Bringing Home the Bacon — Critical Moments

by in Shows, December 17th, 2012

Next Iron Chef Rival ChefsThe four remaining chefs were asked to transform the much-maligned Las Vegas buffet into something worthy of Kitchen Stadium Sunday night.

After legendary magician David Copperfield pronounced that bacon was to be the main ingredient, Chef Freitag paired herself with Chef Appleman to face off against the decidedly odd couple of Chef Guarnaschelli and Chef Vigneron.

The end results brought some real highs and some very definite lows on both sides. I thought that Chefs Freitag and Appleman’s salad lacked any of the announced lime and jalapeno dressing, leaving it bland and tasteless. Their dessert called “The Elvis,” however, still ranks as one of the very best tastes of the whole competition.

Chefs Guarnaschelli and Vigneron produced two triumphant dishes in the form of bacon-wrapped bacon and sublime roast chicken. But they let themselves down by presenting undercooked leeks and a chocolate mousse that was grainy and unpalatable. It was enough to send them both to the Secret Ingredient Showdown to battle it out for a spot in the finale.

The quest to pair chocolate with protein showed just how creative and skilled both these chefs are. I marked Chef Vigneron down, however, for presenting a piece of lamb so rare it was almost bleating. I felt it was a far bigger flaw than his opponent’s lack of seasoning on a deep-fried duck heart .

Although there was a long and heated debate, in the end the three judges reached a unanimous agreement that Chef Vigneron would be the next chef to hear the words “I am sorry, but you will not be The Next Iron Chef.”

That left Chef Guarnaschelli joining Chef Frietag and Chef Appleman in the final battle to reach Kitchen Stadium. It’s going to be one heck of a showdown.

What did you think of the episode? Tell me in the comments below.

Relive the episode and take a look at an extended preview of next week’s final episode below (click the play button):

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Comments (82)

  1. FanFare59 says:

    Regarding this episode, it was all too obvious an outcome. The judges phoned it in. Of course when Alex and Marcel ended up in the secret ingredient round, no matter what crap Alex threw on the plate, she would be passed on. Since the secret ingredient was chocolate, and all she did with it was sprinkle some shavings on to her dish, it wasn't very inventive, transforming or interesting. Conversely, Marcel worked his chocolate into something unique. Unfortunately for him, he didn't have the secret handshake to be given a Mulligan (as Alex has received throughout this stilted contest). Marcel accepted his defeat with grace, (which is more than can be said for his predecessors or the future losers).

  2. shezogie says:

    I must say that for 1 was very pleased with the outcome. As for the other comment that Alex didn't transform the chocolate – the task was to transform the buffet, not the ingredient. Just saying. Alex has had her ups and downs in this competition but is still holding strong. Amanda has been the dark horse in this race. I am pleased to see her doing so well. I thought the comment of lack of seasoning on the duck heart was appropriate as salt would have enhanced the chocolate. Overall I liked the episode and thought the judging was fair.

    • Flour child says:

      Alex has been holding on by her fingernails. IN every ep, she whines into the camera that "this might be the end of me" or some such garbage. And then, Poof – she survives to cook another day. No fuss, no muss. If she can't keep it together during challenges without going into a tizzy, how in the world will she be collected enough to be the Next Iron Chef?

      • Fly Army says:

        She is a Drama Queen, always wants the camera on her for comments. Last season she wanted to quit during the first challenge – she is no Iron Chef! Unfortunately, FN is pushing her along no matter what she cooks!

    • sally says:

      Alex is no iron chef material. Her cooking is very pedestrian.

      • LISN says:

        I agree with you. She's a Chopped judge and has complained to contestants about being boring. Yet, she's just as bad as the ones that become losers. And her incessant whining grates on my last nerve.

  3. Martha W. says:

    It was a fun show to watch especially seeing Amanda make the Elvis. She has a great sense of humor.

  4. Ray says:

    I agree with FanFare59, The Judges said the final outcome was based on who used the chocolate through its full dimension on the plate. coating 2 items with chocolate shavings in one dimensional. "Now we know you can sprinkle white chocolate on to salads" really? That wins it? It was fairly predictable though. I have been a fan of both contestants for a very long time and unfortunitly I have felt if it came to a tie they will send Alex thru no matter who see is up against.

    • Linda says:

      I respectfully suggest you watch the episode again. She put chocolate into the onions and melted it in. The fact that she grated it to make it blend more quickly had nothing to do with how createive or sophisticated the use was. She blended it into a sauce that was used on her plate The use on the salad was as a garnish. Grating it was appropriate. Chunks would not have been pleasant to eat or have achieved the appearance desired. The chocolate needed to melt onto the hot duck hearts. Hence grating it was appropriate. She could have melted a bunch and dipped them but it would have taken a lot of time she didn't have and the chocolate would not have been much thicker and overwhelming. She also used different varieties.
      What mattered was whether the uses were appropriate. Not how she got it into the dish. For the onions and the sauce she could have used pieces but it wouldn't have worked as quickly or as well.

  5. Foodisfun says:

    Sorry but bacon wrapped bacon should have won on it's own merits!!! I mean AMAZING….

  6. WriterinSac says:

    I'm so glad Marcel is gone. I wish all food shows would stop having him on as a contestant. I know I would never eat at a restaurant he worked at for the simple reason of the type of human being he is. He is mean, selfish and not someone I would like to watch on TV.

