Episode 8: Passion; Respect
(Original air date: 12/23/2012)
Before we begin the night’s festivities, let’s have a moment of silence, for last Sunday was the End of the World – or at least his dreams of becoming The Next Iron Chef – for one Chef FoamBoy.
Thanks for the memories, dude!
The Chairman’s Challenge
We have one more Chairman’s Challenge in Vegas! Baby! The remaining two contestants will then move on to Kitchen Stadium for One Final Battle.
TRUE FACT: Chef Guarnaschelli “really, really” wants to win this thing!
The theme of the Chairman’s Challenge is Passion, which gives us a whole passel of mental images related to “food pr0n” . Their task: to create a tasty dish featuring an ingredient, which has already been chosen by the judges, and represents what the judge choosing it would want to see on their Last Supper.
And yes, I am already dreading the repetitive references to the Last Supper we are probably going to be hearing.
It is time for the contestants to choose. Since Chef Freitag has won the most Chairman’s Challenges, she gets first dibs, and chooses Farm [-Raised] Chicken.
Chef Appleman gets to choose next, and picks Haddock.
Chef Guarnashcelli gets the remaining ingredient – Sea Urchin.
There are thirty minutes on the clock –
Allez Cuisine! Let The Cooking Begin!
Chef Freitag says she wants to make a “lemon lusty chicken”. Here we go with the sexytimes dishes again! ENOUGH OF THE SEXYTIMES TALK IN THE KITCHEN! But, I must admit that she is certainly Passionate about chicken.
Chef Appleman isn’t all that Passionate about Haddock. But, he is Passionate about Clam Chowder. So, he will incorporate the two. Me? I’m not so sure the judges will share his Passion.
Chef Guarnaschelli is Passionate about Sea Urchin. And Brussels Sprouts. Which sort of sounds like a train wreck waiting to happen, to me.
TRUE FACT: Brussels Sprouts make me burp. Loudly.
With 60 seconds to go, the chefs go into Pandemonium mode. Chef Freitag starts to freak out. After the clock runs out, Chef Guarnaschelli starts having second thoughts – at least she waited until it was too late to screw up her dish.
Tasting and Judgement
The chefs present their dishes to the judging panel. The first judge to comment on a dish, is the one who chose that particular theme ingredient.
Chef Appleman (Poached Haddock and Clam Chowder) – Simon thinks it is “absolutely perfect”, though he feels the clams were “a bit of a mistake.” Donatella: Haddock is “a boring dish. But you changed my mind.” Iron Chef Zakarian liked it.
Me thinks there will be a whole lot of superlatives bestowed this evening.
Chef Freitag (Lusty Lemon Roasted Chicken) – Iron Chef Zakarian declares this to be “the crowning dish [she] cooked so far.” Donatella and Simon also liked it… A LOT. AB dismisses her, before
she pees herself something happens. Because Nervous Chef Freitag is nervous.
Prediction: She is going to the finale, for sure.
Chef Guarnaschelli (Sea Urchin Custard with Corn, Brussels Sprouts, Sunchokes, and a Foam[!?]) – Donatella asks her about the foam. She admits she thought “oh no” at first (as did I), but then decides it enhanced the dish. Iron Chef Zakarian thinks the custard could be a little more custardy. Simon comments that the foam could have used a little more lemon. Nervous Chef Guarnaschelli is also nervous, now.
AB announces that Chef Freitag is a shoo-in for a trip to Kitchen Stadium. Who will join her?
First: Chef Freitag finds out she is IN. (Duh.) Chef Guarnaschelli is told she had “acidity issues.” (What the what!?) However, Donatella said she took Sea Urchin somewhere it had never been before, so she heads to Kitchen Stadium. Which means, alas for Chef Appleman, that his journey ends here: he Will Not Be The Next Iron Chef.
Kitchen Stadium: The Final Battle
PREDICTION : there is a 100% chance that The Next Iron Chef will be a female.
The Chairman makes a personal appearance! And, he unveils the Secret Ingredients! These ingredients, each placed on their own stack on the altar, represent the styles of three Senior Iron Chefs: Iron Chef Flay (Southwest); Iron Chef Symon (Mediterranean); and Iron Chef Morimoto (Japanese, including KIKKOMAN products. Because PRODUCT PLACEMENT, Y’ALL.) The theme will be: Respect. Each contestant will have to choose two ingredients from each of the three stacks.
In a Special Twist (not really), the three Iron Chefs will join the judging panel. And, the former contestants will be in the Peanut Gallery, tasked with mouthing inane commentary when filler is required.
Because of the extra work involved (and also because this is how they roll in Kitchen Stadium), the two finalists will be allowed to have two sous chefs (each).
They will have one hour to prepare three dishes. Allez Cuisine!
Ariane Duarte (from Top Chef) is IN DA HOUSE! (as Sous Chef for Chef Freitag. She has appeared on Iron Chef America as a sous chef in the past.)
