Nic_judges
An especially tricky challenge and some excellent food—and some not.  After Jill Davie, the only woman remaining, was eliminated, Aaron Sanchez was overheard speaking to Morou: “The women are gone," he warned. "Next they’ll be going after the brown people.”  True?  Find out that! and more!  Will Knowlton kill the bug that crawled up his ass?!  Will Ruhlman fix his hair?!  Will the judges spontaneously break into Yvonne Elliman’s “I Don’t Know How To Love Him”?!  Tonight at 9 on the Food Network.

UPDATE, MONDAY MORNING COMMENTS: Gosh the judges look like sour pusses up there.  I assure you, the editing makes us seem especially harsh.  I mean, I remember getting these long dangling lettuce leaves in Cosentino’s salad, which made it a little awkward to eat and seemed to reflect haste or laziness, but certainly it was a minor point.  But my expression and the weight the producers gave it—you’d have thought I was asking if Chris been exposing himself in front of little girls.  On the other hand, Andrew is every bit the menace he appears.  And it was hard to get to know him off camera—he had a lot of handlers, so it was difficult to get any time with him.

I liked this episode because I got to see chefs’ personalities in how they chose ingredients for their colleague and it did show resourcefulness in the challenge.

Standout dishes.  Symon was by far the best performance this week, and all four judges agreed with this.  His berry drink was refreshing and delicious as we sat in the hot sun (he’s no idiot).  The polenta took some skill—polenta needs a good forty minutes to cook; the first thirty of the chefs’ 60 minutes was spent getting enough heat; Donatella, a polenta snob, pronounced it outstanding.  And his presentation, family style was good and appropriate, flavors and seasoning on the money. “Out of the park” as Alton said.  I loved Sanchez’s escargot.  The serving method was ingenious and the flavor was excellent.  Besh’s food again was first rate, except for the soggy meat—it must have spent to much time steaming in its sassafras leaf.

The judging.  Cranky Andrew.  I got the feeling he had it in for Sanchez from the beginning.  Maybe it was the cynical journalist going after the New York chef, I don’t know, but his dislike of Sanchez’s dishes seemed disproportionate.

But none of us disagreed about the three chefs left standing.  Kaysen was the easy choice.  It was the Morou/Sanchez decision.  For me it came down to the fact that overall, Sanchez’s flavors and dishes had been more powerful and assured than Morou’s, which were only OK.  I felt flavorwise in this competition, they were even.  Morou’s plating looks good on camera and his one dish was indeed outstanding, but all in all, too fussy, dainty, and compartmentalized.  So, given that it was a toss up with an equal balance of pros and cons on this challenge, I asked myself, at this point, who would I choose to cook for me next time?

Now here’s the thing nobody knew.

Alton said to Sanchez, who’d just squeaked by: “If Chef kaysen had salted his quail eggs and frog legs properly he would be standing here.”

Well, Kaysen DID salt his food.  What he didn’t tell us, indeed what he only told me later that day as all were packing to go and he was heading to the airport, was this.  The way the competition works is the chefs cook their food under those strict time constraints you see on the show.   Food is then photographed and held.  Camera’s are reset, and the chefs get to reheat and put their dishes together for tasting.  This is the only way that each chef can be able to serve hot fresh food as he or she wishes to the judges, not food that’s been sitting around for a while, no unfair advantage given to someone who serves first.

That day was very hot and Kaysen stored his food in a tub on plenty of ice.  It was then stored by the culinary crew.  When Kaysen returned to his food, he found it submerged in ice water!  That’s something that I would have taken into account in the judging.  Salt quickly rushes out into water—he could have reseasoned the exterior but no wonder, it tasted under-seasoned.  Such is the nature of culinary competition.  But I’m sorry he didn’t say anything.

Good news for New Yorkers: Kaysen is taking over the kitchen of Café Boulud, Nov 12.  My guess is that the kid is going to shine.

[Adam Roberts funny take on lasting impact of NICA on the chefs.  And, btw, Adam, the dude really is THE Chairman–I’ve MET the guy.  Seriously]

[Adam Kuban’s interesting take over at Serious Eats]

[Andrew Knowlton still hasn’t posted on epicurious–still bitter, I presume.]

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119 Wonderful responses to “Next Iron Chef: Two Chefs Eliminated Tonight”

  • Bwana

    Judges breaking into song?

    More likely the chefs will break into Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me”…

    …and if all this happens, the show will be renamed “Chef Rock”

  • thespian

    I don’t know why to eat this!
    Why the salt? Why the pepper?

    He’s a chef!
    He’s…just a chef.
    And I’ve had so many…meals before…
    In very many ways.
    It’s just one more.

  • thespian

    though to address the ‘brown people’ thing (which was, if really said, prolly a joke), Sanchez…well. If he plutzes, it’ll be his own fault. My bet on tonight’s double elim is Sanchez and Kaysen. Sanchez because he’s obviously coming from a mindset that isn’t Iron Chef-oriented (and not just the overrun last week; that was actually expected, since on ‘the real Iron Chef’, they need to have one dinner plated at the end of the hour, and then get another hour to finish the other 4 servings; I suspect he let his knowledge of that trump the rules he was told at the start of this contest), and Kaysen because he just doesn’t yet have the chops for this; he hasn’t even been on regular Iron Chef yet, when most of the others had won, tied, or lost by a single point. He’d blow them out of the water on say, Top Chef, but he’s not really ready for Iron Chefdom yet.

  • JoP in Omaha

    I’m so excited about seeing the next episdoe. I’m lovin’ this. I’ve watched Ep. 2 four times? Maybe five. Based on the judges’ comments so far, I’m thinking that Besh, Symon, and maybe Cosentino are the front runners. I noticed that in Ep. 2, Ruhlman, you liked Symon’s dishes. As I recall, during the tasting, you said his tomato salad was awesome (I’m paraphasing), and at the judging, when Alton was speaking to Symon about his dishes, there was a shot of you sitting there smiling. That made me laugh.

