Nicep6new_iron_chef
On book tour and a bit squishy here in Seattle so will try to be concise.  As Andrew Knowlton comments on his post, we all tasted the food. I pretty much agree with his assessment.  Donatella I’m sure would too.  Where I differed with my fellow judges was the degree by which Besh bettered Symon.  I would say Besh edged Symon whereas Donatella and Andrew felt he beat Symon by a wide margin.

We were taking into account the entire course of the competition with our decision.  We offered our overview of the competition to the iron chefs  Had you been able to see the entire discussion, you’d have heard, after our overview, Alton’s asking me if I had decided.  I told him no, because I hadn’t.  It was too close.  I wanted to hear what the judges said.  Had they overwhelmingly praised Besh and said his dishes were definitively better than Symon’s, I was prepared to give my vote to Besh.  What’s fair is fair.  I certainly couldn’t simply give it to Symon because he’s from Cleveland—I know it’s only a TV show, but I just couldn’t do it.  Again, I was prepared to vote for Besh if the iron chefs persuaded me that Besh far outshined Symon (as Donatella and Andrew believed, and frankly, as I thought they might, given that they seemed to clearly favor Besh in their comments on the food as we heard them during the tasting).  But they did not.  And so I voted for Symon.

While I think that my being from Cleveland and knowing Symon well was, if anything, a detriment during the competition, can I say that it was a detriment here?  No, clearly it was not.  In an even contest—and I can’t imagine two chefs who are more evenly matched in technical skill and culinary imagination—if they had been even in every single respect, I’d then have given my vote to Symon.  I would have no other choice.  As it happened, I chose the person I thought would make the best iron chef given what I saw and tasted throughout the entire competition.

What was interesting to me was how pissed Donatella was.  Andrew was as well, but he didn’t seem to take it personally.  Donatella accused me off camera of knowing Besh beat Symon and casting my vote for Symon anyway.  I think she’s a woman who’s used to getting her way.  That’s just a guess.  She furthermore accused me of being the swing vote, which I wasn’t (had it been 3-3, nto 4-2, it would have gone to the Chairman/FN execs to make the call).  Then she had it out with Flay and Cora, both of whom defended their vote.

So there it is.  Know what you should do now?  Next time you’re in Cleveland or Louisiana you need to go to their restaurants and taste the real work of these excellent chef-restaurateurs.

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262 Wonderful responses to “Next Iron Chef: Final Comment”

  • search_for_the_holy_gruel

    Personally, I’m happy w/the outcome. And I, too, felt Chefs Besh and Symon were even in their skills and imagination. But, ultimately, it’s still just a TV show. Doesn’t necessarily mean one is better than the other.

  • Shelley

    Wow, thanks for the scoop, Ruhlman. Surprised they didn’t show Donatella nagging, but there you go! It’s on the cutting room floor, for whatever reasons we can all guess.

  • LauraTheRed

    I find that appalling. I think you were just as fair as anyone could be in that competition. It’s not like Symon’s married to you or something. You’re from the same city, and you happen to know each other. I don’t thank this tainted your judging at all (and myself judging from the food at Lola’s, I do believe the best man won).

    Let Donatella and that snippy assface Knowlton have their opinion. They’re just control freaks who wanted to have more power than they did in steering the competition to their tastes.

    Michael Symon totally earns the title of Iron Chef.

  • kevin

    Michael,
    I hadn’ seen any of the episodes until last night when I watched the last three. Apparently I didn’t miss anything, the shows were just silly. I can see that participating in the competition might be fun, and even judging it would be, but watching it was a bore.

  • jsmeeker

    Thanks for this feedback, Michael.

    I was just in Celevland the other week. And I went to Lola. Fantastic. I think Michael will be a great addition to the Iron Chef America show. But I will say that I am really impressed by Besh. If I ever make it to the Big Easy, I will have even more places to seek out a great meal.

  • Ava

    I actually thought this episode revealed a nicer side to Andrew. I don’t understand why he’s called names like “assface” when(I think) he was probably the hottest guy in that building. So what that he has an opinion. He is a judge.

  • Shelley

    Duh, I just read that all over again. No cutting room floor, because D’s comments were all off-camera. Still, it woulda been nice to see more of the judging AND cooking.

    Was there a “wrap” party? Catered by… oh, never mind.

  • Ed

    Does anyone else find it odd that the few Knowlton supporters are women who think he is “hot?” What the hell does that have to do with anything? I have to admit, Kat Cora is far more attractive to me than the guys, but she is clearly the weakest.

  • Beatrice

    It seems kind of bizarre that all three of the season-long judges (you, Donatella, and Knowlton) thought that Besh, at least to some degree, won the evening’s battle, but (as I understand it…) all three of the Iron Chefs thought that Symon did. Do you have any explanation/thoughts on why the split fell that way?

  • Amye from

    Personally now that I know Donatella behaved like a clique-ish high-school girl who got left off the cheer-leading team, I think I might think twice before watching any future IC’s with her in it.

    Taken overall then, yes Symon beat Besh hands down. He did win four of the challenges.

    If there were a tie, I think the FN exec’s would’ve gone with Symon, only because of the chef’s demeanor during the last challenge. MS was relaxed, chatting. JB was tense and quiet. It IS a tv show and personality matters.

    And that laugh is to-die-for….

  • The Dude

    Great Show – Great Competition! Thanks for the insight, Michael. Your critique throughout the series was spot on and the only one of the 3 judges that was worth listening to.

    I might be wrong, but I don’t believe Andrew or Donatella have ever actually worked in a kitchen. Kinda funny that the four judges last night who have actually cooked in a kitchen, all picked Symon. Truly A Chef’s Chef!

    BTW… Just saw a charity auction on E-Bay for a private cooking class with Symon… packing my bags for Cleveland!

  • FoodPuta

    Michael, did you personally know any of the other contestants? I ask the same question about Donatella and Knowlton? I would imagine that at some degree everyone knew a lot of the players. I just don’t see how this can be construed as you playing favorites just by acquaintance with one of the contestants.

    I thought Symon won, and I don’t know him or Besh.

  • rockandroller

    Thanks for the insight and comments, that it was this close is really interesting, and telling in that they are both very, very talented.

  • Karen

    I would have preferred Besh. I thought he was consistently good throughout the competition. Additionally, he’s more likely to prepare food I would like to eat…but that wasn’t what the competition was about. Frankly, I would be incapable of eating some of the stuff that gets put before the judges.

    I do think that Symon has more of “ze wow factor”, as Chef Schmidt called it. He seems more likely to push the envelope than Besh. So it wouldn’t surprise me if Symon was pre-ordained as the Next Iron Chef by F.N. execs. He’s flashy and fun (his “who’s your daddy” comment as he was muscling the swordfish back to his station was a hoot!). Besh is certainly more sedate.

