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Next Iron Chef Redemption: Episode 6 (spoilers)

The last 5 are brought to the MGM Grand in Vegas and in keeping with this marriage theme, have to marry two random flavors that Alton has put together. Marcel asked for a prenup which was amusing but since he won, he can assign the groups of food to the contestants. He picks the easiest, blue cheese and peanut butter and makes a blue cheese ice cream with peanut butter powder, peanut brittle and praline. Alex gets chicken livers and peppermint candies and makes a salad w/ chicken liver mousse and melts candy into balsamic and uses it as a dressing with mint, grilled raddichio and other stuff. Mehta gets bone marrow and fruit candies, he roasts the marrow and melts down the candy and has a chimichurri sauce. Appelman gets clams and strawberries and makes an aqua pazza sauce (2nd one in the series) with cavatelli. Freitag gets squid and marshmallows. She grills the squid, makes marshmallow/horseradish sauce and fries the tentacles. BTW, they had to cook in a small kitchen and people were getting snippy.

Everyone likes Marcel's dessert but think the plum something or other wasn't great. They also really like Freitag's squid but not the barley/marsh treat. She ends up winning since it was a harder combo. They thought Alex played it fairly safe but the flavors were good so she's safe. They thought the fruit and fish combo from Appel was good but didn't like the pasta (he says Italy would disagree) and Mehta ignored the candy too much in his dish. Those two get the secret ingredient of prawns. Appelman says something about something coming back to bite Marcel but not sure what he meant since of course Marcel was going to assign him an odd combo and didn't really do anything else to be a dick. Anyway, they have to cook it on a tepanaki grill. The ladies are all nervous wrecks watching these guys. Mehta does shrimp w/ coriander (or was it cumin?) and Appel does a pancake w/ shrimp and peas, had to do it over cuz the first one fell apart. Neither wowed the judges but Appel got the win since it was well balanced. Both of them are so sour pussed I didn't care who won (Alex made a comment about not wanting to see Appel in a dark alley with the face he had on) but I was slightly pulling for Appelman.

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  1. I kept waiting for Mehta to leave. He walked back with the others and stood around, Appleman came back and...they all stood around. No talking even.

    1. I was never a Marcel hater on Top Chef; I always thought the anti-Marcel/Marcel is evil stuff was overblown. I thought he could be a bit whiny, a bit arrogant, but he certainly never had the monopoly on either of THOSE as a Top Chef contestant. And I also thought a lot of his commentary that viewers used against him was solidly tongue in cheek. But I wasn't a fan either. He was just fine. .... But I have to admit, I am really starting to love him on NIC. He seems to be making really interesting food, for the most part he's not a jerk to other contestants (unless provoked, like by Appleman pushing him out of the way), and his interviews crack me up. I kinda wish he had won last night! I like that he's giving the standard FN stars a run for their money. I don't think they were expecting that from him.

      6 Replies
      1. re: charmedgirl

        Marcel is much better now that he has matured enough to not put foam on everything.

        1. re: charmedgirl

          Agree about Marcel. I too never had an issue with him. it'll be interesting/amusing if he makes it past another elimination, esp. if he eliminates Appelman.

          1. re: charmedgirl

            I agree, Marcel is easier to tolerate on this show. That's probably only because he understands that he is their junior and not yet their equal (in terms of experience. I'm sure he believes his food is better). However, he's still an idiot. Marcel, you are your own 'wolfpack'? WTF? plus, I understand the producers are encouraging tgem to talk trash, but the comments Marcel made about Mehta at the end sounded ridiculous coming from him.

            1. re: John E.

              I assumed the wolfpack comment was a joking reference to The Hangover.

            2. re: charmedgirl

              I agree he is now the sympathetic character, and find myself thinking....wow....are "the elves" just that good?

              1. re: Shrinkrap

                Well, for me, he was never all that unsympathetic, but I suppose the editing has something to do with it. Maybe the "elves" wanted to paint Marcel as more villain-like while Triage Entertainment has a different take on him. It could also be that he's just more mature now (it is 6 years after Top Chef season 2), so his better qualities have developed while the more negative ones have receded.

            3. I have to admit that I don't ever remember noticing how sexy two bald men can be.

              1. I was sorry to see Mehta leave as I liked his dish in the showdown better than Appleman, though I agree with the judges, neither contestants had stellar dishes.

                I noticed that Mehta was heavily criticized by the judges for his use of the spices, which was a recurring theme throughout the series. It is something to consider - Mehta is of Indian origin and their understanding of spices and their appropriate use is very different than in the West, so having an Indian chef facing three Western judges is likely to be awkward. The judges often encourage the contestants to speak to their roots but when Mehta does he's criticized. A bit ironic.

                Marcel grew a bit on me yesterday. He clearly knows his food and I can see he has a promising future ahead of him. He's not quite there yet but he's so young that give him a few more years' expertise he'll be a major force to reckon with.

                I've decided to root for Freitag from now on. I'm tired of all these male chefs, no matter how good they may be and it's time for another woman in the Iron Chef roster. Unlike the others Freitag is actually nice, pleasant and endearing. Alex is too, but her cooking is conservative and while her "play it safe" approach probably wasn't intentional if she doesn't become more innovative I don't think she'll make it to the final.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Roland Parker

                  Keep in mind that Simon Majumdar is half-Bengali and half-Welsh, and is quite expert at the foods and flavors of India and the entirety of Asia. Not exactly totally western, although he did grow up in Britain.

                  As for Alex Guarnaschelli, one thing that has bothered me about her in her 2 attempts at NIC is how frequently she seriously and obviously struggles with the challenges. Like in this episode where she talks about having a "panic attack'. Not exactly what you want an Iron Chef to have, and certainly not to verbalize.

