The fifth season of The Next Iron Chef: Redemption is in full swing with now only seven 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.
This week the judges, fellow rival chefs and host Alton Brown encountered a first on The Next Iron Chef: The bottom two chefs, Chefs Mendelsohn and Vigneron, decided to plate together during the Secret Ingredient Showdown. In an effort to both avoid elimination, the judges found their strategy disrespectful and immature and Chef Mendelsohn was sent home.
Marcel and you chose to plate your lobster dishes together. Was that a last-minute decision made in the heat of battle, or had you established that you’d work together if you ever had to face off against each other?
SM: We figured if we made food that tasted amazing and cooked together rather than against each other then we might be able to pull off the first save on The Next Iron Chef. Marcel and I have grown together in our culinary careers. While we’ve always been competitive, we’re much more supportive of each other.
When you and Marcel entered judgment after Battle Lobster, were you hoping to be judged as a single unit, so that you would either both stay or both be eliminated?
SM: Yes both stay, but not both eliminated. If one of us went, we both wanted the other to represent and do as well as possible. We both knew we had a slim chance of staying together.
How is your friendship now?
SM: Better than ever. We just attended a food festival in Jakarta and then went surfing in Bali. We always hang out and support each other.
Between The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs and The Next Iron Chef: Redemption, which challenge did you consider the hardest and which challenge did you enjoy the most?
SM: I enjoyed the battle pineapple the most because I was confident with my dish and the way I handled the pineapple. My least favorite challenge was this past episode — the canned food. I don’t know any chef who enjoys cooking with canned food. Half the battle of making food taste delicious is using stellar products.
Taking Marcel out of the equation, which chef would you root for going forward in the competition?
SM: Amanda — I love her and love her food.
We know you’re quite the pizza aficionado. Tell us: What’s on your ideal pie? Any must-have topping and cheese combinations?
SM: My ideal pie is a crust that has a full flavor, quite yeasty and chewy, but crispy. I like a simple tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil and a couple red pepper flakes.
Relive the episode and take a look at an extended preview of next week’s episode below (click the play button):