    I lived in Cleveland for many years (pre-Symon) and it’s a great place, both in terms of food and living. Is Johnny’s on Fulton still around?

    I’ll continue watching, it’s good fun. I can’t wait to see Paula Dean and Cat Cora throwing back Ouzo shots during their upcoming tag team battle.

    “Ooopa, Kitty Cat! Fill ‘er up again for me, then we’ll really be cookin'”

  • Jennie/Tikka

    What I hear in all this is a search for some kind of “definitive proof” that qualifies someone as a “better cook” than someone else. There is no such proof – its all based on personal opinion. There are very few facts that qualify someone’s food as “better” than another’s.

    Shows like this are trying to make cooking a sport – like football of hockey. While its obvious when somebody scores in sports, its not so obvious how you score in cooking. The whole idea of cooking as “sport” is where the wheels come off the wagon, imo. All I hear in shows like this is “Yeah-huh,” “Nuh-uh,” “Yeah-huh,” “Nuh-uh” and there’s no way to clear it up.

    Can’t find the answer because there is no answer.

  • Aspasia

    I see Chef Besh as class, and Mr. Symon as brass.

    I disagree with the outcome (revenge of Bobby Flay, who was beaten by Chef Besh?) but in reality, the title IC means little except to the producers of the show.

    ICA is repetitive and boring once one has seen it a few times, so it’s off my radar for now.

  • Aspasia

    I see Chef Besh as class, and Mr. Symon as brass.

    I disagree with the outcome (revenge of Bobby Flay, who was beaten by Chef Besh?) but in reality, the title IC means little except to the producers of the show.

    ICA is repetitive and boring once one has seen it a few times, so it’s off my radar for now.

  • Claudia

    Knowlton has supporters, Ed? (!)

    Michael, quite clearly, the ICs themselves favored Symon, and you really do not have to defend your vote. As I’ve said repeatedly, I think you knowing Symon was a DISadvantage to Symon, since you know his food and knew he borrowed the bacon ice cream dessert from his pastry chef, and you know better than anyone what Symon is capable of – what might have been a great dish for Donatella and Knowlton might only have been good to you, since you know Symon’s repetoire. Plus, the simple fact is that Symon won more challenges than anyone. It’s true that Besh is highly skilled and technically terrific and it’s also true that while his “greats” weren’t as “great” as Symon’s, his failures weren’t as profound as Symon’s either – he was more consistent. But Symon still WON more challenges. He still proved he could think outside of the box more than anyone (very Morimoto-like), cope with more obstructions, problems, challenges and weirdness, and do it all while making people want to watch him.

    So, even though Besh was just as deserving, Symon certainly deserves to be the next IC. And, yeah, there were THREE judges on the panel, not just you. And, yeah, all of them know Symon, not just you. And, yeah, you could make a case that Besh has been on FN as much (if not more) than Symon and has won a fair amount of FN challenges – which, you’d think – would’ve made HIM the FN darling. But no. Three chefs, independently of you three judges, tasted Symon’s food for the first time and called him the winner. (And even Cat Cora did not show complete love to her fellow Greek, Symon, over his Greek dish.)

    I’m surprised Donatella and Knowlton took time out of their Burton/Taylor brawling/trysting to get pissy, in tandem, with YOU. I hope Dona has taken Knowlton home by now and introduced him to a good stylist.

    PS: There is nothing wrong, BTW, about giving your vote to the chef who is more camera-ready than another, if that was the last deciding criteria. The Iron Chef has to be a Ready For Prime Time Player, not just a chef. It’s TV. Thee guys have to not only produce, but perform. It’s TV, folks, not a competition for a Michelin star. It’s JUST TV.

  • BKbella

    “I know it’s only a TV show”

    I think there at least 7 chefs that may disagree with that statement.

    As for Donatella’s belief that you voted for Symon while believing that Besh should have won (and your reaction to her comment as well as those that appear on this blog) — my suggestion would be that if you can’t stand that heat, recuse yourself from the kitchen.

    From a consumer standpoint, the show bored me. I would turn in only to watch the final 8 minutes or so just to see who was eliminated. And what were the guidelines for voting in the final competition? You had the Iron Chefs voting based on what they had before them and 3 judges who weren’t exactly voting in a vaccuum. Were you, Andrew and Donatella supposed to take into account what occurred throughout the competition or only what appeared before you?

    I wish all the best to Iron Chef Symon and the other contestants. My questions and criticisms are not aimed at the talented Chef Symon but to the FN execs and producers of the NIC.

  • BKbella

    “I know it’s only a TV show”

    I think there at least 7 chefs that may disagree with that statement.

    As for Donatella’s belief that you voted for Symon while believing that Besh should have won (and your reaction to her comment as well as those that appear on this blog) — my suggestion would be that if you can’t stand that heat, recuse yourself from the kitchen.

    From a consumer standpoint, the show bored me. I would turn in only to watch the final 8 minutes or so just to see who was eliminated. And what were the guidelines for voting in the final competition? You had the Iron Chefs voting based on what they had before them and 3 judges who weren’t exactly voting in a vaccuum. Were you, Andrew and Donatella supposed to take into account what occurred throughout the competition or only what appeared before you?

    I wish all the best to Iron Chef Symon and the other contestants. My questions and criticisms are not aimed at the talented Chef Symon but to the FN execs and producers of the NIC.

  • JoP in Omaha

    Michael, thanks for continuing to blog about NIC despite the blows you took in comments from blog-readers. I thoroughly enjoyed your insights about the week-to-week competitions.

    I’m glad to see the Symon auction back up on eBay, but, sigh, even at the reduced price it’s outta my reach. Ten lucky people will have a great time, I’m sure.

  • liz

    Who peed on Donatella’s post toasties? I mean, really, if all three of the Iron Chefs voted for Symon, and Symon won more previous episodes than Besh, it hardly speaks that the competition is somehow fixed because Symon won. Knowlton’s post episode reviews of the show indicate that he has a sense of humor and realizes that he looks like a bit of an ass in some of the judging. Besh would have been great as well, but Symon was chosen. I’m just thankful that, for once, there was a competition where one of the final two wasn’t someone I loathed!

  • Kali

    Really appreciate the behind-the-scenes insights. Also glad to know Besh had such fervent support from 2 of the 3 NIC judges.

    Was the final voting method planned all along or changed at the end? Because I see Donatella’s point about Michael as the swing judge. Even he says it should have been based on cumulative performance. Andrew and Donatella voted that way–but the ICs didn’t (couldn’t).

    So, ruhlman was on the fence and essentially swung the vote for the group who HADN’T tasted ALL the food.

    Sounds like NIC didn’t have a clear plan in case of a tie, which is odd. I felt bad for Besh. He looked so disappointed. (I feel a little better knowing that Donatella didn’t just let it go!)

