventional. She got blasted for overusing saffron in one of her dishes which is odd as I've never thought of saffron as ever having an overpowering flavor.

I noticed that when Faulkner walked off the show both judges and cooks described her as one of the greatest chefs in America, a term that I haven't ever heard applied to the other contestants. I do think compared to the other chefs she demonstrated a wider range of cooking techniques, was more likely to produce dishes to wow the judges and had a more creative approach to the secret ingredients. I thought her cooking approach was much closer to the other Iron chefs and while she wasn't perfect by any means she seemed to have a level of expertise and originality superior to the other contestants. I may sound like a champion for her but while I haven't been rooting for any particular candidate I did always look forward to seeing what she would cook, more than for any of the other chefs and now that she's gone it will be harder to remain as interested in the program.

Any other thoughts?

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  1. ennuisans RE: Roland Parker Dec 3, 2012 07:38 AM

    I thought first of all, what has been said on another thread about the Save Card being used in a close match is out the window. From what was said, this was a close one. Everyone appeared devastated at voting Falkner off. Doesn't mean the option to save a chef isn't there, it just means it wasn't used here.

    Although like I said earlier, if Falkner knew there was the option of keeping her on in a close call (which really seemed to be the case here) that would brutally hurt, and she did seem really stunned at losing by an overuse of saffron, compared to Appleman's lack of seasoning (which is so often a deal killer in these shows).

    16 Replies
    1. re: ennuisans
      Roland Parker RE: ennuisans Dec 3, 2012 08:05 AM

      Your last sentence does bring up an interesting point. Are the judges fairly applying a consistent judging standard to all the rounds and showdowns? We've had contestants eliminated in the past for lack of seasoning and for not emphasizing the secret ingredient enough (usually by making it very much a secondary ingredient in the final dish). Appleman made both "errors" yet he survived.

      Hey, we only know what was shown to us and we can't taste the dishes so we have no idea if Faulkner's couscous was truly overpowered and awful. Perhaps it was but there was something about last night's judging that somehow didn't seem right and was off the mark. Perhaps it's my own disappointment at seeing Faulkner go but the reaction of the judges last night as well as their emotional response in voting her off was a bit extreme which is causing me to question exactly what was going on.

      As a side note I remember watching a next iron chef competition years ago when the final two came down to Michael Symon and some chef from New Orleans. The NO chef had been the overall better cook throughout the entire series until the final episode, when as a kicker three iron chefs were brought in to judge alongside the three existing judges. As it turned out two of the original judges sided with the NO chef in the final episode, the three iron chefs and Michael Ruhlman (a buddy of Symon from Cleveland and one of the original three judges) voted for Symon. So Symon won, but one of the dissenting judges pointed out that the NO chef had been the more consistently reliable, winning and innovate chef throughout the series, which the three iron chefs couldn't have known, so was it fair for them to vote in the final episode?

      It makes one wonder if the Food Network deliberately rigs the show to create drama and tension as a way of keeping interest in the show going. As it is I do think there's too many iron chefs.

      1. re: Roland Parker
        Joanie RE: Roland Parker Dec 3, 2012 09:41 AM

        "We've had contestants eliminated in the past for lack of seasoning and for not emphasizing the secret ingredient enough (usually by making it very much a secondary ingredient in the final dish). Appleman made both "errors" yet he survived."

        His anchovie taste may not have been prominent enough but when you consider he made anchovie and potato torta, anchovie aioli and one other anchovie thing (I think), it wasn't for lack of trying or trying to sneak it in there. I actually was glad he won even tho I'm not a fan of either of them. Enjoyed Marcel's victory and as RP noted, Faulkner's comment about his too tough cow head vs. the judges' loving his dish was interesting.

        1. re: Roland Parker
          FoodPopulist RE: Roland Parker Dec 3, 2012 10:28 AM

          It's just the rules of the game to have past performance not count for anything. When March Madness rolls around and we have a single-elimination NCAA basketball tournament, it is perhaps unfair that a single bad game could allow for the team with the much better regular season performance to be eliminated, but that's just the way it is.

          I don't think the Food Network is rigging outcomes to create drama and tension. The very fact that you force chefs into an elimination showdown is enough to create drama and tension. You would, however, have a good case for arguing that they edit the show to make things appear closer than they actually are to preserve drama...and there's nothing wrong with that.

          1. re: FoodPopulist
            ipsedixit RE: FoodPopulist Dec 3, 2012 10:32 AM

            And if it was rigged, so what?

            As long as you (or I) don't know the outcome, it's still dramatic.

            Movies are rigged, and as long as I don't know the ending, I still enjoy the movie (and sometimes I enjoy it even when I do know the ending).

            The journey, as they say, is oftentimes more interesting than the destination.

            1. re: ipsedixit
              LurkerDan RE: ipsedixit Dec 3, 2012 10:42 AM

              Eh, I watch movies for drama, I watch competition shows for competition. While that includes the drama associated with competition, that drama falls flat if I find out the competition was not a competition at all. The drama for me is in what dish the judges found to be the best/worst; there's no enjoyable drama in what chef the network chose to have win or lose.

