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 (668)

  1. Judy says:

    Congrats Alex! I never miss your show Alex's Day Off, made many of your receipes.

  2. Cake master says:

    Hahahah I find it funny that the rude ones result to rude opinions. It's funny because I understand you're venting your RAGE, what's even funnier is your rage won't change a thing. Like the elections. You think they're going to recount because some of you say it's not fair and you won't watch or vote in the next elections? Life goes on.

    Food network also goes in without you watching it. Therefore RAGE childishly or eloquently ( thank you to the eloquent ones who do not result to 10 year old name calling) all you want because guess what?

    nothing is going to happen. Sorry but that's life, even faulkners like "ah well whatever let me twitter Alex everyday"

  3. Kate says:

    I'm not watching any Iron Chef battles with Alex Guarnaschelli or Jeffery Zakarian. Food Network you let me down after so many years…

  4. Tim says:

    I will NEVER watch any show with the title Iron Chef! Amanda was the clear winner, Alex was better than Appleman, Faulkner? No way! She's horrible, she's a terrible judge on Chopped and when we tried to watch that train wreck Day Off program of hers we threw up!

  5. Kevin says:

    I will never never EVER watch Iron Chef anymore. It used to be a great show. I started watching it when the original was first on in Japan!..It has been reduced to such blatant cronyism & favourtism..AG is just a fat assed whiner with little if any talent..most everyone else on here agrees that Faulkner was the star..
    Its so obvious why the original american chefs have left..no one cares about anything except ratings..
    How very very disappointing

  6. NY_Coffee says:

    Just to make sure this is not berried away in a auto-hide feature of this website….
    Here are my thoughts…

    Food Network is falling off Track. Your standards are getting more and more non-existent.

    The reason why people tune to your network is to get away from the Fake, Scripted, Rigged BS reality TV programming.

    When you watch Cooking Channels you expect to get real and simple Shows that entertain you and inspire you to Cook and explore different cuisines.

    While I have enjoyed your programming my friends and I have found your abrupt injection of "chef" Alex Guarnaschelli quite disturbing.


    Disclaimer: I hope to excuse my harsh/blunt opinion of Alex Guarnaschelli (and others) with the fact that she (and others) has (/have) Judged other Chefs on your shows.
    This is not intended to be a personal attack against Alex G. but more so an opinion on her presence on FN and the positions she is given. As a chef you get judged every time you cook something.
    As a Judge, Host, Competitor, Athlete, or Actress you open yourself to also being judged/rated further.
    I am simply giving my opinion on the rigged IC competition and the favoritism that she obviously received.

    My friends and I don't know who she is and why she was ever given any air time.
    Let alone for her to be given a title as Iron Chef…

    I mean, it took a long time to accept Chef Bobby Flay as a chef, let alone an "Iron Chef"…
    (i.e.: Flay seems as an over-rated / over-marketed copy-cat Chef.)

    But making "Alex Guarnaschelli" an Iron chef is an insult to the title and negatively effects the show's integrity.

    The original Iron Chef show from Japan was great to watch.
    The second you guys got your hands on that show and made a US version, you destroyed it all together.
    I feel so sorry for Chef Masaharu Morimoto. He is of a much higher Caliber and a REAL Chef.
    Its quite obvious that he has been forced to work with others that don't have a fraction of his Skill, Integrity and Creativity.

    Iron Chef America is like watching a pot-smoking teenager's representation/production of the original Japanese Cooking show.

    Alex Guarnaschelli getting an "Iron Chef" Title/Position and this kind of exposure makes it obvious that she is
    either pulling some serious Corporate favors or you guys have no idea what your viewers want to see or their IQ level.
    I'd be willing to bet if viewers had a choice she would have never had any airtime.

    Everyone knows that Alex Guarnaschelli is nothing special.
    There is a big difference between a GOOGLE-CHEF vs. a Real Chef with originality, creativity, standards, and Skill.

    Watching Alex Guarnaschelli makes me and my friends want to gag.
    We find her repulsive and full of herself. For some reason We can’t stand to watch her, nor do I know anyone that cares to hear what she has to say.
    There is something about her that is annoying.