    Comfort point: If Ruhlman had recused himself (as, imo, he should have) Symon would still have won, based on the changed voting method.

  • stephanie

    Thanks for the insight, Michael. I was quite pleased with the outcome myself. The more engaging, and humble, for that matter, chef won – and that’s good enough for me!

    (Besides the fact that I think Chef Symon is hawt! :)

  • szg

    I have to admit I am a little surprised by the judges responses to the decision last night. Maybe it was the editing, but it was pretty obvious to me that Symon had won before they announced him. Through the on-air comments, I counted at least 4 (and I thought 5) votes for him.

    What really matters is to did you get to hang with Morimoto? I got to watch him prepare Omakase for a “special” customer at his Phila restaurant about a year ago. I was just happy to be sitting nearby watching him. Good stuff.

  • Lester Hunt

    I really don’t think that Ruhlman should have recused himself. That he knows one of the contenders was known by the FN people from the beginning. Heck, it was even known by me! They would have rightly been very upset with him if he had stepped down.

  • BKbella

    I agree that Symon probably would have won anyway, but my issue here is the “air of impropriety.”

    The show itself seemed to be thrown together without much thought. The judging and competition in no way reflected how the actual “game” is played. The final judging was questionable, and perhaps FN recognized that issue. Maybe there is a reason the tally was never aired on the FN. Also, why not vote for originality, taste and plating?

    While Ruhlman’s vote wasn’t a “swing vote” per se (which I believe entails a tie that is broken by the final vote — think Supreme Ct Justice O’Connor), I do understand why Donatella felt that way.

    The votint seems to be a sore point for all three judges — an indication that perhaps this type of reality show format shoulnd’t be repeated until FN works out the kinks.

  • Kali

    Just to add, re: bias…

    “I was prepared to vote for Besh if the iron chefs persuaded me that Besh FAR OUTSHINED Symon (as Donatella and Andrew believed)…”

    Actually, only one or two ICs giving Symon “an edge” should have been enough at that point for you to vote for him, based on what you’ve written. To have to be convinced he “far outshines” Symon (when you came in feeling they were even), shows….sorry….

    …bias.

  • SalNichols

    I found this program to be nearly unwatchable, ruined by what had to be the worst editing and production in television history. Eight minutes into the program we found ourselves 15 minutes into the competition. IOW, last night the earth was spinning twice as fast on it’s axis just for the convenience of the producers lack of vision. At some point, I became so aggravated that it didn’t even matter who had won. They compressed the cooking segment to accomodate a virtually useless judging segment. Donatella: Go back to the plunging necklines please. Last but not lease, will someone please dress Kevin Brausch next time? He looked like Michael Moore or Peter Jackson in that tux.

  • dwirth

    As a Clevelander – I was partial to Symon — but I’d love to know WHY the Iron Chefs all voted for Symon and how Cat and Bobby defended their Symon vote to Donatella, per Ruhlman’s comments. Was it because he would make a better Iron Chef (the intangible, the personality, the flair, etc…)?

  • dwirth

    As a Clevelander – I was partial to Symon — but I’d love to know WHY the Iron Chefs all voted for Symon and how Cat and Bobby defended their Symon vote to Donatella, per Ruhlman’s comments. Was it because he would make a better Iron Chef (the intangible, the personality, the flair, etc…)?

  • Mike

    I wished Chef Besh had won for selfish reasons. I’m planning a pilgrimage to Lola. I’d love to meet Chef Symon, even if our fine host says the well trained staff make up for his absence.
    Michael, I served my wife your Lardon Salad yesterday, & was her hero for the day. I also prepared your Chicken Stock for tonight’s Blanquette de Poulet. The Brisket went into the brine this morning, so we’ll have Pastrami later this week.
    Everyone get out to MR’s classes for a great time with an engaging & knowledgeable speaker.

  • MDAccount

    What I want to know is whether Alton had the chance to taste the food and for whom he would have voted.

  • DannyM

    Ruhlman comes through. Thank you for showing us what the editing didn’t/couldn’t. Regardless of how I feel about the result, the thoughtful commentary on has helped a great deal with what the editing left out. So I still call BS, but only on the FN, and now I’ve got a new blog to read too. Ruhlman’s candor and analysis of the show was enjoyable, but now I’m looking forward to all of the other topics on the blog, too.

  • Uncle hulka

    Senor Ruhlman,

    a question: Will this victory, aside from the obvious distractions/taping trips to NYC, affect Symon’s role at Lola? Will he move to LA or NYC or is he staying in the Land of Cleve?

    a comment: to anyone who thinks Ruhlman’s connection with Symon unfairly influenced the outcome I would ask, how many judges were there? The answer is, of course, three.

    Therefore, either Ruhlman has amazing mental powers, capable of penetrating Alpish cleavage and Silky Pony hairdo’s and convincing them to vote for an inferior chef, or – gasp – maybe Symon was simply the best chef in the competition.

  • sailorgrrl07

    Thanks very much Michael for taking time on this book tour to give us your thoughts and backstage info. I swear to be a continuing participant here even now that the show is over.

  • sailorgrrl07

    PPS, I now feel less bad about snarking about The Divine Miss D … 😉

  • Karen

    Laura: Thanks for the link to Johnny’s. I remember the first time I ate there, I was a little hesitant to get out of the car. It was a small, shabby, dimly lit building on the corner of a declining neighborhood. I would have bet it was more the local tavern with guys named Merv and Lou watching a hockey game at the bar than a great restaurant.

    I remember the veal was great there. It was also the first time I had bananas foster .

    As for the judging, c’mon people. It’s opinion. It wasn’t set up to be objective. Personal preference has to enter into it. Not only the taste of the food, but the type of cuisine, the presentation, the personality of the chef (and who will be more entertaining), etc.

    I liked Michael Ruhlman and I liked Andrew Knowlton. I liked Donatella Arpaia. They seemed to create a nice balance. Getting a wee bit snarky: I want to think that Donatella didn’t know that she’d be sitting on a bar stool or else she wouldn’t have worn such a short skirt. Michael should complain about the producers over-use of his wise, old sage nod and raised eyebrow. And Andrew needs a hair cut.

  • D Capers

    Anyone have thoughts about those who say that Michael Ruhlman had a vested financial interest in having Symon win because it would sell more copies of “Soul Of A Chef”?

    More power to him if it does (I thought it was a great book) but I can see how those who take reality TV seriously might be pissed. I don’t, but I am entertained by the “controversy”.

  • dana

    After reading about Donatella’s reaction, I’ve got an even bigger crush on her. She is hot!

    This decision to award Symon is pretty ridiculous when you consider that all the judges thought Besh won this challenge.

