Chatting With The Next Iron Chef: Redemption Winner

by in Shows, December 23rd, 2012

The fifth season of The Next Iron Chef: Redemption was full of ups and downs, but one thing is for sure: All eight chefs redeemed themselves in one way or another.

Sunday night’s final episode brought three of the most talented chefs together for two final battles. The first battle would eliminate one chef (read the exclusive interview from that chef); the two remaining chefs were then sent to Kitchen Stadium for the ultimate battle that celebrated three long-standing Iron Chefs and would determine The Next Iron Chef. And the winner is …

Iron Chef Alex GuarnaschelliSince Season 4 on The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs, Chef Alex Guarnaschelli has had a yearning for the title that slipped away from her just one episode prior to the finale last year. But on Sunday night’s final episode she captured it with a much-loved Pasilla Chile Cherry Tart, and now she can truly say that she has redeemed herself.

Iron Chef Alex GuarnaschelliWe watched Chef Guarnaschelli win in the first episode — which challenged the chefs to be resourceful — with a lobster dish that had all the judges wanting more. That win catapulted her confidence and drive to win throughout the season — she would go on to make it through six episodes without meeting the stresses of the Secret Ingredient Showdown. Three episodes before the finale, she found herself experiencing the wrath of the Showdown for a failed Vegas buffet. But she showed the finesse of her cookery and attention to detail, while going head-to-head with Marcel Vigneron, to take the win and secure the final spot in the finale. Chef Guarnaschelli now joins the prestigious ranks of Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto, Jose Garces, Michael Symon, Marc Forgione and Geoffrey Zakarian.

On the first page of your Redemption Journal, you quoted Mickey Mantle, “It’s amazing how little we know about a game we’ve been playing our whole lives.” What did this contest and the fact that you’ve competed in it twice teach you about cooking and your approach to food?

AG: I feel as if a competition teaches you that no matter how long you’ve been doing something or how much you practice, you still have so much more to learn. Some of the lessons are very painful. You make the same mistake you’ve made before; you avoid a mistake from the past and discover a new one. Cooking is a constant lesson in humility. It’s also, to me, one of the most exciting professions. I love when a dish comes together. Competing twice means you’ve felt all the feelings before and put yourself through this “meat grinder” already, only you feel more driven. You are aware you have a 10 percent chance of winning, but the fire to become an Iron Chef still burns brightly.

leg of lambYou wore a claw necklace in more than one episode of the competition. Does it hold special significance to you or do you consider it lucky?

AG: I bought this turquoise necklace years ago at a green market, of all places. I bought it off the jewelry-maker’s neck and as soon as I put it on, the weight of the stone on my chest served as a great source of comfort.

The first challenge in the final episode was Passion and you had to create the judges’ last meal. What would your last supper be and why?

AG: My last supper would be a giant scoop of caviar followed by a grilled cheese sandwich. I like a meal of extremes.

On the last page of your Redemption Journal, you wrote, “How will they fit my whole last name on a chef’s jacket?” Have you seen your Iron Chef jacket yet? Does “Guarnaschelli” fit?

AG: I could never fit my name in those boxes for tests at school and it takes up two lines on my credit card. I’m expecting an abbreviation on my chef’s jacket. Honestly, if this was my biggest problem, I’d say I have no complaints!

What’s next for you as an Iron Chef?

AG: I honestly think this milestone entails two things: First, I must hunker down and continue to learn and “grow” my cooking style. To me, being an Iron Chef means you should be in a constant state of evolution and experimentation. Second, I feel a responsibility to help others. I love Share Our Strength and am very passionate about Alex’s Lemonade Stand. To me, Alex’s Lemonade is the ultimate story of how children can inspire parents to be better people than they ever imagined.

Stay tuned for the recipe for my winning Pasilla Chile Cherry Tart!

Relive Chef Guarnaschelli’s winning moment (click the play button):

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Comments (669)

  1. Joe says:

    First of all congrats to Alex, good job. I think there is a lot of undeserved hating here. To me there were four chefs that could have won, just depended of who won when. I though Appleman, Faulkner, and Frietag all were deserving and would make great IC's. I just sat back and enjoyed how they all grew. None of them have anything to be ashamed of. Frankly it was the best season of NIC to date. Thank to all the chefs

    • debskatz says:

      Totally agree with you, Joe. Alex did a great job and fully deserves to be an Iron Chef. And Appleman, Faulkner, and Frietag would have all made great ICs. I am grateful to the Food Network for providing excellent entertainment and to all the chefs who competed. Great show!