    Put simply, “Alex Guarnaschelli” (somewhat) seems to be the Tori Spelling of the Food Network.
    Can you imagine an edited version of 90210 with Tori edited out… That would be such a beautiful thing. If only.

    You guys need to get some new ideas. Perhaps get some new Execs and some real good Writers and Directors. You need to improve your Casting and discover/present real skillful Chefs and shows.

    Another thing: Stop insulting the art of cooking by making competing Chefs cook with Crap Or combine the unthinkable.
    Chef Ramsey said it best. "You wouldn't want to mix a perfect Scotch with club soda." (or something like that).

    I say your network needs an overhaul. Until then, you lost me and my friends as viewers.

    • Melissa says:

      If you are going to post a long bs post learn how to spell first!!!!! To the rest of you she won because she deserved it. PASSION is what carried her to each challenge. You must have a very dull life to post a post like this over someone who you don't know who you don't allow to defend themselves over something you could not do because you have no life. LOL people never cease to amaze me. you go girl Alex she can out cook you so put it up or shut up and be nice people. It's just a TV show. CHILLLLLLLLLLLLL

      • Jimmy says:

        Sounds like you took this personal for some reason. Sock-puppet are we?
        I "need to learn how to spell" form you? Ever get that feeling that you're talking to someone from the ghetto? "You go girl" hmmm lol
        I didn't know this was some kind of academic paper, idiot.
        I don't check spelling… I just took the time to give my 2 cents. God know why I bothered to reply to your reply. I guess it is dull at the moment.

        It's an open forum anyone can post anything. It's a free country. You're telling me not write about someone that I don't know (personally), while you're accusing me of having a "Dull life".. :)
        If you only knew. simply: It takes one to know one.

        FYI: I eat at the finest restaurants and hidden spots that have REAL FOOD all over the world.
        I would wager that I spend more on food in a day then you and your imaginary friends pay for rent.

        Nah sayin? piece yo!

    • Yee says:

      I totally agree that Alex Guarnaschelli did not deserve to be the Next Iron Chef, and to be honest, neither did the guy previous to her – Geoffrey Zakarian!! http://eater.com/archives/2011/12/19/who-the-hell

      It has to be rigged – BOTH are judges in other food shows and I too called it half way into the season/show or even earlier! If there is a 3rd Next Iron Chef, if there is another former judge in there – I'm not even going to watch it! Not even sure I would even I'd watch it with or without. Whenever they show the commercial with Alex running about in the kitchen and saying (very un-inspirationally) "I can do it – I'm an Iron Chef" – it makes me sick to the stomach! I just roll my eyes and want to gag!

      You're absolutely right that this network has gone down hill with fake scripted shows and sensationalized gimmicky stunts. On a side note, I can't stand the show "Master Chef" for its use of that title for AMATEUR COOKS!!!!

      Anyhow, Alex and Geoffrey, you may be established chefs – but you're both no IRON CHEFs!

  7. UNFAIRRACE says:

    After watched the first episode I already knew who will be the winner …Since the first episode I stopped watches the show why?? When you look at the judges……Who was the judge again? How can you be judges when she has been his sous chef in the food network shows? And the previously judges can’t judge again and again on the same people BECAUSE IT’S redemption… It will not fair to other new challengers.

    • angel says:

      all you who are saying you know who the winner would be. guess you should play the lottery as good as you all are you could be millionires. I like alex and amanda a lot i really thought amanda shoud have been the winner but we are not the one's tasteing the food so therefore should we judge so harshly i just enjoy watching the fn.

    • Nel says:

      I totally agree. I felt the same way.

  8. Mary Reynolds says:

    I am a sincere fan of Food Network and dont understand the nasty and vindictive comments against the New Iron Chef. I was happy that the final came down to Amanda and Alex, and it was obvious that the win could have gone to either one of those talented chefs. The only Iron Chef I do not watch is Michael Symon, as I find that he has a bias against Chef Robert Irvine, one of the most under rated chefs on the network. Keep up the good work, Food Network. I watch every day, and at 64, still find things to learn. Thanks for all the hours of enjoyment you provide.