    If you’re going to factor in the entire competition, then how can you bring in three new judges when they haven’t been eating all the competitors’ dishes throught all the challenges?

    Out of the three judges who were there throughout the competition, the majority thought that Besh should have become the next iron chef.

  • Lisa

    Thanks for the behind-the-scenes take, Michael. I’m about to take a work break and treat myself to a rewatch, but already I’m realizing how many ways the FN dropped the ball with the finale. Why just 60 minutes? We saw so little cooking. It was an absolute TRAVESTY to hype the finale all day with a countdown clock (not to mention all week, with promo ads), rush it with an hour’s show, and then show a 90-minute IC rerun featuring–gulp–Rachel Ray!

    And why bring in all 6 eliminated chefs and not hear a peep out of them? What a missed opportunity for some great play-by-play color commentary, spiced with a soupcon of regret or bitterness, perhaps! The sideline commentary from the current IC’s was fun–we could have used a little more.

    And where was Mario? God forbid the 3-3 tie Michael talked about had actually happened. NO ONE would be happy with “The Chairman” (actually the FN execs) making the final call, least of all Symon or Besh. Having Mario there would have guaranteed odd numbers and no possibility of a tie.

    I’m also just a tad uneasy about an IC judging someone who once beat him (Flay judging Besh), as Aspasia points out. Just a tad. Don’t know how it would color my objectivity. What is the saying about revenge, as a dish?

    Speaking of which, I hope the FN doesn’t wait too long before giving Besh his chance for a rematch. He looked so sad!

  • tim

    I’ll say it – Andrew is the cutest one in the room but he is an arrogant ass. The final episode is what the entire season should of been. And I really wish they get rid of the actor…uh … chairman. The figure works on Japanese tv but not here. But they have porn stars … err… actresses as judges.

    As for the last show – per its editing its quite clear that Symon beat Besh. And quite frankly – Symon fits the IC model better then Besh does. What makes an Iron Chef an Iron Chef? are they really the best Chefs in America? No. They can cook better than most and put on a good show and Symon does that.

    @salnichols
    “ruined by what had to be the worst editing and production in television history”

    Does the word “perspective” mean anything to you?

  • KevinB

    How is there even a debate that Besh should have won? Is he deserving? Hell yes but Symon crushed him in the final. They were the 2 best, they both deserved to be there and it came down to winner take all.

    How can anyone legimately take Knowlton and Tits McGee’s culinary expertise over Flay/Cora/Morimoto? The folks that actually play the game judged Symon to be the best and it was well deserved.

  • Claudia

    BKbella:

    I think the seven chefs who did not win did take the competition seriously, but do YOU seriously think they’ve gone home crying into their (now not-so-clear) consommes? Strip any one of them of a hard-earned and well-deserved Michelin star and then, I think, they might be devastated, upset, and concerned – but losing TNIC? Aaron Sanchez was just all over the Daily News as one of the city’s sexiest chefs (hey, he agreed to be interviewed for the article) and got a lot of ink about being an IC competitor, and Besh has been all over the media, coast-to-coast; Kaysen is cooking at Boulud, Traci des Jardins is still highly regarded, and the bookings have probably shot up at Josie’s (Jill Davie) AND Momou’s restaurant in DC just on the strength of her sunny personality (and his beautiful plating!) Believe me, there were NO losers in this competition. And any chef who’s more concerned with his future Q rating and how his demographics skew in, say, Valley Stream, Long Island than his food, his restaurant (or even getting a Mich star) deserves to go home.

  • Lisa

    Oops! Besh beat Batali, not Flay, in Battle Andouille Sausage, so Flay’s vote for Symon could not have been revenge for a prior culinary smackdown. My bad!

  • BKbella

    Claudia:

    All I said was that the competitors would likely not agree that it was just a TV show. Symon would likely disagree with Ruhlman’s statement as well.

    Never said anything about how the show did “make or break” anybody. I know as well as you and anybody else that for most, there is no such thing as bad publicity.

    Why try to put words in my mouth? That often seems to be a problem on this blog. Why is it wrong for some to state a preference/opinion on this site, particularly if it goes against what Ruhlman says? Having a diversity of views is not a bad thing.

  • K.Leszke

    “I certainly couldn’t simply give it to Symon because he’s from Cleveland—I know it’s only a TV show, but I just couldn’t do it.”

    Am I the only one who doesn’t believe that this sounds like the words of a judge? ONLY A TV SHOW? Yes – it MAY only be a TV show, but in that case I am left wondering – given your attitude – just why Food Network recruited you to judge their “only a TV show” show in the first place?? Do you even LIKE or WATCH Iron Chef?

    Your final words on The Next Iron Chef sound dismissive and disdainful. If you cared about the outcome of the whole series, you would have tasted the dishes, judged which was the best, and voted true to your heart – NOT waited to see what the rest would do so you could vote with a strategic bias.

    What a shame.

  • frances

    Michael, thank you again for your behind-the-scenes take on TNIC. It added much more perspective to the edited show for me.

    It’s so difficult to tell from the edited show who would make the best Iron Chef, but it seemed to me that Besh and Symon were sufficiently close in quality of dishes and presentation. That was exciting to watch — so much so that we watched it at its airtime in our house rather than waiting to see the DVR version (the advertisers have to love that).

    I’m not sure this hasn’t been mentioned here before, but does anyone remember Symon from the Sissy Biggars show “Ready, Set, Cook”? I think he was a regular on that one, way back when (Sanchez, too?) Anyway, the guy has certainly paid his dues on TFN and he’s entertaining to watch in the kitchen. Congrats, Iron Chef Symon!

  • juliette

    Interesting post about how the increased interest in Symon could increase sales of Ruhlman’s book (since its the only book that provides a Symon biography–and a very laudatory one at that.)

    I’m sorry, but there’s no way that isn’t a SERIOUS conflict of (financial) interest, as well as the personal friendship conflict. I’m glad Donatella let it all out after the finale, because it was a very bad decision. (I hope she also gave the FN execs an earful. What were they thinking?)

    Alton hosting the finale seemed relegated to supermodel status (or less). So wrong….

  • sheila

    Michael, if you felt that Besh was the better man then that’s the way you SHOULD have voted, never mind what the other chefs thought! If you had voted for Besh like you wanted, it would have been a tie and therefore out of your hands. I don’t understand, were you pressured? I think not.
    I myself thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing and thought either of them would make a good Iron Chef.

  • keith

    At the same time, Claudia, the 8 who agreed to take part did so because they presumably did want to be an Iron Chef, and appear semi-regularly on FN. As Batali once said of ICA episodes, “In the long run does it matter? No, but you still want to win.”

