Chatting With the Latest Next Iron Chef: Super Chef Exile

by in Shows, December 12th, 2011

The fourth season of The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs is coming to a close, with just two chefs left fighting it out for a grand prize that so many would-be chefs covet: joining the ranks of Iron Chefs Marc Forgione, Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto, Cat Cora, Jose Garces and Michael Symon. Each chef will try to pull out all their tricks to stay in the competition but, ultimately, one chef must go home each week. Every Monday, FN Dish brings you exclusive exit interviews with the latest Super Chef to get the boot.

This week, two competitors said goodbye in a double elimination.

Michael Chiarello was the second to say goodbye, but he fought to the very last second.

FN Dish: What was your first thought when you heard that this specific day was going to be a double elimination?

MC: That there was as 50 percent chance I was going home and there was no playing it safe. I had to swing for the fence. Either you’re in the top or the bottom — no room for mistakes.

FN Dish: You said, “I did nothing but give 300 percent of myself — I’m disappointed. I didn’t come here to lose.” Take us back to those last moments. What would you have done differently, if anything, in that last challenge?

MC: I’m proud of the food I put forward, but if I had the opportunity to do it again, I may have incorporated the crackers into the inside of my offerings.

FN Dish: Who has been the most shocking competitor to you this season?

MC: I’ve always known Geoffrey to have a toolbox of extraordinary techniques, but I was surprised at how many of them he could use at once. He is a skilled competitor.

FN Dish: What is the most surprising thing you learned about yourself throughout this competition?

MC: I learned that it’s helpful to have a depth of techniques in other cuisines in addition to the Italian that I cook every day — including the French I was trained in.

FN Dish: What’s next for you?

MC: I’m looking to bring the country boy into the city as I look for a location for my San Francisco restaurant.




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Comments (243)

  1. southernvegan says:

    There new line up does not seem to be any better…with Fieri and Ray holding a celebrity cook off…..can you say Loser programming and who cares what BF would do?

    • JLF says:

      I cringed when I saw the promo for that new show – I'm getting worn out with the contests. There's already a Game Show Network – we don't need FN to become another one.

      • FanFare57 says:

        Sadly, it already has become another game show network. How many Next Food Network Stars are needed? The newer ones don't seem to hold an audience. The discards land their own shows in spite of being offed (ex. Kelsey somebody and the skinny guy that did anything for food). If FN wants new stars. then just appoint them, instead having a lengthy, convoluted contest.

        • Dot says:

          Kelsey and others who were cast of NFNS are on the Food Network's other channel: the cooking channel. Melissa D'Arabian cannot cook a meal for 4 for under $10, expecially some of the meals she does cook.

          • jeri says:

            She could when the show was taped!!

          • FanFare57 says:

            I realize that Kelsey (et al) got a show on the Cooking Channel. My point is that she (et al) got their own shows, in spite of being eliminated for poor performance or poor product. If a contest is valid, a prize to the losers (who weren't even runners up) diminishes the contest, itself. I find Melissa to be unwatchable. Her voice grates, and her concept is uninteresting. It's as bad as "making a meal out of a sandwich; and a sandwich is a meal.."

          • luvcookin says:

            Kelsey was eliminated because Tushman didn't like her references to culinary school. Also it was time in the eyes of FN to be politically correct and appoint an African-American (Aaron McCargo, Jr.) as NFNS. When time was running out Aaron had forgotten to cook his chicken and one of the other contestants had to point it out to him. His show has been canceled.

    • Dot says:

      Ya, Bobby Flay is ALL OVER the food network. I am tired of him. Certainly he isn;t the only chef out there, is he? And he certainly isn't all that. He is played out, like a child star.

      • FoodFan2 says:

        Dot, I'm with you. I don't understand all the "Bobby Love". He swaggers around each set as though he's the CEO of FN. When he's the judge at a contest, he emits harsh comments. At every Iron Chef showdown, his ingredients remain the same (chili peppers this, hot sauce that).

    • LSperry5 says:

      Unfortunately you are right. They have been there and done that, and done that, and done that. Doesn't ring my bell.

    • WestCoastFan says:

      This kinda looks like a celebrity version of Worst Cooks.

      • jeri says:

        Yep, sounds about right. The worst part? They are celebrities!!!