                  And it was pretty obvious that Mehta was going to get the ax when the Elves edited in so much of his talk about "I WILL be the Next Iron Chef". Kiss of death...

                  1. re: cmvan

                    Oh, and I would add that Geoffrey Zakarian's heritage is Armenian, and so he is quite familiar with, at the very least, Middle Eastern spices and seasonings. Donatella Arpaia, Mediterranean.

                    1. re: cmvan

                      Speaking of judges with 'ethnic' backgrounds, a previous NICA judge was Judy Joo, Korean American who competes in Iron Chef UK.
                      At the end of the month:
                      "In this international competition, the newest Iron Chef faces off against Iron Chef UK Judy Joo. The judges are Jeffrey Steingarten, Karine Bakhoum and Tory Belleci."

                  2. re: Roland Parker

                    Marcel does know his food, but the problem I have with him is how how uncomfortable I am watching him. He approaches food, the challenges, the other contestants and, I would presume, life. I am not a qualified professional so this is not a diagnosis by any means, but he is very unpleasantly narcissistic. It's about about him and what he can get and he seems to have very little compassion or even empathy for others. Maybe he will grow and mature. Maybe he will grow on me, but I don't want to see him be an Iron Chef.

                    1. re: chicgail

                      What does a narcissistic cow say?


                  3. I liked Appelman's idea of making okonomiyaki. It's something I've tried a few times. Here is Francis doing the same:

                    The editors gave us the heads up on the dangers of using cumin before the judging. It is an assertive spice that can easily be used in excess. Mehta used it whole, didn't he? I don't think I'd have complained about finding a whole cumin seed in my dish, but then I don't judge this level of competition.

                    It's interesting that both used shishito peppers. I suppose more because it was available than because it was a secret ingredient.

                    1. I just can't take this show seriously any more as it really feels like it's become a vehicle to promote FN stars to ICs. Seeing someone like Alex stay when Falkner and Mehta leave ... really? but then Zakarian as an IC is ludicrous as well. Too bad really ... it could be so much better.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: Siun

                        Yes. The best chef doesn't win, the one the FN wants to promote (in more ways than one) wins.

                        I thought the final would be Falkner vs Mehta, which would have been pretty interesting, not to mention intense.

                        My best guess is now Freitag vs. Guarnaschelli

                          1. re: DiningDiva

                            Something about Freitag really bothers me. I find her to be a very harsh judge on chopped - maybe that's why? Her food looks good, but I'd rather Alex won. Actually, Faulkner was really my pick. Very talented chef!

                          2. re: Siun

                            Why should (this faceless) FN want to promote certain 'stars'? In what sense is Alex more important to them than Falkner?

                            1. re: paulj

                              Alex has a show with FN and Falkner doesn't. That said, I don't know that the show is so cynically about brand promotion. FN could input much more of itself into the show, but only Alton and now Zakarian have regular shows on one side, and only Alex on the other. And including two chefs from another network? I suspect NIC is more about competing with Top Chef and building the brand at the top of the wedge, where Food Network Star builds the brand at the base.

                              1. re: ennuisans

                                Using NICA to promote Alex's cooking show is a bit like the tail wagging the dog. NICA is a big breadwinner for FN, more so, I think than ICA itself. The number of posts on NICA is an indicator of that.

                                Alex also is a Chopped judge, as is Amanda. Falkner (why don't we use her first name?) is starting to appear on CC (Serious Eats?).

                                For the last couple of seasons, people have speculated that NICA was going to produce a female winner, just because they thought ICA needed one, or that FN wanted one. Alex is still a good bet for winning this season, but I don't see how FN or the producers of this show (they aren't one and the same) can rig the competition without participants (contestants, judges, AB etc) spilling the beans.

                                1. re: paulj

                                  Alex continues to not play by the assignment and yet she stays. I want her ass gone already.

                                  1. re: paulj

                                    If Alex wins with Zakarian on the judging panel, I'd say there was some bias, especially since she's one of his sous on ICA.

                                    I really like her on Chopped and her show, but, man, she is just whiny on NICA

                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                      Why? Do you think he likes her so much? Or wants an excuse to split?

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        I don't think he'd really need an excuse to split if that was the intent. I think they genuinely like each other. I just know how objective he can really be when judging her dishes.

                            2. My two favorites, gone in back to back weeks. Oh well.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Skippy1414

                                Don't forget that Alton has a "save card" whatever that means, and he didn't use it for either Faulkner or Mehta. Things that make you go ????

                                1. re: jackiecat

                                  That just means that the judges didn't think those eliminations were really that close. The "save card" as described seems to be for when the judges see it as a draw with no way to declare a winner, not to save a chef who had a bad day.

                                  I wish the judges had to score the secret ingredient showdown the same way that they do for ICA.

                              2. I am not a Marcel fan; he seems very immature and offputting.

                                My family is rooting for Freitag as well.

                                Did anybody else notice that Simon and Zakarian were grating on each other especially hard?

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: jmckee

                                  Marcel reminds me too much of a (young) Wolverine.

                                  1. re: jmckee

                                    "Did anybody else notice that Simon and Zakarian were grating on each other especially hard?"

                                    Maybe Simon wanted Faulkner over Zakarian last year??? Or maybe there was something that happened last year between them that is still simmering???

                                    1. re: Brad Ballinger

                                      I think there may have been some dissent on sending Elizabeth Falkner home. Did you notice that when Alton announced who was going, Donatella put her head down on the table and was kind of shaking is back and forth in a "no" motion.

                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                        The judges looked about ready to cry when they sent her home!