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. Carlene Shupee' says:

    I have been a long time "Chef" fan. While Love seemed to take the contest as a joke (he did defeat his opponent on the show) the other food could only be described as nasty or a joke at best. Iron Chef just lost its place in my DVR–no mas

  2. tricia porter says:

    I enjoyed the show last night /Was wondering were ming and Michel were? not all the contenders were there. omg enough already with spike and marcel, ROCK on Alex and Amanda!

  3. FanFare59 says:

    It was clear that Tim Love forgot he was in a cooking competition because he forgot to cook (except for himself). He served a salad and it was half heartedly done. I'm annoyed that he was part of this group . He hadn't appeared in any previous NIC shows, or had he? Spike is another a legend in his own mind. He didn't deserve a first chance to play the game, let alone a second bite at the proverbial apple. In addition, I really wished the judges were traded out. Simon, no offense, but you will have your own biases on these performers from your previous experiences with them. There really should have been a group of completely NEW judges for this type of show (as in Project Runway All Stars). It just makes better sense to have judges who can judge just the food and not by alliances.

    • Marsha says:

      ITA FAn Fare.

    • Garden_Spot says:

      You mention Tim Love and seemingly suggest that he shouldn't compete in IC because he hasn't appeared in any other network shows, but that shouldn't even be part of the equation. The chefs chosen should be selected by their talent and not by their time in front of the camera. By the way, Tim Love competed in "Top Chef Masters" and did pretty well.

      As far as Spike (and Marcel) goes, I couldn't agree more. His "talents" are simply not on the same level as the other chefs and should be more at home on Chopped instead of Iron Chef. His selection just makes me believe that the FN is light on talent who want to compete…and THAT is what concerns me most of all. I do like and respect almost those on the show, but some of the selections seem lightweight and thus skews the results and makes for a less interesting series.

  4. Shezogie says:

    I was glad to see Tim Love go last night. He didn't even try. To fix a steak and a drink when he should have concentrated on his dish. I am not happy with the judges this season – Simon is so full of himself and Donatella is not much better. I really hoped we would have a new set of judges. Please Food Network consider getting a fresh perspective for next season. I hope Alex wins because she has talent and seems genuine.

  5. mise_en_place says:

    Note to the producers/directors at FN: Could you please come up with some other poses for the chefs? Arms agressively folded across the chest in every shot? Be a little more creative!

  6. Julia in WA State says:

    I will sit back and wait for all the "thumbs down" to roll in.

    I see last year all over again, but missing some REAL great Chefs. Anne Burrell, Marcus Sammuelson, Chuck Hughes, Robert Irvine. Last year I wrote with a friend in another location after every episode and we broke down each Chef – what they made, how they used the products given. Who listened to the judges and who didn't. The shocking results were really hard to swallow for us and if you go back and read the comments from the last NIC: Super Stars, you will see that many people agreed at the time. I haven't lost my memories. I do not doubt that Chef Zakarian is a very talented chef, but he was repeatedly not following the instructions of the judges, talking rudely to them and defying precise instructions all along the way. And he ends up winning. He shouldn't be judging this time around with Chef Alex in the mix. Already I see the angelic look on his face when she is presenting her dish. Last. Spike and Marcel couldn't hack their own seasons of Top Chef, what are they even doing there except for the drama of it all.

    • 1Dishy says:

      Well, I gave you a thumbs up!! :)

    • All Mighty says:

      and i took his thumbs up and put a down myself. i think that you are right in the fact that they had a lot of other ppl they could have used and the fact is that i think had they done a HUGE round or do what they had to do with chef estus making her fight for her spot on the show i think that they should all have had to fight. maybe thats a whole new show getting all the winners from ICA who want to be TNIC and do a years worth of battles to see who comes out on top to fill like 12 spots and then make the new season.

    • Marsha says:

      You are disqualified as a judge by including Robert Irvine in your critique.

