A Culinary Crumble — Critical Moments

by in Shows, November 12th, 2012

Alton Brown and the White Bread Secret Ingredient ShowdownFor the next challenge, the Chairman had tasked the remaining nine chefs with re-imagining three of my favorite street foods: falafel, tacos and the Vietnamese banh mi sandwich. These are all dishes that I have sampled many times and because of that, I have very definite opinions on how they should be prepared.

Chef Mehta’s decision to take falafel in an Asian direction was an inspired and delicious one. I felt that he succeeded not only in capturing the flavors of all the ingredients, but also all the textures of a terrific falafel sandwich. He was my clear winner.

Far less successful were Chef Falkner, whose plate looked like an artist’s impression of where bad pasta goes to die; Chef Estes, whose taco soup was something I have seen quite a few times before and which was overpowered by the flavor of cilantro; and Chef Freitag, whose great flavors were lost in a dish that lacked cohesion.

There was some debate among the judges, but these three fine chefs soon found out that they were all in the Secret Ingredient Showdown and would be preparing a single dish using white bread to stay in the competition. Chef Falkner’s Monte Cristo dish showed her at her very best — creative and laser-focused. Chef Freitag also produced a dish that came to our plates directly from her soul.

Chef Estes did not produce a bad offering, but all the judges felt that it was a good dish that used a bit of bread, rather than a dish where the ingredient was the star, and for that reason it was her turn to hear Alton say the words, “I am sorry, but you won’t be The Next Iron Chef.”

What did you think of the episode? Tell me in the comments below.

Relive the episode and take a look at an extended preview of next week’s episode below (click the play button):

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Comments (66)

  1. dash says:

    I just want to seriously know one thing. Is this a set up for Alex Guarnaschelli to win and become an iron chef? If that is the case, I can then stop watching this show right now. How can you have someone (Jeffrey Zakarian) who is a colleague and probably a friend with Guarnaschelli as a judge on the panel? Is that fair to the other competitors? He has her as his sous chef on iron chef! Say whatever you want but one can never be completely straight when it comes to judging between a friend and strangers. And why is Alex Guarnaschelli always yells at camera people… to get out, to stay out of the way?? That's their job! I've never seen any current iron chefs (great ones like Morimoto, Simon, Flay) yells or being rude to camera crew on TV.

    • steve says:

      That's the reason she is among the 'redemption' chefs – because they need a woman on the Iron Chef podium.

      As for last nights loser – croutons – really – that was the only thing you could do with white bread – and you call yourself a chef, did she not listen to the directions "white bread as the main ingredient" – nice exit so the set up of Alex vs the MEN can happen ….

      Try to not be soooooo predicable next week please

    • djur says:

      I don't think she was yelling at a regular cameraman. In case you haven't noticed, Alton Brown's been doing his own bit of "filming" this season. Those shots with weird angles are his, and I think Guarnaschelli was yelling at him.

  2. 1Dishy says:

    I believe that most of these chefs are friends and definitely all are colleagues. Why is it unfair to have Chef Zakarian as one of the judges of the competition? Do you believe his comments/judging to be unscrupulous? And ask yourself this: why would he want to lose his best sous chef on ICA and then have her as a competitor?

    • FanFare59 says:

      I believe that all 3 judges probably have their biases toward or against certain chefs. They bring those notions with them each and every time (by expecting certain elements into each dish, depending on who cooked it). To counter that, I would like to see a few challenges to be blind tastings – that they are not told who made which dish. I'd be curious to see their reactions.

  3. Linda K says:

    Gotta love the fact that y'all think this is a show about a competition to be the Next Iron Chef. If shows like the Next Food Network Star or the Great Food Truck Race has not brought you to the conclusion that they (the Food Network execs) have not already looked at what sells versus who's a great chef – you are absolutely delusional. I'm not saying that the last few winners were bad chefs – no but I think others were less like likable or less TV friendly – oh that HDTV and those folks on blogs . . . most are great TV personality and damn the food – you know they have a crew to make things look good and who tastes the food . . . no one so if the food is not so "yummy" like you would know??!!?? The winner will always be the person the Execs will think will bring the most $$$ cha, ching into the wallet. Still great TV – just know that it's not a competition of food but more about Miss America trying to answer the questions without sounding more stupid.

  4. guest says:

    It is clear that the judges on Iron Chef do not like women. What is up with that? Can you really not select women? I cant help but wonder how you would vote if this was a blind tasting? I am betting the women would not be shafted like they are. I am just about done with this show… I will give it a little more time, but if a woman cannot seem to be selected in this show then I am done with it – and done with Iron Chef. And…I will share that with anyone that I can!

    • jlsbcn says:

      It's not a matter of not liking women, it's a matter of which competitor created the best dish. It just so happened that Chef Estes did not!

      • steve says:

        face the truth – it's a vehicle to get Alex on the Iron Chef podium – the other competitors are window dressing

        • jlsbcn says:

          If that's all it is, FN could just invite her to become an Iron Chef, like they did with Cat Cora and the others before there was a competition!!!!

          • Alex to Win says:

            Hey – would it ever be good TV that someone just get promoted to the position? Cat Cora – didn't last so long and didn't get a lot of backing from FN. So competition is the way to go – this is were the blood and guts are "tested" and TV viewers will feel that they go the BEST possible chef – even if it eventually will be Alex at the end since she is friends with all.

