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. Rich says:

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought the process was biased from the beginning with the Iron Chef judging his sous chef. Even if there was no bias it looks terrible. I was rooting for Amanda and Nate to square off in the finale. I thought they cooked the best dishes during the competition.

    Perhaps I'm biased myself. I never cared for Alex, she seems stuck up to me. While I like Amanda a lot. Seems like she'd be fun to have a drink with.

  2. Steve says:

    Lets make it clear as one comment has already said, Alex was only Zakarians sous chef on ICA, she is not his sous chef. I am glad that a woman one this time, but it does seem they have biases against Chefs from the West Coast and also chefs who don't represent a European style of cooking. Morimoto was appointed, Flay was appointed, as was Battali and Cora. All the current NIC now ICA chefs use variations of European cooking. Donatella has become a joke, it's like she's been a judge for so long that her opinion counts more than the others…has she ever been a chef or contestant for either Top chef Masters or NIC. Being judged by fellow chefs is how it should be done.

    They need to have either an NIC with just woman contestants or one with an Asian/Oriental them to address the imbalance. Oh yes, stop making it an annual series, it's just becoming a revolving door of chefs

  3. Pat Oatley says:

    Chef Freitag………..I've watched the final show twice and am still disappointed you didn't win. I am even MORE disappointed that unlike any other "Iron Chef" face off….we the VIEWERS did not get to see the vote tally. So we are left to speculate as to why and where and how you lost. Frankly I call "bullshit". If the Network has any "brass" at all they will post the "real" tallies.

    While I like and appreciate Chef Guarnacelli's (apologies for misspelling) experience and talent, I believe your talents and personality would have been a much better fit. You posess the same "merriment" while you cook that makes watching Mike Symon such a pleasure.

    I personally will be looking for your cookbooks!

  4. happyherbie says:

    Glad to see so many who feel that Amanda should have won. Alex is obviously the next would be "star" of the Food Network. I've tried to watch her own show, but find her very boring and condescending. The fix was in from the beginning. Chef Falkner was eliminated earlier in the game. One of the judges was Zakarian who went up against her. Not fair. Alex worked for him on Iron Chef and is also involved with Bobby Flay's productions. I'm not going to watch this "game show" in the future. Just as fake as the Next Food Network Star.

  5. Steve Delépine says:

    Yes it was rigged with the judge selection, just like her first iron chef competition the judge selection again favored her and her snarky comments. I only watched this episode to confirm my suspicion about how they would fix it in her favor . I will never watch her in a challenge again. The food network and Iiron chef franchise should treat their audience with more respect

  6. Steve Delépine says:

    Yes it was rigged with the judge selection, just like her first iron chef competition the judge selection again favored her and her snarky comments. I only watched this episode to confirm my suspicion about how they would fix it in her favor . I will never watch her in a challenge again. The food network and Iiron chef franchise should treat their audience with more respect

  7. Libby says:

    On the show Chopped, they consider the whole meal in order to decide the winner of the dessert round. You guys should have done the same here. Amanda has been destined for this title since season 2, when she was the best then, as well. This is the first season where there has been no discussion of the chefs' performances throughout the competition. Amanda was robbed once again. She is the best, and she has the right chemistry and personality for the job – cool and awesome. When are you going to stop letting her slip through your fingers? Donatella and Morimoto agreed. They were right!

  8. Charlotte says:

    Chef Amanda you rocked it! You are my NIC. You may not have won the actual title but you were more than deserving and should have won the whole thing. Mad respect for you and wish you all the best and great success. Your passion and enthusiasm for cooking, creative plating and use of the challenge themes and ingredients was a joy to watch.

  9. I wanted you, Chef Freitag to be the Next Iron Chef, I have been a fan of yours since I first saw you as a challenger on Iron Chef America. Can we please trade in Garces and Forgione for Iron Chef Freitag, please, please, please!? Alex was not my favorite choice this time, but even she is better than Garces and Forgione by far, adding Amanda as Iron Chef would be perfect!

  10. Janice says:

    I watched it too and although I'm not saying it was rigged, I was shocked that AG won. Part of the criteria on Iron Chef America is not only good taste, but it is most critical to do original dishes. In the past, the most innovative person, and even on the weekly show, typically wins. Also with AF dominating through the competition, it just made sense. I don't dislike AG, but she does come across very condescending. I sometimes feels that she uses language deliberately to over-emphasize that we are commoners, as it relates to food, so she's not very engaging with the audience.

    Regardless, many of the cooking shows are not what they use to be, so why should ICA be any different? I remember when the days of a Julia Childs are prevalent, who had the training, but yet were warm and inviting. However, nowadays you have Bobby Flay, who comes across as pompous, Alton Brown is such a walking food dictionary that he has no personality, and Rachel Ray, who is not a good chef, and seems very disingenuous, unlike when she first started. Nowadays, she doesn't feeling where her "joker smile" on all the cooking shows she's on

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