        • WestCoastFan says:

          Yep, but I think some may be able to cook. I'm quite sure that Lou Diamond Phillips can or at least knows his way around a kitchen. I remember when he was a judge on ICA and he made some comment that he'd done one of the chefs recipe's during the holidays to raves. Of course he didn't tell his guests that it wasn't his recipe. :-) I believe it might have been a thanksgiving themed show.

          • jeri says:

            That's right, since you mentioned it, I do remember him being a judge, and he did a right fine job. So he does know about food. I will watch if for no other reason than the entertainment.

        • LyndaS says:

          I haven't heard of this show. From the comments here, it sounds embarrassing.

  2. JLF says:

    If I had to put my finger on what has made this competition less satisfying than I had hoped, it's the absurdity of many of the challenges that made it feel much more like Chopped than Iron Chef. Kitchen Stadium is all about top quality ingredients (Alton's Fruit Cake aside) and how each competitor can do justice to the secret ingredient. This competition has been the opposite – movie junk food, nasty comic food combinations, boxed crackers. Then the tricky twists – auctions, horrific time limitations, story telling, and forcing one to judge her peers. None of this has relevance to how any of these top grade chefs would perform as Iron Chef. To even out the ugliness of each week's traps, I would like to see all of the chefs compete throughout the entire competition, with a point system that matches the ICA scoring: Taste, Originality, Plating. At the end of the competition, most points win.

    • FanFare57 says:

      JLF – I've been feeling very dissatisfied about this year's NIC as well. You've articulated my feelings.
      Next, FN will make the chefs cook blind folded with one arm tied behind their backs while working with alligator meat and licorice whips and present their offerings in poetic verse.

    • southernvegan says:

      I agree the original scoring seems to be a much better concept than this so called fixed categories that the show currently uses. They need not play so much to their sponsors either as the more prepackaged food we buy the more we are adding to our health failures in the future. What happened to cooking from scratch.

    • WestCoastFan says:

      Just out of curiousity did you watch the previous NIC's? What did you think of them?

      • JLF says:

        You know, I did watch the last 3 competitions, but to be really honest, I can't remember specific challenges and how they were different or similar to this season. But what I do remember is an overall impression that there was more emphasis on the cooking. I don't remember so much drama. I suspect my memories of this season will remain sharper than the previous seasons, but not for the cooking – for the tricks and the twists and the "OMG they've got to be kidding" reaction to the challenges. If that's what FN wants – the shock value, then they succeeded, but it doesn't inspire me to want to watch another season.

        • WestCoastFan says:

          JLF – Try to see if you can watch the previous NIC's. You will see that some of the challenges were quite insane. Take NIC 2 where in the 1st ep they had to cook with exotic ingredients that none of the chefs would have ever used. Many were asian/south-east asian in nature. How would you like to be the chefs stuck with stinky tofu, durian fruit, grasshoppers or (here's a kicker) unlaid duck eggs with the fallopians still attached!

          • JLF says:

            OMG – now that you mention it I do remember that one! It was so gross and I thought "why would I ever want to see someone cook with that stuff?"

          • jeri says:

            That was my reaction too. I watched it last night. And, where in the US restaurant world would that stuff be on a menu, except of course restaurants that cater to those cultures?

          • WestCoastFan says:

            I know! Those 10 ingredients they used for that elimination were just out of this world for those used to cooking american, rustic/italian, spanish/latin cuisine. If you remember each shot of the chef as they arrived in the 1st ep of S2 would state how long they've been a chef/cooking and what their speciality was. All seemed to fall within the styles I listed. It's a wonder they can't get a chef like Susar Lee to try out. Talk about someone familiar with the exotic foods from both east and west!

        • Ivy Lucas says:

          JLF, this is my first year watching the show….mostly I haven't liked the favoritism that went on. I agree with your blog. When this is over what are we going to complain about ??? I will miss ever one, especially you…… IFL

          • JLF says:

            Aww Shucks. :-)

          • jeri says:

            Don't worry, I'm sure something will turn up. It certainly has been fun though, hasn't it? I have enjoyed the back and forth, and defending against all the uncalled for remarks. Just be thankful you posters didn't have to hear what my poor husband had to listen too!!!! (lol)!

