Next Iron Chef Exit Interview: Chef Estes’ Parting Words

by in Shows, October 25th, 2010
Chef Estes' advice to future rivals: "Never have a bad day."

FN Dish: What did you take away from the experience of competing on The Next Iron Chef?
Duskie Estes: I loved the chefs I met. I loved going out to dinner with all of them—we all are voracious eaters. I did not think I would like anyone going into it, so I was thrilled that I was so wrong. In restaurant life, you are not challenged to think about food in that way—ever. It was fun to stretch your skill set into unknown direction.

Dish: How did you feel about the dishes that sent you home when you presented them?
D.E.: I hated them. I’d never serve them in my restaurant.

Dish: If you could have a do-over, what would you change about that fateful caramel apple?
D.E: I would not have done a caramel apple on that fire. I would have only done vegetarian food with fair ingredients. That would have been the safest with bad protein sources.

Dish: What advice would you give future Next Iron Chef contestants?
D.E.: Never have a bad day.

Look inside Chef Estes’ Next Iron Chef journal and flip through our behind-the-scenes gallery from Episode 4.

More about Chef Duskie Estes:
Zazu Restaurant and Farm
Chef Estes on Facebook

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Comments (19)

  1. Boris Jazbec says:

    As I watched the episodes of NIC I proudly wore my Zazu t-shirt and rooted for Duski. My wife Teresa and I had the joy of enjoying dinner at Zazu this past June and watching Duskie in action. Her cusine is ever memorable. We were excited to see that Duskie was going to be on TNIC.

    We're sad to see her leave the show yet proud that she represented Santa Rosa and Sonoma well.
    If you are ever in the Sanata Rosa area take the time to see Duskie. Her skills are remarkable.

  2. Valerie0902 says:

    not to sound mean but it's about time she's gone! For someone who was in the bottom 3 as much as she was, I doubt she belonged there in the first place!

  3. THe stewart says:


  4. Rick says:

    I'm wondering where did you find Simon Majumdar. I cannot even pronounce his name. It was really hard to get someone from US,…lol; you had to go to England, where from culinary point of view trails behind US, to get somebody which is in the 999 position to critique?

  5. Pam says:

    I have been more and more unhappy to watch Next Iron Chef because I think the judges are so obviously unfair to Ming Tsia and for some reasons seem against him. Particularly in the last episode, Ming obviously made most creative dishes and they tasted good (much better than a few others they put to "top" positions), but judges just picked him by some ridiculous reasons (banana peels, not focused etc..) What heck, you can say anything if you want, but most important should be about quality of food! I don't want to eat that snow cone made by burned corns, those boring stuff… etc. It is so weird they rate those foods highly.

    All I hope the judges could be fair and fair! You should not have any stereo types or anything like that, or any personal unfairness to affect your judge. People can see that. Chef Ming got highest vote for the dish he made!

    • Lola says:

      totally disagree! with all of Ming's accolades & accomplishments, he should be blowing the socks off everyone at every competition. The fact that he is always in the middle & bottom is b/c he is does the same thing all…the…time… He is boring compared to the others.

      "deconstructed" dishes only carry you so far – he is not as creatively fresh as some of the younger competitors. He wont be winning this season, sorry to say. The judges are not picking on him (what is this – elementary school? LOL!) — it looks to me that the judges are waiting for Ming to live up to his name in a competition with others who, for instance, have not had their cooking show on cable, or his own line of cookware…

      • anghiari says:

        Totally disagree Lola…I think the judges are suffering from the same silliness that Chef Canora has given voice to…Chef Tsai's eight seasons with his own cooking show, and all the other fabulous things he's done. You talk about he should be blowing socks off …that is the problem…unfair heighten expectations of him and not the others. The alternative is tfor judges to nitpick his work to death…because of his past accomplishments. I think these chefs aren't beyond sabotaging each other in their reviews of each's work. I respect Chef Figone a great deal and he thought Ming's transformation dish was at the top. It is easy to pick a chef who you don't see as a competitor…I guess Chef Lito showed them today.

        • Jhonathan says:

          Completely disagree with you ang it is more than obvious that the Food Network is pretty much setting their former employee up for the Iron Chef position. His dishes have been pretty much in the middle of the pack throughout the whole competition and according to the actual people that have tasted them lack focus and his flavors get muddled with each other. I can't wait for the judges to actually grow a pair and boot him but sadly I don't think the Food Network will allow that. He should not be the next Iron Chef just like Symon shouldn't have been chosen over Besh but it is ultimately the Food Networks decision and not that of the "judges".

        • MarshmallOH says:

          okay so if you are in a race between gold medalist Usain Bolt, the local gym's top trainer, and a random college track star — and then you win, you think the crowd isnt going to be like "OMG – Bolt is a gold medal winner – he should have blown everyone by at least 5 seconds"

          Sorry, but Tsai is just too dated and stale… he needs to move over for the new crop and stick to his east-west shows, which is also played out…

  6. Rosie says:

    I read her restaurant reviews on yelp & pted for other Santa Rosa fare. On air attitude & restaurant reviews align.

  7. Jhonathan says:

    She was lucky she made it that far being consistently low in the different challenges. Her attitude also left a lot to be desired. I don't doubt she is an excellent chef and her movement is something to be applauded but she was definitely not Iron Chef material. Now if only we could get some fair and unbiased judging the show would actually be worth watching. The British critic is a racist and does not deserve to be critiquing chefs food. Hell he's from England and maybe I'm wrong but they aren't really known for their culinary skill. What is he expecting fish and chips…

  8. Catherine Dodd says:

    While I couldn’t taste the food, I thought Chef Estes’ food was creative, healthy, SUSTAINABLE and reflected my experience at Zazu restaurant on a recent visit to Sonoma County in California. I enjoyed her positive, upbeat interviews and attitude. She seemed to enjoy her work. I was very pleased that she wore her “support local food” T-Shirt. If we all ate locally we would contribute to small business, improve nutrition and ultimately have an impact on the nutritional status of Americans – and decrease childhood and adult obesity which will cost lives and money. Thank you Duskie, I look forward to visiting Zazu again.

  9. Mary Foley says:

    Original food, original and authentic people are not always the best characters for reality TV. But, give me that good food, that quality of character, and honest food. Chef Estes was fun to watch, and her food each and every day is about the best you can find in the U.S. You lost the best chef in the country.

  10. geevee says:

    She was rude, nasty, cocky and overly ambitious. Her dishes lacked character and a solid direction; they could (and should) have been highly “edited” to make them ten times better. She’s gone for good reasons, so good riddance. Someone with such a poor attitude should really not be preparing food, which in and of itself is a labor of love.

    And I don’t know any self-respecting adult woman who would wear pixie pigtails. Inexcusable.

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