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. Helen sheppard says:

    She is very condescending on chopped and very much loathed for it. I suspect not only be mere viewers…really, shes not a nice person

  2. Carolyn says:

    Congratulations Alex!! I am glad Alex won. She has such a way in describing what she does as a chef. The "story" she presents is incredible and vivid. I would have been happy for Amanda to have won, but my heart was cheering for Alex. I do not understand how so many viewers could be so critical of any chef's food in this competition. After all they can not taste it. They can only rely on the selected comments of the judges. None of us really knows which dishes were best, although I would love one day to be able to know from experience! Would be an honor to be presented any of the chefs dishes. All are so accomplished. Those who are disgruntled, really? You know their food? Their attitudes? That is about the silliest thing I have seen lately. I for one congratulate Iron Chef Guaranschelli

    • Grace says:

      I respectfully disagree with you. Each time Alex was told she had survived to cook another day, her reaction (and surprise) did not genuine at all. Amanda did a good job and received excellent comments from the judges. Their attitudes did come across the screen to me.

      • Carolyn says:

        If it was fixed, then why would Alex even be in the bottom? If she is so ingenuine, why did she have the most votes week after week on the website? Is there fixing of who wins? How would any of us actually know? Alex had many good comments as well. Her dishes were beautiful. Certainly she has the training, expertice and notoriety to be on this program. I am sorry for you that your "pick" didnt win. But I still stand with that none of us could know the real truth, we dont know what Alex or any of the chefs are in their hearts, and we never will. We will not even say a few words to them face to face. How can you judge them as people. What we do know is the story that is presented to us on TV. Anyone who thinks they know differently is fooling themselves.

    • Joyce says:

      Alex was mediocre throughout the competition…to suddenly become this world class chef is sad at best. I have watched Alex for many years and have no axe to grind. She makes good contributions as a judge in Chopped. During this competition though she did not shine as much as Amanda. The comments of the judges were always must more positive towards Amanda…funny that it would be different in the last competition. To say the least, I am disappointed and do not feel that the best Chef won!

    • steve says:

      Taste is 50% of IC scoring. We can see 25% (presentation), and those of us who know how to cook know safe, simple recipes when we see them. IC isn't about cooking for the family, it's about uniqueness and culinary genius.

      • Flour Child says:

        "IC isn't about cooking for the family, it's about … culinary genius." That statement WAS true. Now that Alex has been given her title, the operative word is, "WAS" (as in IC was about culinary genius." Alex is just a fair cook – with severe anger issues and a lack of self confidence; and a very boring style.

    • gemini1012 says:

      The "story" she presents is what FN wants us to see, puh-lease. We are critical of her food because the JUDGES were, and then she won anyway…and the judges were biased, that's pretty clear with Alex's BFF up there.
      The fact that Amanda flat out outcooked her in the finale and then she lost says a whole lot about how this was set up. We are disgruntled because who wants to watch a rigged competition?
      I guess the Alex supporters do, since she won and not one of them cares that she didn't earn it.

  3. FNGossip says:

    I wonder if next weeks battle of Alex against Judy Joo will be fixed.

    • Brenda says:

      What big babies some of you are.

      • Shannon says:

        Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and name calling is not acceptable, Brenda. The people posting comments on here are not contestants or open to you disparaging them. Please be respectful. Do not call people names such as "Babies" because their opinions may vary from yours.

    • MoreCookingLessDrama says:

      I'm actually wondering about that myself. I hope the judges on the actual show are less biased than those during the competition. I would love to see Guarnaschelli crumble on an equal playing field.

  4. Joe says:

    I am a long time watcher of Iron Chef and can't believe the injustice that was done this season to chefs Appleman and Freitag. Chef Guarnaschelli is a good chef but fell short throughout the competition and was notably unimaginative with her dishes during the final competition compared to chef Freitag. I am really disappointed and can't say I am excited to continue watching iron chef.

  5. Sandi says:

    a well deserved winner. An Irin Chef needs to be resourceful, imaginative and possess a string personality. Alex G. Has all of those and more. Congrats.

  6. @luvmyperros says:

    Congratulations to Iron Chef Guarnaschelli! Both women were worthy of the title. The competition was about food, and all the chefs were obviously worthy since it was their chance at redemption. Alex's food seemed the most consistent. Consistency is the key as a marked professional. So amazed at the talent and food of all the chefs. Can't wait to have the chance to try some of the recipes from the show

    • carmanwife1 says:

      I totally agree..congratulations Alex..all the chefs were top notch…but do not take anything away from Alex..she earned it, could have easily swung the other way

    • MoreCookingLessDrama says:

      The only thing Guarnaschelli did consistently was get saved from elimination "by virtue of…"

  7. Lisa says:

    Why won't my cable company let me replace the FN with the Cooking Channel? I have to upgrade to get the Cooking Channel! Oh well, small price to pay…

    I guess they have a tough time giving the FN away. This mockery is a slap in the face to the culinary world and an insult to us fans.

    Does anybody really believe that Alex is a top chef anywhere???

    • Brenda says:

      If you watched Alex on a regular basic–you would know she worked hard and deserves the win. Amanda was also great but Alex was just one step ahead of her. Give praise where praise is due and quit acting so childish. There is always only one winner and the Judges were there–we were not. Brenda

    • guest says:

      No, don't believe it for a minute. Think they're just running an insiders club where they boost each other and expect that we will just keep watching. I won't.

  8. woof923 says:

    Couldn't agree more with the choice. YEAH, RIGHT. I didn't recall Chef G. being Zacarian's sous chef… but that just adds to the contempt of the decision. I actually thought the producers owed her family something. Reminds me of Sophia Coppola's wonderful acting job in Godfather III.

    Really FN, how transparent. I've already stopped watching Iron Chef because such choices. Thought maybe this Next Iron Chef might be it's own REDEMPTION vehichle. Haha, Fooled Again.

    Anyone know when the next season of Top Chef starts?

  9. Sue says:

    I totally agree with Joe. Guarnaschelli was totally mediocre throughout the entire competition. I don't think the judges should know which chef prepared the dishes – it's totally apparent to the audience that there is friendly bias throughout. I'm watching All-Star Family Cook Off right now, and who does Chef Guarnaschelli bring? Her mother – who is a cook and with whom she learned to cook. The other competitors have their wives and a sister who don't cook. How fair is this?

    • Jean says:

      She lostI totally agree. The sou chef to Iron Chef zakarian, who was a judge in this competition. He referrred to alex as Chef and Chef Frietag as Amanda.

  10. Tom says:

    The iron chef only taste one meal from the two finalist to determined the iron chef this isn't fair to the two finalist because one meal doesn't make an iron chef so if food network is going to use the iron chefs the should use them in the beginning so they can taste the food of all the chef that come on the show.The iron chefs need to see the creativity of all the chefs that come on so they can see the real winner.

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