Critical Moments: Next Stop, Vegas

by in Shows, November 1st, 2010
Although "his plating could use a few more contemporary touches," Chef Tsai edged Chef Canora into second place this week.

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.

There is only so far that enthusiasm, tenacity and a good spirit will get you in a competition such as The Next Iron Chef. To date, Chef Chauhan had showed those qualities in abundance. She had also shown a great deal of culinary talent. However, as we reached the midway point on the road to selecting a new incumbent for Kitchen Stadium, the gap in technical skill between her and her rivals became more apparent.

The Chairman’s challenge, to create an American menu from all four points of the compass, was the toughest yet and the stakes were raised even higher when Alton informed the surviving six that the reward for pleasing the judges was a trip to America’s new dining wonderland, Las Vegas. It was obvious, from their expressions, that no one wanted to be the one to miss out on the party.

Iron Chef Jose Garces, stepping in as a guest judge, offered a fresh new view on our competitors. But, even the valid claim that some of his plating could use a few more contemporary touches, did not dissuade me from making Chef Tsai my winner for a second time in the competition. In the end, taste won out and his outstanding array of dishes just pushed the ever-improving Chef Canora into second place.

Chef Forgione, could and possibly should have gone home for sending out a desiccated piece of halibut, that would surely never have been allowed to leave his restaurant kitchen, to the three people who could change his life. The judges were not unanimous, but Chef Chauhan’s “Luau in an Avocado Cup” convinced two out of the three of us that this ebullient chef’s journey had reached its natural conclusion.

Look inside Chef Chauhan’s Next Iron Chef journal and flip through our behind-the-scenes gallery from Episode 5.

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

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Comments (57)

  1. Pauline L. says:

    I agree with you completely, LindaS! Canora is a tool and bad mouths Ming Tsai every chance he gets. Yet, I love how at the end of last week's episode Canora threw his arm over Ming Tsai's back and gave Ming Tsai a friendly squeeze on the shoulder as though they were the best of pals despite having been a total smug-faced jerk to Tsai since day one, but that's what two-faced bad guys do! This Canora guy's laughable. He throws his old world Italian roots around, expects the red carpet to be rolled out for him, smirks at and shows no respect for the East/West concept Ming Tsai incorporates into his cooking, can't throw out a compliment to save his own life, and is just your classic jerk. He wants respect from, but shows none to Tsai. It's been confirmed, Ming Tsai has shown Canora respect, but Canora has shown none to Ming Tsai. Canora loathes Ming Tsai because Canora is weak.

  2. Dee says:

    My bet is on Canora. The current crop of Iron Chefs, excluding Morimoto, are arrogant sub-par chefs so Canora will fit in perfectly. Tsai is too good for this crop of line cooks. I mean really, 5 chefs left and they are serving basic barbecue and Italian food?

  3. pardesi says:

    THE NEXT IRON CHEF will be an ITALIAN… The JUDGE dont understand any other food. The lady… she cant even eat spicy food.. SHE LOVES CHEESE and GARLIC on TOP of a TOMATO paste on a bread. Yes we all know its called Pizza.

    She is the worst judge. She has no idea of texture and flavor … every new flavor is VERY STRONG for Her.

    • Eli says:

      I can't believe how badly they edited Chef Tsai . It's obviously staging a way to justify why they let him go and keep Italian Canora as Batali's replacement . Unbelievable!! How horrendous can this Iron Chef show get ? Such a disgrace to the original Iron Chef show. I have no desire to watch the IC unless Morimoto is being challenged. I happened to watch the IC shown right after this TNIC,.. it only proved what I had known along that Garces is boring and not innovative, he lost challenge ..what a surprise NOT!! .

      • The JillyBean says:

        I have to agree, Morimoto is the only reason left to ever tune in. Without Cora and particularly Batali, it's a snoozefest. Well ok, occasionally Symon is good, but not enough to make me put the series back on the DVR.

      • TsaiRocks says:

        Agree about editing…They try too hard to make Chef Tsai look bad.. Just like you I only enjoy watching Iron Chef if Chef Morimoto is being challenged. I'm fed up seeing Flay making tamale on probably 95% of his challenges..

    • Esther says:

      What a sad idea : Canora to be the next IC.. I hate the elimination of Chef Tsai, because as you said, they appears not to understand nothing more than meat and potatoes or pizza. A great chef as Tsai is will bring another flavor to Kitchen Stadium, at least a different view to the japanese and chinese culinary world to the one Morimoto offers. For real, what they were thinking eliminating chef Tsai.. anyway if they want italian, bring Mario Batali back. I dont think Canora will made anything close to him…

  4. Full disclosure: I am Asian and I am a fan of chef Ming Tsai not because he is Asian. He respects the culinary arts and his fellow chefs. Remember he said that Forgione's dad is a "heck of a cook?" Voting for Canora's potato dish shows that Tsai will call a spade a spade. His Iron Chef abilities? He defeated Flay on Battle Duck. Garces' knock on Tsai's plating reeks of sour (fermented) grapes. Unlike others, I am making Blue Ginger my food mecca instead of the French Laundry.

  5. jordan says:

    i have never been a fan of the next iron chef, however after learning that ming tsai was on this season, i was excited! Ive been watching him since FN east meets west almost ten years ago. now i watch him on pbs. Canora seems like he has some momentum but from my point of view, knowing how skilled chef tsai is, these other chefs are not half as accomplished as ming. Ming tsai as the next iron chef would actually make me want to watch iron chef america. Tsai FTW!

    • Esther says:

      I was happy too. I like chef Tsai as the next IC. But sadly they had another idea of what make the best Iron chef…If Canora wins, definetly their idea is really wrong.

  6. Esther says:

    I don't get it. Cheff Tsai was, I mean is the clear most qualified contestant to be The Next Iron Chef. He is the most interesting, the one with the best recipes, the one who will bring something different to Kitchen Stadium. We need another culinary point of view! And Chef Tsai "East meet West" aproach is the closest to new you gent from this season of the Show. I hope chef Marc Forgione beat Chef Canora and wins, because even I still think Chef Tsai was the better choice, at least Chef Forgione is a fair player, a good sport…. compare to chef Canora mean spirit, jealous, cry baby aptitud. BIG! mistake to eliminate Chef Tsai. He is the best, Hurray for Chef Tsai!

  7. Elaine says:

    I am so disappointed that they eliminated Chef Tsai. Clearly he was the only choice that made any sense as an iron chef. Not only does he have the experience and knowledge, but also the charisma and personality to attract audiences. Canora in the other hand, its obnoxious and not a good team player. I will not continue to watch; as there is no challenge as far as I am concerned. I see Canora as a overrated cook and definitely not a chef. What a real disappointment this season of next iron chef its been.

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