            2. re: FoodPopulist
              iL Divo RE: FoodPopulist Dec 4, 2012 07:44 AM

              "It's just the rules of the game to have past performance not count for anything. When March Madness rolls around and we have a single-elimination NCAA basketball tournament, it is perhaps unfair that a single bad game could allow for the team with the much better regular season performance to be eliminated, but that's just the way it is." I'm forever greatful for the times that UCLA under John Wooden and Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr. won, but I digress.......

            3. re: Roland Parker
              The Dairy Queen RE: Roland Parker Dec 3, 2012 11:15 AM

              John Besh, I believe, is the name of the NO chef.


              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                Dee S RE: The Dairy Queen Dec 3, 2012 08:10 PM

                You are correct. It was Besh. I thought he won and was surprised Symon did.

                Totally bummed about Faulkner.

              2. re: Roland Parker
                iL Divo RE: Roland Parker Dec 4, 2012 08:08 AM

                "As it is I do think there's too many iron chefs."
                where are the former Iron Chefs? did they take off? get bored? lose interest? get canned?
                some are boring and lack luster to me, sorry but true. they have to have that "something" "it" factor to hold my interest in watching the show. it's gotta be more than just being great cooks.

                RP, have you been to Lola in Cleveland?
                have you been to August in NO?
                I've not been to Lola but have been to August.
                the food at August is beautiful, the restaurant is beautiful, the waiter that waited on me was wonderful, my meal, all apps plus many pitchers of water, perfection. the bill high, very high, worth every cent. in my opinion John Besh got ripped off. he is all I want in an IC however, that said, MS is doing a wonderful job and his credentials are VERY impressive.

                1. re: iL Divo
                  sal_acid RE: iL Divo Dec 4, 2012 11:48 AM

                  Second that on August. I've had several great meals there.

              3. re: ennuisans
                Shrinkrap RE: ennuisans Dec 3, 2012 01:25 PM

                Her looking stunned was the hardest part for me.

                1. re: Shrinkrap
                  The Dairy Queen RE: Shrinkrap Dec 3, 2012 01:28 PM

                  For me it was her saying that she needed air, and a member of the crew opening the door for her. We normally don't see the crew like that. The news really knocked the wind out of her, it appears.


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
                    Shrinkrap RE: The Dairy Queen Dec 3, 2012 02:03 PM

                    Yes! That's right!

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                      chicgail RE: The Dairy Queen Dec 3, 2012 06:12 PM

                      She really thought she was going to win this. So did I. And she is the second person in a row who got the "advantage" of judging her peers and was eliminated (the first being Ann Burrell).

                      1. re: chicgail
                        The Dairy Queen RE: chicgail Dec 3, 2012 09:36 PM

                        Is it just me or does having the advantage turn out to be a curse more often than not? I swear I'd never want the "advantage" on these competition shows--it often seems to backfire.


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                          John E. RE: The Dairy Queen Dec 4, 2012 10:42 AM

                          Evangelos Mendelsohn comes to mind.

                2. ipsedixit RE: Roland Parker Dec 3, 2012 07:41 AM

                  I think the auction format is one of the better, if not best, formats for the NICA challenges. It's not only a test of culinary skills, but an inside peak how much confidence each chef has in his/her own abilities.

                  I, too, was sorry to see Faulkner go, but honestly I think this is Mehta's to lose.

                  1. RUK RE: Roland Parker Dec 3, 2012 08:15 AM

                    "She got blasted for overusing saffron in one of her dishes which is odd as I've never thought of saffron as ever having an overpowering flavor."
                    Of course we can't taste her dish, but I can speak from experience that even a slight "overdose" of saffron can render the dish very bitter. A lot of saffron will make a dish inedible.

                    Marcel starts to look perhaps a bit more interesting as this goes on...

                    21 Replies
                    1. re: RUK
                      The Dairy Queen RE: RUK Dec 3, 2012 11:16 AM

                      I once had a saffron creme brulee that had an overpowering taste of saffron and it was inedible after just a bite or two, but the person who prepared it thought it was so exquisite and had splurged so much for the saffron, I ate more of it than I should have to appease her. But, blech.


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                        RUK RE: The Dairy Queen Dec 3, 2012 11:26 AM

                        In my case it was a printing error for a type of Challah recipe. It was one of my earliest attempts of making yeast breads ( at this point I had little experience) and I had followed the recipe exactly. The next edition of the magazine showed the correct amount of Saffron with an apology. Too late, the Bread was inedible and went into the garbage. Lesson learned - tread carefully around Saffron!

                      2. re: RUK
                        sal_acid RE: RUK Dec 3, 2012 01:26 PM

                        Goes for me too. A little saffron is more than enough.

                        1. re: RUK
                          Caroline1 RE: RUK Dec 4, 2012 06:11 AM

                          I suspect that soffron falls into the same category as cilantro, some of the "newer" cooking oils, the heat of chiles... Different strokes for different folks. But there may also be a difference in intensity that comes from the grade and origin of the saffron. Last time I bought saffron, I splurged big and bought 14 grams of top quality Spanish saffron, which is a huge amount for a home cook. Then there's also the interesting question of whether, at age 79, I will live long enough to use it all up unless I go on a 3-meals-a-day paella diet! Anyway, when cooking for just me, I have intentionally tried to use too much saffron, and so far, I haven't managed to do that. At least not for my taste buds.