    • Sheri says:

      Joe you nailed it. I agree but was very happy Alex ran away with the prize. Sheri

  2. Lillian says:

    Wow. I cannot understand all the anger of some. Chef Alex is a brilliant cook and had as just amount of right to win as any one else. Which she did. Congrats Chef Alex. I look forward to your competitions. I too love the friendly competitions with family and fellow chefs. It brings out the human quality that we can relate to.

  3. Janet says:

    Okay, woah, woah. I know Alex G isn't some of yours' idea of a great IC, but comparing her to Rachel Ray and Paula Deen….don't make me laugh. Haha. They wouldn't last 2 minutes in Kitchen Stadium (by THEMSELVES, not paired up with another IC). They are COOKS, not CHEFS.

    • LISN1 says:

      I have seen Alex lose in every cooking contest she has entered going back years. I still can't see how she is considered Iron Chef material. Apparently, the network wanted to go with mediocrity, for the change of pace.

      • Drew says:

        Hmmmm, why is it that nobody complains about the 2 "junior" iron chefs….can't even remember their names …..Garcicas ?? Forgione??…….Neither of them belong and are NOT iron chef caliber…SOO why dog alex out???

  4. SamSB says:

    Honestly what I really don't get is how Freitag can make stuff like miso ice cream and feta burrata and pull off a squid-mallow combo and "perfected chicken" yet can't even open a can lmfao. WOW.

    Guarnaschelli….what a joke. She'll never make it through any real competition. Just wait.

    • Lin says:

      She already DID, SamSB. She beat out an experienced UK Iron Chef Sunday night. Alex is no lightweight when it comes to being a chef. Read her culinary history, which obviously the whiners on this board have NOT done!

    • Cola says:

      Lol she already won against an experience iron chef… Yes samsb an ACTUAL iron chef who judged NIC last year Judy Joo and Alex G won by 5 points, not one not two but FIVE points. Oops. So much for not winning a real competition.

  5. Dulcelina says:

    Hi ALex,

    All I can say is you brought your God's angel style of cooking and your love of food for all of us to enjoy.
    Thanks for starting off 2013 in a big way, I was praying you was "winning"… like Charlie Sheen would say!!!!
    Cat Kora what out everything taste batter with Alex and Butter!!!! can't wait to post you on face book so the whole world can like you just as much as I do!!! HAPPY NEW YEAR from your NEW CAPE VERDIAN FRIEND!

  6. Moondog says:

    The problem with Food Network is that it's like a little club. Lets see this week you pretend to be the chef and I'll pretend to be a judge and next week we'll switch (I'm taliking about you Mike Simon, Alex, Jeffrey, Aron, and that indian woman who always judges by how "savory" or not the food is. Jeez). What a bunch of hacks. Why is FN always recycling the same 5 or 6 personalities with questionable talents, when there's a fricking world of fine, talented CHEFS out there who could use a break. Chef Alex? Make me laugh funny clown…

    • Lin says:

      Why don't you READ Alex's history?! She is more than qualified to be an Iron Chef. They are not "recycling" their chefs. The Iron Chefs have EARNED the right to do what they do and it is very entertaining to watch them. YOUR post is what is laughable. You called them hacks. I think not!

    • NY_Coffee says:

      Well the other Judges are okay. Mike and Jeffrey seem down to earth…

      But i fully agree they need a wider array of Master Chefs and qualified/unbiased Judges..

  7. Elizabeth says:

    I'm very disappointed in the winner. The bias by one judge in particular for the final meal was so apparent. Never again will I invest my time in watching Iron Chef.

  8. Caribou says:

    Her first battle with an experienced iron actual IRON CHEF, not any other chef, an actual iron chef Judy Joo— Alex G won by 5 points….

    So, maybe they made the right decision maybe they didn't, point is, she is starting off in a good direction.

  9. Douglas says:

    I'm disappointed in most of these chefs (excluding Falkner)… They all come from a cookie cutter mold… Where is the innovation? Where are the new ideas? It's very boring to hear Alton Brown or the Judges prejudism because some dish was not done like a "classic" style or method… Away with all that! I want to see something that has never been done before.. Never been tasted.. That is the art of true invention.. Not some rehash of the same recipes, flavors and methods that they have done over and over.. Gaurnischellis dishes are so predictable … very boring to watch.. Flay… Can I say Chipotle hahahaha… Make something exciting and new.. Away with trained judges!! Get judges that know nothing about technique or training but judge completely unbiasedly based on taste and the experience of it alone! I think that would be a big step in the right direction..

  10. NY_Coffee says:

    Spot on!

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