Chatting With the Latest Next Iron Chef: Redemption Exile

by in Shows, November 18th, 2012

Chef Falkner and Chef GreenspanThe fifth season of The Next Iron Chef: Redemption is in full swing with now only eight familiar chefs battling it out again to prove they’ve got the skills to win the ultimate prize: the title of Iron Chef.

Each chef will try to pull out all their tricks to stay in the competition but, ultimately, one chef must go home each week. Every Sunday, FN Dish brings you exclusive exit interviews with the latest chef to go home.

He may be one of Simon Majumdar’s favorite chefs, but this week Eric Greenspan couldn’t “out-conceptualize” the other chefs after an under-deviled egg sent him to the Secret Ingredient Showdown.

Your grilled cheese and critter fritters were one of the top three dishes in the premiere episode. In your expert opinion, what’s the best cheese combo in a grilled cheese?

EG: There is no better cheese and bread combo than the Taleggio and raisin bread combo in my restaurant, The Foundry on Melrose. There are, however, some upcoming contenders for best combo coming up at Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese.

In this last episode, Simon Majumdar said you were one of his favorite chefs in this competition. How did that make you feel? Do you have a favorite judge?

EG: It’s always great hearing that you’re appreciated. I’ve been a fan of Simon’s work for many years and truly respect his opinion, even if I don’t always agree. I have tons of respect for all the judges on the show — I don’t envy what they have to do. Cooking is so subjective that it’s got to be difficult to remain qualitative with one’s comments.

Alton said you were out-cooked in the Secret Ingredient Showdown and it seemed to rub you the wrong way. You considered yourself out-conceptualized instead. What did Chefs Vigneron, Falkner and Mehta think of that you didn’t?

EG: It’s not that I missed something versus the other chefs. My point was it was merely subjective. The decision was based on taste and, frankly, I thought my dish was well-balanced and the flavors spoke to what I find delicious based on past experience and my own palette. I know I wasn’t out-cooked, however. I was faster than any of the other competitors and my food was executed perfectly. Most importantly, I put on the plate exactly what I meant to. If they didn’t like the direction I took, so be it. Maybe they like a standard meringue or a soggy crab cake — it’s their call. But to say I got out-cooked was a stretch.

You certainly seemed to bring comedic relief during some intense moments. Were you the comedian of the bunch?

EG: I think I’m the comedic relief wherever I go! I imagine some would say I was the comedian, while others were probably just annoyed. It depends on how seriously you take yourself. It’s cooking, you know?

You initially told Food Network that your Achilles’ heel ingredient was grasshoppers. Now that you’ve conquered that successfully, what’s your new Achilles’ heel ingredient?

EG: I guess it’s safe to say breakfast cereals are my new Achilles’ heel.

Your signature party or potluck dish to make at home for friends is pancake lasagna. Can you tell us more about it and do you have a recipe you can share with our readers? It sounds delicious!

EG: The pancake lasagna is my breakfast triumph. It’s actually going to be featured on The Best Thing I Ever Made later this winter, so tune in to that for more, including the recipe.

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Comments (86)

  1. A.N. says:

    How on earth is Greenspan (in the top 4 of chefs so far) gone and Mendelson still here?
    Completely messed up.
    Although I enjoyed Mehta's strategy of picking Mendelson backfiring.

    • MoHub says:

      People get caught up in Spike's persona, and it makes them forget that he can actually cook when he's not busy strategizing or playing for camera time. I think this causes people to underestimate Spike, but he is classically trained and has worked in some prestigious restaurants.

      There is no way he will become and Iron Chef, but I think he will hold his own for a bit longer. And if Mehta had been smarter, he'd have paired Spike with Marcel.

  2. A.N. says:

    Also, calling it now: final four will be Appelman, Falkner, Guarneschelli + another.

  3. Mar says:

    Alex should not win this competition although it's probably been set up already since she and Zacharian are really buddies, she is his sous chef. Her personality really sucks, she never smiles, can't work well under pressure, thinks she's the best when in reality she isn't. I really hope they don't give it to her.