    • willwatch4food says:

      I sense a lot of viewer frustration with Iron Chef Redemption winner Chef Alex Guarnaschelli. Alex is a phenomenal chef whom I've an enormous amount of respect. I also enjoy watching her as a judge on chopped, but was she the next Iron Chef . . I didn't think so.

      She won how many of the Iron Chef challenges . . . one? yet Amanda won several. She beats out Chef Appleman with sea urchin foam served in a shell? . . . and he gets hammered for a clam too many and a one-note dish? I guess you had to be there to taste the difference.

      If you watched chopped all stars, she lost. She graduated to the desert round with a "too tough meat entree" (according to Zakarian) edging out the competitor because of poor plating? I can't say that I've ever sent a dish back for poor plating.

      I do like Alex and she is fun to watch . . . unfortunately for her it comes across as a pre-determined victory and not a real competition. But this is television folks and face it . . . camera appeal is just as important as cooking.

      Actually, my favorite: Elizabeth Falkner . . . truly deserving of the title Iron Chef !!

      • Drew says:

        Yes, faulkner is good. but i can stand her conceit and arrogance…..that alone made me glad to see her fall. Going into the competition, she just KNEW she was going to win….and can't stand ARROGANCE and PRIDE……"pride comes before the fall"……..

    • Alexander says:

      We where away in Europe when this contest ended. Now that I caught up with all the episodes we missed and see who the next iron chef is, its clear as day there's a lot of cronyism here. Zakarian opened the flood gates. There's no diversity, creativity added by bringing Alex on. She isn't even the best chef off the lot. I can totally see Batelli, Morimoto and Flay cringing about this selection. I am willing to wager a $1000 bet on Amanda being the next iron chef after Alex…come on, we all know this is gonna happen. At the new years party we realized all our neighbors are determined not to tune into this show anymore…I'm with them….this is not what America is about…this is not the legacy of Iron Chef, its supposed to be a global show where the best chef wins, not the one who knows more judges.

  9. Bob J. says:

    Gee… I wonder if this was rigged!! LOL
    The worst of the group wins?… Wow… And can she be any ruder or unlikeable?
    From some of the comments above, I guess I'm not the only one who thought this either.

  10. starchild says:

    I knew when the Iron Chef show started this season that Alex would win. To have Jeffery Zackarian as a judge???He just won last year and with so many impartial chefs out there he was picked as a judge ,very strange. It's like someone else said it was so obvious that she would win!!! I think Amanda Frietag should have won,she won more challenges than anybody else and her food was always top notch. Jeffery Zackarian can never win an I C challenge I wonder who will be his Sous chef now?? I noticed the judges Donatella and Simon seemed to not agree with the final decision. I think the last show was done to hurried. I have never seen it like that before,the last show show should be the most special.I cannot stand A.G. because she is sssoooARROGANT on Chopped also. She looks all up in the air like she is thinking so hard about something, As someone else commented it was evident from the beginning that she would win. What an embaressment to a good show.

    • Robert says:

      Donatella's reaction at the end said it all. She clearly didn't agree with the final decision. As for Simon, he mentioned in his blog here on Food Network that his vote went to the winner by a hair. It's interesting though, as he was the only one who complained of getting an overdone scallop in the appetizer round from the eventual winner. I guess I wondered why he even bothered with the consistency talk if it didn't even matter and he voted for the winner in the end.

      I feel as though Zakarian is getting a lot more heat than is really warranted when little mention is being made of Bobby Flay as a judge. At least in the finale, Zakarian displayed some objectivity. Perhaps that is Bobby's style, but it seemed obvious who he was rooting for. Obviously editing plays a role, but I personally think that the Bobby Flay comments that aired should have been more balanced.

      One could see Bobby's excitement when he talked about being relieved that he finally got the heat from the peppers in Alex's cherry tart. On the other hand, his comments about Amanda's food were nit-picky and when he said that Alex crushed the dessert round, even Simon called him on it saying that it was a lot closer than what he was making it out to be. I also give credit to Zakarian for saying something along the lines of Amanda's dessert getting as close to the cherry tart that anyone could get. I felt sorry for Amanda having to be subjected to that. It was really awkward to watch. I feel as though Amanda didn't even have a chance. Just one vote could swing things which is what I find unsettling.

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