Critical Moments: A Kitchen Stadium Thanksgiving

by in Shows, November 22nd, 2010
The newly crowned Iron Chef Marc Forgione: Simon Majumdar’s "clear winner"

Next Iron Chef judge Simon Majumdar joins us on the FN Dish each week to share his insider’s take on what went down Sunday night.

With dozens of cameras catching every glimpse and grimace, a gallery of excited onlookers and smoke billowing across the set, I could begin to see what all the fuss had been about.

It was my first visit to Kitchen Stadium and I was nervous enough. I could only begin to imagine how Chef Canora and Chef Forgione must be feeling as they walked into the arena. They had not only to impress the three judges one more time, but also to persuade Iron Chefs Morimoto and Flay that they were ready to join the pantheon of the greats.

When given their final task, to prepare for us the finest Thanksgiving feast imaginable, the way they approached it summed up their performances in every challenge to date. Chef Forgione was cool, calm and collected as he followed his story of recreating the first turkey-free Thanksgiving. Chef Canora, on the other hand, was all drama and nervous energy as he dipped into his family cookbook to bring us a traditional Thanksgiving meal. It was not long before he was literally leaving his blood, sweat and tears on the floor.

Sixty minutes later, the cooking part of Season 3 of The Next Iron Chef was over and it was time to make the big decision. Chef Forgione was the first to present. We all felt that there were seasoning problems with his food, as there had been a number of times before, and I was not particularly taken with his main dish of venison. However, his turkey-free story hung together well and in his dish of lobster and dessert of plum cobbler he produced two dishes as good as any we had tasted in the whole competition.

Chef Canora had arguably taken the safer route, depending on soulful cooking rather than fireworks to see him to victory. Unfortunately, for me his sweet pumpkin risotto was a flop and his venison dish came close behind in the disappointment stakes. His turkey dinner, however, rocked and his pecan pie was the best I have ever tried. Which meant it was all to play for as I tallied up my scores.

On plating and presentation, I had Chef Forgione as a narrow winner. On creativity, he was farther in front. Although things were much more even when it came to the final category of taste, when I added up the points for each chef, there was one clear winner.

It would appear that the majority of other judges agreed with me and when The Chairman revealed who would join the ranks of the culinary greats, Marc Forgione (or should I now say Iron Chef Marc Forgione?) had rightfully earned his place amongst the elite.

Look inside Chef Forgione and Chef Canora’s Next Iron Chef journals and flip through our behind-the-scenes gallery from the Finale.

More about Simon Majumdar:
Simon’s Website
Simon’s book, Eat My Globe
Follow @SimonMajumdar on Twitter

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Comments (51)

  1. keith stefani says:

    congratulations hellva season

  2. rootsmusic says:

    Selection Process Flaws for "The Next Iron Chef":
    1. Chef Forgione, who won only a SINGLE Chairman's Challenge during the season, can become the next Iron Chef by repeatedly avoiding elimination!
    2. Contestants are eliminated based on each challenge's performance and not weighting previous performances.
    3. Most contestants (seasons 2 and 3) are embarrassingly under-qualified compared against original Iron Chefs.
    4. Contestants sabotage each other.
    5. Judges don't use blind tasting to prevent personal bias in voting.

  3. veg says:

    Forgionne doesn't deserve it, he should know himself. That's why he was shocked when he learned he got chance to do final run. What a shame!

  4. jlc says:

    This was fixed from the get go. Batali was leaving the show and the powers that be decided that ICA needs to have an Italian chef. Canora and Forgione were picked as the finalists before the season even started.

    Forgione was a better choice than Canora, but out of the ten originals, Tsai should have been the winner.

  5. tommy says:

    thank goodness forgione won. i dont have to listen to crybaby canora anymore. tsai would have been a better choice for tv but forgione is good too. well done forgione.

  6. VA57 says:

    SM, glad you are on board as a judge……………..hated the big gray haired fat guy………..noticed he's no longer a judge, good riddance……………………………….have fun tasting

  7. Helen says:

    All the comments very interesting. I agree that there should be some consideration for Overall performance. That could tip either way when they talk risks versus tradition. Iron Chef needs to be able to deliver consistently and meet expectations with traditional food in a novel presentation. I was for Canora but I think this time he fell short in the final meal and so felt that Forgione was to be the likely pick. I wasn't impressed with anything he had done thus far, however.

    I was also rooting for Aarti as the most likely choice for her consistent performance but I felt that she did not deliver in the final as much as the other two. Well, Tom got his show anyway.

  8. Gina says:

    Didn't watch the finale, and I've watched IC since the very beginning. This show is a joke now. Oh, goody, the guy who can barely use a pressure cooker is now an "Iron" chef!! I hope his first challenger is Chef Tsai; that's the one and only challenge I would ever watch on "Iron Chef." I'm done with the entire network, and I've usually got it on at least five to seven hours a day. Way to go, Food Network, you're losing me as a viewer. I'm sure I'm not the only one jumping ship!!

    • Q Chick says:

      Totally agree with you Gina. It seemed like most of the competitors had it out for Chef Tsai, who is a master and head and shoulders above the iron chef finalists. Food network lost me as a viewer too :(

  9. Becky says:

    Reminds me of the first season of Survivor… remember that one? I faithfully watched each and every episode and then felt like all my time had been robbed when the most miserable person won (Richard). I never watched that show again! I didn't watch the ICA finale either – the thought of another hour of Canora bitch and moan and look minutes away from a massive coronary… hmmm… I'd rather read a book!

    Won't be watching next season. I'll still watch the challenges, will be interesting to see how quickly Forgione "beats" Garces' loss record!

  10. A J says:

    What reality show is perfect ? Every show presents a challenge of one kind or another to all contestants but the one thing to equally challenge them all is the time allowed to prepare their meal. The two things that bother me is the scoring and the judging. I think scoring should be cumulative so judging carries through the season to find the most creative and consistent chef. I too have an opinion different than the outcome of this season but it is what it is and I accept it. I learn so much about food from the show I will never stop watching regardless of what the format is. Iron Chef and the Food Network has my attention and I use what I learn every day.

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