    It’s unfortunate that in these first episdoes we’re not seeing more of the discussion among judges because there’s some info that we viewers are missing. For example, Sanchez got called out for sticking too closely to his Latin roots. Yet, Besh sticks closely to his roots, but he’s not called out about it. Or, perhaps he was, but it’s left on the cutting room floor. Or, perhaps his food is just so good it overrides his sticking to his roots.

    Symon is the one that has captured my attention the most. I like his maturity (such as offering advice to Sanchez about needing to pay attention and follow the rules). And I like his style while cooking. I’d love to taste his food. It’s awesome to be able to watch these guys in action.

    Oh, Michel, thanks for recommending “Elements of Taste” and thanks, also, to the person who recommended “Culinary Artistry.” They’re providing some understanding about how flavors work together. I look at recipes in a new way, thinking about what each ingredient is bringing to the dish, and I’m venturing out a bit on my own. For example–I wanted something with a fresh, clean taste, so I made pasta topped with roasted grape tomatoes (olive oil, garlic, salt pepper), bacon (sweet tomatoes, salty bacon–that works!), black olives (’cause I had ’em), shaved Gruyere (’cause I had it), and a just a touch of vinaigrette. Quite tasty.

    Oh, how much there is to learn…..but, oh, how rewarding the journey is. If only I could learn faster! Arghhh!

  • Tags

    Will Knowlton kill the bug that crawled up his ass?

    -That’s what elimination is for!

    Will Ruhlman fix his hair?

    -Is that spayed or neutered?

    Will the judges spontaneously break into Yvonne Elliman’s “I Don’t Know How To Love Him”?

    -This question scares me more than all the others combined. Up until now, they’ve been singing “I Don’t Know How To Eliminate Him.” Now that it’s a gentleman’s club, all they have to do is pull the triggers for both barrels.

  • John Besh's forehead

    I hope the judges like salt because they’ll be getting plenty of it in their food from me.

  • sheila mullins

    Can’t wait for tonight, but it’ll probably be Sanchez and Kayson. I hope. Sanchez annoyed me last week with his bitching about the timing. He should have paid attention and KNOWN (if he ever watched ICA) that it had to be done within the time limits!

  • bob

    The question on everyones mind? Ruhlman, did you have to google this one, or do you celebrate Yvonne’s entire catalog?

  • Len

    “Will the judges spontaneously break into Yvonne Elliman’s “I Don’t Know How To Love Him”?!”

    What? No numbers from “Alton and the Amazing Technicolor Secret Ingredient”?

  • keith

    Actually, Sanchez’s griping on the one bite challenge might have come out of his experience on ICA, where you only need have one of each plate down, and then plate the rest right after. Alton’s instruction may not have been clear enough that all six plates be down at time. But just looking around, he could have seen everyone plating six.

  • everyone

    you are a joke. your show is a rip off. you are a poor imitation of a former junkie.

  • artnlit

    Uh, if that last post was for Tony, there’s a site elsewhere for him. Puleze!

  • artnlit

    Damn, this is going to be either a really fun evening or very confusing. There are other shows on at 9 that I also want to watch – Steelers kicking Denver’s butt of course, some neo-nazi history thingy, more addictive drivel on Vh1 and of course, TNIC. Oooh, the anticipation! I really do want to see who are the next to go, even if it means sitting through Breck Boy’s comments (Knowton) and the ever present breastages. Now we need more Ruhlman than ever! I await…

  • French Laundry at Home

    Perhaps Yvonne Elliman was the one entering the dish names in the Chyron. If she was, please let her know that “skewers” is spelled with a “k” not a “c.” Unless Sanchez was being creative and calling them “Garlic Scape Scewers” to be all Sandra Lee on us.

  • yaslind

    Michael Symon gets my vote for that “no guts no glory” comment after Cosentino was deprived of his beloved offal.

  • CMHFoodie

    Wow, what sadistic mind came up with this challenge. Defintiely a challenge.

    Sad to see Morou go, the artistry of his plating was gorgeous, and plating is supposedly 1/4 of the score in every ICA competition.

    And what the world has Knowlton got against Sanchez, you’d think he was trying to find him guilty of a crime. I’m not fond of Sanchez, but it seemed like Knowlton was out to “get” Sanchez.

    And kudos to Symon. Cooking polenta on a grill, truly unexpected and resourceful use of the ingredients available.

  • Laura Edgerton

    As to Chef Kaysen food not being seasoned, I can actually not say whether it “tasted” seasoned or not because I obviously did not get to taste. However, America has a love affair with salt that is not healthy. The federal guidelines for salt is only 1500 mg a day which is LESS than a teaspoon a day. So perhaps the judges need to also think about whether a dish is healthy or not.

  • MCA

    Knowlton (sp?) laid on too strong on Sanchez, it looked almost personal!! I couldn’t believe it… after the comment about Sanchez’s Latin style, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but still…

  • FoodPuta

    I’m actually sorry to see any of these Chefs leave. They should have left the scoring secret until the end.

    Judge everyone at the end with total scores.

  • Ingrid

    Knowlton did seem fed up with Sanchez, but I think he laid on him too thick. It looked almost personal, like he was really out to get Sanchez… After his inane comment about Sanchez’s latin style, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but stil…

  • Darclyte

    Way to hold Symon’s feet to the fire there Mikey. Wow. When are we going to see how you are especially hard on him as you had claimed? Also, I hope Sanchez was joking about the “brown people” comment. That seemed to happen in The Next Food Network Star this season (the “brown people” were eliminated early.) I’m not surprised Kaysen was eliminated, but I think it should have been Sanchez over Morou. It souded like Mourou’s food tasted better, it was just plated annoyingly. Sanchez, though, has seemed to have issues with completing tasks and consistency.

  • ROY BROSIUS

    eleminated the wrong one, this time . including one fan, me. morou was clearly the better of tonights mob. goodbye.

