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. Josh says:

    Alex is a mediocre sous chef and past her prime as a line cook. She had nowhere else to go but pretend to be a real chef. No creativity or innovative tendencies, she is a lazy cook with no inspiration.

    I will not watch Alex bumble around in the kitchen – FN has jumped the shark…

    • steve says:

      Actually, Chef G is an accomplished executive chef at 2 restaurants. But I agree with your sentiment – there's a big difference between even an excellent chef and an Iron Chef. 2 different leagues.

  2. Rufus says:

    She's not a very nice person.

    • Passing thru says:

      You know this how?

    • guest says:

      Really did not like her attitude (and Chef Appleman's) toward Chef Vigneron. They seem to be running a clique like in high school and think they can decide who deserves to be part of the in crowd. They're wrong. We like to watch new people with new ideas. And arrogance is a huge turnoff.

    • Shannon says:

      I have been saying that from the beginning. She is mean and felt entitled. Not a person I want to watch. If anyone who is not her "friend" actually watches her on tv, they can not possibly think she is personable.

  3. Congrats! says:

    I think given that Alex has paid her dues for more than 10 years just to get here, her win was well deserved and not anyone here who is being haters and bad mouthing the winner can take that away from her. Since she is the one who put in all the work.

    Amanda I think also deserve to be an Iron Chef and would love to see her come back for her title at some point. On a side note, it's very heartwarming to watch All-Star Cook off with some of the FN chefs and their families! Watching FN is a little bit of putting things in perspective (for me anyway). It's part cooking, part entertainment. All the chefs with their family look really cute together! I really enjoyed watching Chef Alex with her mom. They just spoke to me any mom and daughter in the kitchen. It put a smile on my face and warmed my heart! For me, it's good to see this other dimension of the chefs on TV or else it would be just endless prepping and watching step by step meal preparation (yawn!). That's not all that food is about so thanks for the little bit of holiday entertainment. It was well appreciated it!

    • Passing thru says:

      yikes bad english. I meant "who are being haters." sorry!

    • Guest says:

      You work at the Food Network doing what?

      • Passing thru says:

        Dude, I don't work at FN. I do pass thru and follow a few shows. I just try and not to take entertainment on TV that seriously. It seems like everyone busted their ass to the end. So really, whoever won, they deserve it since they did the work and not us.

    • Lee says:

      What does 10 years have to do with the win? If we use that logic, how many years does Chef Freitag have?

    • gemini1012 says:

      Having an opinion doesn't mean we are "being haters" just because our opinion doesn't match yours.
      Interestingly enough, some of the most defensive comments on here are from supporters of Alex, while supporters for other chefs back their opinions up with facts…I guess that being thoughtful before making a statement is "hating" now.
      And 10 years of cooking does not automatically make an Iron Chef.

      • Passing thru says:

        Well, any comment or opinion can turn cruel & hurtful. It's not just what you say, it's how you say it too. There are many opinions here that are just plain hateful. To say it's just an opinion doesn't justify being mean. And frankly I don't know why I posted in the first place or responded at all considering some people just don't care enough to be considerate or respectful, while others talk about the "integrity" of FN in the same breath of being completely offensive to Chef Alex (even though we only get to see what's aired and not everything). But whatever call me an idiot because I do care about HOW things are said. I'll just go about my merry way.

    • Dux411 says:

      I, too, enjoyed watching the All-Stars cooking with their families. It made everyone seem a little more real and down-to-earth and just like everyone else. It was heart-warming, very much so. And I can't remember if it was The Cooking Channel or Food Network, but I loved it when the network paired unlikely cooks together for a holiday show. My favorite pairing was Nadia G and Bobby Deen. It was like they put the most unlikely pairs together…it was fun to watch. With all of the extreme filth and trash on TV these days, it really is refreshing to still find family shows like on Food Network, The Cooking Channel, DIY, and Travel Channel. I think they are the last oasis for anyone with any taste or values. If they go, I truly will be throwing out my TV, as will many ohter people I know. Oh, I do have to not be a total hypocrite and admit I like to catch 'Dance Moms' occasionally but not for the trashy fights between the 'Moms' but for the beautiful dance routines. I have even almost stopped watching that, too, though.

    • NY_Coffee says:

      You're obviously a Sock-puppet. Fake posting to fluff things up…
      To anyone reading this… Notice how they suppressed all the negative posts.

  4. guest says:

    Have been leaning toward writing off the food network for awhile. This sealed the deal.

    • Lisa says:

      I will now upgrade my cable package to get the cooking channel – FN is done in my house.

      I will not return to FN until they start focusing on great food, instead of mediocre TV dramas…

      • Helen sheppard says:

        Try the Travel Channel..Bourdaine would never be a part of this BS

        • Lisa says:

          Great advice! I watch Zimmern and Bourdain as well, and I've been using them as the bright acid to balance the cloying over-processed sickly sweet taste of FN programming…

          I need a more nutritional viewing diet. Perhaps Bravo and the Cooking Channel is what I seek.

