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Next Iron Chef Redemption: Episode 7 (spoilers)

Hoping someone else will do this since I was too busy watching the depressing Patriots game and won't see the episode til tonite.

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  1. Said the night wind to the little lamb, "Marcel, you will not be the next Iron Chef."

    After a team comp with bacon as the secret ingredient and a cameo from David Copperfield in Vegas, it's Marcel versus Alex for the final elimination.

    Something savory with your Hershey's chocolate? But of course.

    Marcel does lamb chops and our heroine of Butter fame goes with duck.

    Marcel's lamb was juuuuust a bit underdone and Alex's duck hearts were (gulp!) under-seasoned. But she pulls it out nonetheless.

    Said the night wind to the little lamb, "Marcel, you will not be the next Iron Chef."

    3 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      <Said the night wind to the little lamb, "Marcel, you will not be the next Iron Chef.">>

      Words I have waited too long to hear.

      And now the rubber meets the road.

      1. re: ipsedixit

        Surely Alex is a wonderful, creative cook, but I started to like the bit of unpredictability and cheerfulness of Marcel.
        I would rather have had Marcel sticking around for a nice finale between him and Freitag. Btw his Bacon wrapped in Bacon ( dissed by Alex) seemed well received!

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Nice save on the risotto by Marcel in the elimination battle.

        2. Unfortunately Majumdar spilled who the loser was on Twitter before I could watch so I'm biased, but this seemed like two of the least suspenseful judging segments I've ever seen.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ennuisans

            I didn't have the ending spoiled for me, and I agree, it was fairly apparent at both judging segments who would win.

            1. re: LurkerDan

              It was kind of odd. In the first competition, it was ridiculously obvious which team won during the commenting section. Then later, as the four of them stood there, they made it sound a lot more even. Maybe that's because that was the only time they heard the other team's comments, and they didn't want it to be so obvious to the losers until the final moment. Or maybe the editors just didn't do as good a job disguising the result.

          2. For a number of reasons, I've been under the suspicion since this season started that it was a foregone conclusion, and FN had already picked Guarneschelli for the gig. The NIC: Redemption series has all just been to add drama to it.

            Once Faulkner and Mehta were gone, I kind of lost interest, frankly. They were the last two real creative boundary-pushers. Appleman is probably the best chef of the remaining three, at least from my experience having eaten all of their foods on various occasions, he's the only one who's ever wowed me. That said, I think it was predetermined from the start who'd win it.

            10 Replies
            1. re: sgordon

              I was a little surprised to see Marcel lose the showdown as his food was more adventuresome and Iron-chef worthy in terms of pushing the envelope. He scored rave reviews for his risotto made with white chocolates and his main criticism was undercooking the lamb (note that it seems only Simon said that, boy, isn't he picky, and Zakarian disagreed with him). Alex, on the other hand, played it safe and conventional. Her main use of the chocolate was to grate it over her salad and other dishes rather than seriously attempting to feature it as a main ingredient. Such a technique usually dooms the challengers in these competition.

              The criteria used for judging doesn't seem to be consistent across the elimination challenges, which does support the theory that there's a subtle rigging going on to get Alex to win even though her food is the least interesting. We only know what the producers of the program show us so we don't get all the comments said by all three judges, but so far it does look like that if Simon doesn't like it, regardless of that he's only one of three judges, the challenger is doomed. It's almost as if the views of Donatella and Zakarian are irrelevant.

              1. re: Roland Parker

                "Alex, on the other hand, played it safe and conventional. "
                I agree and if she were to become the next Iron Chef, I couldn't possibly imagine her creating something fresh and exciting!
                I would however watch Marcel to see what he might come up with, away from the beaten path. And he actually seems to enjoy the competition.

              2. re: sgordon

                I totally agree. I really wanted Falkner to win and when she got eliminated I moved me favorite to Mehta. I'm now rooting for Appleman but will be very surprised if he makes it to the final.

                Having Zakarian as a judge when Alex has been his sous chef for his IC battles just seems like a colossal conflict of interest. If the powers that be wanted either Alex or Amanda, they should have just annointed the chosen one like they did with Cat Cora

                1. re: DiningDiva

                  But then they wouldn't have gotten 8 hours of popular NICA footage. I bet more people watch a season of NICA than a whole year's worth of ICA.

                  1. re: paulj

                    Exactly. It's their TC competition and it's an easy payout; there's no contestant who couldn't manage at least one season.

                    If the results are rigged, they do a terrible job for my money. There's not a single NICA winner that I care to watch cook. Except for "Bacon Boy" Symon, their personalities are so clenched their secret ingredient seems to be corn cob.