  • evelyn

    What’s the point? Besh is the chosen winner anyway. That was obvious from the beginning-right or wrong.

  • CMHFoodie

    “What’s the point? Besh is the chosen winner anyway. That was obvious from the beginning-right or wrong.”

    I dunno, he seems to be less inspired as this series evolves, like he’s on cruise control. Symon and Cosentino I think show more creativity and more ability to go “out on a limb” than Besh has over the past two weeks. He is a great chef, but he’s showing he’s also a “safe” chef, and with Iron Chef, being “safe” doesn’t always work if you get an ingredient that is outside your background.

    Viewers already gripe about Flay having a set of maybe 10 dishes that he works whatever the ingredient is into, would a Louisiana version of Flay be the best for an Iron Chef?

  • lara

    I can’t believe you tossed Morou over *plating* when his food was superior. It’s moronic. asinine. Shortsighted!
    What, did you cut your hair and it ruined your intelligence?
    We were boo’ing all of you judges this evening.
    Consistent, delicious dishes is far more important than how it looks on a plate.

  • JustaFloridaBoy

    The decision to get rid of Morou was not democratic by any means (secret ballot); he was clearly the better chef. The judges’ only grip was that he plates his dishes in individual portions and not as a collage, like the other chefs. How about asking the other contestants to come out of their comfort zone and plate individually? Apparently, the network wants to keep less competitive competition around to ensure a Besh/Sanchez finally, with Sanchez getting the win. I couldn’t believe some of the chefs got kudos for making polenta (grits), grilling (chicken) quail, and frying rabbit (like chicken). I must say, those were some very innovative dishes (sarcasm), however I expect much more from a potential Iron Chef, but then again, Cat Cora is an Iron Chef, so the barrier of entry must be awfully low.

    On another note, I don’t believe Sanchez made the brown comment as a joke. I am sure he expects, just as I do, for it to happen. If you look at the FN track record you will see that it is a recurring theme; the same goes for Top Chef; the black/brown chefs always make an early exit. So, allow me to close by saying this: One brown down and one to go. Though, I may not get a chance to witness it because I am blocking this channel off my TV.

    Alton: you disappointed me.

  • Annie

    Mike, did Knowlton get you after school, I mean the judging? You two were getting very testosterone-ish. Knowlton really needs a hair change; when i was a kid, little girls from large families had to wear their hair that way because everyone was too busy to help them fix it. This cannot possibly be Knowlton’s problem, so what do you think it is?

    My review of the ep, the hair and the human dynamics is available at http://www.annienewman.typepad.com.

  • derek

    So, recipes for this show clearly aren’t available on the Food Network website…or am I not looking in the right place? Anyway, if not, I would like to jack Besh’s chocolate catfish stuff from the first episode. Are there any important steps to doing catfish with chocolate? Thanks.

    Also, if you are cooking yourself, it is pretty difficult to oversalt. Excess salt intake is going to come from snack foods and frozen foods, and probably cheese and deli meats. You have pretty free reign to salt things as needed without problem.

  • bob

    The difference between a good chef and a great chef…proper seasoning.
    Morou deserves honors for sticking by his style.
    These ingredients were a perfect equalizer, seemed like a visit to the northwest.
    I guess I missed the brilliance in making polenta, but it looked executed perfectly.
    no guts comment apropo………

  • Juliette

    Sad to see Morou go as his style of cooking is refreshing and it would have been great to see more of it. Also, too bad about Kaysem. If his seasoning is good enough for Daniel Boulud, I suspect it may be more a matter of philosophy than a lack of skill or knowledge.

    Symon’s “homestyle” plating looked like a hot mess to me, but he has the “Flay Salesmanship” down pat–including serving the drinks.

    And Besh has Mario’s cocky joie de vivre down. He and Symon, the two most extroverted though not necessarily the most outstanding or innovative, are clearly the two to beat.

    Personally, I’d enjoy it more if there was more diversity. No coincidence, imo, that the ones left have the least distinctive styles of cooking (except for Sanchez who will soon be gone).

    Knowlton actually seems kinder than I expected. As for the camera work and editing–it could easily be MUCH more flattering to the judges (and chefs) than the current quick-cuts and bad-angled close-ups.

    I do like Alton’s comments at the end though–especially that he includes the great things about the food–and that there are no gratuitously insulting sound bites (out of deference to the skill level of all involved, I suppose. It works).

  • Victoria

    Morou pretty much said it himself… he was doing what he wanted to be doing, and not doing the things that get an Iron Chef a win in the end.

    You have to be adaptable. From the competition panel, you have to take what they are telling you in to account and execute it in your next dish…. it’s not criticism on your personal style, it’s advice to make you get to an Iron Chef level. And an “Iron Chef level” is more than just the perfect execution of your own personal style…. it is doing what the contest demands. And sometimes that will work greatly with your style, and sometimes it won’t, and you need to proove you can still pull it out when it’s not with your own personal style.

  • Russ

    I just want to know who chooses their plating dishes…and what factor the order of service plays in judging…vis a vis proper temp. etc. ???

  • Russ

    Just an additional thought….after all the “Chairman”s” advice about being a contest and the contestants being too friendly… it would have been interesting if the coolers of supposedly booby trapped ingredients had been turned back to their choosers rather than being used by the intended chef.

  • janet

    Before the episode started, I predicted that Morou and either Kaysen or Sanchez would be eliminated. (I predicted correctly last week too.) I think Cosentino is next, unless Knowlton’s obvious personal dislike of Sanchez becomes impossible to resist.

    Though, having said that, I keep trying to remind myself that what we are seeing is what the series editors decide to show us, picking and choosing 48 minutes (or whatever it is) from hours of tape. Who among us doesn’t act like a jerk from time to time, especially under pressure? Do the editors show that moment? Depends on the story they want to tell. This is the big open secret about “reality” shows, right?