  5. mel says:

    IC Zakarian should NEVER have been a judge (1) two of his co-hosts from "Chopped" and (2) Chef Guarneschelli is his sous chef on his IC episodes. As soon as Episode 'Risk' ended and Chef Guarneschelli wasn't eliminated, that sealed for me that the decision was already made. Too bad the rest of the chef's had to go thru that so she could get her apron.

    • Bev says:

      So TRUE! I feel badly for the other chefs.

    • guest says:

      Absolutely! Show was fixed from the begining. Zakarian should never have been a judge. I thought some of the other chefs performed much better than she did. Food Net is destroying an excellent show with this new IC. I certainly will not watch any episodes with her performing (the outcome of any competitions she's in will certainly be fixed as well)!

    • Zach says:

      I COMPLETELY AGREE!!! ZAKARIAN IS SO BIAS TOWARDS ALEX!

      • SEF12 says:

        Who knows what really went down, but in the last judgment before kitchen stadium, didn't GZ say Alex's custard dish was weak? Didn't sound that biased to me. . .

    • BigMacc62 says:

      OMG, someone who saw the same crap as I did. I couldnt have said it better Mel.

  6. Pat says:

    Awful choice. And she is too arrogant to know it. Jeffery insured her winning.

  7. Beth says:

    I'm thrilled with the win, and I was rooting for her all season. Congratulations, Chef Alex!

    • Brenda says:

      Good for you. You as well as I watched it from the beginning and like I said earlier to someone–the judges were there we were not. Lets give praise where praise is due. What a wonderful Christmas gift for Alex. Brenda

  8. Samantha says:

    I predicted as soon as I saw Zacharian was a judge that Alex would win. There were far more worthy chefs this round. I have lost all faith in this show. What happened to all the great chefs that really make the title IRON CHEF an honor to carry??? Zacharian and Simon are the only two winners who have had the skills to compete against the originals like Sakai and stand next to the original American iron chefs.

  9. MoreCookingLessDrama says:

    Does anyone else feel like the only decent cooking Guarneschelli did was at the final competition with Freitag, and then, only won because apparently she's the first person to ever combine chilies and cherries? How often have we heard the words "Chef Guarneschelli, you are on the botton, you will be in the showdown," followed by "by virtue of your (some random element on her dish Zakarian decided to praise) you live to cook another day?" (Hey, Alton, did it make you throw up in your mouth a little every time you had to say that?)

    Guarneschelli was the second worst cook almost every time, while Freitag was top more often than anyone else. Well, that's who your next Iron Chef is: the second worst. When I first heard the chairman say "Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli," I was nauseous. I still am. And I will be any time I watch Iron Chef America from now on. I think I'll stick to reruns of the original Iron Chef, where they chose Iron Chefs based on their cooking ability.

    • vivian says:

      Stop hating when u r as good as she then talk otherwise keep walking

      • MoreCookingLessDrama says:

        I'm almost certain that my ability to cook has little to do with whether Guarneschelli or Freitag would make a better Iron Chef, nor does it have anything to do with the biased treatment Guarneschelli was routinely shown during the entire competition. Did you read any of my post or just the part that you didn't like?

        Thanks for responding to my post, as opposed to all the other that are clearly "hating." Did you intentionally choose such a well-written post with proper spelling and punctuation to sling your playgroundesque "nuh-uh!!" comment at?

        Did you see what I just did there? I responded to your totally unrelated personal attack with one of my own. What does that have to do with the Next Iron Chef? Nothing. Please try to stay on topic.

      • steve says:

        Do you have any idea what the word "hate" means? Any idea at all?

    • Charity says:

      Chef Freitag should have won. I agree with your assesment of the whole ordeal!

    • salsify says:

      wowser, such vitriol from someone who tasted not one dish in this whole competition

      • steve says:

        Believe it or not, some of us also know how to cook and can formulate a pretty good idea what a dish will taste like based on ingredients and cooking methods. And the judges critiques of her dishes were a pretty good clue as well. Lastly, in IC competitions, taste is only 50% of the scoring and last I knew, 50% is an "F".

      • Flour Child says:

        Aside from the taste aspect that the viewers did not have, we had the ability to see and hear. Alex's dishes were a mess most of the time. Plating and creativity were supposed to count heavily in scoring. (Otherwise, anyone with some cooking experience could compete.) The comments given weren't exactly ringing endorsements. However, by virtue of her friend, Z, (who slanted favoritism was obvious and persistent) she got a free pass for her mediocre offerings.

  10. Helen sheppard says:

    She does not have star quality no matter how well she cooks. I predict she will be despised for sure. I won't watch Iron Chef ever again unntill that woman is G O N E

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