          • WestCoastFan says:

            Ivy Lucas – Try and watch the previous seasons. Especially season 1. It changed from S1 to S2. I think FN must've wanted to make it more interesting in throwing the chefs bigger hoops to jump thru. The 1st season the most difficult thing might have been when they had to do some mise en place/knife skill test and work with equipment and chemicals used in molecular gastronomy and of course the time constraint but that hasn't change from S1 to S4. The clock is always the biggest threat to the chefs.

        • WestCoastFan says:

          JLF – I didn't notice until now but FN has S1 of NIC in it's video section. Take a look see if you want to refresh the old brain cells on S1.

          I would strongly suggest to those who've never seen the 1st season to watch. If you want cooking w/o odd twists this may be the season for you.

    • Dot says:

      I agree. Asking MC to make a delicious, elegant meal using gummy bears is ridiculous. Gummy bears and the like ARE NOT designed to be made into a meal. ALso, these chefs would never chose to work with these stupid ingredients in their food establishments. They would be out of business.

      • WestCoastFan says:

        I thought his use of the gummy candy in lieu of the geletin for his panna cotta was clever but there is one thing that I wish we could as MC. Why did he want popcorn and when he said he wished he'd gotten it as an ingredient I was just dying to know what type of dish he would have made out of it.

    • LSperry5 says:

      WOW, You are so right. I agree with everything you've said. I remember with chef Graces' group they had to cook with grasshoppers, sea cucumber, cock's crows, ….and a bunch of other bizarre foods. All cooking something different…..How can judging be fair and equal, if it is not an even cooking field? I wonder what it would cost to keep all those very expensive chefs around for 10 weeks? I think your idea is a really good one. Imagine the following and fun routing for your favorite to the very end. Oh yea, I like that idea just fine. I also am not and have never been pleased with food critiques, movie stars… judging these chefs. They have never walked a mile, therefor lacking appropriate ability. Just my opinion.

      • JLF says:

        Now that you and WestCoastfan have brought up past competitions, my memory has kicked in a little better. Although there have been some really horrible ingredients required in prior challenges, has there been a history of nasty challenges like judging your peers, or time restrictions grossly out of balance with the rest of the field, or an expectation that story telling ability trumps flavor? I'll have to look at those earlier competitions to see if my memory has tricked me into believing that the early competitions were indeed focused more on cooking than practical jokes, or if the complexion of the challenges have in reality changed in favor of a game show atmosphere that promotes drama over talent.

  3. Anthony Gorton says:

    Not watched since Chef Robert Irvine was,cheated by Symon,s switch channels when he shows up on the Network,so no idea if there has been more idiotic votes?
    Stil watch other Food/cooking shows,but not any with Alex,Michael or Symon,s

  4. Marilyn says:

    I am completely disappointed in the whole Next Iron Chef series. Use of ingredients that are more like Chopped than ICA. I also did not like the fact that they used so many of the Food Network chefs. The previous NIC series have been much more interesting. I don't like the judges except for Michael Symon. The food write is full of himself and he needs to be eliminated. I would have liked Michael Chiarello or Chuck Hughes.

  5. Jylie says:

    Sing with me folks… "Ding Dong the witch is gone… " Thanks Wizard of Oz!! AT LAST!! They got smart and gave AG the old heave-ho!!

    • Dot says:

      Here HEre. SHe is nasty. Read Sasha's post about Alex's behavior on Iron Chef. She wouldn't have fit in with an attitude like that. Her head is as big as her butt and her excuses

      • LyndaS says:

        Seriously, you people need to take a chill pill and leave the eliminated chefs alone. For them, the game is over. However, your insulting posts serve no purpose other than to extend the vitriol a bit longer.

        • jeri says:

          I agree, LydiaS. Time to focus on next weeks show. And what about the redemption vote?

        • LyndaS says:

          Alan: Actually, I am utilizing my freedom of expression. You and your ilk express the freedom of Hatred with your tone and words. That choice isn't a very winning debate when you rely on personal slurs to further your aim. Peace out.

      • NyteOwl99 says:

        I don't know what Sasha said – but I watched the ICA with Cat and Alex. Alex was just fine – calm and funny, bantering with Alton and the Chairman. She looked disappointed when she lost. Big whoop.

