Taking the Rules Seriously – Critical Moments

by in Shows, November 26th, 2012

Chefs Vigneron and Mendelsohn with Alton BrownI am not sure that any chef would be pleased to be informed that they had to produce a meal almost entirely from the contents of a can. But if you want to become The Next Iron Chef, those are exactly the sort of obstacles that you have to overcome.

Chef Falkner’s mystery can contained a substance as far removed from USDA prime beef as I am from Brad Pitt. Despite this, she astounded everyone at the judging plinth by producing a dish so fine that it would have been acceptable in some of the best restaurants on the planet. It really was that good.

Chefs Mendelsohn and Vigneron, however, were far less successful. Chef Mendelsohn’s dish lacked balance, while the salt levels in Chef Vigneron’s dish drew the words “inedible” from all three judges and Alton Brown. It made it pretty obvious that these two high school friends would be competing against each other in the Secret Ingredient Showdown.

I felt that their decision to plate and present their lobster dishes on the same plate was slightly silly and a little bit disrespectful to both the competition and the other chefs. I would have been quite happy to grant them their wish of being judged together and send them both packing. In the end, however, all the judges decided that even if these two chefs did not take the rules seriously, we had to.

Going on that basis, Chef Vigneron’s ability to combine seafood and fruit without making me want to retch meant that he got my vote ahead of Chef Mendelsohn’s nourishing and well-made Malaysian Lobster Laksa, if only by a very small margin.

So Chef Mendelsohn was the latest chef to hear the words from Alton, “I am sorry, but you will not be The Next Iron Chef.” Chef Vigneron may never know just how close he was to joining him.

What did you think of the episode? Tell me in the comments below.

Relive the episode and take a look at an extended preview of next week’s episode below (click the play button):

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Comments (141)

  1. Porter says:

    retch – not wretch.

    retch – to gag or cough uncontrollably
    wretch – a pitiful person in poor state

  2. KabobKats says:

    They were given a gift…..lobster. If they plated it together wouldn't that be considered the "green" thing to do? One less set of plates to wash? I thought it was very loyal of them to plate together. They could have both been sent home, but they weren't. Appleman has never been, nor ever will be, a chef I can admire. I didn't like him or Mehta the first times I saw them. Still feel the same. They are like the opposite of these two, who worked together!

  3. Deborah says:

    Aren't chefs supposed to work together in a kitchen to make things run smoothly? I would rather they help each other as friends then stab each other in the back with one of those big knives. There was no harm done, the judges eliminated one of them as planned, and it probably saved some time overall.

  4. chancellormusic says:

    To add to the cornucopia of comments here, while what the bottom two chefs did was a little out of the ordinary, it was nothing that was blatantly offensive to anyone. The judges were saying that the competitors need to take the sought after roles of Iron Chefs and need to be independent. I agree with that, but that needs to apply to the other contestants as well. If I were one of the competitors watching and I saw something like that happen, I wouldn't add to the commotion of complaints in favor of the judges. That would be going against the assumed responsibilities of Iron Chefs, remaining independent. Keeping words and feelings to oneself is a form of independence.

    I understand why some people are upset about this. But in the end, no rules were broken and something was down that most people had no idea was coming. Instead of going head to head with each other, these two bottom chefs decided to play to each others strengths, which in the end turned out to be comraderie. The judges weren't happy because there was less drama and suspense for the show. Well, sometimes, you need the unorthodox to show that a reality show is in fact reality.

  5. Marilyn H. Welch says:

    The rules were made, the rules were accepted, they broke the rules. They should have both been eliminated. Now every time they have a contest, the entrants will think they can do whatever they want to. It will be sheer bedlam. You cannot trust someone who breaks the rules. I am disappointed they let one stay.

    • WestCoastFan says:

      Actually there may not be a rule stating that you can't plate together. They've never posted them so we (as viewers) have no idea what they actually are. I'm guessing that Spike and Marcel's actions totally took the competition by surprise. If they have another NIC they'll probably have something written that no plating together.

  6. Va from Va says:

    I see nothing wrong with putting both chef's food on the same plate. What is the difference when you go to a restaurant and one cook/chef cooks the meat and another has cooked the vegetables and the food is served on the same plate. As long as they identified what they cooked, I see no problem with plating together

  7. Jade says:

    Frankly, I think both of them should have been eliminated. Best friends, bros, or not…if you are not going to follow the rules and take the competition seriously, then don't be in the competition.

    • LISN says:

      Hey, many of the cooks have broken rules and nothing came of it. Break a rule about plating too many components vs 2 entries on the same plate – same rule broken. This one is not worse than the other.

      • Sherry says:

        Exactly. For example, if I remember correctly, last season Mr. Zakarian was reprimanded more than once for creating more than one dish when the rules specifically stated "create one dish". He needs to get down off his high horse.

      • MoHub says:

        Agreed. Furthermore, it's not as if Spike and Marcel collaborated on a single dish. The two items were distinct and separate; they just happened to share a plate.

  8. Sarah Lea says:

    Chef Zacharian broke the rules numerous times last season despite repeated warnings from the judges that he may be penalized. The warnings were ignored, and last time I checked, he won! As for Chef Appleman, how is pushing everyone out of the way in order to get to the fridge first any different than refusing to share a truffle or two? He's simply mad because competitiveness didn't work in his favour in that instance. I also think it's hilarious reading all of the comments that describe Marcel and Spike as undeserving of the NIC title just because they're not FN famous. Spike's restaurant in D.C. is one of the president's favourites. Personally, I would have stopped watching if they had sent both of them home!

    • beachguy says:

      Amen Sarah!! Totally agree with you. Spike is more famous for being on Top Chef and other cooking shows and he gets knocked because he's not a Food Network personality. This was the reason I am rooting for people like Spike and Chef Vigneron!!

    • FanFare59 says:

      You make a valid point. When Nate pushed Marcel out of the way and Mehta turned off Marcel's burners, neither one gave a damn. Yet, when Marcel decided not to share his truffles with Nate, Nate put a curse on him – (He wanted Marcel to SHARE the product, yet thought it was perfectly acceptable to shove him around first). What a bully. I never cared that much for Marcel because I found him immature. However, after this last challenge, seeing him as a true pal who wanted to help Spike (another cook I didn't care for), the loyalty factor pushed Marcel to the top of the heap for me.

      • Latest Episode says:

        I never knew Marcel (not enough Bravo) before the comp. He's been viewed by others as arrogant and unqualified. I'm not getting it. He has his own style and a soft spoken voice but I think he's one of the most creative chefs on the show–and takes the judges comments rather politely.

  9. FanFare59 says:

    Once again, Simon, you astound me with your scanty comments. The onscreen critiques don't match what you just wrote. I'm no fan of Spike Meddlesome's, but having a dish that was slightly "out of balance" vs being served something that had an overwhelming "Metallic" taste (as in Nate, the Snake), really seems unfair that Spike was sent to the pit to duel his way out. If anything, Nate should have been asked to go to the final round. As for the boys' sophomoric (or moronic) idea of plating together, I thought it was a test to see if they could pull off such a thing: perhaps become the first 2 to save themselves and be granted a reprieve. Of course, that could only be accomplished if you judges weren't robotic, self involved tools who lack any sense of humor.

  10. Sarah Lea says:

    BTW, Chef Appleman is the same age as Marcel and Spike!

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