Chatting With the Next Iron Chef: Redemption Runner-Up

by in Shows, December 23rd, 2012

The Next Iron Chef: Redemption FinaleThe 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.

Every week, each chef tried to pull out all their tricks to stay in the competition but, ultimately, one chef went home each week. This week we said goodbye to two (read exclusive exit interviews).

It all came down to two – for the first time, it was an all-female Kitchen Stadium battle finale. After saying goodbye to Chef Appleman in Las Vegas, Chefs Freitag and Guarnaschelli traveled to New York City to create a menu that would eventually change one chef’s life forever. Chef Freitag walked away from Las Vegas with a roast chicken dish the judges deemed perfect. In Kitchen Stadium, each chef had to create three dishes featuring two of the Chairman’s Secret Ingredients, which paid homage to three long-standing Iron Chefs: Chef Flay, Chef Morimoto and Chef Symon. While Chef Freitag’s menu, consisting of feta burrata, lamb with eggplant puree and a corn cake, was successful, Chef Alex Guarnaschelli inched her out slightly with her cherry tart. Chef Freitag battled her way to the finale, and even though she lost, she proved to viewers and readers that she deserved to be there.

Chef Amanda FreitagThe first challenge in the final episode was themed around Passion and you had to create Geoffrey Zakarian’s last meal. What would your last supper be and why?

AF: My last supper would probably be fresh pasta with butter and cheese. It is the most comforting, satisfying plate of food.

You perfected roast chicken in the finale. What tips can you share with our cooks to help them do the same thing?

AF: Always buy free-range chickens and season the chicken well with salt and pepper. I like to roast the chicken at a higher temperature of 425 degrees F to start and then finish the roasting time at 350 degrees F. Always use a meat thermometer to determine doneness.

Did cooking with marshmallows and squid — and winning that challenge of fusion — help you sympathize with or relate to the Chopped contestants you judge, who are often forced to marry disparate ingredients?

AF: I always relate to the Chopped contestants because I have competed so much and I too have been “chopped” when I competed on Chopped: All Stars. I do feel that the Fusion challenge was as cruel as a Chopped basket for sure!

What are three words you’d use to describe standing at the altar in front of the Chairman, waiting for him to unveil the winner?

AF: Anxious, frightened and excited.

Chefs Freitag and ApplemanWhat was a highlight or your favorite challenge and how was it compared to the first season you competed in?

AF: My favorite challenge was Transcendence. I enjoyed working on a team with Chef Appleman. The nature of the work we do as chefs is almost always a team effort and that is one of the reasons why I love what I do. Redemption was so different than my first competition because it was like coming home, but with a whole different set of rules and even stiffer competition.

How has this experience changed you? What’s next for you?

AF: This experience has taught me a lot about myself and gave me the ability to showcase my culinary talents to the world and my peers. I am looking forward to starting my own business and continuing to grow as a chef and a food expert.

Read more about Chef Amanda Freitag

Relive the final episode (click the play button):

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Comments (115)

  1. Sonia says:

    It is difficult to understand how this determination came about. Consistently throughout the competition, Chef Freitag came out on top. The judging should have been a compedium of the performances throughout the competition rather than basing it on one meal, nay, not even that, but on a dessert. I have tremendous respect for Chef Guarnaschelli, but I was shocked at the outcome as I see many others were as well. Something does not seem right here.

  2. pld says:

    You know, if I were food network, any time I saw the word "rigged" or "fixed" in one of these comments, I'd ignore that comment and move right along to the next. I've seen this on other blogs at this site too.

    The way these blogs work:

    People form into two groups: one has viewpoint A and the other has viewpoint B.
    Everybody who holds viewpoint A gives a thumbs up to every post from people who hold viewpoint A and a thumbs down to those who hold viewpoint B
    Everybody who holds viewpoint B does the opposite.
    In neither case is the thumbs up or down based on whether the person's writing was actually good, useful, incisive, or actually worth reading.

    In other words, this – and all other food network blogs I've looked at – are nothing more than mutual masturbation societies.

    I have an opinion about who I think the best competitors were – but you know, I'm not going to tell you; if I happen to disagree with you, you will call me a "hater". I see numerous comments doing just that on this very blog.

    One opinion I WILL share is that I completely reject the idea that the competition was "fixed". Did any of those who stated that actually read Simon Majumbar's article about how he judged the final test? No? Or are you saying that he is lying?

    And I will also correct those who say that Alex is Geoffrey's "sous chef". I assume you mean on Iron Chef competitions. She is executive chef in her own restaurants in real life – and I am quite sure she will not be anybody's "sous chef" on Iron Chef competitions any more.

    • Cuisino says:

      I can't say the competition was rigged, but it is obvious that the elimination type of competition that FN uses to arrive at the winner will not always result in the best overall chef winning the title. FN needs to change the way it scores the competitors and who gets to move on as the contest progresses. What happened here is that Guarnaschelli squeeked by each week, while others including Frietag kicked butt on some of the challenges. Guarnaschelli managed to stay in (just barely), and then, according to Simon M., won by a whisker with her cherry/chili dessert.