                          I've heard other people talk/write about the "tinny" taste of too much saffron, but I've never experienced it. I suspect one (or more?) of the judges has this flaw in their saffron tasting taste buds and held undue influence over the rest of the panel. I think it would be a good approach for any contestant on these "reality" cooking shows to avoid things like cilantro, saffron, and other things that don't seem to have the same flavor for all tasters.

                          I think "Iron Chef" (America) and "The Next Iron Chef" have really blown the original concept of the show. The podium of Iron Chefs now only has one REAL Iron Chef left, Masaharu Morimoto, and all of the rest are simply contenders turned usurpers. Maybe they need to change the name of the show to "Iron Chefs of the Moment"? But I did feel (still do) that Faulkner was the best candidate of this lot. I will miss her!

                          1. re: Caroline1
                            The Dairy Queen RE: Caroline1 Dec 4, 2012 06:42 AM

                            Simon seemed to be the first one to mention there was too much saffron, Donatella "disagreed", and then Zarakian also said he thought the dish was a little heavy handed with the saffron. It seems to me (from this and the pineapple+pork incident from last season) that Simon has these really strong preferences about which he is not really willing to bend.


                            1. re: The Dairy Queen
                              Caroline1 RE: The Dairy Queen Dec 4, 2012 07:22 AM

                              I find Simon Majumdar to be the most irritating judge on any food related "reality" show. But I would enjoy seeing him and Jeffrey Steingarten get into a tiff over the worthiness of a dish. Gee, I'm wicked! '-)

                              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                Roland Parker RE: The Dairy Queen Dec 4, 2012 07:43 AM

                                If I had to bet on how the judges voted it would be that Donatella wanted to keep Faulkner and the two men voted to kick her off.

                                My overall problem with the iron chef competition is that the best cook doesn't necessarily win. I get the comparison to the sports tournament format as mentioned by another poster but we're talking about someone who will go on to repeatedly cook in competitions against challengers. I don't want to watch someone who got lucky enough to win but turns out to be a less than stellar iron chef competing against second tier regional chefs (I'm looking at you Michael Symon, while not mediocre you're still no Mario Batali).

                                All the contestants in the Redemption series are stellar in their field but I thought that Faulkner was simply more interesting than anyone else. She took more risks, her dishes were more creative and she pushed herself harder to get out of tight cooking spots. To top it she produced more dishes that truly wowed the judges. Then there's the personality side as well. Faulkner actually has a distinct personality, both character and cooking styles, that can lend itself to developing an Iron chef following and I don't see that happening with any of the other contestants.

                                Not everyone likes Faulkner but this viewer is looking through the remaining contestants and is thinking while you're all nice people and good cooks I don't see myself wanting to watch Iron Chef to see what you do in the way I might have with Faulkner.

                                1. re: Roland Parker
                                  ipsedixit RE: Roland Parker Dec 4, 2012 07:45 AM

                                  My overall problem with the iron chef competition is that the best cook doesn't necessarily win.

                                  ICA and the NICA is not *just* about the best chef, it's about the chef who is not only the best at his/her craft, but doing it while under time pressure (and other external forces -- e.g., pseudo-surprise ingredients).

                                  It's relatively easy to be the "best" at your craft when you have control of your environment, it's quite another to be at your best when things around you are, for lack of a better word, kind of fucked up.

                                  Sort of like free throw shooting. Shooting by yourself in a gym with no one around, it' easy to be a 90% FT shooter. Game on the line, in a visiting arena, with 15,000 hostile fans and people screaming at you, and the lights shining directly at you? Another story entirely.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                    Roland Parker RE: ipsedixit Dec 4, 2012 08:14 AM

                                    I think Faulkner was sent to the showdown several times, more than any of the other candidates, and came back with stellar dishes that wowed the judges. So even using your criteria she displayed an ability to cook herself out of very tight spots more than anyone else did.

                                    The judges should be allowed to consider previous results as well when deciding how to vote. Wouldn't we all be better off, both Food Network and the viewers, if the truly better chef was allowed to survive and not get kicked off due to one lousy mistake (and possibly only a mistake due to the subjective taste of one or two judges). After all, the actual iron chefs aren't booted off the show if they lose to a competitor and Morimoto has lost quite a few challenges if I remember correctly.

                                    1. re: Roland Parker
                                      ipsedixit RE: Roland Parker Dec 4, 2012 08:18 AM

                                      The "better chef" is the one that can survive these challenges, week in and week out.

                                      You only believe that the "better chef" lost (unfairly) because of a personal bias for Faulkner.

                                      There's really no objective reason to believe that Faulkner is better, or worse, than any of the other competitors. Our personal biases, and perspectives, gives us, mostly a false, sense of certain competitors being "better" than others.

                                      There's really no way to objectively determine whether one chef is better than another because we don't taste of any of their dishes on the show and most of us have not sampled the food, fully, from all of the competitors to even determine whether any of them are -- in absolute terms -- better than any other one.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                        Roland Parker RE: ipsedixit Dec 4, 2012 08:28 AM

                                        You're correct in that all opinions are subjective but when both judges and fellow contestants describe Faulkner as one of the greatest chefs in America (a term that has not been applied to any of the other contestants), I stand up and take notice.

                                        As it is, she's gone, many of us are disappointed and life goes on.

