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. John Smith says:

    I agree with everyone chef Tsai was robbed.
    This is because he left FN for a better gig on
    PBS for more money. This was an opportunity
    for payback . FN found away to get even.
    Chef Tsai has already beaten chef Flay on ICA and
    had nothing to prove to his viewers or judges. The
    newbie chefs and the judges new that Tsai was the
    man to beat and in a different league altogether.
    I also agree with some of the other posters that the
    goal of the show was to replace chef Batali. This is
    why you had an entirely Italian face-off for the final.
    FN has no imagination and has become very predictable.
    The judges starting with Donatella Arpaia need a good
    smack on the side of the head, too salty, too fatty, too sweet,
    this is the extent of her critiquing skills. I love you chef Canora,
    when can ride your pony tail, I miss chef Batali's. Simon Majumdar
    is the co-writer of Dos Hermanos, a food blog in the UK,
    big deal. Why is it that we as Americans need judges from
    the UK for our reality shows. "We don't need no stinking badges,"
    Blazing Saddles. I mean UK judges. Do you see any American
    judges on Uk shows? C'mon we don't have someone with better
    credentials than Simon?? At Least Chef Symon is a Chef, not an
    Iron Chef, Besh should have won, but a chef just the same. He was
    asked to toe the line by FN and make sure Tsai did not win. The only
    thing he could say about Tsai's food was amazing but, your plating
    needs improvment. When chef Tsai had the best food or dish,
    they needed to find something else to criticize. They made very few
    comments about plating when it came to the other chefs.
    I believe that the real Iron Chef is Ming Tsai . He is better than some
    of the current flock of Iron chefs including, Flay which he proved by
    beating him. You have Graces,Cora, Symon, these people should be
    on Hell's Kitchen not on Iron Chef. I think the chefs should have been judged
    on their performance throughout the whole show not just a single episode.
    I believe that Forgione, Marc not Larry should have been eliminated earlier.
    He clearly made more mistakes than some of the other chefs, but to quote
    Alton Brown, "You survive to cook another day." Why??? He made some major
    rookie mistakes. Unacceptable for a real Iron Chef. Don't get me wrong he
    has some talent and might get there one day . This is not his time, experience
    and maturity come to mind. I think it's admirable that he tries for a home run
    every time out, but baseball has proven that to be impractical and your failure
    rate almost guaranteed. Your best ballplayers hit 300, would you go to a restaurant
    if they failed seven out of ten times? You would be happier with a chef that triples
    on every occasion, consistency, with a few home runs mixed in. I'm very disappointed
    in The FoodNetwork and will not be watching future ICA and Next ICA shows. They have
    lost touch with their target audience in other words struck out. .

  2. SMO says:

    Tsai got robbed. Shame on you foor network!!!

  3. Redwolfjoy says:

    I am a huge Ming Tsai fan and was very disappointed in the Next Iron Cheff when he as eliminated. I have stopped watching the Food Network as the two contest shows have become jokes now (Next Food Network Star and Next Iron Chef). Thanks for ruining Iron Chef for me.

    • Clara Tea says:

      You are so right about these programs. They really have become jokes. In the past seasons I used to love them, too. Maybe someone out there has a cosmic/mystical insight into what Food Network is thinking these days. Not me, though. I can't figure out why they have edited these two shows ( Next Food Network Star and Next Iron Chef) so that they have become these feeble presentations. They most certainly can do better than this. They used to do better than this. We have seen better programming seasons. The shafting of Ming Tsai this past season was the real wake up call for me. My French is not so good but … C'est une coup de gras. . . ?

  4. Mrs J says:

    Chef Tsai should have won hands down. The new iron chef was a poor and prejudiced choice, no offense to the winner.

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