      In my opinion, Amanda won, but the way the game is played ended up with a lesser talent gaining the title. How about a Frietag vs. Guarnaschelli battle?

      • pld says:

        I liked the three who made it to the finale the best of all the competitors. I was sorry to see any of them go down!

        You have a point about how the all-or-nothing scoring can eliminate somebody who had been, prior to that one contest, the stronger competitor. I'm really not sure how they can change that, if they are going to have an "eliminate one contestant per week" format; it would feel just as unfair if an elimination cookoff went to the one who made a notably inferior offering, but had been stronger overall in previous competitions.

        I think they'd have to change the format such that every chef cooked in every competition and at the end, each chef's performances were evaluated as a whole, such that the chef who ultimately prevailed was the one who was strongest over all of the tests.

        I, too, would love to see Amanda vs. Alex in a true ICA match – five dishes, one secret ingredient.

    • Linda says:

      For the most part, I agree with your post. But I do disagree with your comments about the use of the term "hater". I used that word, not because I disagreed with the opinion or the preference of some of the writers. I used the term because I found the language, some of which I cannot repeat, offensive or inappropriate. The accusations of dishonesty were founded on particular preferences, as you noted.
      I didn't like a couple of the contestants. But I haven't called them names or accused them of dishonesty. I was frankly happy to see them go, but I didn't say ugly things about them.
      I've watched most of these chefs for years. Some I like, some I don't. But I credit all of them with being at the top of their fields. I might not have been happy if one of them had won, but I'd not be crying 'FIX; or "SEXIST' or some other derogatory term.
      One final point… had I been in Zakarian's position, I'd not have been happy to see Alex win. He now loses some of the best support available in his contests in Kitchen Stadium.

      • pld says:

        Fair enough. The name calling, screams of "fixed!" etc. here are sickening.

        And your point about Zakarian is interesting: he does, in fact, lose a talented assistant in his own Iron Chef competitions. If he were, somehow, "fixing" the competition by voting for Alex at all stages (which he did not, if you remember the earlier competitions in this series in which he found faults with some of her dishes), he was acting against his own best interest.

  3. Abbie says:

    I ws shocked that Appleman and Freitag were not the two finalists. I like Alex, but Amanda CLEARLY cooked better throughout the entire competition. Poor sense of propriety putting Zakarian on as a judge with his sous chef as one of the contestants. Do we really have to say it doesn't "pass the smell test?' Freitag was robbed. Period.

  4. Peter says:

    Alex Gurn-faking-whatever CANNOT be the next iron chef. I will never watch any one of her stinking episodes. What BULLSHIT was that?? She doesn't win anything, and bests out 2 of the great women on the show. WTF? THIS IS SO RIGGED.

  5. Charlie says:

    I'm protesting iron chef! That was obviously biased, she was one of the judges sous chefs! Really, plus she's not iron chef material. She's weak!never watching again!

  6. shamrock says:

    I was shocked. It should not have been with Zacharian sitting in judgement. Guaranschelli is arrogant, often unnecessarily cruel to the contestants when she serves as a judge. She often takes an arbitrary position for the sake of being arbitrary!!! That cherry dessert did NOT an Iron Chef make I am very sorry, Amanda and we do want to see more of you with your own show.

  7. Ming says:

    Congrats to Chef Freitag, got to know u better through this season. To see u have grown and blossomed to be amazing! Even though u did not win the competition, I believe you've won the hearts n respect of many!

  8. Dev says:

    This is so rigged! Alex should have NOT won. Faulkner should of won this or Amanda. Alex is not Iron Chef material. All her dishes, she played safe through the whole show. Food Network u r disappointing all of us viewer.

  9. Mark says:

    Without being able to taste the food, I feel Chef Freitag won because "she won the majority of the cook-offs contests." Here dishes were the favorites of the judges the majority of the time so at the end splitting hairs should have gone her way.

  10. Disgruntled viewer! says:

    We also believe Chef Freitag was robbed! She cooked better dishes the whole show, and Alex skimped along by the skin of her teeth and other people's dishes just being worse. Chef Freitag won multiple challenges and took chances in her kitchen stadium dishes, while Alex just cooked regular food. We watch a lot of Food network contests, and have always agreed with the Next Food Network Star results, but we have been disappointed by the last TWO Next Iron Chefs, the winners did not deserve it. And yes, we think Chef Faulkner got robbed last year too! We will stop watching Next Iron Chef contests from now on. We feel we wasted our time watching this show for the last couple months, when it seems the final judgement was rigged. We have no desire to even watch a regular Iron Chef competition with Alex in it, her talents will likely be challenged and beat multiple times in the future.

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