Critical Moments: Best of the Best on The Next Iron Chef

by in Shows, November 15th, 2010
"Marc vs. Marco to be the Next Iron Chef. I could hardly wait."

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.

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.

Look inside Chef Tsai and Chef Tio’s Next Iron Chef journals and flip through our behind-the-scenes gallery from Episode 7.

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

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Comments (299)

  1. vegetable says:

    The judges in the Chopper show are good, professional and knowledgable. I have been wondering why NIC, suppose a more powerful show, has two really bad judges (obviously not qualified). IC Symon is a good chef but unfair judge, from very beginning you already saw his tendency to fovor Forgione and overrated him..

  2. Pat says:

    What kills me is when Alton Brown told Chef Tsai he was outcooked by Forgione – Seriously?! I wonder if Alton was made to say those words – I 'm sure he is still shaking his head over Tsai getting sent home. Forgione moves on because he overcame his fear of the pressure cooker? I just don't see how FN thought these two yahoos were going to bring new viewers to ICA – the general consensus of comments has given ICA only a couple of years of life – could have been a different story with Iron Chef Ming Tsai! What can you do?

  3. Kevin says:

    Chef Canora would not be worth watching because he complains about everything. I think Fogione should win just because no none wants to see whiner on ICA . I am an avid watcher of ICA and think they could use an Italian flair. Ever since Bataili left they have been looking for someone tor replace him.

    • conned by FN says:

      THEN THEY SHOULD HAVE JUST HIRED MARIO'S 2ND, RATHER THAN PUT UP THAT SHAM OF A COMPETITION!

    • mandy says:

      Forgione does not even come close to Batali. How many mistakes had he made in the entire competition – overseasoning (the veal cheek), way overcooking (the halibut), undercooking (his ravioli), etc.? He also couldn't manage his time too well. He tried to make pasta a few times and it was a flop every time. Later, he tried to say it was because he didn't have time. I am tired of this bias. If FN wants an italian chef, they could have hired Scott Conant. Why had an IC competition, invited Tsai to take part so as to raise their rating, and then tossed him aside when they were done justifying to the rest of the world that Forgione, a chef specializing in italian cooking should win?

    • luvcookin says:

      It doesn't matter to me anymore. I won't watch either of these little boys. ICA and NIC have been taken off my DVR schedule. FN has become a joke.

    • Johnny says:

      Remember the trans-form challege from the fair food, One thing sticks out Chef Canora won but he didn't Trans- form anything he just made healthy food from some things he found. He's a one trick pony.

  4. Tsai for Chariman says:

    "Make Tsai the new Chairman!"

    Outstanding idea! I have always loathed the chairman of Iron Chef America. Such a fake.

    And like others have said, I was only watching because Chef Tsai was a part of the show. He would have added a lot of class to ICA. As mentioned Chef Canora is an annoying, complaining jerk. It was obvious that he knew that Chef Tsai was his biggest competition and he was doing everything he could to slow him down. Whenever they had challenges that were judges by fellow competitors he went out of his way to find something wrong with Chef Tsai's dish.

    I won't be home to watch the finale this Sunday and I won't bother recording it. I could care less now.

    • Guest says:

      yeah, but can Tsai do the somersaults and other stunts?

      I have mixed opinions on Tsai. I am an Asian. Tsai does not treat his Asian brothers and sisters well, in his haste to please the esterners.

  5. over and out says:

    Have canceled all the FN programs set to record on my DVR.

    Have reprogammed those offered by PBS starting with 'Simply Ming'.

    PBS is a class act.

    FN is a turd in the sewer of Reality TV.

    • Clara Tea says:

      Thank you for a really good laugh.
      Isn't "turd in the sewer" one of those British pub menu items?. . .
      No wait. . .

    • Julia is crying says:

      I'm right there with you! The Bastianich's, Ming Tsai, Rick Bayless…these are people who want to TEACH you about food, not just wear really tight lowcut sweaters and cook from a box.

      This was a Joke and, unfortunately, I lost the respect of my favorite FN star (Alton Brown).

      BTW…What the heck was the 'arrogance' comment about? Like Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, and Cat Cora aren't arrogant?????

  6. Pastrygirl says:

    I was appalled when we lost Mario Batali and were inflicted with Jose Garces, (who I refuse to watch), and now we might have a whiney backstabber to watch. I will not watch Canora if he wins. I can’t condone his behavior or his attitude which I doubt will improve if his ego is boosted by winning. He is not half the class act that Ming Tsai is nor will he ever be.

    • Serrano says:

      I must agree with you. I will NOT watch Canora who is totally classless. So I have removed the next iron chef and Iron chef america from my DVR listings. They have completely lost touch with the public. Note the voting. Who will watch either of them? Not I.

  7. Doublejay says:

    Symon contradicted himself when he said that Chef Tio didn’t cook as well with ingredients she doesn’t like. Didn’t she win an earlier competion using hot sauce?(which she clearly did not like) I think she did an amazing job and deserves credit for it. We’ll be seeing a lot more of Chef Tio!

  8. over and out says:

    Those of you rooting for Forgione, dont be fooled.

    Your hope for a Forgione win has been manipulated by the FN. They edited the NIC so that the audience would find Canora insufferable.

    It explains why Micheal Symon has been protecting Forgione all along.

    Niether of them are IC worthy

  9. thomas says:

    FN has been getting on my nerves for some time. The cooking skills of most of their personalities come across too often as feeble. Rare is the celebrity chef on FN that doesn't use PORK as a crutch ingredient much too much. They constantly reach for bacon, etc., out of a lack of imagination or laziness. Even a Jewish celebrity cook is guilty of it.
    Lastly, most of them can't get through a day without cocktails. Too many of them seem like lushes.
    Clean it up FN.

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