    I did like the “no guts no glory” remark, and would be especially impressed if it were truly off the cuff (Did he think of that while he was gathering the ingredients and save it up? That would be impressive in a different way.).

    As for Sanchez’ remark about going after the brown people next, it’s a question that has to come up, whether we like it or not. As I said in a comment below, there doesn’t have to be a deliberate campaign for there to be bias. In fact, people usually think they are being fair and impartial, even if patterns of bias can be shown. This is particularly true with extremely subjective judgments, e.g. when people give the same wine higher marks if they’re told it’s expensive than if they’re told it’s cheap. This is why the only really fair way to judge is blind!

    And finally, I want to echo derek (I think) above about salt. The culprit for the overdose of sodium in the American diet is mainly processed foods and some preserved foods such as ham and pickles, not salt put directly on the food during cooking.

  • weekend chef

    Clearly at this point all the surviving chefs have demonstrated a tremendous skill set for the challenges that have come to pass. If I was NIC producer, at this point I am thinking; who do I (they) want to watch, who has the showmanship that will compel folks to tune into the show?

    In my mind it is Cosentino or Symon and may the Bay Area Culinary gods strike me down, but I am thinking it is Symon.

  • sorchar

    Y’all, I dunno if Symon will win. I mean, wouldn’t that mean Cleveland would lose him to the Food Network? I can’t see Michael being that unselfish. 😉

  • Todd

    I like the assumption stated by at least two of the judges (gg editing) that the protein item was supposed to be carried between the two dishes. How narrow a view that with a whole chest of ingredients that were supposedly ‘secret’ that the one unifying ingredient had to be the protein item. Personally, I find the more interesting battles on ICA to be the ones where they are forced to work around the proteins and present them but not make them shine (such as battle garlic, etc).

    Or did I miss instructions about the protein being the common ingredient?

    After being faced with challenges where there weren’t requirements (nor any way possible) for dishes to have the same main ingredient, if not explicitly stated, why now, during this challenge, would it suddenly become “hey, we’re going to hold this against them because this is Iron Chef!”? Seemed to me they had an entire box of secret ingredients, not just one.

    This show frustrates me. It could be so good, but… it just misses its mark for me.

    Knowlton needs to go, though. First to a barber then to that big meat grinder in “The Wall”.

  • JMW

    Excellent show, thoroughly intelligent and enjoyable.

    I don’t think there was bias — I predicted Morou’s ouster when I saw his plate. The creativity wasn’t there.

    Some comments above suggest Morou was tossed despite having better food. I gathered from the episode that Ruhlman and Arpaia basically considered both worthy and made the decision based on plating holding all else equal. Thus overruling Knowlton who disagreed on the food itself.

  • James

    It appeared the issue with Morou wasn’t preparing “dishes” so much as he was cooking individual ingredients. It’s a true shame, since Morou is in many ways the most likable chef, but to state the obvious, all but one will lose, and get booted.

    The judges all seem to really know their stuff, and while I expect their comments are edited down so the viewers get an accurate gist of the discussion, I would like to watch/hear more of their critiques — possibly via online video? Highlighting snippy-ness between the judges, however, clouds the issues at hand more than clarifying things for the viewers.

    I think where shows like this lose viewers is when the judgments aren’t CLEARLY justified to the viewers and thus don’t make sense (as was rampant in Next Food Network Star, where “drama” seemed to be the only goal, but a sour confusion was too often the result). When that happens it becomes episodic (in the Aristotelean dramatic sense, not the network TV sense), rather than a meaningful “story” unwinding before us — which is what we, the viewers, ultimately want.

    In terms of explanation, I think Alton is doing excellent work in a difficult job summing up, while giving judgments, sharing not only the main point but key shades of meaning as well. (His performance may not be as good as the Mississippi road show, but that show flat brilliant, so that isn’t a slight in anyway.) However, a minor point: while a little wit & humor goes a long way, teasing people who are already in a panic crosses a line.

    It’s like on Tony’s show. Sure it’s fun seeing him wallow in misery from time-to-time, but watching someone else’s pain, in itself, eventually gets tired. As in life, suffering gains the greatest impact when it leads to something sublime, moving, and meaningful — the search for meaning being the ultimate goal here. I think tonight we saw a lot of suffering; not so sure about the “meaning.” Perhaps some more debate among the judges would help?

    Regardless, I can’t wait until the next episode!

  • Doodad

    I rewatched last weeks show when it came on prior to the new one to get juiced up for the 9 oclock hour. When Knowlton was ripping on Sanchez for relying on his Latin repetoire and Alton chimed in, I had a different view than at first. I think they are quietly saying to him, and Alton really stated this, that he can win, but not safely. A latin influence iron chef would be cool, but he needs to show more versatility. That is what I saw in review. They said they knew his latin chops were great, just don’t do it every time.

    Last night’s show was interesting. I had to wonder when the last time any of these guys started a charcoal fire? It can be a chore at times and you certainly don’t get the BTUs these guys are used to on a dome grill. Compound that with screwy combos and it does take some hustle.

  • JoP in Omaha

    Loved the episode. It seemed like a really difficult challenge due to the limited “kitchen” facilities. I trust all the chefs can figure out what to do with ingredients, no matter what they are.

    Like others have said, Symon’s “No guts, no glory.” comment to Cosentino–priceless. I laughed and laughed. And, the editing is portraying Symon as a bit of a mentor to the younger guys. Personality-wise, he remains my favorite.

    I enjoyed your arguments with Knowlton. Nice to see you take him on. I can’t wait to see the ep. again. Words were flying fast and furious, and I missed some of it.

    All in all, a great episode. But, we’re missing a lot due to the limitation of a 60-minute show. FN missed a bet by not making these 90-minutes. Maybe questions about outcomes would be put to rest if we heard more about the food and saw more of the judges’ deliberation. I choose to trust the judges are making the right decisions, even if we viewers are left thinking “huh?” sometimes. That’s a result of the editing and the time contraints of the show.

