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. ICHoax says:

    This Season is less about the original Iron Chef (Japan) kitschy grandeur in Kitchen Stadium – and more of a bizarre amalgamation of Chopped, Biggest Loser, America has No Talent, Stumbling with the Stars, and Survivor.

    This Season serves up empty calories that leave a bitter taste. The problem is as much the ingredients (cooks and judges) as the recipe (tired uninspired formulaic entertainment)…

    Or as Bill Parcels would say, "You can't make chicken salad out of chicken ****."

  2. MoHub says:

    Best part is that Marcel's and Tim Love's problem ingredients were chosen based on their eliminations on Top Chef and Top Chef Masters, respectively, but Food Network cannot actually name the competitions that "got" them. I just had to giggle at both of them trying to avoid naming the Bravo show.

  3. KitKat says:

    No one has commented on Chef Mehta. I think he should have beaten Garces.

  4. dKaye50 says:

    Just watched my dvd of first episode. What a disappointment. Looked to me like Chef Love was sent home because he didn't act "scared" enough of the judges. The judges came across as very petty, more concerned about the chefs' attitude toward them, than their ability to be innovative and creative chefs. By the way, I still like all of the chefs left. I just don't have any respect for the judges.

    • 1Dishy says:

      Did you really think that sad kale salad was either innovative or creative? I didn't. Did you think he could have done more with the kale given an hour to "cook?" I do.

      • tbe125 says:

        And did you really think Chef Love pineapple dish was not more creative and better than that sweet&sour dish?? You can't judge whether an ingredient is the "star" of the dish by looking at it. You have to taste it in order to tell.

        • 1Dishy says:

          Sorry, no. Although I OBVIOULSY couldn't taste his "pineapple" dish, I didn't think that pineapple was the "star" of the dish (too many other main ingredients along side fighting for attention). It might have tasted better (I'll never know, but neither will you), but they have to follow Iron Chef rules and make the secret ingredient the FOCUS of the dish. But hey, I'm not an IC judge; just voicing my opinion.

          • fitz says:

            keep in mind… it's entertainment – no you can't taste the dish, no, you're not a judge, and yes, much of the content is edited out in order to fit neatly into the time constraints… take it with a grain of salt – love's cocky attitude and lack of effort and continued lack of professionalism deserved him the honor of being the first to be eliminated

          • 1Dishy says:

            I agree that Chef Love's "cocky attitude and lack of effort and continued lack of professionalism" justified his elimination. And, yes, this is entertainment; however, one of these contestants WILL become the next Iron Chef. So it must be taken with some degree of sincerity. And please note that I was merely responding to the above comment.

  5. @luvmyperros says:

    All this "Alex G is Zakarian's sous chef in ICA" bias and s/he is friends with so-in-so…. if this was an issue, the Burrell would have won last season because she is/was Symon's sous chef on ICA. I do believe much of it is the taste & presentation of the food… that is what these people do for a living. Not only do the cook, but they are renown for critiquing food. They are masters in their own right for their regional/global expertise. That is what this who is about. I think, although I am cheering for a female chef (need more estrogen on the IC podium!), I think it's going to also come down to the type of cuisine the chef is known for. So far on the IC podium, there are masters in Japanese, Southwest, Mediterranean, Italian, Latin fusion, and modern American. Unlike the old Japanese Iron Chef show, there is no French cuisine expert yet on the ICA. Also missing a East Asian/Indian influence on ICA. I bet this will have some play in who makes it to the final rounds.

  6. mise_en_place says:

    Those posters who worry that IC Zakarian will unfairly favor Alex Guarnaschelli because she has served as his sous chef need to consider whether their fears are a reflection of their own character. If they can't conceive that one can't put aside personal feelings and biases to perform professionally they are admitting that they themselves would be incapable of acting in an ethical manner in the same situation.

    Furthermore, it's a small world. Most of the country's best chefs are acquainted with each other in one way or another, and many have formed close friendships as well as intense rivalries. That shouldn't disqualify them from judging as long as they are knowledgeable and fair. To question a judge's fairness (and thus his/her character) without solid evidence is the epitome of unfairness.

    Let's all try to give others the benefit of the doubt.

  7. food network fan 113 says:

    Okay, if all you are going to do is complain on this forum, then please leave. I want to read educated opinions and food talk, not conspiracy theories, it's a food show! Is the show as good as it used to be? No. Are the chefs this year disappointing? Yes. But they aren't making it a drama like top chef or hell's kitchen yet, and I sill watch and enjoy the show. If you feel the need to post outrageous comments on a public forum, then ask yourself this, why are you watching the show, just stop watching it and make everyone's lives easier. Thank you for reading. Also this comment will get many dislikes, and I accept that.

    • Marsha says:

      You may be watching the wrong show. Just sayin…

    • Garden_Spot says:

      Are you suggesting that people can't or shouldn't post their own views on the show and chefs, just as you have done? Makes me wonder why you feel free to comment but others should hold their tongues if they have a complaint or point to make. Complaints are just as helpful to peoples and the shows performance as are compliments. One can voice a suggestion and do so intelligently and should not be hampered by those who seem to feel the need to silence others.

      • food network fan 113 says:

        I'm not doing that at all, what i am against is the many people who use this forum solely as a way to start rumors and conspiracy theories,or to whine and complain about how bad the show is. Thank you for your feedback.

    • ICHoax says:

      This forum keeps a lot of irrelevant pseudo-intellectuals off the street and out of the coffee houses where they would otherwise be annoying everyone around with their pablum and rants.

      It is actually like a public service…

  8. Marsha says:

    So many are questioning the quality of chefs here. Maybe they have run out of qualified chefs and have reduced the requirements to whoever wants to be a "celebrity chef"? Just go cook your food, people. If you attain "celebrity" status, good for you.

  9. Marsha says:

    FYI, these people cook food. I cook food. You cook food. They are not Gods, at least I don't think they are. Lol

  10. Zexi says:

    Oh how I miss Michael Symon~ I really hope he could be a judge this season too! love his big laugh. He is fair to the contestants, but never too harsh ^_^

    • 1Dishy says:

      I love Michael Symon, and I like that he has always been a fair judge. Miss him as well.

      • ICHoax says:

        Michael Symon has a surprisingly delicate and effeminate style.

        He demonstrated a stable presence and explorative spirit as last year's judge – fair minded and well mannered he is an asset to the program.

        Now, if only he can control that odd giggle/laugh…

    • Pret says:

      Watch him on "The Chew." He's laughing up a storm on there…all the way to the bank. Also "Symon's Suppers" on the cooking channel if you subscribe.

    • Bara says:

      Excuse me? Am I the only one who remembers what happened with Robert Irvine in the past season? He was definitely far from fair then. I really did like him up to that point but I cannot forget or really forgive how he blasted Robert.

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