  • janet

    Uncle hulka: So, you think it would have been fine to have Michael Ruhlman replaced on the jury by John Besh’s mother (assuming for the sake of argument that she’s qualified to judge such a competition)? After all, she doesn’t have mind-control powers, so she couldn’t have influenced the outcome.

    And no, I’m not accusing anybody of deliberate favoritism or any other skullduggery. Just pointing out what I consider to be a fatal flaw in the “he only has one vote” argument.

  • Joisey

    I thought that Batali’s absence from the judging panel was more intriguing than anything else.

  • md

    Those of us here in Toronto, Canada have known for weeks the outcome of Next Iron Chef. I know it’s been mentioned here before but a revealing – and puzzling – article appeared in the Toronto Star that more than hinted at the outcome. Michael, that must have put you in an awkward position given that you were obligated to keep the secret. How odd for FN executives – either in the US or here at FN Canada – to allow that to happen. Can you comment on this now that it’s finished? I’ve been to Lola and Symon seems to deserve the title, for both his food and TV personality, which is where he really bested Besh.

  • ava

    Andrew does not need a haircut! I think people keep saying that because they are jealous of his hair! He looks hot as he is…no changes needed!

  • 7cats

    Mario’s absence isn’t surprising. FN dropped Molto Mario and he told them he’d no longer do IC.

  • Grubbjunkie

    Michael, I applaud you for stating that it’s only a TV show. I find it perplexing that so many think you should be held to the ethical standards of a judge in a real competition. It’s a show, designed for over-the-top entertainment, and it delivered. My only gripe is that I wanted to see more cooking and less of the judges (no offense). Knowlton is a priss and Donna came across as a vindictive know-it-all.

  • Jeanne

    I started out being a Besh fan but later changed to favor Symon. I’d love to see both of them as Iron Chefs, though.

    I don’t understand the people here questioning why Symon won even if Besh was slightly better in the final show. It’s been said from the start that the winners from all the shows would be taken into account, and Symon won 4, Besh only 1.

    And with all the Knowlton bashing going on – I’m surprised no one has question Donatella’s attitude toward Besh’s loss – and that no one even noticed her lustful looks at John Besh when he was presenting his food. Talk about bias.

  • Frances

    The way I interpret what Michael has stated about his decision is that he felt that for the final round, Besh’s food was only slightly better – he edged Symon out. But he didn’t feel it was by a wide enough margin to overcome Symon’s overall lead throughout the competition. I believe he waited for the IC’s opinions to make sure that he wasn’t being biased toward Symon.

    As for his statement about it being only a TV show, that was meant as a perspective for the importance of the decision – in that there were no lives at stake and nobody was going to jail. Despite that, he took his judging very seriously.

  • Chad Edward

    I didn’t taste any of the food and editing is powerful enough to create any reality an editor likes. (For instance, I thought Donatella seemed very classy on the series. Guess reality is much different…) It was entertaining to watch. It framed the competition in a story, which was something lost in translation from the original “Iron Chef”. As I posted elsewhere, I consider Iron Chef Symon to be the first Iron Chef America, having endured such seemingly irrelevant trials. I can’t wait to watch his first battle next Sunday.

  • Clare K.

    I agree – Symon is the ideal Iron Chef. While Besh is a consistently good chef, I think Symon brings more “wow” factor to the table. He seems to take more chances, and he’s just got that edgier personality (read: better for television). Batali is out, from what I hear…something about how he wouldn’t agree to be on Iron Chef if Food Network didn’t renew his other show (they didn’t).

  • Claudia

    BK:

    I don’t agree with Ruhlman all the time – and I’ve certainly said when I don’t. No one is trying to put words in your mouth. I’m just saying that not only did FN know that Symon and Ruhlman were friends, but so did all the chefs – and NONE of them have griped about any ethics issues in the judging. The only comment any chef made about the judging (after the fact, and as an aside) was Kaysen, who pointed out the cooler leeked water all over his food, affecting the seasoning. So all I’m saying is, if all the chefs were OK with Ruhlman judging (and they have all obviously gone home and gone on with their careers and lives), why should anyone else have an issue? AND that this is, yes, just a TV show. Not Nuremburg.

  • 7cats

    I think NIC was a step up for FN. Aside from MasterChef on BBC America, I can’t remember a cooking show (or reality show period) that didn’t involve contestants constantly bickering, whining, and bursting into tears. It was really nice to see the NIC participants good-natured approach to each challenge. I attribute that to the professionalism of the chefs and judges, not FN. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure NIC would have been a freak show like Next Food Network Star.

  • Robert Schoenfeld

    This whole thing was rigged from the beginning.. Why didn’t they just call it ‘The Next Iron Chef: Symon and the other losers’. This thing was scripted with biased judges and hookie reality show bullshit. I cant believe the Food Network can trash chefs of this caliber and expect any of them to ever want to work with them again.

    Why fire Batali and hire Symon there personalties are almost carbon copy. And what the hell is with Flay the worst of all food network chefs? Chef Besh has more talent in one of his pinkies then Flay has in his entire blue corn meal cooking ass. Oh and Chef Cora’s remarks are priceless, this coming from someone who only cooks things her Momma (Near and dear to her heart) used to cook her when she was kid. Give me a break.

    Just another example of why the food network has gone down in quality. Lets hope they have enough common sense to keep Chef Robert Irvine at all costs. Their last real Chef.

  • janet

    Claudia, I think the other judges couldn’t complain, even if they thought the judging was unfair — the only result of complaining would be to make them look like bad sports. Nobody wants to look like a bad sport, which I think is why Kaysen didn’t say anything about the salt issue when it might have made a difference to the judges.

    Just to be clear (because I, too, have had words put in my mouth by other commenters), I have no reason to believe that there was any deliberate favoritism. I have no reason to believe any of the other contestants thought the judging was unfair (except the “brown people” comment of Sanchez’s, that Ruhlman reported). I don’t have anything personal against Ruhlman, Symon, the Food Network, or representatives of the Breck brand. Side effects of reading this comment may include raised blood pressure, tense shoulders, and inadvertant damage to your computer keyboard. This comment is not for everyone — ask your doctor about this comment!

  • BKbella

    No this is not Nuremberg, but we are consumers. We are subjected to commercials and promotions. Heck, perhaps the reason why Ruhlman decided to judge this show was so the finale would coincide with the release of his book (Elements of…, where have I heard this before?).

    We should expect professionalism from the folks on FN just as we should expect our politicians to act ethically (Haliburton in Iraq anyone?).

    These discussions are taking place, because many of us our acting as infromed consumers. This thread represents the idea of media literacy, where we are discussing why we are presented with a particular idea and what the possible consequences of those ideas are. Surely this discussion is taking place elsewhere.

