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. JimC says:

    Find the result very sad for food network. Can't chnge those results. Will vote with my wallet and mind, never again will I watch iron chef.

  2. Marti says:

    Just want to say I rooted for you the whole way!!

  3. Enas Kapoios says:

    So sad.. this was so rigged.. So many amazing chefs in there.. It was so clear it is rigged.. Will never watch Iron Chef again.

  4. Lorelei says:

    I have watched the last two Next Iron Chef competitions, I can see a lot of people don't like Alex. What I'm confused on is that so many people claim it was rigged. And in fact a few said the one the year before when Chef Zakarian won. But how are they coming to that conclusion that it was rigged? Not trying to be a smart-aleck, but I must have missed something and I'm really wondering if I did. I think both Elizabeth Faulkner and Amanda Freitag are absolutely amazing and thought one or the other would win. I was even hoping Amanda would get it. The fact that the judges don't agree doesn't seem all that suspect. I think the judges make odd choices on other shows on the Food Network, too. I would say I was surprised more than upset. Anyway, if someone can point to something specific that indicates the show was rigged I'd really like to hear it. I have the whole thing on DVR so I guess I'll have to re-watch the whole thing and see if anything hits me as unorthodox about the procedure.

    • Robert says:

      For me it's not that it was rigged. Biased is the more appropriate word in my mind. Just looking at the final competition to me it seemed that Bobby Flay was clearly rooting for Alex. Although 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. 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. Yes, Alex was Zakarian's sous chef, but at least in the finale, Zakarian displayed some objectivity.

      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.

      Sure he's only one vote, but one vote can swing things. I also have the competition recorded and have watched the final again. I'll be curious to hear your thoughts if you watch it again.

  5. deeflap says:

    You guys are crazy! Alex is cool. She is always honest on "Chopped" and very genuine. She's tried to be an iron chef for a while. It's not like an overnight success or anything or she "came out of nowhere". Get off the grassy knoll and be happy for another person.

  6. Nicole says:

    I am very excited that Chef Alex is the winner. Although I have not met her, I feel like I know her when she is on screen. I have cooked several items from her show. She is great and very deserving.

  7. CallieCat says:

    Wow. How sad. Remember, folks, judge not lest ye be judged. Just because you don't agree with anothers opinion, or you don't care for someone….don't call that person a troll, a train wreck, or any of the other negative things you're calling another human being. If you don't like it, oh well & move on. If something like this sets you off so negatively, then you've got bigger issues to deal with than whether Alex G. won Iron Chef, or not.

  8. Guest says:

    I have been a FN and IC fan until this last IC "competition"..the fix was in. Alex Guarnaschelli did not deserve this award, and it discredits what I once thought was an earned honor. A Scam. FN lost all credibility. Only a faux award given to it's conies. FN and its management sucks.

  9. Janice says:

    Most of you are talking a lot of crap about Iron Chef Alex like, "she is not good, her food suck, is a scam" and many other stupidities and I bet not even 5% of y'all have tried her food against the others… So guess what??? your opinion is a bunch of CRAP… SUCK IT UP!!!!

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