    • Jay says:

      I totally agree!!! I'm so sick of seeing Alex as the forefront of the interviews and competitions on this show. As sous chef for Zacharian, I've watched her snarl at him for not properly opening a bottle; she was disrespectful to one of the competitors on that same show. Not to mention the recent holiday cook-off where she was so nasty towards her own mother, I had to change the channel. On this show (iron chef redem …), I hated the fact that they set up the "bro-man-ship" just to set them apart. Alex should have been on the bottom three, but this poll of judges seem staged. I have a feeling Alex and Falkner will remain as the final two.

  4. Kevin says:

    I don't believe that the hatred for Alex is warranted just because she's the sous chef for Zakarian. By that logic, Amanda Freitag should also be hated because the co-judge chopped. It takes more than one judge to make an iron chef.

  5. mise_en_place says:

    I am wondering why the judges were so negative about Chef Vigneron's presentation (for the "juvenile" use of the coconut shell as a vessel) and said nothing about Chef Falkner's plating which looked (to me anyway) a hot mess. Did her plate looked composed and neat to you other viewers? I guess I'll watch the episode again to see if I missed something.

    I will miss Chef Greenspan's sense of humor. I do not find Chefs Falkner, Mehta, Mendelsohn, or Vigneron engaging. I think Chef Freitag is clever and fun to watch and I admire Chef Appleman's obvious intellect and knowledge of food. I know many don't like Chef Guarnaschelli, but I find her quirky social awkwardness kind of charming.

    Of course, the chefs whose personalities would make them great dinner companions may not be the same chefs you would want cooking your food!

    • FanFare59 says:

      I was surprised that Marcel was marked down for using the half coconut too. Other chefs do that and aren't ridiculed. The critiques seem unevenly applied. Last week, Spike's dish lacked innovation, yet he was safe. When Amanda was told she was not innovative, she was thrown to the bottom.

      • mise_en_place says:

        I know that in general the judges frown on what they consider outdated presentations You'll hear them say "That's so 70s" (or 80s or 90s). They really pinged on Ming Tsai for that. And then they will completely reverse themselves and rave because someone uses the sea urchin shell to serve uni.
        ("I love the presentation. It's so organic!")

        It's a mystery.

        • tgb123 says:

          Well, it's like Chef Greenspan said above, the judging is extremely subjective. Some people might like the coconut presentation, these judges just happen to not like it.

          That being said, considering that they yelled at him in the innovation challenge for the raw chickpeas, you'd think Marcel might come to the conclusion, "Hey, maybe I shouldn't serve these guy food I don't want them to eat as a garnish".

          • MoHub says:

            Marcel got dinged for a similar presentation on Top Chef, when he sat his dish in a bowl of coffee grounds. Marcel is all about the gimmicks, but there's no intelligent thought behind them, and he never learns.

      • Latest NIC says:

        I agree, the coconut shell was ok for a presentation, at least it was edible!

    • MoHub says:

      Marcel's presentation is the equivalent of designs on Project Runway that are criticized as "design school." He gets very "artsy-fartsy," almost for its own sake, but there's never any real intellectual thought behind what he does.

  6. Aly says:

    Chef Greenspan was one of the funniest ones in the competition! He had a really positive perspective (even when he got grasshoppers, he made do!) And this is pretty random, but I wish Chef Robert Irvine and Ann Burrell were brought back this year because they're some of my favorites. Good luck to the contestants!

  7. rove says:

    I am sick and tired of watching the judges kiss the iron chef's butt.

    Do a blind taste test and I'm sure that the Iron Chef will loose more often. Master Chef Australia is a much better show.

  8. rav says:

    Masterchef is a far superior show.

  9. Debbie says:

    I know this sounds terrible, but chef Greenspan has an unkempt, dirty look about him and I wouldn't want to try his food. I was relieved when he was elimanated.

  10. Mad at Alton says:

    Does anyone else get sick of Alton Browns attitude and comments? Enough of him and attitude?
    Get rid of him and his snobby comments "

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