  7. Julia from WA State says:

    Oh and now we are going on a year of nothing but Triple D on several days of the week in prime time televion slots. Even Guy F. has to roll his eyes at his attempts to make yet another over the top comment on someone's food. Enough already. Guy, just how long of a contract did you sign? The Food Network has become part of the main stream drama fest. I would rather they lift Julia Childs old shows from PBS and show them than what is on most of the time. Now THAT was a show that taught you how to cook. Instead of…"You want to know how to make this? Go to the website." Go back to what you did best, teach people how to cook great food. Get rid of the drama, there is enough of that to go around. The only real contest that I see on TV at the moment involving food is Chopped. And I think the judging is dubious on that show many times. Sorry, but it is time for a rant and it is over.

    • 1Dishy says:

      Not certain why the Triple D comment was posted here, but I'll comment on it nonetheless. I am so sick of that show! Guy Fieri is such an idiot; I'm sick of him laughing at his own jokes that aren't even funny.

      I watch Food Network most of the day, and I do often learn some new ideas–even though I've been cooking for 40 years. I, too, love Chopped but enjoy some of the other "competition" shows–including Next Iron Chef, Redemption. I recommend that, if you don't care for the show, change the station the way I do when Triple D airs. Just sayin . . .

      • Lee says:

        I do turn off it off (or don't even bother turning on the foodnetwork show) if Guy's triple Ds shows are on – which they seem to fill in all the time – there are other chefs' shows that I'd rather watch even if they are repeats! I am so sick of Guy – get him off!!!!!

        • 1Dishy says:

          I also change the station when Triple D is aired (sometimes they air 12 episodes in a row). I don't mind his other show, "Guy's Big Bite," as he doesn't act like such an idiot on that show; perhaps no one to impress in his own kitchen.

    • ICHoax says:

      Triple D is like visiting a lot of people you would never want to meet.

      It is a journey through kitchens you want to avoid with cooks who are typically hairy, tattooed, pierced, grubby, and hygienically challenged who you wouldn't want touching or breathing on your food.

      BUT the half hour shows breeze by as you see interesting chow being prepared and assembled before your very eyes.

      It is hard to hate Guy Fieri and his enthusiasm but every episode seems to look like every other episode.

      I don't hate it, but I won't miss it or the Fieri-isms: "Money", "Shut the front door", "In it to Win it"…

      • FanFare59 says:

        Guy always sounds like a used car salesman to me. The road food angle is okay. But, watching Guy scarf his food down and talk at the same time is unappealing.

      • 1Dishy says:

        Oh my! Exactly how many times can Guy Fieri say "that's money!" or "off the chain," etc., etc. Not to mention the fact that he's an official member of the "state the obvious" club. For example, when a cook says he/she is adding a roux, Guy replies, ". . . to tighten it." We know what a roux does Guy. And I wish he would wipe his mouth after he gets food all over his face (or perhaps avoid getting food all over his face in the first place) rather than shoving his face in the camera. Glad someone still enjoys watching him; we are all entitled to our opinions.

    • Shannon says:

      I agree and disagree, Triple D is decent show. But Food Network airs it's repeats way too much, it seems it is always on. Once in a while is great. I sincerely hope that Food Network execs don't think that show is the bread and butter of their network, it most certainly is not. Yes, I know I can change the channel, and I do. However if Food Network wants to retain it's loyal viewers it should shake things up. Yes, if they could buy the rights to Julia Child's old shows that would be a coup for them. I would be very into that!

  8. @jonnysurf says:

    what a joke, i love next iron chef but having Zakarian as a judge is so lame!
    he is going to be so biased for sure!
    look at the way he treats Alex G.
    there best buds from Chopped!
    i want to see Frietag and Appleman kick their asses!!!!

    • 1Dishy says:

      Not to mention that Chef Alex is Chef Zakarian's sous chef on Iron Chef. Oh, I guess I just mentioned it; oh well, I said it! But I still love Chef Alex!

    • Bara says:

      Chef Frietag is his colleague on Chopped too, remember? I hardly think that Geoffrey will be biased. He strikes me as a very professional person. Besides, with their personalities, I don't think the other two judges would allow him to influence a verdict. All three are very strong personalities and I highly doubt Geoffrey could bully Donatella into anything she didn't want.

