A Typical Day in the Life of a Next Iron Chef Judge

by in Shows, December 27th, 2012

NIC Judge Simon MajumdarSo many people tell me that they wish they could see what happens behind-the-scenes as we film The Next Iron Chef. So here’s just a little insight into what a regular day might be like as I play my part in helping to decide who is going be the newest addition to the culinary pantheon (read the winner’s interview here).

6:30 a.m. — I head to the gym. A body this lovely doesn’t keep itself (no sniggering at the back).

9:00 a.m. — Being bald has its benefits. I have not visited a barber or bought shampoo in the last 15 years. Best of all, it means that during the filming of The Next Iron Chef each season, I have the latest call time of any member of the cast.

By the time I arrive, poor Donatella has already been in the chair for a couple of hours as our lovely makeup artists, Jackie and Jill, decide what to do with her hair. Iron Chef Zakarian is usually in the next chair telling everybody about the fabulous meal he enjoyed the night before and where he is going for dinner that night. As for me, I just need to choose the loudest tie I can find and have enough make up applied to my bonce to stop it from shining on camera.

Unlike in Kitchen Stadium, Geoffrey, Donatella and I never watch the chefs cooking during The Next Iron Chef. So while Alton and the chefs are hard at work, we wait in our dressing rooms until we are called upon to pronounce judgment.

11:00 a.m. — Around this time, the series’ producer will give us a briefing about the challenge that the chefs have just faced and we are escorted to the set to join Alton at the judging table. The order in which the chefs present is random and almost as soon as we are seated, someone on the culinary team will shout “food walking” as plates are placed in front of us. Although you only see a few seconds of edited comments, we usually discuss each dish for quite a few minutes, both with the chef in front of us and after he or she has returned to the kitchen. I make notes as I go along, which are often just a few key words to help me recall each dish when we come to discuss our top and bottom placing for the day.

1:00 p.m. — By now we have usually tasted all the dishes and a lunch break is called. I rarely need to eat on set, particularly in the early stages of the competition when we may be tasting dishes from 9 or ten chefs. But I take the chance to sit and catch up with my friends on the amazing crew, many of whom I know from previous seasons of The Next Iron Chef and Iron Chef America. The judges rarely speak to the competing chefs apart from a nod of “hello” as we pass on set. Even if we know some of them personally, from the get-go it is very much an “us and them” situation and we know that we are now the enemy, until after the competition, at least.

2:30 p.m. — After lunch, we will be summoned back to the chamber of judgment, prepared to get into an argument. The debates between the three passionate judges are often very heated, particularly when we are discussing which chef should be eliminated. We do, however, make sure to leave our arguments on set and no grudges are ever held once we make our decision. Alton doesn’t vote, but his job is to guide us and make sure that we are focusing on the challenge in hand.

4:00 p.m. — The chefs are brought back to the set to hear the good or bad news and it is always an incredibly emotional time for everybody concerned. We all know how much each chef wants the title of Iron Chef and watching as Alton tells one of them that it is not going to happen can be heartbreaking, for the judges, the crew and fellow chefs . While being eliminated is disappointing for the chefs, it does not alter the fact that each and every one of them is terrifically talented and that we would eat in any one of their restaurants in a heartbeat.

6:00 p.m. — I am cleaned up and ready to head home. The evening is usually a quiet one. I certainly don’t need any supper, except perhaps an antacid, and my head is usually filled with thoughts about what might happen in the days to come. It’s also filled with a great deal of gratitude that I am allowed to be part of this extraordinary cast and crew that work so hard to create The Next Iron Chef.

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Comments (36)

  1. Disappointed viewer says:

    It certainly looks like Alex was slated to win from the beginning. She was in as many face-offs for being one of the bottom two as Amanda Freitag was winner. If this series really wanted to be fair, it would take total scores from all competitions. Since the two finalists had the same number of appearances, the total score would indicate the best chef overall. That Freitag could win so many individual competitions, only to be knocked out in the last round was very disappointing. Also, how is it possible for an iron chef, i.e. Zakarian, who has used her as his sous chef in his own Iron Chef competitions to be an impartial judge? I've about given up on the show since the outcome seems so biased — the fix was in

  2. sohbet says:

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  3. sohbet says:

    I was always wondering how these were filmed

    Read more at: http://blog.foodnetwork.com/fn-dish/2012/12/a-typ

  4. I can't see my original posting, so I'm doing this again……………….Would you consider it a sanitary issue if you see anybody preparing food using bare hand with band aid wrapped around his finger? I would think so. Well, Alex's sous chef has it in this show and it looks gross! You don't know what's behind that band aid, at least use gloves.

    Read more at: http://blog.foodnetwork.com/fn-dish/2012/12/iron-

  5. I think that AG lacks the class I expect from an IC. I am no food expert but I do watch FN a lot. It is fun and good clean competition. AG always brings a negativity to whatever program she is on, especially Chopped. I so did not want her to win. Oh well. I am sure my opinion does not count.

  6. I agree that the results were rigged. The judges pick who they have a interest in, not who deserves to win. Such a waste of television. Do it behind closed doors. It goes to prove that in America, it not what you know but who you kno

  7. I'm not surprised that AG "won" the NIC and her first battle. Such cronyism. First of all Elisabeth Falkner should have won over JZ and second JZ should have never been one of the judges on NIC.
    Laughable that Alex used an Ebelskeiver pan in such an innovative way. She is so condescending to the contestants on Chopped, especially women!

  8. Just watched the finals. How can you trust a contest that lies about the heritage of the chairman! If you are true contest everything should be real. If you cannot be honest about who is judging then how do we know the whole thing is not fake! Not a nephew just another b movie actor.

  9. I'm not surprised that AG "won" the NIC and her first battle. Such cronyism. First of all Elisabeth Falkner should have won over JZ and second JZ should have never been one of the judges on NIC.d

  10. Not only did they change the format of the show to insure that Alex won but they instructed her competion to acknowledge her worthiness to be called iron chef. I have never seen the judges look more disgusted. One of them even asked her, Do you have to win everything?!!! Alex at the ice cream machine is an accurate representation of her culniary genius.

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