  • Erika

    I am waiting with baited breath for Ruhlman’s comments on this…

    But I think the right ones went home. While Morou’s dish clearly tasted great, it was seared venison loin…not exactly difficult to do on the grill, and not exactly imaginative or inventive.

    Escargot on a garlic scape though is different and imaginative. I’d love to know what those people who think Chef Sanchez could have done better would have done with their escargot…and a charcoal grill…and not much else.

  • JoP in Omaha

    Michael, I just saw the new comments you added about last night’s ep. Thanks for the insights and your frankness. Knowlton? Bah, humbug. And thanks for the background on food storage and the later presentation for judging. Sounds like Kaysen got screwed. What a shame. Thanks for setting the record straight.

  • rockandroller

    This is interesting background. There must be a lot of dishes that don’t do well being “reheated,” I would think, which would make judging even more difficult. This kind of detail, plus the business about the ice/water like you described, would be great to show the viewer so that we’re more informed as to how things are really working.

  • NUpe

    The judges on this show are awful. Not one real chef in the lot. Morou was kicked off because of his presentation! are you kidding me? Have you guys watched Iron Chef lately? Very rarely does an Iron chef step out his comfort zone on that show. Ruhlman is a kiss ass hack!

  • Russ

    Thanks for the update Michael, it just leads me to comment….after nearly 40 years in the TV business: Producers are not to be trusted..they will do most anything to shape a pre-conceived idea… it’s called “producer fantasia” and Kaysen got bitten by it.

  • Bwana

    Morous should have stayed, and Ruhlman suffered the Rage of Karma for the slight later on last night by a count of 11-2.

  • the pauper

    so why don’t they just change the rules? time limit is to prep and cooking a dish for the cameras. then additional time to cook again for the judges. just seems like a shame to have a logistical error be so costly to a contestant.

  • Sara

    “Very rarely does an Iron chef step out his comfort zone on that show.”

    What about all the times that Batali cooks Vietnamese/Asian? Or Morimoto tries something French? All the Iron Chefs are expected to cook in their own styles, of course, but both they and their challengers often adapt to different, perhaps less familiar regions as the secret ingrediant dictates. Can you do only Italian fare with Daikon Radish? No. So you adapt. Morou’s determination to stick to his own style, his own flavor, and his own presentation despite the fact that the tools he needed to really execute and fully realize that vision weren’t provided for him shows an unwillingness to adapt to unfavorable circumstances that would be nothing but a weakness for an Iron Chef. Sanchez, on the other hand, was given ingrediants that were, frankly, rather hard to work with (all I could envision for a little while were snails falling through the grates of the grill and burning up like little coals) in the setting provided, and seemed to get some really tasty stuff out of it. It wasn’t his ideal style — he had to subsume some of the Latin flavors he usually relies on because he didn’t have access to the proper spices and ingrediants — but he was resourceful enough to make something the judges (or, at least, two or three of them) really enjoyed.

    As for the judge who didn’t like Sanchez’s food (I find him utterly annoying and refuse to learn his name on principal) — he *totally* had it in for him from the start, and he was being a little whiny brat about it, and frankly, I think he was lying. He didn’t remember Sanchez’s salad? Then how does he disklike it so much? Either pick bad or forgettable, but if you remmeber it’s bad then it’s not forgettable, is it?

    I think, more and more, I am rooting for Symon or Cosentino, and more for Symon. I love his laugh. I mean, I really love his laugh. I want to hear that maniacal giggle echoing around kitchen stadium — it would be sweet. And I think he has a certain New American style that is not represented in the Southwestern cuisine of Bobby Flay, but that would be a really great addition to Kitchen Stadium, where Iron Chef American doesn’t really feel represented (We’ve got IC Italian, IC Japanese, IC Southwestern, and IC Mediterranean/Greek/Southern so far…). On the other hand, I would love to see an offal lover like Cosentino step in as an IC and throw off both the judges and the challenger with glands and hearts and lungs. They’re very versitile, could be used with just about any secret ingrediant, and it just makes for awesomely adventursome eating. Plus — imagine Jeffrey Steingarten’s commentary. It’d be.. amazing.

    I have to say, I like, I like. I find myself biting my nails at the end and just praying for the chefs I like to stay. I was satisfied last night — over Morou and his stubborness and wanting to see Sanchez stick around (I’ll say it.. he’s kinda cute!)

  • Harlan

    NUpe, you said “Have you guys watched Iron Chef lately? Very rarely does an Iron chef step out his comfort zone on that show.”

    The funny thing is, The Next Iron Chef is *much* harder for the contestants than Iron Chef America is! It’s common knowledge that the “secret ingredient” in ICA is no such thing, and that the chefs have been tipped off in advance about a short-list of possibilities. They really do get only an hour to prepare their dishes (although they only have to plate one serving of each dish in that hour), but they have time to work out a menu, and practice it, in advance. In NIC, they get no such tips ahead of time.

  • disziplin

    Can anyone give me the exact quote from Kaysen…something about (paraphrase): “You have to think outside the box, into a circle, and then out of it.”

    What the hell does that mean?

    Anyways….in my opinion I can’t imagine anyone other that Chef Symon becoming IC. I just don’t see anyone else capable of producing quality on a regular basis.

  • Hair Watch

    I do agree with Bourdain. The first judges hair is kind of oily. Looks like he is down a quart.Maybe he got too close to a deep fryer or something.

    Shampoo makers might advertise on this show.

  • kenito799

    “the four judges”…I was very surprised to hear this…it has not been clearly stated at all that Alton is a judge on this show. I don’t have a problem with that, but the editing hides that fact, and he was not presented as someone casting a vote.

    I have never heard that skewered, grilled escargot is a classic Latin dish. Sanchez is quite varied in the cuisines he draws from, even if they might all be “Latin”–Peruvian and Oaxacan Mexican are as different from each other as French and Italian. I find Knowlton’s harping very irritating, almost offensive.