                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                          chicgail RE: ipsedixit Dec 4, 2012 09:15 AM

                                          The best competitor is not necessarily the best chef.

                                          1. re: chicgail
                                            ipsedixit RE: chicgail Dec 4, 2012 09:32 AM

                                            The best competitor is not necessarily the best chef.

                                            But isn't that exactly what ICA is looking for? A competitor cum chef?

                                            1. re: ipsedixit
                                              chicgail RE: ipsedixit Dec 4, 2012 07:37 PM

                                              Yes. ICA is looking for a competitor cum chef.

                                              But, these trumped up competitions - auctions, cooking outdoors, canned food -- really are not indicative of what an IC actually does. None of those things happen on a real episode of IC. They all make pretty good television. They're good for drama.

                                          2. re: ipsedixit
                                            chowser RE: ipsedixit Dec 4, 2012 11:02 AM

                                            "The "better chef" is the one that can survive these challenges, week in and week out."

                                            I agree. I think of this like the play offs. Lose and you're out. They don't say, well, they had the best record over the season and are probably the better team...

                                            1. re: chowser
                                              ipsedixit RE: chowser Dec 4, 2012 11:03 AM

                                              And this is how it's like on the ICA show.

                                              Let's say Bobby Flay scores a perfect 60 one week against Challenger X and beats her by 10 points. So he has 9 "extra" points. Then the next week he could flub his toe and score only a 55 and lose by 1 point to Challenger Y.

                                              Flay doesn't get to carry any of his extra points from the prior week, right?

                                          3. re: Roland Parker
                                            FoodPopulist RE: Roland Parker Dec 4, 2012 11:53 AM

                                            If it were up to me, and fairness was more important than watch-ability and ratings, I'd start with 12 chefs in three pools of four. Each pool does a round robin of the secret ingredient showdown, producing one dish in 30 minutes.

                                            The winners of each pool go into the semifinals. The fourth slot goes to the winner of a last chance battle between the second place chefs in each pool.

                                        2. re: Roland Parker
                                          FoodPopulist RE: Roland Parker Dec 4, 2012 11:47 AM

                                          If that is really the case, then what you want is for them to scrap any form of competition whatsoever and just have the producers hand an Iron Chef gig to whoever they think is most worthy.

                                          1. re: FoodPopulist
                                            The Dairy Queen RE: FoodPopulist Dec 4, 2012 11:49 AM

                                            Actually, last season (Superstars or whatever it was called), they had some really high profile chefs and it made me wonder if any of those folks had a secret deal with the food network that they will be on their NIC show, but that they really don't have the time to actually be an iron chef and pre-arranged that they would lose, but finish respectably, maybe in the top four or something.


                                        3. re: The Dairy Queen
                                          FoodPopulist RE: The Dairy Queen Dec 4, 2012 11:40 AM

                                          Perhaps the producers want to pair Simon and Donatella as judges because they have conflicting tastes that will make it hard for anyone to produce a dish that is a unanimous favorite unless everyone else fails at the task.

                                        4. re: Caroline1
                                          chicgail RE: Caroline1 Dec 4, 2012 09:16 AM

                                          Too much saffron really does leave a nasty taste, but maybe sensitivity to saffron is similar to sensitivity to cilantro. I'm one of those people for whom cilantro tastes like soap except in very, very small quantities.

                                          You could include that good saffron in your will, making sure that someone who appreciates it gets it in case you you don't go on a major paella binge. I would hate to think that someone who doesn't know what it is or appreciate it, may toss it.

                                      2. DiningDiva RE: Roland Parker Dec 3, 2012 08:25 AM

                                        I was crushed, crushed I tell you when Falkner got the boot. Now I'm just sad :-(

                                        21 Replies
                                        1. re: DiningDiva
                                          The Dairy Queen RE: DiningDiva Dec 3, 2012 11:16 AM

                                          Ditto. Crushed, shocked, sad.


                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                            chefhound RE: The Dairy Queen Dec 3, 2012 09:52 PM

                                            Me too. I'm a little traumatized.

                                            If this episode was supposed to be about risk, then Alex should have been in the bottom instead. There was nothing risky about a bison steak and some potatoes, even if they were well cooked.

                                            1. re: chefhound
                                              The Dairy Queen RE: chefhound Dec 3, 2012 09:54 PM

                                              Her "risk" was stealing something from Marcel... Hardly a giant risk from a culinary perspective.

                                              (ETA: Donatella called Alex out on her lack of risk, actually. And Alex joked, "My risk was my lack of risk" or something along those lines.).

                                              Someone mentioned Alex and her drama in another episide--did anyone catch Alex saying in her confessional, "I'm terrified." I just had to laugh.She is kind of a drama queen, isn't she?


                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                coney with everything RE: The Dairy Queen Dec 4, 2012 04:29 AM

                                                I think the whole Iron Chef artificial reality lends itself to drama...oh my GOD--they're dishonoring the CRAFT by putting their food on the SAME PLATE! I must consult with the CHAIRMAN!

                                                That might just be Alex's way of playing the game.

                                                1. re: coney with everything
                                                  The Dairy Queen RE: coney with everything Dec 4, 2012 06:09 AM

                                                  You know, a sense of humor fun in an Iron Chef. Maybe Alex has more of a sense of humor than I've been giving her credit for...


