Critical Moments: What Happens in Vegas…

by in Shows, November 8th, 2010
This week's challenge to transform a Vegas buffet into "something that would not make any sane person recoil in terror" was "close to impossible," according to Simon Majumdar.

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 had asked the remaining five chefs to transform a traditional Las Vegas buffet into something that would not make any sane person recoil in terror. It was a close to impossible task. To my mind this is one of the low points of American cuisine and I felt as much trepidation as I did anticipation as I took my place on the judging plinth.

Despite the fact that he constantly looked on the verge of a fatal aneurysm, it was Chef Canora who came closest to meeting The Chairman’s challenge with a variety of dishes that were both packed with flavor, but also showed off his exemplary technique. He was our clear winner, although his cardiologist may disagree.

If anyone ever doubted just how seriously the judges took their task of selecting The Next Iron Chef, they only needed to be a fly on wall as Iron Chef Symon, Donatella and I discussed which two of the remaining four chefs were to be eliminated. The debate became as heated, down and dirty as I am sure it had been in the kitchen.

Our first choice was the easy one. That Chef Caswell is a chef of extraordinary ability had been made clear during previous rounds, but there were enough low points in his cooking, during this challenge for all of us to decide it was time to holler “bye-bye Ballerina Boy.” He may have left with an unwanted new nickname, but he could also leave with his head held very high.

For the second time in two challenges, Chef Forgione sent out an inedible piece of protein which would never be allowed to leave his restaurant kitchen and that was enough for me to suggest hailing him a taxi from The Strip to the airport. Donatella found it hard to forgive Chef Tio for presenting three plates of pure white and Iron Chef Symon selected Chef Tsai for unusual flaws in his technique.

We would still be arguing now if The Chairman had not generously decided that all three should survive to cook at least once more. Next time, however, there would be no reprieve and only two chefs would make their way to Kitchen Stadium.

Look inside Chef Caswell’s Next Iron Chef journal and flip through our behind-the-scenes gallery from Episode 6.

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

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Comments (260)

  1. KiwiBasket says:

    Okay, I know the new blog post wasn't posted yet, but I couldn't wait.

    Watched the new episode of NIC… WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN.
    Chef Tio and Tsai BOTH get kicked out?! You've gotta be kidding me. I would have expected at least one of them to stay, but not both of them to go. Tio and Tsai were my favorites too… I at least hope they stay with FN, like how Amanda Frietag did by becoming a judge on Chopped. Though I don't think it'll be too likely, since it's "Next Iron Chef", not "The Next Food Network Star" and there are no constellation prizes.
    Forgione in my honest opinion did the worst, and I kept expecting him to go. I mean, did you hear the comments on his ravioli?! And yet, he goes on. What the heck.
    Granted, I hope Forgione wins instead of Canora. I seriously don't like Canora's attitude… and I'm sure a pretty good chunk of the users on the site agree, considering all the anti-Canora comments. I don't mean to be a "hater" and I'd rather just stay here and write a witty comment, but seriously…

    …Did anyone else realize that Forgione and Canora both live in New York? And Kitchen Stadium is located in New York as well, right? The dreaded, "oh snap, it's fixed" feeling is coming, something I really wanted to push away. Sigh, I'm so disappointed, Food Network.

  2. Linda Janssen says:

    I have the highest regard for all of the Iron Chefs and thouroughly enjoy watching the program. There are some things that to me an Iron Chef should posess…….ethics, professional, excellent chef and so on. I do not believe that Tsai has any of these qualities. He is an arrogant disgusting ego riden jerk and he does not even come close to being the kind of person an Iron Chef is. There are a few that are pretty superior but I don't care who wins as long as he does not. What an insult to Iron Chef and I would hate to quit watching it.

    • kimp5 says:

      although I dont agree with you I respect your opinon as I feel that way about Canora…seems Fiorgone, although not too exciting may have the ethics etc you are speaking of though..:)

    • Sherry says:

      So I guess your idea of ethics and professionalism can be seen in Canora? I am OK with Fiorgione but would rather Tsai or Tio winning. At this point, I just hope it is not Canora and I am afraid it would be him because he has been the judges' favorite since episode 3 or 4. He is arrogant and disgustingly annoying. I believe Garces' win was a mistake and look at how well he did in the last year on ICA?? Maybe FN would realize this is all a mistake when Canora starts following Garces' footstep and begins to lose a lof of ICA battles.

    • donny says:

      Ming is a phony. I agree.

    • Henry says:

      So you mean to tell me an emmy award winning chef who has BEATEN Bobby Flay in an Iron Chef battle is not an excellent chef? Ming Tsai owns a award winning restaurant and is a world known chef. He has respect from all the chefs on that show and even Alton Brown didn't think Ming needed to compete. You have NO IDEA what your talking about.

  3. kimp5 says:

    Im starting to think they are looking for an "Italian chef" to take Batalis place. He isnt standing on the podium anymore and they already have morimoto-asian-that knocks out Tsai. Garces, spanish, flay-americana barbecue, cora-greek, symon-well I dont know what he that leaves? well wouldnt you know, french and Italian..hmmmmm.

  4. Dave says:

    I won't see the Iron Chef show from now on. Why same judges judge all the time? This seems not be right. Look at the other cooking show "Top Chef". In that program, it will invite a guest judge at least.

  5. Vicky says:

    I sooo agree want to hear from others before i deleat fn from tv . bozos off the street could judge. Im fed up. POLITICS i have enough to listen to with the world without fn doing it.

  6. pam says:

    Many people complained about Jeffery, a judge last season. However I think he is much better than the judges this year… at least he knows about food!

  7. Sandy says:

    These judges are a joke..are they picking an Iron chef or a chef for one of Dona diva restaurant ? What a sham!

  8. Judy says:

    I don't like that Canora because he is very attitude and whines about everything. He is really horrible chef attitude. He already made me feel like he is very racist. Oh well I hope for other chef win for Iron Chef next sunday, not him. If he win then I will not watch him but others of course. Because Canora kept whine about everything and kept where is item etc etc everything. I think he is very cheater.

  9. twinkletink says:

    I can't even wait for the next blog. What a joke. I am done with this show. Chef Tio clearly was the winner of this challenge. I couldn't be more tired of Chef Canora…what a whiner, cheater, non talent he is! Yes, set up your own definition on each challenge of what the winner did…so only you can win. I will seriously not watch one ICA he is featured on, if he wins.

  10. Nancy says:

    I agree Exactly! Elimnating Ming Tsia is a travesty! Chef Canora is annoying, whinny and a poor sport! I will not watch him if he wins. This show is a joke!!! You had a chance to bring on a world class chef with CLASSS! Pleaseeeee, Chef Canora can't carry Ming Tsai's knifes!!!!!

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