The Chairman’s decision to allow four chefs to battle it out for a place in Kitchen Stadium made the judges’ decision even more difficult. So did the fact that the remaining combatants had been the ones to impress most in the competition to date. Although it was not going to be easy, at the end of the penultimate challenge two would be going home and two would face off to become The Next Iron Chef.
With Lobster, Mangalitsa Pork, Wagyu Beef and Hawaiian Moi to choose from, the chefs could have no complaints about being denied the best of the best, even if they had to run a marathon to collect them. They did not disappoint and the three dishes placed in front of us showed each of the chefs cooking at the very top of their game. With such skill on show we had to search for the most minor of flaws in technique, seasoning and plating to make our final decisions.
Chef Canora was, for me, a clear winner. Not least for his unapologetic use of rendered Wagyu beef fat to add a delicious savory note to a beet broth and a parcel of meaty mushrooms. It was pure Canora and made me determined to give him the opportunity to cook one last time.
Against any other group of challengers, Chef Tio’s elegant cooking would have surely seen her go through to join him. Yet, while I disagreed with Donatella’s opinion that the crispy moi was under-seasoned, I couldn’t argue that she had been outshone by her rivals and, by the narrowest of margins she was the first to be eliminated.
Chef Tsai and Chef Forgione remained before us as two chefs who could both grace the final battle with their very different styles and culinary backgrounds. I put my X against Chef Forgione’s name. I had been his toughest critic in the previous two challenges, but was seriously impressed with his dishes and determination to show me he could use a pressure cooker to good effect.
Chef Tsai looked genuinely stunned when Alton announced that he would not be the Next Iron Chef, but a misjudged dish of lardo had been enough to fell Ming The Magnificent, and send an equally astonished Forgione to Kitchen Stadium.
Marc vs. Marco to be the Next Iron Chef. I could hardly wait.
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