  9. Lisa says:

    I'm LOVE that Love got chopped. Acting like he's just too deep. Cockiness gets you CHOPPED. Everyother chef is serious about wanting this. Like I said YAY… Now, lets get cracking…

  10. tbe125 says:

    I CANNOT believe you sent Chef Love home over Chef Mendelsohn. His pineapple dish was clearly better than Chef Mendelsohn's sweet&sour dish. Really judges. That is better than pickled pineapple? You got to be kidding me. His fried kale that he added was for texture purposes. Was it stated? Wait, I believe so. It wasn't so much "up yours". It amazes me how you are still a judge. The only reason why Chef Love went home was because of his kale he added. It wasn't that he dish wasn't as good it was the fact you could not get past the fact he added kale in his dish in what YOU decided it was "up yours". Chef Love shouldn't have made the steak and ate it and didn't serve it, so he did deserve to be on the bottom two but he most certainly did NOT deserve to go home. Sweet and sour IS an Asian dish, so of course that dish would be Asian inspired and Chef Love's dish with the pickled pineapple. HAVE YOU EVER HAD A PICKLED PINEAPPLE BEFORE AND WOULD YOU HAVE THOUGHT OF THAT IF YOU WERE IN HIS SHOES?? NO.

    And really food network, Geoffrey Zakarian as a judge? Really? He shouldn't even be iron chef in my opinion. You want people to have to him as a role model when it comes to the food world, someone who NEVER follows rules and just does whatever he thinks is better. But that isn't the point. You guys seriously thought bringing Alex Guaranaschelli back was a good idea? Ignoring that fact her and Zakarian judge together on Chopped, she is his sous chef. HOW CAN ZAKARIAN BE IMPARTIAL WHEN OF COURSE HE IS GOING TO FAVOR HIS OWN SOUS CHEF. I seriously am very disappointed in this season of The Next Iron Chef.

    I really hope you guys start stepping it up. I have never been this disappointed before by food network. Another thing, I don't mind that Guarnaschelli won the first challenge, but I would have appreciated if they would explain WHY she won besides the fact that her lobster was cooked perfect. Did the flavor all marry together when you tasted it? Did it make your palette tingle? The sweetness was perfect? What beside the fact her lobster was cooked perfectly .

    • 1Dishy says:

      Sorry but I agree with the judges on this one too. I believe that Chef Love did a great job pickliing the pineapple, but I don't believe it was the "star" of the dish. And that is the point of the "mystery ingredient" on Iron Chef. I also thought that he prepared the fried kale as an "up yours." He was pissed that he was in the bottom two, and wanted to shove it in the judges' faces.

      As for the reason they preferred Chef Alex's lobster dish, remember, the show is edited so we often don't get to hear all the judges' comments. BTW, I know that Chef Zacharian is friends with Chef Alex, but why would he want to lose his Iron Chef sous chef? Just sayin . . .

      • Ruth says:

        I may be unpopular here, but I don't believe that was an 'up your's' statement at all from Love on the kale the second time around. Not happy with his salad either, but I think the name calling for him and the judge's conclusion about the Kale with the 'up yours' statement was just strange. I didn't see it as that at all.

        It always seems on these contests, there has to be a beginning that just seems flakey on some level.

        I was hoping for more this time.

        • 1Dishy says:

          I watched the rerun of NIC Redemption last night. While Chef Love was preparing his pineapple dish and adding the kale to it, he said about adding the kale: ". . .a little bit of redemption; plus a little bit of 'in your face' for the judges." So I believe it was a bit of an "up yours" to the judges. Just my interpretation of what he said; however, we're all entitled to our opinions.

    • All Mighty says:

      I dont seem to do much out side of watch food network when the T.V. is on and i have to say that the fact that Chef Love if we want to give him that title based on what he cooked should have most totaly been sent home. I dont think that a salad has ever been Iron Chef Worthy. He's lucky that when the judges got that food they didnt laugh him on the stage and just been like you can go now. I know had I been in any of thier shoes I know I would have. The goal was to make the pineapple shine and not only did he not do that but he smacked the judges in the face with that dam deep fryed kale on his second dish. I most whole heartedly think that Chef and I use that term with PRIDE Mendelsohn should have and did win that battle. He made the pineapple the star in the dish made it look good and had i tryed to taist it im sure it would have been great.

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