There was definitely more tension in the air as the chefs presented to the judges for a second time. They had seen Chef Kirschner suffer an unexpectedly rapid exit and knew for certain that one mistake could be enough to send them home.
My fellow judges had also begun to show their true colors. Michael Symon was the supportive former competitor and Donatella, the stern den mother who scored high for presentation. We agreed on one thing however, above all the food had to taste good. Otherwise all bets were off.
Chef Forgione’s deconstructed Chicken Pot Pie was, to my mind, one of the top dishes of the whole competition. I had no hesitation putting a big fat “W” next to his name as the winner and have been daydreaming about it ever since.
If Chef Tsai thought that his success in the first challenge made The Next Iron Chef a morning stroll, he was in for a very rude awakening. As good as his dish cooked on the beach had been, the plate he presented this time was disastrous. It was only a nugget of delicious corned beef amongst the 150 other unnecessary ingredients on the plate that saved him.
His survival meant Chef Pagan was given leave to return to Puerto Rico. He had represented the islands well, but there is no room in my world or Kitchen Stadium for water bath-poached meatloaf.
Finally, one word of advice to Chef Dumont: Buy a pressure cooker.