A Double Dose of Kale, Steak for One and the Death Fruit — Critical Moments

by in Shows, November 4th, 2012

Chef Spike Mendelsohn and Chef Tim Love on The Next Iron Chef: Redemption
Although Chef Guarnaschelli’s splendid lobster dish made her the deserved winner of a return trip to the beach, for me this first challenge was all about Chefs Greenspan and Love.

A chef with less talent and confidence than Chef Greenspan could have easily crumbled at the thought of having to cook with grasshoppers again. His critter fritters, however, were one of the surprise hits of the day, as indeed was his grilled cheese grasshopper sandwich — although maybe less surprising as he is known for making one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches on the planet. Either way, it was definitely enough to keep him safe for another week. If it weren’t for a succulent morsel of Chef Guarnaschelli’s perfectly prepared lobster, I would have made him my winner.

On the other hand, Chef Love’s confidence was misplaced. If you are going to serve a salad on The Next Iron Chef, it had better be the best salad you’ve made. Chef Love’s kale salad wasn’t — and all three judges felt it scarcely warranted the hour-long cooking time. Insult was added to injury when Chef Love told us that he had also found time to make a juicy steak for himself while he was cooking. Perhaps if he had served us some of that as well, he might not have found himself in the Secret Ingredient Showdown battling Chef Mendelsohn, whose own dish was, quite frankly, just a confused mess.

This week’s secret ingredient was pineapple. I liked the sharpness of the pickled fruit Chef Love served with his quail in his final dish. I was turned off by the appearance of deep-fried kale on the plate, however, a definite “up yours” to the judges who had put him in the bottom two. Even if I had not been so irritated by this, Chef Mendelsohn’s dish was for me the winner anyway, bringing the perfect balance of salt, sweet, sour and heat that I look for in any Southeast Asian-inspired dish.

It was certainly good enough to ensure that Chef Love was the first to hear Alton say those dreaded words, “I’m sorry, but you will not be The Next Iron Chef.”

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Comments (199)

  1. Steven says:

    I had to watch this episode twice before I wanted to comment because I though maybe I had missed something in Chef Love's performance. Chef Love should never be allowed on Food Network again. Drinking while he was cooking. Cooking a steak for himself. Feeling "pissed off" because he was one of the bottom two, who is this guy? He was lazy. He deserved the comment. He deserved to be on the bottom. He should have been sent home immediately. The guy didn't cook. He made a weak salad that a first year cook would know not to serve. Then, during the final challenge he was drinking tequila. This guy needs rehab. He embarrassed himself. He needs to apologize to every chef and every Food Network viewer. This guy may have 6 restaurants, but he was a joke and not in a good way!

  2. mise_en_place says:

    I do miss Michael Symon as a judge because he always tempered his criticisms with some positive feedback. We tend to forget that even though these chefs are all professionals they do have feelings. I like the judges who treat them respectfully. I do like Chef Zakarian and Simon Majumdar also, but I wish Jeffrey Steingarten (or any number of other judges) were on the panel rather than Donatella Arpaia.

  3. Tenzo says:

    What do you all make of the 'kinder gentler' Jehangir Mehta? Is this for real? He offered not once but twice to share ingredients with those who shouted out and he's claimed that he's going to prove that he's not a villain. I hope he stays around long enough for us to see if his dark side re-appears. Frankly, even though he pissed me off to no end on season two, he is a fascinating talent and by far he's the most visually creative contender they've had on Next Iron Chef. He's definitely on my top four this season (unless he lapses into Darth Vader again)!

  4. mise_en_place says:

    One topic of debate that keeps re-appearing here is whether the next IC should be a woman. I honestly do not understand why gender (or race, ethnicity, religious preference, sexual orientation, height, wieight, or hair color) should play into this competition. The talent/skill of the chefs should be what matters. Obviously the network executives select the candidates they perceive will make for good television, but I don't buy into the conspiracy theory that FN is trying to keep women from winning. Being a great chef is not gender-specific.

  5. Saul says:

    Basically the "judges" sent Chef Love home because he showed them up! Which shows how qualified they are as critics….He didn't choose kale as an ingredient and to vote the dish down because he didn't fry it (as per Donna's comments) is beyond ridiculous. Marcel and Spike are joke additions compared to rest of the chefs… all in all not a very good start to the season

  6. rootsmusic says:

    Chef Love can only blame himself for losing. But his loss to a Top Chef loser will make other accomplished chefs wary about possibly being disgrace on TV if they agree to participate in a televised competition against lesser cooks.

  7. MoHub says:

    Absolutely agree. She at least has competed on Iron Chef America—and won—and certainly is more worthy of a slot than Marcel.

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