  7. Foodie2012 says:

    I was completely thrown last night..Marcel should have won on creativity alone…grating chocolate on a salad and deep frying a turkey heart is not IC worthy at all.. Marcel made a damn risotto in less than 20 minutes and they loved it. WTF Food Network? Are they truly that bent on getting AF or AG on the IC block that they just gave up on the whole premise of the show? IC has become a joke and such a far cry from its original form that its not even worth watching anymore unless Morimoto is cooking.

    • WestCoastFan says:

      Perhaps they are going for an all female finale in that way no one can complain about there not being a female Iron Chef anymore.

      When Falkner was canned I began rooting for Freitag. Between Alex and her I think Freitag would make a better IC.

    • Linda says:

      A: It was a duck heart. B: she added chocolate to the coating when it came out of the fryer. Her protein was cooked done. Marcel's was inconsistant. Some pieces were raw, some cooked to the correct degree of doneness. The chocolate he used in the rub when he roasted the lamb was gone by the time it was served.
      Nobody said the risotto was not good. But he needed more than one good element.
      Alex used chocolate on the duck heart, in the onions and in her sauce. Then added a salad with a Christmas theme, with a white chocolate 'snow' garnish
      when all was said and done, she used more chocolate in more elements than he did.
      If he were judged on the risotto alone, he might have won. But there was the rest of the dish…..

    • Plastic Chef says:

      @Foodie 2012: So agree with you. Marcel won, hands down. The judges are inconsistent. Chef Appleman won because of some oil in a shrimp head. That was considered creative enough and Iron Chef worthy enough to get past Mehta. By the same reasoning, Marcel's chocolate risotto should have been good enough, and in fact was. It is the judging that failed here. Bigtime.

      For the entire season, chef Guarnaschelli has cooked 'tasty' food but would not honor the challenge theme. It's the same thing chef Zakarian did last year but won while the Asian judge (Judy, I think her name was) fawned over him. So the question is, when do we stick to the ingredient/challenge and when do we stick to the chef we like?

      This is disturbing on many levels. I would like to see a female iron chef but I would much rather see a creative, exciting, young chef who definitely has the chops. The judging is SKEWED!!!

      • Foodie2012 says:

        It would be wonderful to see a female IC but not at the risk of ruining the whole premise of the show and any credibility the judges may still have. I agree with you in that the judges objectivity is very tainted by their personal preference in chefs. Its very much like what goes on through these boards however, none of us are able to taste, smell or appreciate the food being cooked on an intimate level, we are just going by what the programing gods decide to show us. That being said, it seemed quite obvious to me by earlier judging that either Alex or Amanda were going to be in the finale. From what I have seen out of either of them, they are not IC worthy and the original Iron Chefs will wash the floor with them. But maybe thats what FN wants. who knows…..

    • amandafan says:

      I want Amanda to win in a finale against Appleman. I will feel very bad for the fans of the FN if Alex wins as she has clearly avoided the competition and with IC Zakarian's help has escaped consequences.

      Go Amanda. Go Appleman. Go Away Alex…

  8. Linda says:

    Simon, this is addressed specifically to you.
    I am very glad to see the final three. All are chefs who are worthy of Kitchen Stadium. I suspect you are finding some of the commentary aimed at the judges to be unkind and unfair. But that is a measure of how passionate the fans are. Yours is not an enviable task despite the fact that you get to sample so much extraordinary cooking. No matter what you say or do, someone will find fault. But WE can't taste or smell the food or feel the textures as you do. That is all the difference. So, my respects to you all.

  9. Fannie G says:

    Have a look at the pictures of Alton Brown, host of GE, NIC Redemption and ICA with his collection of assault rifles posted on several gun nut websites on the net. In particular read chat sites where he's bragging to other gun creeps about various assault weapons he owns and shoots. In light of the slaughter of innocent little children in Ct by yet another gun nut, what in God's name is Food Network doing associating its name with this creep. Assault weapon nuts have no place performing before the public and need to be shunned for the neanderthals that they are. He needs to go.

    • Linda says:

      I don't like guns and I don't like to shoot or to hunt. But some people, including my son DO like guns and like to target shoot, which is what Alton does. Not all people who like guns turn them on people. In fact, most people who kill have little real knowlege of guns other than how to load and aim and pull the trigger. If Alton likes to play with guns in a harmless fashion, then that's his privilege and right as an American Citizen. When you get all hot to ban guns, remember that when guns are banned for law abiding people, the only ones who will have them are the criminals. THAT is a frightening thought.
      Now, can we get back to discussing the program and the chefs?

    • FNfan says:

      Fannie, you are damaged in the head for trying to blame by implication another American Citizen who is exercising his right to own and operate firearms in a legal manner.

      This is wholly inappropriate for this discussion forum as YOU ARE THE ONE politicizing the horrific killing of those innocent children and school workers. You are sick.

    • Henry VIII says:

      Fannie,
      Lighten up. This episode was filmed months before the horrific event in Connecticut. It was meant as a bit of levity, as Alton Brown always supplies. You brought a knee jerk, political response into a food competition where it decidedly doesn't belong. There are literally millions of gun owners in this country who conduct themselves everyday in a safe and lawful manner.

    • LISN says:

      Up until I read your post, I wasn't aware of Alton's love of guns. I'm surprised and share your abhorrence for them (prior to this latest sad event). However, this is not the forum to discuss it because viewers have something else on their minds. The food is the thing here I'd prefer not to see Alton on every show anyway, for a different reason: he's homely and pompous and overrated.

  10. Kathy R says:

    I wasn't horrified by chocolate as the secret ingredient. I was horrified that it was Hershey's.

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