                                              2. re: chefhound
                                                chowser RE: chefhound Dec 4, 2012 06:13 AM

                                                Especially considering it was Faulkner's risk, of frying the scales, that got her sent to the bottom. Had she left them off, her dish would have been fine.

                                                1. re: chowser
                                                  The Dairy Queen RE: chowser Dec 4, 2012 06:13 AM

                                                  The weird thing is, why didn't she taste one (I was somewhat nodding off during the episode, so maybe she did and I didn't notice). It seems it would have been easy enough to do, and if you were her, wouldn't you have been at least a little curious about how they tasted? And if she thought they were truly a mistake, she could have left them off?


                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                    chowser RE: The Dairy Queen Dec 4, 2012 06:18 AM

                                                    I was wondering the same thing. Of all things, she could have easily tasted one.

                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                      DGresh RE: The Dairy Queen Dec 4, 2012 06:19 AM

                                                      I agree. They looked pretty "chewy"; I'd make sure I tried one to see if it was more like potato chips, or more like toenails :)

                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                        Caroline1 RE: The Dairy Queen Dec 4, 2012 07:28 AM

                                                        Taste one? Sequins are made out of fish scales. I tasted a sequin when I was three years old, and have known all of my life that fish scales are inedible. It's why fishermen scale fish before eating them! I think she just had a brain-dead moment. It was like deep frying an egg shell to go on an egg dish. Don't use inedible garnishes! It's the law! Or maybe subconsciously she just wanted to go home?

                                                        1. re: Caroline1
                                                          chefhound RE: Caroline1 Dec 4, 2012 12:12 PM

                                                          Actually, I've had fried fish scales on a dish at JUNGSIK in NYC. They were delicious. Maybe she didn't get them crispy enough.

                                                          1. re: chefhound
                                                            chicgail RE: chefhound Dec 4, 2012 07:38 PM

                                                            As chowser said, maybe she would have known that if she had tasted one.

                                                            1. re: chicgail
                                                              chefhound RE: chicgail Dec 5, 2012 04:16 PM

                                                              Yes, it's a shame she didn't taste them before she served the scales, though if she left them off, she would lose the element of risk.

                                                              I was just letting Caroline1 know that they can be eaten and can be delicious.

                                                              1. re: chefhound
                                                                Miss Needle RE: chefhound Dec 5, 2012 05:52 PM

                                                                In addition to Jungsik, 3 Michelin-starred restaurant Brooklyn Fare also has a dish using fish scales. I guess whether or not the scales are edible depends on the fish.

                                                        2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                          Roland Parker RE: The Dairy Queen Dec 4, 2012 07:45 AM

                                                          We rarely see the iron chefs taste the food beforehand. Is it strongly discouraged? I remember an episode when one contestant was lambasted for taking a swig of brandy or whisky before adding it to the dish. His excuse was that he wanted to make sure the flavor was right.

                                                        3. re: chowser
                                                          paulj RE: chowser Dec 4, 2012 08:23 AM

                                                          Frying the scales seemed like a dumb idea when she first mentioned it. They looked like they'd make better guitar picks.

                                                          1. re: paulj
                                                            ipsedixit RE: paulj Dec 4, 2012 08:23 AM

                                                            Yeah, that was a major brain lock on her part.

                                                            I can't imagine the last time I had fish scales and thought, "wow, no more potato chips for me, I've found my new nirvana!"

                                                          2. re: chowser
                                                            Worldwide Diner RE: chowser Dec 4, 2012 08:26 PM

                                                            Paiche is an endangered species of fish in the Amazon. I have no idea why they'd paid for one, fly it to the US so Faulker can butcher it and fry its scales.

                                                            1. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                              FoodPopulist RE: Worldwide Diner Dec 4, 2012 08:35 PM

                                                              Apparently, there is now some sustainable farming of paiche.


                                                              1. re: FoodPopulist
                                                                Worldwide Diner RE: FoodPopulist Dec 5, 2012 10:23 AM

                                                                Well, next time I go to Peru I'll have to try some. I heard they are very tasty.

                                                          3. re: chefhound
                                                            maisonbistro RE: chefhound Dec 5, 2012 03:59 PM

                                                            I totally agree, although I like Alex and am glad she's still there. But I despair to think that Faulkner is gone. And seriously..... mortadella foam????? just because it's risky doesn't mean it should garner points. If you do risky bad does it count more than if you do less risky well>

                                                            Water under the bridge. She's gone. I for one was hoping to see her become the next Iron Chef. She is talented beyond belief, thinks outside the box (she made white bread toast ice cream!!!) and doesn't rest on her laurels.

                                                      2. chowser RE: Roland Parker Dec 3, 2012 11:15 AM

                                                        I was pulling for Faulkner last time around and would have been happy if she won but this time don't care as much that she didn't make it to the end. It almost seemed like she expected to win. I agree about the overuse of saffron--it would be hard to use so much of it that it made the dish almost inedible. I wonder how much that dish cost to make!

                                                        I agree w/ Zacharian about Marcel seeming more mature this time around w/ cooking. He seems to be holding his own among the other chefs, much more so than Spike.

