Chef Alex to the Rescue — The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs Finale

by in Shows, December 19th, 2011

I have to say, if you’re not going to win a competition show, being recruited to help cook by the last two standing is a pretty decent consolation prize. As was true for the entire duration of this series, I learned a lot on that day. Elizabeth and Geoffrey have very different styles of cooking and very different work methods. The hardest part? Going out to sit in the audience with my fellow competitors and knowing that I was soon going to have to join each team for 15 minutes. Wow. That’s like joining Gene Kelly in the middle of one of his tap-dancing routines without rehearsal. That Chairman doesn’t know when to quit, does he?

I started out on Team Geoffrey. After years of working together on Chopped, I know that we share a great love of French food and impulsive cooking. Geoffrey seemed as if he hadn’t completely decided what he was making and in his shoes, I would have been in the same position. “Take the cranberries the Chairman just gave us, the rice and sake and make me risotto as one of the dishes,” he shouted above the din of the kitchen noise. Make an entire dish? For him to serve to the Iron Chefs? I cooked some onions and butter in some sake and added the arborio rice. I stirred the rice, added some more sake, a sprinkle of sugar and a pat of butter and let the mixture simmer. Separately, I cooked the cranberries until tender with some spices (not too heavy) and set them aside for Team Geoffrey to reheat to their liking. The key to cooking food in a context like this is to get everything close to how you want it and perfect it at the last minute. The pressure was unreal. What if that ended up being the one dish the Iron Chefs didn’t like?

Just then the Chairman appeared again to open another gift and add more complexity to the situation. An ice cream machine my nemesis. Geoffrey turned to me and said, “Can you whip up an ice cream base?” Just then the buzzer rang. Time to head over to Team Falkner.

Team Falkner was more intense, more frenzied. I loved that the team was all women and the determination on their faces was so amazing to experience firsthand. I stood in the periphery while Elizabeth frantically read me a list of little items to prep for her. Make whipped cream, ganache, chop herbs, section citrus and shave fennel. I wasn’t assembling any one dish like I did for Geoffrey, but I helped her clean up some of the details of her dishes. I grabbed everything I needed and just blindly tried to plow through the list. I felt like her menu was so ambitious, who knew if she would finish in time? And, to be honest, if I were in her shoes, I would have been in the same position. I heard Beau Mac cheering and Chuck laughing and the rest was a blur. I finished the tasks just as the buzzer rang again and returned to my seat in the audience. I was breathless and invigorated.



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Comments (52)

  1. Mary Stortz says:

    You are such a class act. These morons that claim you're a whiner don't know what they're talking about and have never been in a busy kitchen. I hope you get a chance to compete again. It spoke volumes that your risotto was the star!

  2. Marissa says:

    I was really hoping you would win, Alex. You were amazing.

  3. kan315 says:

    i still would have loved the finale to be anne and robert but it is what it is…in the begining of my obsession w/ food network ( the only channel i watch) i was not an alex fan but now i love her…her comments are real and she says what's on her mind…i agree lets try all female next time…simon…love ya but time to move on as a judge…
    if i could have 1 wish i would love to be in kitchen stadium and see a live broadcast and would love to be a plain-jane unknown judge…then i would love to go out and have a few drinks w/ anne and alex…they are my kind of people…until next year IC…find better judges and make it better

    • guest says:

      I totally agree with all you say….wouldn't it be fun to meet some of the chefs as you suggest, and even to watch the show live….wow! Anne is a wonderful chef, and I, too, have grown to really admire Alex and appreciate all that she has done. Good luck to all the chefs on the show!

  4. val says:

    Once again the good old boys network takes it. Really? Technique wins over CREATIVITY in the Iron Chef Kitchen? Give me a break. What really happened is that the producers couldn't turn down a chef as respected as Zakarian.

    • Guest says:

      No, I think TASTE wins over Creativity in Iron Chef Competitions. Taste=20 points; Creativity=10 points.

    • Guest says:

      No. It was experience over ambition

      • sad says:

        I agree TASTE does win over Creativity. However, Iron Chef already has several chefs that seem to offer practically identical flavors and styles as Zakarian. I honestly feel he offers nothing the show does not already have. Falkner continuously offered amazing food along flavors and dishes that have been totally unseen on Iron Chef so far. I must admit my bias in saying that I am also pretty tired of chefs either not making a dessert (a meal is not over without one) or doing a terrible job on it.

    • WestCoastFan says:

      20 points total. 10 pts for taste. 5 pts for plating. 5 pts for creativity.

  5. mikesgirl says:

    I don't understand all this support for Alex, she was absolutely whiny and I can't believe how she freaked out on the very first challenge. I would have been happy with any of the chefs winning (except Spike – give me a break) but I guessed from day one it would be Zakarian w/ Falkner or Chiarello @ the end. I also agree w/ the judges – that Judy lady turned me off the moment she said food-gasms and Simon almost seemed jealous with his comments – very nit-picky and not supportive like Michael Symon.

    • Kelley says:

      Michael Symon is a terrific judge. He always has good things to say, and is constructive with his criticism. He IS an Iron Chef, so he knows what's what. Simon, on the other hand, drives me crazy. He is so picky. What can HE cook?

  6. Donna says:

    We love you in our home. So do our grown daughters. We all wanted you to win. We love your articulate, warm and witty way. You clearly love, and respect the food. You even handle it with gentle, soft hands when possible. We were proud and happy when you were chosen to help in the finale. We took it as a validation of your awesomeness too.

    But from the beginning we were ready to accept that the best chef should win. When it came down to it…..we wept with joy when Geoffrey won his rightful place as an Iron chef.

    You are an extreme talent, and always gracious when possible. Bless you Chef Guarneschelli!

  7. Josh says:

    I was cheering for Faulkner; nevertheless, I enjoyed the show immensely throughout each competitions! I was so utterly disappointed with the last season. Forgione, really? At least, despite some controversies surrounding GZ, we have someone worthy of being an Iron Chef.

  8. darlene says:

    Love you Alex ! What an entertainer and great personality, fun to watch..very talented and so honest and have integrity. Falkner is abrasive, nasty personality, a bully…didn't like her from the beginning..she should have been eliminated long before. Chuck was fantastic..would have liked to have seen him as iron chef..very talented and has such a great personaltiy.

  9. Joey says:

    What an amazingly talented, kind and generous person you are Chef Guarneschelli! I thought your uplifted attitude and sense of joy to others and what you were doing was incredible.

  10. Kelli says:

    Way to go Alex!!! Seeing you and Geoffrey team up was one of the coolest moments on Next Iron Chef! Geoffrey is no dummy…he knew who would get the job done and get it right! Booyah!

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