Next Iron Chef Exit Interview: Chef Tio’s Parting Words

by in Shows, November 15th, 2010
Chef Tio's advice to future rivals: "Follow through and listen to your gut."

The experience I had on The Next Iron Chef was “once in a lifetime.” I met and worked with nine great chefs, pushing the boundaries of what I thought I could do each time I approached a challenge. It taught me more about myself and my willingness to take risks in order to make things happen.

I always say you should never look back and say, “What if…?” Unfortunately, I didn’t listen to my own advice. When I was plating my Moi dishes, I literally hesitated when I was on the ginger-braised daikon portion of the dish, thinking I wanted to add a pinch of Maldon salt to add that crunch and add that bright, clean, up-front flavor to the dish. I know Simon Majumdar is more salt-sensitive, so I opted not to add it, and Michael Symon thought that dish needed a touch more salt. If you hesitate, it means you should follow through and listen to your gut. I did not.

In this case, I can’t think about the “what if…”, I focus on the fact that I was a strong competitor who gave all the other chefs a run for their money. I represented myself and my cooking proudly and with integrity every time I stepped into battle.

Celina Tio

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

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Comments (191)

  1. Lea says:

    NIC was on today with Sunday's show. Tsai and Tio should be going to kitchen stadium. Forgione is O.K., but can't use a pressure cooker?? Canora is awful. I watch Iron Chef, but when Garces (who shouldn't have beaten Freitag) is on, I don't watch – not interesting. I'll do the same when either of these chefs are on. Tsai and Tio had creativity and the chops to be an Iron Chef. Tio had a lot of class. She should have voted for herself. You could tell that Donatella didn't like Chef Tio – what bias! Well..I didn't like Donatella's judging – she's not very good.

    • Nancy says:

      I totally agree with you, Lea. Donatella seemed to favor Chef Canora through the whole season. He has no personality and whined about everything. Chef Tsai never had a chance as the judges had already decided he wouldn't win. Both Tsai and Tio showed creativity and could actually think on their feet. I won't be watching the finale because I really don't care about either of the finalists.

  2. laufra says:

    I agree, Ming Tsai should have won.

    • The JillyBean says:

      I have a feeling that Tsai was just a huckleberry. He's a full fledged brand and cooking "empire." There's little FN could do to pimp him out to brand him and make money off of him. Anyway, at this point I don't see that being on FN would give him credibility. The programming on FN is going downhill fast. In addition to my deleting FN shows off my DVR, many other people on this forum have essentially said the same thing.

  3. julie says:

    Let´s face it, Food Network-type programming is about two things — provide information and/or entertain. The best chefs do both — Julia Child, Jacques Pépin…Ming Tsai! PBS´ America´s Test Kitchen is way more entertaining and certainly more informative than anything on Food Network these days and I´d rather watch an old episode of any Julia Child program than 99% of what´s on FN these days. When they launched Cooking Channel did they think they´d compartmentalize and have the "real" cooking there with schlocky entertainment for the masses on FN? I don´t know about the rest of you, but I don´t get Cooking Channel unless I pay extra for it and I´m not about to do that, especially not now! But whatever entertainment is provided, the food and cooking have to come first, without that the rest is not worth watching. Celebrity Chefs, all the rest of the garbage, building cakes I have no interest in whatsoever… The top chefs in the world for the last, oh, fifteen years, have been Spanish (from Spain, that is) and a Spanish restaurant named El Bulli has revolutionized cooking as art. So I´m never going to make their foams or jelled concoctions but does FN even bother to ever inform us what that´s all about? That might be fun to watch, just for entertainment and informational value but instead we get Tailgate Warriors. They´re losers in both the entertainment and the informational areas, they´re making a bad bet on what´s going to fly commercially, aiming for the lowest common denominator and I´ll take PBS´ programming over theirs from now on.

    • The JillyBean says:

      Even the Cooking Channel is stuffed with non-cooking shows. Pepin was great, I miss his show. In later years he and his daughter had a show on PBS. The bread making monk and the test kitchen were my other favorites. Ah the good old days.