  • liz

    This is one of the better contest shows that has been offered by FN. I was sorry to see the women exit first, but I have always thought that the top three should be Symon, Besh, and Cosentino because all three not only have the cooking chops, but they also have a good sense of humor about their cooking. They get that it’s just a TV show and it’s supposed to be fun. Even Flay, as uptight as he can be most of the time, seems to have a pretty good time during judging.

    Sanchez needs to lighten up a bit. I can’t see him winning unless Flay is planning to depart, because having a latin specialist on top of a Southwestern specialist seems a bit much.

    It’s interesting to see that some think that Morou’s food was clearly the best. I think the editing was lousy on the quality of his food – the editors wanted to fake us out on his ouster which was a clear indication that he was gone. Every plate from Morou looked exactly the same. I’m sure the food was tasty, but it all looked the same. It made me think of a small child who doesn’t like foods to touch each other. I can’t see how this is “American style” plating when I haven’t seen that style of plating since the Nouvelle Cuisine trend of the 80s. Sure, my mom plated in little piles of food, but she’s not an Iron Chef and it was chicken, green beans and potatoes.

  • Joe Corey

    I can’t believe his food was soaked and he got the screw job. We didn’t get to watch most of the episode since we were too busy watching Garko show off his road champagne collection.

  • Josh

    I wonder if the food network leaked the winner on the South Beach Food and Wine Website. All 4 current chefs on ICA are showing up, plus 2 contestants for NIC. One of the constestants for NIC has been eliminated already… so I’m assuming the other one is the winner.

  • Claudia

    I think the judges were far too focussed on Mourou’s compartmentalized plating. Aaron Sanchez may, indeed, have had flashes of brilliace, but he had some inconsistencies in his food – mainly, scorching the judges at least twice with his overuse of chipotle – and he has bent either the plating or knives down injunctions at least three times . . . . so Kaysen goes how for a seasoning issue, and Sanchez doesn’t? The only consolation here is Sanchez will probably be going home next week, not Cosentino.

    Full props to Symon for working the cool drink angle to his maximum advantage. I even enjoyed Besh’s ingredient “sabotage” – hey, the Chairman TOLD them to stop playing nice. I hope it’s Besh and Symon down to the wire. You know, the big, beefy Greek with the soulful eyes and maniacal sense of humor (and cackle) is really growing on me – he’s really learning to “game” the competition, he’s fighting fire with fire, thinking outside the box – and being terribly funny in the process. You gotta like the guy.

    Knowlton is a prissy little shit, isn’t he? Just born with his cashmere Mr. Rogers sweater all in bunch, wasn’t he? Ruhlman, you know he’s the type we in NYC be dropkicking down the width of SoHo, don’t you? If he ever ponced his way out of HIS comfort zone?

  • Kali

    Speaking of Symon’s drink….Where did the water for it come from? I thought they had NO water at their stations.

    Sad about Kaysen’s food being submerged and judges not knowing. It’s sad that, over and over, the chefs’ dishes are not being served at their best. I don’t understand why that isn’t a top priority, given that a cooking competition should be all about, you know, THE FOOD.

  • Sara

    I think I finally figured out why I am so enraptured by Chef Symon.

    When I was waitressing last year, I worked with a chef named Chef Tom (at least, that’s the only name ever given to me). Chef Tom always wore black uniforms (or black and white), kinda looked like a pirate, had a maniacal cackle, and I’m almost pretty sure he had no upper teeth (his smile never revealed upper teeth, and after a while I began to suspect that he simply didn’t have any, and that’s why they never showed). In essence, he is Chef Symon if Chef Symon took 10 years off cooking to work construction (I don’t know the full story, I never asked), lost his teeth, and returned to food. Chef Tom is my favorite person ever, and definitly the best chef I’ve ever worked under. I adore him. And now I adore Symon.

    Chef Tom also laughed at me once because I told him I learned to make Hollandaise sauce from The Joy of Cooking. He grabbed all the other chefs and told them, and then they laughed at me too. I don’t know why this is so funny. Not all of us can go take cooking classes, fool.

  • sorchar

    Liz, I was thinking the same thing about Morou’s plating. It’s not the “American” style of plating, it’s the “picky toddler” style of plating. That’s why they make sectioned plates for little kids. Granted, they also make them for picnics, but that’s a situation where you’re liable to have potato salad mixing with Jello if you’re not careful. Did he deserve to be eliminated over the plating? I dunno. But that bit did make me go, “Bwuh?”

  • Suzette

    Every week when this show begins, I find myself asking the same question–WHY are these famous, successful chefs DOING this show? Part of me just can’t believe that they’d set themselves up for humiliation like that, especially coming from someone as obnoxious and useless as Andrew Knowlton. Why, why, why do they do it??

    That aside, I do think AK’s participation this week was just as inane as it was last week. I have been a ‘foodie’ for 25 years, and Bon Appetit has been the worst of the food magazines for over a decade now. I’ve subscribed on and off since the 80’s, and now I just very occasionally buy a copy off the newstand. They endlessly repeat themselves. The few original recipes they offer usually consist of combinations of food that are nauseating to even think about together, much less eat together! I don’t understand why this guy, or anyone from that magazine, is given any credence what-so-evah.

    It’s the hair, right? He’s just there because of his hair, like Sanjaya??

  • Claudia

    Kali, the chefs didn’t have RUNNING water at their outdoor stations (outside the CIA’s lovely Caterina de Medici restaurant, I noticed). But they obviously had a water supply hooked up underneath their prep tables – just enough to mix a blackberry drink, apparently. Hey, Symon was wily enough to use his water for a beverage, and to boldly claim the corn meal for polenta. In a pot of water heated by a GRILL. Beware of Greeks bearing gifts – they might be delicious!

    Oh, and Suzette – Sanjaya. Yes. That would be the only explanation for Knowlton’s petulant little presence.

