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. WestCoastFan says:

    Anyone having sound issue with the 2nd ep video. It's fine until the last couple of minutes when everything goes silent.

    • jlsbcn says:

      I just finished watching the video and it was fine. Perhaps you have one of those pesky, minute specks of dust that is the terror of fine electronics!?!? (I had one once that totaled a fifty dollar speaker).

      • WestCoastFan says:

        Forgot to add I was watching using an iPad.

        • jlsbcn says:

          I, too, am using iPad!! The original, no bells or camera. Glad to hear from you WestCoastFan. You'll probbably figure out who I am, I changed names, just for fun!!

          • WestCoastFan says:

            If the old posts are around from the last Next Iron Chef comp I'm guessing that your last moniker had a "J" in it.

            Did you hear that Iron Chef is returning to japanese tv? They are "rebooting" it.

          • jlsbcn says:

            I heard! Hope it's true. I enjoyed the difference in culture. Yes! My moniker had a "J". Have you heard anything from JLF? Haven't seen her around.

      • WestCoastFan says:

        Tried it for the nth time and got sound. Silly iPad.

  2. WestCoastFan says:

    Prediction & Speculations. I enjoy trying to guess who will be going next or how far each chef will get. If one watches the pre-season preview mixed with the more current ep preview you can sometimes deduce who will be eliminated. Also, reading the tvguide preview description helps also. I would say that Greenspan goes next in Ep 3.

    • WestCoastFan says:

      Hmmm. After seeing some other commercial bits perhaps it's Mehta that goes in this ep.

      • WestCoastFan says:

        Well, I guess the old saying is true in this aspect.

        When in doubt, go with your first hunch.

        Can't wait to see the latest previews to add to my pot for predictions and speculations.

  3. Saul says:

    How did Marcel not end up in the bottom….His innovation was to make tahini from black sesame seeds, while Amanda used almonds. Yet they called Amanda out for not being innovative enough?!! Show is still entertaining but the judges here and in other cooking competitions (Top Chef, Chopped, etc) are just getting dumber and dumber. It's like they want to impress the world with their sophistication, but all I want to see is really good chefs doing their thing…

    • ricki says:

      the judges are not 'getting' dumber – they started that way – sorry for being so negative but really – these so called judges are giving marching orders from FN execs to make sure 'their guy' wins at all costs

      you want to really judge whether food is good – get the everyday man/woman/child – the demographic that FN execs have ignored – because the everyday person doesn't over analyze what is on the plate to the point they are complaining about presentation – how about just making sure it tastes good

    • Alex to Win says:

      Wow!! you took the time to learn all their names. I still call them out by their cooking styles. . . crouton, pastry girl, de-constructed everything, pig chick . . . . Forgive the judges for their poor decisions but if you see the string of emails – most are 'friends' and most will do anything and say anything to promote their own cause.

      Like the show – but where's the drama, I need them to crack some bones and give some love.

    • FanFare59 says:

      I completely agree with you. I thought the same thing. I also felt it unfair that SPIKE slid through with the exact same critique as Amanda got. Avocado balls were "Innovative"? And then, he had the nerve to say he doesn't cook that way and Geoffrey laughed and said, "Fair enough" (hahaha). WTH!? Both Spike and Marcel should have placed in the bottom with Lizzie Ice Cream. (Her dish looked nauseating.)

  4. WestCoastFan says:

    Predictions & Speculations. Possible that Chef Falkner lands in the bottom again. I'm thinking it may happen in Ep 4 which tvguide describes as this.

    Ep 4 – Transformation
    The seven remaining chefs are given the challenge of transforming ingredients that normally wouldn't be found in Kitchen Stadium into food worthy of being served in the cooking arena.

    From one of the previews it shows Alton showing canned food items. I believe that could be associated with Ep 4. You don't see canned food in kitchen stadium. The bit from the preview that makes me think Falkner could be on the bottom is the one where you see the cereal (raisen bran & rice crispies) in the background. You don't see breakfast cereal in kitchen stadium either.

  5. Natural says:

    This is a real chef a little big is awesome ! I hate diet looking chef want to be

  6. WestCoastFan says:

    Do you wonder why no one from NIC #1 is on the Redemption show.

  7. WestCoastFan says:

    Predictions & Speculation.

    From tvguid.com. Ep 5 Risk – Cooking time is the currency used as the six remaining chefs bid on ingredients that are so large that they arrive in freight trucks.

    From the preview I'd say that Nate Appleman makes it to ep 5. Whatever that thing is that he's cutting into is absolutely HUGE! It looks like a giant baloney or sausage. It looked like it would come in a freight truck.

  8. FanFare59 says:

    Simon, I thank you for your comments (albeit too brief and lacking substance). Taking the challenges backwards: You all seriously thought a Monte Cristo Sandwich was innovative? Really?? Were you born yesterday? That sandwich, SIR, has been around longer than you. It's so YESTERYEAR. I know what you really liked was Falkner's addition of her "go-to" item — ICE CREAM. I swear, if that woman makes one more ice cream concoction, I'll SCREAM! I was not much of a fan of Estes, BUT – you all put Amanda in the bottom because you said her dish was uninspired and not innovative. BUT – you had the exact same critique for Spike Meddlesome and let him slide by. HE should have been in Estes' place. C'mon – his idea of being clever was to use a melon baller for the avocado! Obviously, Spike is no more ready for Kitchen Stadium than any other 4th grader.

  9. WestCoastFan says:

    Does anyone know what season and episode of Top Chef that Marcel had an avocado issue? I know that Chef Love got dinged for his Kale on the 1st season of Top Chef Masters.

    • mise_en_place says:

      I think it was season 2, Episode 4 when Marcel made an avocado and bacon ice cream that went on to be named one of the worst dishes ever served on Top Chef. But, obviously, it didn't get him sent home since he went on to become the runner-up that season.

      • beachinfrizzy says:

        Yep, I can still picture the little kids crying and trying to wipe the taste off their tongues. Ilan's waffles-and-bacon ice cream didn't fare much better with the kiddie judges.

  10. mise_en_place says:

    Does anybody know (authoritatively) anything about how the kitchen gets cleaned up after a challenge? I would think that each chef cleans and packs up his/her own knife kit, but I never see them wiping down surfaces or washing pots. I would love to see a behind-the-scenes video of the clean-up following a major challenge.

    As an aside, did anyone else notice that when Marcel was describing his dish he used the term "aerated tzatziki". Uh, isn't that just a euphemism for the dreaded "foam"?

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