                    1. re: paulj

                      Well, yeah. Regular ICA is, well, BORING. I watch the first 5 minutes to see who the challenger is and what the secret ingredient is. Then I walk away until the last 15 minutes and look back in to see what they actually made.

                    2. re: DiningDiva

                      <If the powers that be wanted either Alex or Amanda, they should have just annointed the chosen one like they did with Cat Cora.>

                      I agree, but if they'd done that, what would they have done for a NICA show this season? And, win, lose or draw, it's powerful PR for all the contestants.

                    3. re: sgordon

                      "For a number of reasons, I've been under the suspicion since this season started that it was a foregone conclusion, and FN had already picked Guarneschelli for the gig. The NIC: Redemption series has all just been to add drama to it."

                      Hmmm, seem to recall reading the same thing last season, many people swore they knew the winner, it was all rigged, and then Zakarian won.

                      I'm pretty convinced that while there are many things that may be "rigged" in this competition, the actual winners and losers aren't one of them.

                      1. re: LurkerDan

                        I don't know. It could have been rigged for Zakarian - he's an in-house talent they already knew was "Good TV" from his Chopped appearances. The other NIC winners... only Symon turned out to be much of a personality. Garces is a snooze on camera, and Forgione always seems mildly stoned. Maybe after those two, they wanted a known quantity for the next one.

                        On the other hand, it could be not so much rigged as weighted... It seemed very strange, having Zakarian as a judge, when he's known to be good friends with AG, and she's his sous on IC as well... almost as though they've been "training" her for the job for the last year.

                        Sadly, her restaurants aren't anything to write home about - both are frankly more known as "clubs" where the food itself is kind of incidental, and neither show a terrible lot of cheffy creativity.

                        Now, granted, I'm not a huge fan of either of Zakarian's current restaurants, but at one time he had a pair (Town and Country) that were pretty great, and he could reach those heights again.

                        That said, all the NIC winners to this point were very well-regarded chefs, with multiple awards. Guarneschelli has a great resume (worked for Guy Savoy, Larry Forgione, Daniel Boulud) but her restaurants are really uninteresting and barely blips on the NYC culinary radar. I think Butter got one star from the NYT, and The Darby they didn't even bother reviewing, probably because it was clearly designed more as a celubutante hangout / club than a restaurant.

                        I thought Faulkner would have been an interesting choice - for the most part, each IC has their "specialty" cuisine. Morimoto/Japanese, Batali/Italian, Flay/Southwestern, Garces/Pan-Latin, etc. Faulkner would have been the first who made their name & fame as a pastry chef, primarily.

                        I remember an interview with AG saying that she'd love to do a restaurant that was only about the food and not known for being a club first. And if she ever opens that place, I'll gladly try it and maybe I'll be really blown away by what she's capable of when unfettered, where she's the only boss she answers to and can cook whatever she wants. Why she doesn't do that, I don't know - it's not like she doesn't have the money to open a small, intimate chef-driven place if she wants to.

                        Marcel: eh. To me he's just any dime-a-dozen post-Wyle/Heston/Achatz chefs who love playing with the toys but don't have the mature chef's voice/palate that Wylie & Heston do. He's still a little too enamored with the bells & whistles. Maybe he'll grow into a great chef, I dunno. But right now I couldn't tell you what his cuisine style is. It's just a mish-mosh of stuff made to look cool.

                        1. re: sgordon

                          "Garces is a snooze on camera, and Forgione always seems mildly stoned."

                          For these reasons, I don't think that Appleman has a real chance. Guarneschelli and Freitag are both known quantities to the FN, and have some years of experience just being a personality. However, I personally think the greatest "shame" is that I don't really see much of a difference in the food cooked by the top three. I'm sure if I had the chance to eat the food by the three of them, I could make a far more informed opinion on what's similar and what's different. But like most viewers, I just have what they show me on television.

                          Faulkner, Mehta, and Vigneron brought a visual and audio difference in their food, that for competition tv was interesting to me. I wasn't necessarily cheering for Marcel to win, but it made sense to me. He's younger, he has a strong tv personality, and there was the chance of creating some ICA drama of people wanting to go on the show to beat him. Similar to the original IC where the traditional Japanese chefs came after Morimoto - I could see a variety of chefs gunning for Marcel in a way that would be both believable and fun.