It looks like both contestants are going to honor Iron Chef Symon by preparing a lamb dish. Very Mediterranean, though not so out-there creative IMHO.
With 15 minutes to go, Chef Guarnaschelli drops a big fat bass in to cook. Someone observes that this is a very Iron Chef-like behavior. You know what would have really been Iron Chef-like? Had she dropped that sucka in the ICE CREAM MACHINE!
It is down to the last minutes. Will everything get done in time? (Of course it will.) 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… ALL DONE!
Tasting and Judgement
They are alternating dishes, with each contestant presenting one in turn. Chef Guarnachelli goes first.
- Chef Guarnaschelli: Scallops with Hen of the Wood Mushrooms (honoring Iron Chef Morimoto.) Simon thinks one of the scallops was slightly over, while the other was perfect. Iron Chef Flay disagreed, thinking they are perfect. Iron Chef Morimoto ビジョンを愛して (Loved the vision.)
- Chef Freitag: Feta Burrata (a dish honoring all three Iron Chefs.)Iron Chef Zakarian thinks this is a “gutsy move”. Iron Chef Flay would like to taste more of Iron Chef Morimoto’s ingredients.
- Chef Guarnaschelli: Lamb Loin with Olives and Eggplant (honoring Iron Chef Flay [it appears I was wrong].) Iron Chef Symon thought the lamb was perfect, and that it was balanced.
- Chef Freitag: Lamb Loin with charred eggplant and chermoula (honoring Iron Chef Symon.) Donatella sums it up thusly: “yummy”.
While the judges take a break to replenish their supply of superlatives, we are treated to
a bit of PRODUCT PLACEMENT an AD for KIKKOMAN! Who built a new plant! In the USA! In 1973! Which was very Risky! And showed Passion! And Respect!
And now, for the last course:
- Chef Guarnaschelli: “Chiles and Cherries” Tart with Creme Fraiche Ice Cream and Lime (honoring Iron Chef Flay.) Iron Chef Flay comments that the chiles are like “little time bombs”. He is inspired by this. The others agree, the consensus is that this is her best dish.
- Chef Freitag: Brown Sugar Corn cake with miso honey praline ice cream (honoring Iron Chefs Flay and Morimoto.) Iron Chef Flay: “A very Iron Chef dessert.” Iron Chef Morimoto: それを好む. Iron Chef Symon: “Interesting, but very tasty.”
I find Chef Freitag’s choice to incorporate ingredients from multiple Iron Chefs into a single dish most interesting. It definitely shows the kind of out-of-the-box thinking expected of an Iron Chef (though not as much as making ice cream out of sour cream, IMO.)
The judging panel now starts picking the dishes apart. Iron Chef Flay thinks Chef Guarnaschelli “crushed” the dessert course. Iron Chef Zakarian and Iron Chef Symon agree. Simon Majumdar, or course, disagrees. Because if it were any other way, no drama would there be.
AB notes that Chef Guarnaschelli is more of an alchemist, creating a dish that never existed before – where Chef Freitag turns a group of ingredients into a study in complementary contrasts (these are my words, not his. But they could be.) IMO, it would seem that Chef Guarnaschelli’s style is more suited to the type of cooking expected of Iron Chefs.
Finally, they vote, and AB hands The Chairman a card containing “your Next Iron Chef, sir.”
Taking a cue from the playbook of Every Reality Show Ever, we are
subjected treated to one more ad break.
And now, we are back at the dais, with The Chairman, AB, and the two contestants. Chef Freitag has a dry mouth. Chef Guarnaschelli can’t remember her name. (If this is the case, can I just go back and change it to “Smith”? That would make it much easier to spell!)
“The Time Has Come… The Next Iron Chef Is… ” And the cover is removed from the portrait, to reveal…
CHEF ALEX GUARNASCHELLI! Is The Next Iron Chef!
SHE MADE IT! SHE REALLY MADE IT!
She feels Redeemed.
Looking back at the whole season, it doesn’t surprise me that Chef Guarnaschelli’s name was on that card. From her stint as Iron Chef Zakarian’s sous chef, to being prominently featured throughout this competition (remember, she was the first one introduced), it is as if she were being groomed for the job.
So, what adventures await The Next Iron Chef in Kitchen Stadium? Fortunately for us, we don’t have to wait too long to find out. One week, in fact!
Next week, on Iron Chef America: The Next Iron Chef faces her first Challenger! But whom it will be, I am a bit confused on that matter. AB announces that it will be the person who knocked her out of the competition during the last season, and the image of Chef Falkner displayed on my screen would tend to support this. However, AB then starts rambling about someone from across the pond, and the smiling face of Iron Chef UK Judy Joo appears on my teevee. Maybe she is on the judging panel? Maybe it is a culinary ménage à trois? That would certainly take the competition to a whole ‘nuther level! (Whether or not that is a place we wish to be taken, however, is a totally different matter.)
Either way, I will most certainly be watching, and you can keep an eye on this blog for my recap!