        You should re-read your posts. Who's really the nasty witches?

        • WestCoastFan says:

          I'm thinking that it is the stress of doing everything by yourself that makes the *itch come out. In ICA at least you have 2 sous chefs helping you out.

          • LyndaS says:

            On Chopped, Alex's comments don't stand out as being more harsh than the other judges. She seems to appreciate simply prepared dishes. On NIC, I didn't find Alex particularly MORE b*tchy than anyone else. Most of the time, she was talking to herself or the producer/camera person. The continuous remarks about her physical appearance is vindictive from these rabid posters.
            I doubt any one of them could be mistaken for a runway model or "Charles Atlas".

          • WestCoastFan says:

            "…The continuous remarks about her (Alex) physical appearance is vindictive from these rabid posters. I doubt any one of them could be mistaken for a runway model or "Charles Atlas". "

            Point for LyndaS! :-)

    • Knowsgoodfood says:

      Agreed!!!! She is not only a bad Chef but she is a giant (and I'm not just referring to her butt) witch.

    • mirror talks back says:

      Wow..being careful there sister. Criticize Alex and got thumped on by those who identify with her as their personal favorite or Alex-wannabes?

  6. Richard says:

    For the NIC series don't waste tv time with cooking. Just announce who you chose. No way Zakarian should be this far. He failed to follow the rules on two different segments. Further he was arrogant saying he didn't care and was going to cook what he wanted. Then he won on "technique" and was severely downgraded by two judges in a cook off that eliminated Chef Burrell. Ever watch him on Chopped- he is the worst judge they have and is never satisfied with any dish. He would not be allowed to cook for my dog.

  7. sasha says:

    Chef Faulker deserves to be a finalist. I disliked some of the others behaving as if she is outside of their click becasue she is a pastry chef. and further seventh grade behavior on the part of Anne Burell and Alex G was a big turn off. Anne B is a good chef, but on her show, she is contrived, obnoxious and her double dipping when she tastes is gross. Alex has shown herself to be spoiled, entitled and mean spirited.She shouts "OUT OF MY WAY!" to the other chefs. She expected chef Faulker to stop using the kitchen aid in the middle of her task and let Alex have it. ??! her and Ann's nasty remarks about the others show them to lack grace and integrity, which some of the other chefs maintained. If this competition was based on personality, i'd have booted those two out at the beginining for that alone!

  8. mary says:

    I agree that the lack of integrity and grace demonstrated by some of the chefs was unexpected behavior in professional adults. The Food Network in general has declined over the past number of years, and this is just one example. There are other ways to run a competition; eliminating one by one is nasty, and appeals to the lowest common denomenator. The producers obviously go along with trend rather than elevate when they have the opportunity.

    • JLF says:

      I have to say that overall I did not see the chefs behaving badly. So many posters complained about chefs' and judges' bad attitudes and meanness to each other, but honestly reading those posts it felt like someone must have watched a different show than I did. I suspect that people find what they are looking for. If you look for controversy and conspiracy, you're sure to find something to feed your need. And the same goes for me – if I look for folks to do the best they can in stressful circumstances and still make it through in spite of mistakes, well that's what I found in the show.

  9. Dot says:

    Chef Burrell seems to be the smart choice for Iron Chef. She was Mario Batalli's sous chef for all the years he was on IC. She knows what it takes. After all, she made many of the dishes that helped Chef Mario win.

  10. guest says:

    Prediction, Zakarian will falter with a technicality or trying to create too many dishes. If this happens I submit that the producers should fess up that the show if fixed and the winner was already signed to a contract to appear as the next iron chef

    • LyndaS says:

      EF seems to allude to that when she stated, "It's written in stone."

    • shanon tully says:

      I agree. I said from day one the show aired that chef Falkner was going to win because all the other chefs have so much going on on the network already. I do believe the show was fixed to start with and I am disappointed in food network.

      • Bilingual says:

        i agree completely. I am utterly disappointed Food Network. The Asian judge, whom i thought would be a welcomed change but was a disgrace, is so far up Faulkner's pants it is disgusting. KUDOS to Michael Simon for sticking up for AG in last judging but sadly Food Network had this decided before the first showed ever aired. SHAME ON THEM….losing viewers!

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