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: chowser
                                                          DGresh RE: chowser Dec 3, 2012 03:12 PM

                                                          Did anyone notice the "evil grin" Nate had when it was announced that he was moving on? I thought it was kind of funny. I liked Falkner but you know, someone good had to go (well except maybe for Marcel, despite the fairly obvious "good edit" he got on this episode)

                                                          1. re: DGresh
                                                            LurkerDan RE: DGresh Dec 3, 2012 04:26 PM

                                                            Well, I don't blame him. He felt like she chose him because he was a strong competitor, not because he had the worst dish (which may or may not have been true, that wasn't clear). So beating her and sending her home had to have felt like, pardon the usage, redemption.

                                                            1. re: LurkerDan
                                                              Dee S RE: LurkerDan Dec 3, 2012 08:13 PM

                                                              You know a few folks have mentioned that the dishes the judges tasted seemed to be vastly different than those Faulkner tasted. I'm guessing she tasted the "first" timed run and the judges tasted the "final" timed run. Alex said she was afraid she undercooked her bison and Faulkner agreed. The judges got perfectly cooked versions.

                                                              Faulker seems quite put off by the mortadella mousse and that seemed to be the deal breaker for her. It did sound....well.....slimy. I think that would have made me put his name down as well.

                                                              I also saw the evil smirk.....and I'm sure we'll see some commentary from him to back it up.

                                                              1. re: Dee S
                                                                Worldwide Diner RE: Dee S Dec 4, 2012 08:29 PM

                                                                Didn't Appleman ask Marcel for xanthum gum even thought he constantly trashes Marcel? Basically Appleman is a douchebag.

                                                                1. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                  LurkerDan RE: Worldwide Diner Dec 5, 2012 09:42 AM

                                                                  He's a douchebag for asking another competitor for an item from the pantry that the other competitor had grabbed and brought to his station? um, yeah.

                                                                  Appleman has occasionally looked like an ass in his times on TV for sure, but that sure wasn't one of them.

                                                                  1. re: LurkerDan
                                                                    Worldwide Diner RE: LurkerDan Dec 5, 2012 10:28 AM

                                                                    I'm not sure that item is from the pantry. Marcel usually brings his personal stash to these game shows. Even if it is from the pantry, Marcel is under no obligation to give him any. This all started when Doucheman shoved Marcel out of the way and then asked Marcel to share his truffles.

                                                        2. c
                                                          ceekskat RE: Roland Parker Dec 3, 2012 05:21 PM

                                                          My biggest problem with this show was the sheer amount of ingredients presented. 4 cow heads, 180lbs of mortadella?? And that wheel of cheese!!!! Absolutely unnecessary.

                                                          BTW, wanted to see Chef Guarnaschelli cut into the bison ribs but they never showed that part.

                                                          13 Replies
                                                          1. re: ceekskat
                                                            FoodPopulist RE: ceekskat Dec 3, 2012 06:56 PM

                                                            I think the ridiculous and perhaps ostentatious presentation of ingredients is exactly what the show should be aiming for.

                                                            1. re: ceekskat
                                                              paulj RE: ceekskat Dec 3, 2012 07:07 PM

                                                              Is anything on the show necessary?

                                                              What would have happened to the other 3 cows if they had only presented one head? Would they still be grazing peacefully on some California hillside? The unused Parm wheels probably went back to the purveyor. Sooner of later some one would have had to cut into that mortadella.

                                                              Has anyone seen figures on how much FN and their producers spend on food? A rule of thumb for restaurants is that food costs are about a third of the menu price, with the rest of the cost coming from labor and overhead. I suspect FN's food budget is a tenth of their labor costs. On this episode they probably spent more to rent the trucks and the hanger.

                                                              gives some behind the scenes tidbits on the taping of a Top Chef episode in Seattle - an 18 hr day at Canlis restaurant. "ยท It took a TV crew of nearly 100 people to set up the restaurant and tear it down."

                                                              1. re: paulj
                                                                Shrinkrap RE: paulj Dec 3, 2012 09:09 PM

                                                                " Would they still be grazing peacefully on some California hillside?"

                                                                I pass said hillsides on a regular basis, and don't know HOW they graze, peacefully, at such an angle.

                                                                1. re: paulj
                                                                  ipsedixit RE: paulj Dec 3, 2012 09:32 PM

                                                                  More money is probably spent on food for the cast and crew than for the food used by the cheftestants.

                                                                  1. re: paulj
                                                                    The Dairy Queen RE: paulj Dec 3, 2012 09:39 PM

                                                                    Surely the extra food doesn't go to waste? Doesn't someone swoop in and rescue the rest of the ingredients for another show or for the test kitchen or something? I hope so, anyway... It was hard not to think of Batali setting his giant wheel of parm aflame on that classic Iron Chef episode while watching whatshername (sorry, total brain freeze) hacking into hers. The former was breathtaking, the latter, kind of pointless (and a little cringeworthy: I was worried she was going to cut her hand off).


                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                      paulj RE: The Dairy Queen Dec 3, 2012 10:26 PM

                                                                      That reminds me that similar large items have appeared as the secret ingredient in ICA episodes. Besides the Parm, there's been that South American fish, and sides of elk.