        • ICHoax says:

          true dat – they will attempt to push alex over the line

    • JC Cutter says:

      Food Network could ask for the Binder full of Women. . . I'm sure that there is at least 1 person that could match up to the talent of the men. Haha.

    • Ruth Ann says:

      Didn't Chef Alex win last week?

    • ICviagra says:

      I have to admit that I tried to get aroused by these women AND I did watching Frietag. All the rest – not so much.

    • guest2 says:

      "guest" sounds like another activist nut job that is typing away while eating a Big Mac meal. No regard for the Food Network, just an activist hater looking to interject gender bias…

    • WestCoastFan says:

      Then you must think the same for Top Chef Masters. They've had 4 seasons of that and not 1 female winner yet. One of the best chances they had was in season 3. The final 3 were Mary Sue Milliken & Traci DesJardins vs Floyd Cardoz. The only reason one doesn't get too angry about this show is that all the chefs are participating to make money for their favorite charities.

    • FanFare59 says:

      I see it differently. I think they are trying hard to pass Alex and Lizzie through, no matter what.

  5. misfit74 says:

    Faulkner is one of the chefs I hope to see in the finals again. Appleman vs. Faulkner with Faulkner winning…love her ability to bring pastry chef background to the table and she's every bit as good with the savory side.

    • Brenda H says:

      I am actually tired of Faulkner making ice cream in every showdown. That's all she did last season. This is more than an ice cream battle.

      • LISN says:

        ITA! She's beyond boring and insufferable with her, "I AM GOING TO BE THE NEXT IRON CHEF!" Yeah, honey – you and everyone else…

    • FanFare59 says:

      Those two you chose: GROSS! I can't stand either one of them. They behave as they are entitled. Lizzie is worse this year than last time. If she wanted to make ice cream all the time, she should get herself a little truck.

  6. WestCoastFan says:

    I hope falkner makes it to the end again and this time gets the crown. Loved what Simon said in that if Falkner had made a dish like that in the finals she'd be sitting at the judges table instead of Geoffrey. He could have been joking but he said he was serious. Makes me wonder how close the judging truly was.

    One bugerboo for this Redemption series is that why we're Marcel and Tim Love asked to do it? Neither has been on a previous Next Iron Chef.

    • jlsbcn says:

      Good point about Lovr & Marcel, I wondered the same thing. There must be a reason. Your incite about Falkner,I think, is spot on. I agree!!

    • beachinfrizzy says:

      Good question…I wondered the same thing as Marcel and Spike were non-winning contestants on Bravo's Top Chef, and I don't remember Tim Love competing on any series-long competition although he was a guest judge on Top Chef IIRC. With very few exceptions, it sure looks to me like they casted individuals who are either already well known to FN's viewers and would bring their fan bases, or who were annoying/obnoxious/ trouble makers in their previous seasons in hopes of creating more drama this time around, again for ratings.

      • WestCoastFan says:

        If you can find it on the web anywhere Tim Love competed on Top Chef Masters, season 1, episode 1. As he stated in the show he had an awful experience with Kale. After purchasing all his food he had placed his groceries in what he thought was the refrigerator but was in fact the freezer. All his produce froze. He was really up sh*t creek when that happened but he did manage to finish his meals for the judges.

        I like TCM because the chefs are doing it for charity. If you win your quickfires ($5000) and elimination challenges ($10,000) you can make a pretty penny for your charity. The winner gets the grand prize of $100,000 to go with everything they might have won during the show.

        • beachinfrizzy says:

          Oh, that explains it because I didn't watch that series. While I do like hearing that the participants did it for charity in that case (and yes those challenge prizes were VERY generous!) I tend to avoid most of the "All Star" shows because for me, the fun -and the point – of shows like NIC, NFNS, Top Chef and even Chopped is to see talented unknowns being 'discovered' much like American Idol. If charity isn't involved, I don't really see the point of having chefs who are already "stars" getting picked apart by other "stars" who may or may not be their superiors (I mean honestly, game-show winner Michael Symon 'judging' Marcus Samuelsson in last seasons NICAS? Really?) It also exposes an unflattering side to some chefs… I would think the Network wouldn't want to undermine the images of their established stars…you can't tell me Anne Burrell didn't purposly Chop Symon purely as revenge for his part in her NICAS ouster last time. Didn't gain her any likability points with this viewer esp. after her goading and gloating antics in Worst Cooks. Which is a shame because I find her very likable on her own show.

  7. FS12 says:

    When Falkner got ticked off, I got fired up. My $$ is on her!

  8. Shezogie says:

    As I read these comments I would just like to remind everyone that these shows are for entertainment purposes. Even if the Food Network has already decided who will win, what do we care? The show is fun to watch, gets your blood revved up and we get to see some fantastic food prep and gives us ideas of our own.
    As for the ones who say they will never watch ICA again, I ask – REALLY? Isn't it fun to watch just so you can make comments? Loosen up, relax and enjoy.

  9. weRtheworld says:

    Demographic wars: Food Network knows that it needs to enhance its Iron Chef profile or it will be targeted by activists…

    Body Type
    Food Type
    blah blah blah

  10. mise_en_place says:

    I am just glad nobody made bread pudding or French toast! When did this site turned into a battleground between feminists and chauvinists?

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