    As for the other chefs — there are many reasons why they may not be complaining. 1. They are prevented from commenting under contract 2. They are being professional, and are hoping for another bite of the FN apple, or 3. They have nothing to say. Nevertheless, I question the FN’s decision to use Mr. Ruhlman as a judge, and I believe that I have a right to do so as a consumer.

  • French Laundry at Home

    I find it interesting that the two restaurant-related judges (Donatella and Andrew) backed Besh, and the trained chefs (including you, Ruhlman) backed Symon. Is there a chance that Andrew and Donatella were judging the dishes and experiences with a restaurant framework/lens, while everyone else was judging fundamentals, technical skill, and the other elements an Iron Chef must possess? There’s a certain TV-readiness (as well as a willingness to be available to do advertiser/affiliate-related things) needed for this show, and if the 3 current ICs believed Symon had the chops, then I think the judging was fair.

    Having had the pleasure of dining at both Lola and August, it is fair to say that these two deserved to be in the finale based on their skill, experience, and deliverables in each challenge. But ultimately, who is going to drive ratings and advertiser support? Symon, without question. It’s a business, and Symon can better deliver the goods that support Scripps’ business goals.

  • BKbella

    Janet:

    Well said. Another side effect of reading your comment was nearly spitting my coffee onto my laptop.

    I too have nothing against Symon, etc. I do believe that he fits the mold of an Iron Chef better than Besh. However, I also agree with Robert that it seems like the outcome was determined from the beginning.

  • BKbella

    Janet:

    Well said. Another side effect of reading your comment was nearly spitting my coffee onto my laptop.

    I too have nothing against Symon, etc. I do believe that he fits the mold of an Iron Chef better than Besh. However, I also agree with Robert that it seems like the outcome was determined from the beginning.

  • Tags

    I think the opponents Symon and Besh chose in their original battles speaks volumes.

    Symon clearly wanted the most accomplished and most experienced opponent, taking on Morimoto. That showed he has an iron set of cojones, and predestined him to be the next Iron Chef.

  • Kali

    It’s been pretty well established that FN usually pairs up the IC chef and challenger.

    On another note: can it really be true that Symon never tried sous vide until this show? That seems odd–especially since he seems pretty interested in expanding his repertoire (and sous vide is hardly new and cutting edge)

    I’m glad he’s blogging (hope he’ll get a proofreader). It’ll be fun to read his cooking experiences on iC and, hopefully, elsewhere.

  • Kay

    Yes, everyone on The Food Network is a stupid, talentless whore EXCEPT Robert Irvine.

    BEST NIGHT EVER, GUYS!
    (to be read while bending over and spreading one’s tuckus for Tuschman’s ease of entry).

  • laura

    Michael, I just discovered you are the author of walk on water. I had an open heart surgery 9 years ago in Cleveland Clinic performed by Dr. Mee. Since we found out about your book some years ago, my husband wanted to buy it, but I read a little bit in Amazon.com and it was to much for me. I mean the surgery you discribed could have been mine (altough I wasn`t a newborn). A long time has passed, and now that I know you thanks to NIC I will buy the book and read it as an homenage to you, to Dr. Mee and to all the staff at CCF. I rooted all the time for Symon since he represents the city where I was born again. Next time I go to Cleveland for a check up I will make reservations either for Lola and Lolita. Last time (4 years ago) we could make it to Lola, but now that is downtown it will be much easier.

  • Rachael

    I admit it- I watched the whole thing blithely assuming that Besh was the winner no matter what. I was shocked to see that Symon won, but not in a bad way. I liked both guys equally and would have been fine with either choice.

    But it seemed clear to me that, based on the judging that day, Symon would win. The Iron Chefs even said that they had to judge only by what they had that day and I really thought that Symon came out looking like a champ.

    Honestly, I don’t see how you can accuse the show creators of “rigging” it. Like I said, I thought Besh would be the clear winner and I think he was most certainly the FN favorite going in. Besh has gotten lots of bones thrown his way from FN (with good reason!), as I’ve seen his face both as a judge and as a contestant for Food Network Challenges. He’s a great guy, a big personality, and certainly a formidable chef. I doubt he’s walking away from this experience with less than he had to begin with. Ask him how business is these days and I bet you get a positive answer.

    I don’t really question Ruhlman’s judgment on this deal and frankly, I don’t even care that much. It’s a TV show and since these guys are already seasoned, I don’t think many are crushed that they lost.

    Finally: I bought my boyfriend a Ruhlman book (we’re behind the times, I know, I know) JUST so he had a good reason to go to the Ferry Building in SF yesterday. We plum forgot about it on Sunday until it was too late! I feel guilty now, but frankly it was probably a good deal for all involved. Had I come along, I would have been drooling the whole time. Mmm, Ruhlman. Hot.

  • Shelley

    BK, we’ve all heard that whiny argument about Ruhlman’s “bias” here from you and two of your friends. Give it up, please. It’s such a tired, tired issue.

    Robert, you think Irvine is the last real chef on FN? I hope you’re joking. I do get how pitiful it is to see the Deen boys, Sandra La-La, the history of M&Ms, and Diner Guy getting so much airtime, but… Irvine??? Hi-volume institutional cooking in bad weather? I don’t find that chef-spirational to watch.

    Frances, I agree that Ruhlman seemed to want to defer (at least somewhat) to what the existing Iron Chefs believed. To me, that was a smart strategy. Many of the earlier tests had little to do with what goes on in a real competition, so even without the “standard” scoring method, I think it’s smart of him to listen to how they would vote.

    Frenchie, I also wondered about the restaurant perspective of Donatella and Knowlton when I finally read about who voted for Besh vs. Symon at the end. Still pondering that.

    This has been (mostly) fun here, and I’m glad Ruhlman leaves his blog open to the public as a forum to talk about the show. It’s affecting my day job, though. :}

  • BKBella

    Shelley– just because you don’t agree with what I have to say doesn’t mean my arguments are whiny. In fact, I haven’t resorted to ad hominem arguments like the one you used above.
    I think there have been more than two that have discussed this as well. Why should I stop responding to the discussion just because you don’t like what I have to say?

    And really now — the word “bias” has not appeared in any of my posts in this thread.

  • SalNichols

    “Perspective”? How about the missed opportunities that would have made this show one hell of a lot more entertaining?
    We sit through 8 weeks of build up for an episode that had less than 18 minutes of cooking. This could have been resolved by pumping the show to 90 minutes and dumping that idiotic Rachel Ray/Giada cookoff that followed.
    FN had 6 former contestants with nothing to offer but their presence. I’ll bet they had something to contribute had someone taken the time to ask.
    Swapping the judges at the last moment was a REALLY CHEAP bit of theatrics for no real purpose, considering that the “original” judges did get to taste and rate the food.
    The producers of this show lacked any real vision for the climatic episode, that was obvioius. It almost felt like the contest itself was an afterthought.