                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                        acgold7 RE: The Dairy Queen Dec 4, 2012 11:01 PM

                                                                        I remember way back in 04 when we were shooting the pilot week... we had this huge tank of spiny lobsters. After the show was shot the President of FN (actually SVP/GM but the most senior person at the Network calling the shots) had them pack up the unused Lobsters back in their crate and she had the stage hands put the crate into her car trunk and she drove them out to her brother's house and they had them for dinner. True Story.

                                                                        For the original Japanese show, the ICs always took the unused Premium Ingredients back to their restaurants to use there. It was common knowledge at the time that that was the reason Sakai would punch into these huge cans of Caviar every show but only use a little bit.

                                                                        A little bit of OT trivia....

                                                                        1. re: acgold7
                                                                          ennuisans RE: acgold7 Dec 5, 2012 12:43 AM

                                                                          I live for stories like these, which is a sad realization about myself.

                                                                          1. re: acgold7
                                                                            The Dairy Queen RE: acgold7 Dec 5, 2012 03:36 AM

                                                                            Something about that is distasteful to me, that senior people or the talent in the organization were personally enriching themselves, but overall I'm certainly glad the food doesn't go to waste. I would have been much happier with the story had you said "she had the stage hands put the crate in her trunk, she drove it to X location where she held a lobster boil for the whole crew". But, again, mostly glad the food doesn't go to waste. Hilarious about Sakai, by the way--that seems funnier to me.


                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                              acgold7 RE: The Dairy Queen Dec 5, 2012 09:17 AM

                                                                              I completely agree and it pretty much sums up my experience with her and FN. Not everyone there was like that, though.

                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                sal_acid RE: The Dairy Queen Dec 6, 2012 07:22 PM


                                                                        2. re: ceekskat
                                                                          paulj RE: ceekskat Dec 30, 2012 09:10 PM

                                                                          Now we know what they did with rest of the mortadella (battle Alex v Judy)

                                                                          1. re: paulj
                                                                            ennuisans RE: paulj Dec 31, 2012 06:29 AM

                                                                            Seriously, the Mortadella Growers Association is toasting the new year with champagne tonight.

                                                                        3. iL Divo RE: Roland Parker Dec 4, 2012 07:34 AM

                                                                          didn't like the episode.
                                                                          found it lack luster and a little typical, whatever that means, I'm not even sure.
                                                                          the loser was a shocker to me. seemed knocked off a box and very angry and dimayed.
                                                                          the winner of the challenge was a shocker to me.
                                                                          basically, I hope they pump it up as I'm losing interest.
                                                                          I think this is the first time since the inception of this particular program [not redemption but original seriesl] that I have no favorite nor do I care.

                                                                          1. c
                                                                            cmvan RE: Roland Parker Dec 4, 2012 11:16 AM

                                                                            I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Elizabeth Falkner end up with her own separate show on FN or CC, which could be all the better for her - her own show instead of an occasional stint on ICA.

                                                                            Watch for it. I'll be amazed if they don't offer her something.

                                                                            22 Replies
                                                                            1. re: cmvan
                                                                              ipsedixit RE: cmvan Dec 4, 2012 11:19 AM

                                                                              She could've had both.

                                                                              But I agree, I think she would be great with her own show.

                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                DiningDiva RE: ipsedixit Dec 4, 2012 11:48 AM

                                                                                A dessert show, YUM :-)

                                                                                1. re: DiningDiva
                                                                                  John E. RE: DiningDiva Dec 4, 2012 11:57 AM

                                                                                  I wonder what happened to Top Chef - Just Desserts?

                                                                                  1. re: John E.
                                                                                    nikkihwood RE: John E. Dec 4, 2012 09:17 PM

                                                                                    It was reported a few weeks ago that Just Desserts would not return.

                                                                                    Elizabeth Faulkner moved to New York, and opened a new store. I am of the opinion that was a both a culinary and a media career more, and more power to her.

                                                                                    She already appears as a talking head on a CC show. Her **not** getting an FN show, despite her rocky competition past - both NIC and the FN Challenge cake shows - would be a surprise to me.

                                                                                    She's got the personality to carry a show, and we know that FN is all about the personality. She's also got the culinary chops. Win for us! I hope.

                                                                                    1. re: nikkihwood
                                                                                      Joanie RE: nikkihwood Dec 5, 2012 04:38 AM

                                                                                      "She's got the personality to carry a show, and we know that FN is all about the personality."

                                                                                      Really? Faulkner has a personality to carry a show? Is she shown in a different light somewhere besides the Next Top Chef? Cuz her personality seems boring and humorless from what I've seen.

                                                                                      1. re: Joanie
                                                                                        LurkerDan RE: Joanie Dec 5, 2012 09:46 AM

                                                                                        I'm with Joanie, she comes across as bland and sour from what I see.

                                                                                        1. re: LurkerDan
                                                                                          DiningDiva RE: LurkerDan Dec 5, 2012 10:44 AM

                                                                                          I don't find her either bland or sour. I do think she has a rather sharp but dry sense of humor and personality.

                                                                                          In the TVlandia of artifically sweet, vapid "celebrity" 20/30-something chefs that CC and FN shove down the throat as "experts" that we should somehow embrace as knowledgeable, I found Elizabeth Falkner to be a breath of intelligence. She's an adult acting like an adult, not a child being forced upon an adult audience.