  • sheila

    That was funny Claudia, exactly what I had been thinking myself. I’d love to see Nancy Boy out here in Queens, we’d piss ourselves laughing at him.
    This was a hideous challange, I was on the edge of the couch muttering no..no..no, Oh God no! The ingredients were just nasty, and I think Besh did good with the flowers and leaves he was given. Also love Symon.
    It was interesting to find out that Kayson DID season his dish, but it got washed away….does that not make his elimination unfair? Sounds like it should have been Sanchez to me. As someone already pointed out, if Bouloud hired Kaysen, that’s good enough for me.

  • Thomas Ptacek

    Michael, regarding Kaysen: you suggest but don’t definitively answer the big question: if his product hadn’t been sabotaged by the crew, do you believe he’d have survived? Would he have remained in the bottom 3? Would Morou and Sanchez have been eliminated?

    As edited, it seemed like all the judges found his salad inedible. Did any of the other chefs deliver a dish that bad?

  • French Laundry at Home

    I’ve actually eaten at Morou’s restaurant, FarrahOlivia, and the way he plated on the show is the way he plates in the restaurant, and it doesn’t make for a more enjoyable meal. In fact, for me It actually detracts from the experience. I’m sure people in Alexandria love it because it’s a town that is trapped in the 80s, so this style of food presentation is probably impressive to them. But, it makes the dishes lack cohesion. When you read his descriptions on the menu, the combinations actually sound good; but when it’s brought to you on a plate with all the elements separate and apart from one another, you have to wonder if he thinks his restaurant’s patrons are picky 7-year olds who don’t want their green beans touching their pork chops. Frankly, it’s insulting and makes eating the dish seem more laborious than it should be.

    I wasn’t sorry to see him or Kaysen go… although, it seems like Kaysen had some technical difficulties he should’ve brought up before the panel.

    Can’t wait until next spring when garlic scapes are back in season so I can skewer things with them — what a great idea.

    And, like Russ said above, I was hoping that they’d return each cooler of ingredients to the chef who chose them, just for added drama. I’m sure Top Chef will rip that off and do it that way, though.

  • sku

    I gave this show a chance, but sorry…it’s an f’ing disaster!

    Could this be any more of a Top Chef rip off? Cooking outside, next week cooking in an airplane. If I was Bravo, I’d have my lawyers all over FTN’s ass.

    And how exactly does cooking outside prepare you for Iron chef?

    Sanchez is right on with his comment about making this a white male only deal. First the women, then two of three people in the death chamber this week are people of color, Sanchez’ food is attacked as too Latin (as opposed to Flay’s– oh that’s okay because he’s cooking outside of his element– what a joke).

    I’m sure people will object…no, it just so happens that all the white guys are better chefs. Certainly a network with as diverse a cast as TFN wouldn’t have any bias…I mean look at all the Latino and African-American stars they have on their shows.

  • kina

    The judging is looking like two pissy little girls (not Donatella!) who get in a snit and then just turn their heads and won’t talk to each other. jeez- that’s some bad editing or sad judging. Even with the vapid Padma on TC, Collichio can pull together what seems like an interesting judging session with real comments on the food.
    Speaking of TC, this show is turning into a total ripoff of TC which I love more. The only reason I still watch here, is that the chefs are actually really good.

  • Dianne

    The editing of the judges’ comments certainly does no favors to the judges. I’ve already decided not to buy the supremely prissy Knowlton’s book, which I had been planning on. And Michael, you’re a cutie, but can they show you not pursing your lips in disapproval, just once? You both look like little boys slapping the hands of master chefs.

  • gweb

    re “And, btw, Adam, the dude really is THE Chairman–I’ve MET the guy. Seriously]”

    I saw “The Chairman” playing a villain in a B-movie a few months ago. So I guess he has a day job too. Can’t remember the name of the movie…

  • gweb

    somehow my post about the chairman being an actor was posted under “Dianne”

    weird

  • doodad

    Claudia, that was funny. I was not gonna pile on, but can’t resist. I know the Knowlton type. I went to private high school in the northeast. He is the trust fund kid of the old money family who plans his appearance as risque and shocking for the landed genry at the club. And cool for the girls at the pool when he makes the turn to the 10th.

    Anyway, haven’t we done planes? I am so not looking forward to this if it goes where I think it will. And I am really tired of the FN “got it’s boot on my back” stuff on these boards. Petition BET for a cooking show for those of you who find offense. Super Fry! in HD.

  • janet

    That’s interesting about Kaysen’s dish being ruined by factors beyond his control. Unfortunately, it’s obvious why he didn’t tell the judges about it — there was no way to do it gracefully until after the judging was over. No matter how truthful he was being, he would have looked as though he was making excuses and blaming other people for his own mistake. He would have looked like a grade-grubber. The one thing I find odd is that Alton Brown (who seems to know all the behind-the-scenes stuff) didn’t know about this and tell the judges.

  • Claudia

    The “Chairman” is an actor, Mark Decascos, who is also a martial arts expert, and who did do a lot of B movies before this current gig. He is in no way related to the original Chairman Kaga – again, an actor . . . . both men are to Chairmans/wealthy eccentric barons what Rachael Ray is to a 4-Mich chef.

    Oh, shit, Knowlton’s pissiness has obviously rubbed off on me. Meow.

  • Gregg

    My thoughts on Kaysen’s salt issues. He should have spoken up. It would have shown that he was in fact resouceful (using the resource of information) which was the point of the exercise.

    Mark Decascos is an actor who happend to be Chairman Kaga’s nephew in real life.

  • el loco pirata

    The water thing? I clearly saw quail eggs being peeled under running water, the drink? the polenta?

    Somehow ICA and it’s derivative NICA, comes off as shady as a lady with a mustache. Like something isn’t quite right. I am sure a certain amount of subterfuge is important for TV drama, but come on.

