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. Foodie says:

    I'm glad to see that I was not the only one who thought Chef Freitag should have won. I watched every episode and Alex never seemed like she deserved to stay. I have never believed that any contests were rigged on Food Network but this one makes me wonder.

  2. @DiNovia says:

    Mazel tov, Chef Frietag, for a battle well-fought! I wish I could have tasted the pasta dish you created to in honor of Chef Falkner. I knew as soon as I saw it plated that you would win that challenge.

    The chicken dish from the finale was also an inspiration.

    My partner and I look forward to your next contribution to the world of food.

  3. Denise says:

    I, too, was shocked at the outcome. I've always liked both these incredibly talented women, and at the beginning I was rooting for them both. But as the season progressed it became very apparent that Freitag's food was better, and her attitude is WAY better. Zakarian as judge was definitely a conflict, and they should have avoided that. But here's the thing… who cares? The judges on the normal Iron Chef America episodes are jokes. Being an "Iron Chef" is hardly the deep honor they make it out to be. It's entertainment, and often fun to watch. But I don't care who wins because the judges are often celebrities who have no real knowledge of fine cuisine. Amanda Freitag is a lovely and gracious woman and obviously passionate and talented chef. She should get her own show.

  4. Erwin says:

    Amamda won and was robbed. She won more times than any other…Alex clearly did not win over all,, wow what a sham,,, Iron Chef has become a joke….. I'm done with watching this show!!! When Alex is cooking on iron chef,,, I'm on a different channel because she should not be there. Unbelievable Food network!!!

  5. Gardenger says:

    Plain and simple: Amanda is much more fun to watch. Though she is a fierce competitor, she does it with style and grace. Most of all, she always has a smile on her face like she simply loves to cook and create. Alex can be dour and unpleasant. I think the FN will realize their mistake. We won't be watching Alex in competition—-nothing against her. We simply are not interested. If it was Amanda, the whole feel of any show she is on is positive and uplifting. Same with Chopped- we far prefer Amanda's way of critiquing to Alex's.

    • Ella says:

      To be honest, if an episode of "Chopped" comes on and Alex is a judge, I don't watch. Both Amanda and Maneet are so much more pleasing to watch.

  6. Poppy says:

    I didn't even watch the finale because I knew from the very beginning that Alex would win – especially since Geoffrey was one of the judges – its just sad – never watching Food Network again – disgusted with it all.

  7. JM12 says:

    I agree with whoever said the winner should be picked based on performance over the whole season. It's hard to feel you've been tops all along to lose based on the last meal. That said, the show is definitely equal parts talent and entertainment.

  8. Duanep says:

    Clearly, Amanda Freitag, was robbed of the win. A couple of factoids about the "winner":

    - Alex Guarnaschelli was the Sous Chef for one of the judges, Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian
    - Alex's show, "Alex's Day Off" is produced by "Rock Shrimp Productions" – a company owned by Iron Chef Bobby Bobby Flay

    Coincidence that she wins even though Amanda won more of the Challenges than any of the other competitors? ……………Where there's smoke, there's fire.. just sayin'..

    • Ella says:

      For all of the comments about Zakarian judging Alex, I was wondering why there hadn't been more flack for Bobby Flay as a judge. If anything, to me there seems to be more of a connection between Bobby and Alex. Watching Bobby's comments about both women's dishes in the finale just made it seem as if he was rooting for Alex all the way. It's almost like he didn't even try to hide it. He just seemed so nit-picky with Amanda.

      Furthermore, that comment about Alex crushing the dessert round really made it seem like he favored Alex. Especially given the fact that Simon Mujumdar said that it was a lot closer than what Bobby was making it out to be. I actually felt badly for Amanda having to be judged by him. Surely editing affects how things are presented, but the impression that this gives is off-putting.

    • Melody says:

      I totally agree, I kept on thinking that there was a conflict of interst going on. It is such a shame that the ones pulling the strings did/do not realize that we (meaning tv audience) would much prefer to continue to watch a show and have respect for it if they remain un-bias and allow the actual winners to triumph ! Not to sound nasty but I am hoping that Alex gets her butt beat on her first show-off to put her back in her place. I find her to be mean-spirited and always has a nasty look on her face whereas Amada comes across more humble and approachable. I hope Amanda reads comments and knows that she is the true Iron Chef!

  9. Paul says:

    Stupid show not going to watch anymore!!

  10. Anna says:

    Amanda, you are a class act. You have the respect of so many people for the gracious way that you carried yourself and the fantastic cooking that you did!!

    Other chefs should take note. Even without the official title you are a true Iron Chef. Looking forward to what's next in your bright future!!

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