                          Any chef saying "I can't lose to Zakarian/Symon/Garces/any of the remaining three NIC - I have to beat them" - doesn't strike me as believable or emotional. However, I can easily believe that sentence being said about Marcel. He's the wrong ambassador for "molecular gastronomy", he's too young, he's too arogant - pick your poison - I'd believe it, even if I felt it was a little staged.

                          I believe the final three they have are safe and ultimately part of the problem with ICA. Perhaps in doing NIC they actually made becoming an iron chef predominantly about the food. You cook the best, you win. However, I think they're missing part of the charm of making television and the value in personality and manufactured rivalries.

                    4. I like all of the finalists.

                      But I would have seriously watched Marcel as an Iron Chef. The others bore me, though I do like them

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: C. Hamster

                        As much as Marcel annoyed me on Top Chef and as much as his misuse of the word 'like' drives me nuts, he is creative in his cooking. Well,on this episode, his creativeness (is that a word?) wasn't great on the buffet part of the competition, but I too would rather watch him cook than most of the others. I never thought I would actually say something like that. I keep remembering how he said to Fabio on one of the TC specials that he couldn't comment on Fabio's season of Top Chef because he didn't watch it. (He said it with a snarky, condescending tone).

                        The thing about The Next Iron Chef is that most of the 'confessionals' sound like they were written by the producers of the show, nothing sounds spontaneous.

                        1. re: John E.

                          On one of Marcel's confessionals, he had different facial hair than he had in the episode. Kind of destroyed the illusion that they are truly confessionals.

                            1. re: John E.

                              One of the confessionals this week made me laugh: when they've just announced it's a team challenge and Alex says "I'm so excited!" then, a heartbeat later, makes the most exasperated grimace.

                            2. re: C. Hamster

                              I really have no idea what Marcel would be like as an Iron Chef.

                              But every time I look at him, he looks like the love child of Justin Bieber and Wolverine.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Where's the da*n LIKE button. They redesign the whole site but don't give us a LIKE button for individual posts.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  Isn't the Wolverine comparison for Marcel kind of over? His hair is a fraction of the size it was in Top Chef days.

                                  I have to agree with whomever about Alex's sprinkling of chocolate on everything hardly seeming to show much creativity using it in a savory dish.

                                  Simon and Zakarian sure don't agree on much.

                                  1. re: Joanie

                                    Agree 1000% Joanie. The Wolverine thing is very 6 years ago.

                              2. As stated by others, the outcome was so predictable.

                                I am happy with the final three and will not be upset by the outcome as long as the finale is all fair & square and all of that.

                                Appleman has REALLY grown on me since the beginning of the season.

                                I'm also a huge fan of Alex.

                                But I think it's Freitag's to lose at this point. She is a prime example of "don't mistake kindness for weakness".

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                  I wanted Faulkner for the win, sigh.

                                  But I agree, this is a good final three. I'm leaning towards Amanda as a) I'd like another female iron Chef and b) while I like Alex as a personality, I think Amanda is a more creative cook.

                                  And yes, Nate is excellent but again, I'm confessing that if I had a choice, I'd like some girl power.

                                  1. re: happybaker

                                    I'm rooting for her too, but mostly because she seems the most likable.

                                    1. re: LurkerDan

                                      That too.

                                      I wasn't a big fan of Symon when he won - but his creativity and graciousness has truly won me over.

                                      1. re: happybaker

                                        I still just can't over his voice and that goofy laugh. I have to turn him off.

                                        I like Alex, but would be OK with Amanda winning as well.

                                        1. re: happybaker

                                          I agree. He seems like such a nice guy and never says anything bad about anyone.

                                      2. re: happybaker

                                        Sorry. Having eaten at Faulkner's places in the City, I found the attitude insufferable and coming down from the top and the cake just not that good. She has a unlikable edge to her that would make me always root for the challenger if she became an Iron Chef.

                                        1. re: rccola

                                          Since have not eaten her food, I can't really comment on that. She did seem genuinely shocked that she was elminated.

                                          Prior to some of her reactions on this program, I always thought she was a likeable TV chef although lacking in interesting personality. She seemed to be compassionate to the nutjob contestant on Top Chef Just Desserts who was hiding under the table and weeping.

                                          1. re: John E.

                                            That episode made me a fan for life of Ms. Faulkner.

                                            She was truly compassionate and warmly honest about her own challenges with reality tv, to let the chef know he wasn't the only one. She was the only one who truly stepped forward at that moment with Seth and I think helped it from getting much much worse.

                                            1. re: happybaker

                                              I missed that. Sounds....interesting. It would have made me feel different about Faulkner but I'd still feel she should have been more attentive to the atmosphere in Citizen Cake.