  • Alisa

    Tony has been so silent! Where are his snarky comments? Surely he must think SOMETHING about the lack of hair that won the competition!

  • catherine

    Frances: Thank you. That was the exact interpretation of Michael’s post that I had and I was getting quite frustrated that people didn’t see it thay way.

    On another note, I’m very excited to watch Symon’s first battle although I think he looks a little odd in the blue chef’s garb than in his usual black.

  • kanani

    Well, you could have said, “Oh, Donatella. It was the way he cooked those hanging chads.”
    Or, “Wasn’t the mystery ingredient CHAD roe?”
    Oh dear, I’m being irreverent toward Donatella, aren’t I?

    Sorry, but I find any nagging from her or anyone having to defend their votes to be VERY offensive, petty, and akin to a hissy fit.

  • WhatisCanadianCuisine?

    Robert Schoenfeld is the same guy who called Ruhlman an asshole on previous blogs. He’s obviously not interested in proper discussions. I personally, am ignoring anything he has to say.

  • Joel

    Wow. I think some of you folks take this way too seriously. In spite of everyone at the Food Network calling this the most important night of the chef’s careers, it wasn’t. It really is just a television show and there probably are hundreds of much better places for a professional chef to end up other than the Food Network.

    I enjoy watching Iron Chef, I miss the Japanese episodes, the ingredients and dishes seemed much more exotic, and I was hoping Besh would win, I just like him more, but to get bent out of shape over this? Nope.

    I hope Donnatella kicked your ass Micheal, good for her. :)

  • resolvablenebulae

    Well, I have to vent my peculiarly strong reaction and say that I am feeling, for some odd reason, genuinely BETRAYED that Besh didn’t win – it seemed to me that he was clearly the superior chef, and suddenly when he lost the competition the whole Food Network Iron Chef wink-wink chairman’s uncle nonsense just seemed really horrible – even Alton Brown, who I otherwise adore, took on a certain sinister conspiratorial air… Yeah yeah, Symon’s a TV friendly guy and Besh did come off as a bit smug at times, but the whole thing seemed fishy to me.
    it was like when I saw that subliminal Iron Chef McDonalds
    ad revealed on YouTube…I’m sure I’ll get over it but it’ll take a while.

  • Dale Cruse

    @7cats You are incorrect, according to ABC News. The report from them said Food Network will no longer air “Molto Mario” but that he would still be a part of “Iron Chef America.” But that brings up another question: Do we now have five Iron Chefs? This was never acknowledged or address during the run of “Next Iron Chef.”

    I believe Food Network has lost its way. It’s not about cooking anymore. It’s reality TV and people taking shortcuts with food. This very much reminds me of when MTV started airing more reality shows and fewer videos.

  • Chance (Is I Am Or I Know Your Boss)

    @ Michael Ruhlman:

    Again, I was prepared to vote for Besh if the iron chefs persuaded me that Besh far outshined Symon (as Donatella and Andrew believed, and frankly, as I thought they might, given that they seemed to clearly favor Besh in their comments on the food as we heard them during the tasting). But they did not. And so I voted for Symon.

    M.R. Thanks for taking the time out from the schedule to post your thoughts and experiences. I thought you did a splendid job throughout the series (which, in general, I did not care for much, and thought would improved and gain steam over the course of 7 broadcasts – but, that is not your responsibility.) Having said that much, I really enjoyed your guest appearance on Ming Tsai’s show, which aired about two weeks ago – not sure if it was a repeat or not, but maybe it was.

    On to my thoughts on your above comment… I do not understand how your final decision was rooted in a IC Board of Directors collaborative, when the triumvirate was only on board for one of the seven shows: IMO, that deference should have been reserved for your fellow judges, Donatella and Andrew.

    In other words, if they felt Besh was the best, and since they’d gone to battle with you from Shows 1 thru 7, then they would have served the same purpose as that which you instead reserved for the sitting IC trio. However, since your immediate colleagues were both pro-Besh, and the IC committee (using this catch all phrase loosely, but they are a or were a Gang of Three) was pro-Symon, by saying you deferred to the ICs based on the fact that they are skilled, professionals – and, with all due respect, you, Donatella and Andrew are either not as skilled or not at all, at least in the case of Donatella and Andrew – guaranteed that Symon would win: since all three ICs voted for Symon, and your vote, while not the “swing” vote in the classic sense of the term, if you had voted for Besh, then, the vote count would have been tied at 3-3 (if I’ve done my math correctly: if not, my bad.) So, in the end, your voting method and your rationalization served the same purpose as a swing vote, since, as you noted, if the end result was a tie, it would’ve been left to The Chairman and FN to break that tie and arrive at a conclusion.

    In essence, while I think you are honestly expressing your point of view, I also think it’s a great or convenient rationalization.

    @ Michael Ruhlman:

    While I think that my being from Cleveland and knowing Symon well was, if anything, a detriment during the competition, can I say that it was a detriment here? No, clearly it was not. In an even contest—and I can’t imagine two chefs who are more evenly matched in technical skill and culinary imagination—if they had been even in every single respect, I’d then have given my vote to Symon. I would have no other choice. As it happened, I chose the person I thought would make the best iron chef given what I saw and tasted throughout the entire competition.
    If I’ve read correctly, your friendship with Symon was detrimental for Shows 1 thru 6 but not Show 7? That’s interesting.

    @Michael Ruhlman:

    What was interesting to me was how pissed Donatella was. Andrew was as well, but he didn’t seem to take it personally. Donatella accused me off camera of knowing Besh beat Symon and casting my vote for Symon anyway. I think she’s a woman who’s used to getting her way. That’s just a guess.

    Well, I would say that, your remark about Donatella didn’t require a gender assignation: everyone knows she’s a woman. I will say, however, that your comment is borderline sexist (and I’m a man, so it’s not as if I’m a female blog reader who’s used to getting her way.) Especially when one considers that women have not always (and must still fight harder) to reap the benefits of the so-called “last great meritocracy.”

    A simple, “I think she’s spoiled” would have sufficed, IMO. In fairness, there’s always the possibility that Donatella had visions of developing and financing a new restaurant with Besh at its helm (since she obviously loved his cooking.) But she’s no more or no less spoiled (or used to getting her way) than Keith McNally, Rande Gerber or Danny Meyer.

    @Michael Ruhlman:

    She furthermore accused me of being the swing vote, which I wasn’t (had it been 3-3, nto 4-2, it would have gone to the Chairman/FN execs to make the call). Then she had it out with Flay and Cora, both of whom defended their vote.