    If they drained water from their coolers, that would show resourcefulness to me, so show it. Otherwise, as a viewer I feel a little lied to.

    If ICA had a live audience with a cheering section then it would come much closer to the greatness of the Japanese version. It would also seem more authentic. I think the Food Network “stars” could loose a little more often.

    I am still very bitter about loosing the Japanese version, I would cheer. I would weep.

    Knowlton, Little Lord Fauntleroy would get “turned out” in nearly any kitchen I worked in. His fussy girlie looks would make him quite a lot of friends in some places.
    Why should he be so bitter? It seems life has gone a long way to be overly generous to him. His must be a rough job? Do the producers place sharpened sticks on his chair?

    Cheering, for the dude with the dishwasher shirt!

  • Sara

    In re: water — It looked to me like they were utilizing a fountain in the garden. When I saw water being collected, it seemed to come from stone.

  • fluffy

    ok, we’ve had enough fun. you guys are being too hard on Breck. honestly, the guy’s not nearly as bad as you’re making him out to be. why don’t you go back to busting on Alton?

  • Virginia

    Could you PLEASE tell the high Execs over at Food Network that ignoring African-American cuisine is not a very “progressive” way to go. There is not ONE show featuring an African-American or African like Morou – representing a entire culture of people. Look around you we do exist. Although, this is NOT directed at you, I would love to know where I can communicate this information to the High executives at Food network. EVERYONE KNOWS that the food network favorite to win The next Iron Chef is John Besh. And that Morou being black stood NO CHANCE. It’s obvious, please talk to someone or forward my email to any of the executives at the food network MAYBE, just maybe they will hire a Black Chef…I know they exist, look at Morou, you guys went as far as taking him out of the competition because he did not mix his food on the plate, although it tasted GREAT! come on you’re not fooling me!

  • gweb

    AK can’t really be the tool/douchebag that he is made to appear. Anybody actually know him?

  • gweb

    AK can’t really be the tool/douchebag that he is made to appear. Anybody actually know him?

  • ruhlman

    seriously, i got to know andrew, and we spent a lot of time together on the road–he was always a pleasure to hang out with, knowledgable and fun. i’m kind of surprised by the negative response here. TV’s a funny beast.

  • janet

    To the folks who are worried about the Chairman, I just want to let you know that S. Morgenstern was made up, and the “good parts” version of The Princess Bride is the only one. Sorry if that bursts your bubble.

  • chefwannab

    I do also have to agree that NIC is shaping up to be a rip off of Top Chef more and more (not that this is your fault, Michael.) I don’t know how closely the two shows were filmed together but I believe Top Chef was filmed in mostly April and May, so if NIC was filmed closely behind and before its airing, then there could be some coincidences in the similarities. But the coming airplane challenge right on the heels of the outdoor cooking/coal barbecue challenge really made me do a double take – it’s one thing that the overall structure is similar, but to repeat two challenges from the most recent season?

    I’m not even sure why they need these little tricky twists thrown in that in no way resemble any of the real-life conditions in Kitchen Stadium. I would be happy just watching the chefs duke it out over one secret ingredient after another, without the added worry of having to start a charcoal fire, working with weird MG equipment they’ve never used before, or sabotage from another contestant. It seems like in this way we would get to see more of their true styles and what they would really be like on the ICA show. I can understand (somewhat) why they do it this way on Bravo, but these little twists in NIC seem beyond the point of the overall competition and in some ways an insult to the top tier talent of the contestants.

    I’m still enjoying it and will still tune in, and hope that either Besh or Symon wins because I think they’re the two I would most enjoy seeing battle it out on ICA!

  • ruhlman

    chef wannabe,

    as i said in the scoundrel bourdains post above:
    a word about this plane business. i was mortified when i saw a similar top chef challenge, as we’d already filmed our segment. then i realized how stupid i was for not anticipating it. producers, fretting how they’re going to pay for all this travel for many contestants, producers, crew, etc., think, “Hey, I know, we’ll turn the plane into the stage, let’s do a challenge on a plane and get THEM to fund the airfare for the free adverts! win win, right? brilliant!” well, brilliant by both production companies. maybe you’ll learn something about why airplane food is crummy. maybe not, but at least it’s in the land of weisswurst and schweinsaxen!

    moreover this grill challenge was actually supposed to have taken place in the woods but technical problems prevented it, so it just like top chef–i agree, i don’t like it but i dont think anyone was ripping TC off.

  • tokyoastrogirl

    Knowlton has “handlers?” What on earth does a magazine editor need an entourage for? Seriously makes me dislike the not-as-good-looking-David-Myers-doppelganger. I thought he was too anti-Sanchez as well….maybe he thinks Sanchez will be more popular with the ladies;).

    Besh and Symon are a pleasure to watch and would be a welcomed addition to Iron Chef America. I hope one of them wins.

  • Claudia

    Gregg, imdb is not the Wall Street Journal. Aside from Wikipedia, a read through of various other sources (including dacascos’ own website) will confirm he isn’t related to Kaga.

    Strangely enough, while “S. Morgenstern” is likewise fictionally created, we actually have a lawyer where I work named S. Morgenstern. I’ll have to let him know he’s a figment of someone’s imagination (!)

    Michael, the fact that Knowlton arrived with a posse of handlers, however much fun you say he was, should tell you something. What did you arrive with? Just your Samsonite wheelie, right? Don’t tell me you came in from the airport with all of your “people” (!!!)

  • doodad

    Michael,

    What is with the nome de usernames? Is fluffy and ruhlman you or are you just the michael ruhlman poster? I noticed some grammer and punctuation differences. Let me guess: one is the home computer, one the laptop and one the crackberry.

    Maybe you do need “people.”

  • bob

    Are the competitors sequestered in dorm rooms, or could they have been found at the local CIA haunts after hours? I guess it would make more sense for them to stay in the city. I can’t help thinking there would be some pretty good stories….Fluffy???