      • julie says:

        Do they have a vegetarian cooking show that isn´t preachy and results in good food? No. Do they have a how to bake gluten free show that produces good food (no xanthan gum please!)? No. Do they have a Mexican cooking show that isn´t insulting, with the likes of Rick Bayless, as opposed to the Simply Delicioso host whatever her name is? No. Do they have a show with recipes and strategies for getting kids involved in cooking? No. Or a REAL show for truly poor people who desperately need help learning how to put together nutritious and tasty meals on food stamps. Grilling — we do get a lot of tips for grilling from Bobby Flay — when he´s NOT grilling he´s more interesting and helpful. Can newly diagnosed diabetics tune into a FN show to get some tips and orientation? No. Do they send a reporter to Madrid Fusión to tell us what that´s all about? No. Do they EVEN educate this country about regional American cuisine? No. They have money. They just don´t bother to think about the viewing public´s needs and interests. Dinner Impossible — WHO CARES?! The sexual banter on the Neeleys and the cleavage on Giada at Home — WHO CARES?!

        • The JillyBean says:

          For the most part FN lost me at "semi-homemade." FN programming is one hot mess. It's starting to resemble a Jackson Pollack painting. It's just not a foodie channel anymore.

    • Clara Tea says:

      You have nailed it, Julie. Food Network really needs to sit down and read some of these commentaries. I used to love the programming on Food Network when the programs actually taught us something. They may put some of the actual cooking shows on during the daytime, but many of us are out working during the day. Like many others, I don't get home until after 6:00pm. The evening programming no longer runs the shows it once did. I can't speak for the other viewers, but I, myself, did not have the opportunity to attend culinary school in Paris. I still have to cook, though. I have looked to the cooking shows on TV and videos to learn cooking skills and techniques. Those FN shows that are run during the evening these days do nothing for me at all. Some people might enjoy watching endless programs that show how jelly beans are mass produced, or how machines poke holes in doughnuts, or how some diner in the middle of nowhere makes sublime pork-and-beans; however, some of us would still like to learn how to cook a decent meal. They could put a few of those shows back on at night once in the while.

  4. KAverette says:

    How can anyone respect a Chef who constantly whines about everything and think he's the best and boast about it. Chef Canora seems to do that too much. You don't see that with the other Iron Chefs. I don't like that about Chef Canora. People don't respect someone who is that way. You should be humble and not rip others apart. I agree with others who say Chef Tsai and Chef Tio should have stayed. I am not a Chef but I know how to use a pressure cooker. I thought that was crazy when a couple of them didn't know how to use one and wasn't familiar with the sounds it should make.

  5. John In Atl says:

    You know..the only judge I feel had the right to judge was Michael Symon. He went through the process and won. Jeffery would have been an excellent judge. Divatella and the other guy, well they haven't even challenged an Iron Chef. I will not watch the Finals.. my 2 contestants are now gone..Tio and Ming..I would have watched those two as finalists.

  6. SeriousFoodie says:

    From the sublime (Ming & Tio) to the hilarious (Canora & Forgione)… Unbelievable! As many others have already commented, I will not bother watching IC anymore as it really has become a mediocre show.

  7. nlk says:

    I won't be watching the show tonight. Chef Tsai and Chef Tio were the best contestants and a final episode between them would have been very exciting to watch. As it is I don't care about the remaining contestants. Sure that Chef Canora will win as he has appeared ruthless during the entire season. Won't watch his contests in Kitchen Stadium either

  8. HeY says:

    I watched because of Ming Tsai and without his presence I have changed the channel.

  9. Marisa says:

    I am so disappointed with the elimination of Ming Tsai. You know that FN stooped to a new low when they decided to do yet another NIC rather than focusing on elevating the floundering ICA by making Chef Tsai the next Iron Chef. Chef Tsai has the personality, stage presence, a proven resume, and a diverse fan base that would have gotten viewers to tune in to watch the show. Instead, they create yet another asinine "reality" show to muster up a temporary boost in ratings rather than attempting to maintain the quality of ICA.

  10. MST says:

    I didn't think it is worth to right anything, but after reading previous comments decided to add my voice as well.
    Chef Ming Tsai was and is the best of the group and should have won. I thing judges didn't treated him fairly because of his fame. And I think Michael Symon just afraid of the competition in the ranks of Iron Chefs – Ming Thai is much better chef than him. I still don't understand how he won over chef John Besh.
    I lost interest in the finale and will not watch it.
    Chef Tsai should have won!!!

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