    Again, IMO, your explanation of your voting process, while logically sound, is also a rationalization. I think you should have reserved that consideration for your immediate colleagues (Donatella and Andrew) instead of for the presiding ICs: who, I believe, were somewhat threatened by Besh. Just because they heaped more praise for his dishes, doesn’t mean it couldn’t have served as a ruse or device to distract from their already made-up minds. And, yes, in the end, it’s just television, and as before, Besh has a great career and the sky is the limit for him and his talents. Although Symon is no slouch, in the end, I think Besh was the best candidate for the job (I treated the show as if it was one long, or overly long, interview process for a t.v. cooking gig). However, if it is “just television,” then the show, and the end judgement, was never about cooking, and never about food to begin with..

  • janet

    Um, Shelley, this time it was Ruhlman who brought up the issue of bias, or favoritism, or whatever you want to call it. That’s what a good bit of the post is about.

    BK — I think that would qualify as “inadvertant damage to your keybord.” I think we can settle this out of court, don’t you?

  • Sakurako

    I think the phrase “woman who’s used to getting her way” was just a figure of speech. Or, at least, that’s the impression I had.

    Oh well. It’s over now, anyway.

  • Frances

    From the looks of the comments on Adam’s blog, viewers are leaving FN in droves – at least the shallow, insensitive ones anyway. There’s hope for the FN yet…

  • BKbella

    Chance:

    Thank you for your comment re: “I think she’s a woman who’s used to getting her way. That’s just a guess.” His statement perhaps sheds some light on why the first chefs to go were women. Or it just shows a lack of respect toward women that have nerve to be skeptical of his decisions. Or…. maybe it’s a Cleveland thing…

  • Freke

    I’m just going to spit it out: I wouldn’t want to eat anything Besh made, for fear that he would have sweat all over it. Gross dude.

    By the way Ruhlman, I have an issue with a little part about Fischetti’s class in “Reach of a Chef”. You happened to sit in on my class for that part of the book…and what ended up in the book wasn’t quite right…

  • BKbella

    I don’t know Janet… I just passed the bar exam. I might be looking to test out my litigation skills 😉

  • Dale

    Let me see here. Throughout the competition, “Good Chefs have bad days” and if your dishes were lacking, you got booted. For the finale, Besh’s dished were superior to Symon’s but somehow Symon wins the competition? I heard Symon’s dishes described as mealy, poorly seasoned, etc. Besh, meanwhile, was spot on with his seasoning, presentation, etc. The only complaint was the Swordfish wrapped Lobster Roll showcased the Lobster instead of the Swordfish (no one said it was a bad dish) and his LAST MINUTE/TAKE A CHANCE/PUSHING THE ENVELOPE SWORDFISH DESSERT didnt taste a lot like swordfish. Again, no complaint that it was a bad dish.

    It seems that the rules were changed to stack the deck in Symon’s favor. Throughout the competition, food is tasted and the maker of the worst dish goes home. Same three judges throughout the competition. What the chef did yesterday was no protection for what would happen today. For the fianle, we are led to believe it would be just like a Iron Chef competition. But then we bring in different judges (so why didnt we have different judges each episode). Then instead of the score card we see at the end of an IC episode, it’s lets all sit a circle and decide who derserves to be the Next Iron Chef. HUH? By all accounts, Besh won this competition but because Symon won 4 previous episodes Symon deserves to win the whole competition? When was it established that winning an episode would be taken into consideration in the final tally? If Besh’s dishes were superior that day, he should have won the competition.

    Breaking the cardianl rule of never asking a question you dont already know the answer to, in the next to last episode in Paris, Alton leaned over to Donatella and said “Everyone seems to think the clear choice for the next Iron Chef is a slam dunk (or something to that effect) and Donatella agreed with him. SO who were they talking about at that time? Besh or Symon?

    Frankly, I think FN erred in choosing Ruhlman as a judge from the beginning if they knew Symon was going to be a contestant. Intentional or not, home town officiating always creeps into the process. It’s one thing to choose a judge from NY when a competitor is from NY as well, but in a city as small as Cleveland it hard to get around the fact that few top quality chefs are going to be working in a critic’s backyard so a familiarity is going to exist if not a quite championing of that chef’s skills.

    To be fair, I am not advocating that Symon wont make a good Iron Chef. Besh simply won the evening and deserved to be named Iron Chef based on how the competition had unfolded to that point. When Symon hits on a dish it is out of the ballpark. But when he misses, he misses badly. However, they all agreed that Besh was consistanly in the top two every week. Cora complained that Symon’s dishes werent properly seasoned. Didnt this get one chef kicked out (even though the seasoning being washed off wasnt his fault?). If the network wanted a TV friendly personality all along, then this whole show should have scrapped and they should have just announced Iron Chef X is retiring and Chef Symon will take his place. Wasnt Morimoto the third Iron Chef Japanese on the original and there was no competition? Have a legitimate competition or just announce your own choice.

  • Debbie

    I followed the competition from the beginning and will say I am somewhat disappointed with the outcome. Personally I feel John Besh was the best Chef for the position and I see problems with how the final judging was done. I feel the original judges should have been the ones voting with comments from the Iron Chefs taken into account, but they should not have voted.

    Symon is more flashy and perhaps that is what they wanted. His laugh annoys me to no end though (just a personal note). I also find your reasons for voting for Symon a little lacking but in the end, none of that matters. Symon is the next Iron Chef and Besh’s future is bright and I am sure he will go on to have bigger and better opportunities placed before him.

    The finale was a disappointment, no matter the outcome. I have to agree with many in that regard.

  • allie

    first of all, I’m female, and I don’t see how saying “she’s a woman who’s used to getting her way” is sexist at all. if I said, “he’s a man who’s used to being in charge”, that wouldn’t be sexist either. why does even referring to the race or gender of someone these days automatically make us racist or sexist? btw, I agree that donatella seems like a woman who’s used to getting her way, and that’s not a compliment.

    second, chance, I think you’re taking this whole thing waaay too seriously. ruhlman doesn’t owe you, or any of us, an explanation for why he voted how he did. I was glad he offered one, as it was interesting and shed a lot of light on what happened behind the scenes. however, I’m not sure what you’re trying to accomplish with a comment that took three scroll-downs to get through, accusing him over and over again of “rationalizing”.

    third, to those of you who think the ICs voted for symon because they felt “threatened” by besh… umm, they don’t battle each other. doesn’t it make more sense that they’d want to maintain the high standard of their relatively elite group?

  • IGIF

    Frances: Again, I must say how much I enjoy and agree with your thoughtful comments on this blog. Wish all the bloggers would have your common sense and lack of vindictiveness. I think Mr. Rulman did a great job judging, as well as providing this blog for exchange of ideas and opinions, pro or con. I couldn’t help rooting for Chef Besh, but Chef Symon was such a close second, that I’m not disappointed really, and agree that his TV “personna” will well suit him in his new role. Go Michael Ruhlman, Go Chef Symon! (Can’t wait to hear AB’s take on this…)