                                                                                          1. re: DiningDiva
                                                                                            Joanie RE: DiningDiva Dec 5, 2012 11:00 AM

                                                                                            You can still be intelligent and seem happy or personable without acting artificially sweet. I don't see those characteristics in her for the most part.

                                                                                            1. re: Joanie
                                                                                              DGresh RE: Joanie Dec 5, 2012 12:16 PM

                                                                                              Ina Garten is my model of intelligence and friendliness without insipidness. I feel calm watching her cook!

                                                                                              1. re: Joanie
                                                                                                DiningDiva RE: Joanie Dec 5, 2012 12:46 PM

                                                                                                Different strokes for different folks. I would much rather sit down and have coffee and dessert with Elizabeth Falkner than, say, Kelsey Nixon...

                                                                                                1. re: DiningDiva
                                                                                                  John E. RE: DiningDiva Dec 5, 2012 12:48 PM

                                                                                                  I would certainly agree with that.

                                                                                                  1. re: DiningDiva
                                                                                                    LurkerDan RE: DiningDiva Dec 5, 2012 01:37 PM

                                                                                                    Who I'd like to sit down and have coffee with and who I'd watch on TV are not the same thing at all.

                                                                                                    1. re: LurkerDan
                                                                                                      DiningDiva RE: LurkerDan Dec 5, 2012 02:45 PM

                                                                                                      Didn't say they were

                                                                                                2. re: DiningDiva
                                                                                                  chowser RE: DiningDiva Dec 5, 2012 01:09 PM

                                                                                                  I agree--I'd watch her. She does have a dry sense of humor that I like but wonder if the TV audience might not. At least, definitely not Food Network that goes for the Guy Fieri type personalities.

                                                                                            2. re: nikkihwood
                                                                                              John E. RE: nikkihwood Dec 5, 2012 12:27 PM

                                                                                              I don't think Faulkner could carry a show on her own, maybe if she had a co-host.

                                                                                              1. re: John E.
                                                                                                ennuisans RE: John E. Dec 6, 2012 12:30 AM

                                                                                                I would like a show about how Falkner approaches food, which would not be a typical chummy stand and stir. Unlike Giada and Bobby she is not our best girlfriend making us mimosas for brunch, she is approaching food from an unusual perspective. ICA would be a good showcase for that, but a standalone show for her would have to lean more towards Mind of a Chef or whatever Justin Warner comes up with.

                                                                                          2. re: DiningDiva
                                                                                            chowser RE: DiningDiva Dec 4, 2012 12:32 PM

                                                                                            Is there a good dessert show? I've seen Jacques Torres here and there (love him) and there's Sweet Genius and that type but I can't think of one that is teaches baking. I would love that.

                                                                                            1. re: chowser
                                                                                              ipsedixit RE: chowser Dec 4, 2012 01:16 PM

                                                                                              On Cooking Channel there's Rachel Allen: Bake! and Simply Baking.

                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                chowser RE: ipsedixit Dec 4, 2012 01:37 PM

                                                                                                I wish we had Cooking Channel. It seems like the shows are much better than Food Network.

                                                                                              2. re: chowser
                                                                                                DiningDiva RE: chowser Dec 4, 2012 01:35 PM

                                                                                                I really liked that old Jacques Torres PBS show Dessert Circus. He was just too adorable, and then there was the accent :-O

                                                                                                I think if they did a dessert show with Falkner she'd probably have to dumb down her recipes some. In reading the reviews of her dessert book on Amazon, there were several comments about the desserts being too complicated or involved and, thus, not doable...i.e. too much work or bother. Well, that's kind of what good pastry is all about.

                                                                                                And speaking of Sweet Genius...now that they've softened up Ron Ben-Isreal and let him be (or have) more fun, I've found I've enjoyed the show much more too. That first season they just made him too cold and stern. The kid-in-a-candy -store image they're letting him project this season is much easier, not only to like but more engaging as well. I think they also reduced the number of extra items the contestants get thrown at them which helps make better end products.

                                                                                          3. re: cmvan
                                                                                            iL Divo RE: cmvan Dec 5, 2012 03:43 PM

                                                                                            hadn't thought of that but bet you're correct, she'll end up with a show of her own.
                                                                                            like Kelsey's Essentials

                                                                                            1. re: iL Divo
                                                                                              cmvan RE: iL Divo Dec 6, 2012 06:59 PM

                                                                                              I've said it in regard to many other of these shows - losing the show doesn't at all necessarily mean that you lose. Quite a few "losers" were offered deals better than what they would have gotten had they won. Jeffrey Saad, for example, did much better in losing NFNS...

                                                                                          4. b
                                                                                            Brad Ballinger RE: Roland Parker Dec 10, 2012 11:40 AM

                                                                                            My favorite line after Appleman returned to the back, successful in his showdown with Faulkner: "Don't look so shocked, Alex."

                                                                                            1. r
                                                                                              rasputina RE: Roland Parker Dec 31, 2012 12:21 PM

                                                                                              ok too funny, I was just watching Iron Chef which recorded last night and I was wondering how Alex Guarnaschelli was all of a sudden an iron chef. Last I remembered she lost to Zakarian.

                                                                                              I must have missed this season where they decided to make another previous season loser an iron chef.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: rasputina
                                                                                                paulj RE: rasputina Dec 31, 2012 12:34 PM


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