Culinary Odd Couple Ups and Downs — Critical Moments

by in Shows, December 10th, 2012

Chef Marcel Vigneron and Alton Brown - Culinary Odd Couple Ups and DownsCreating coherent dishes out of unlikely ingredients can be one of the biggest tests of any chef’s skill. Asking them to do so with the marriage-made-in-hell offerings paired by Alton Brown was the perfect challenge to determine which of the five remaining competitors really did have what it takes to become the Next Iron Chef.

Chef Freitag’s ability to combine calamari and marshmallows so splendidly was as brilliant as it was unlikely and meant she unanimously earned her second win of the competition. Chef Vigneron’s creation of blue cheese ice cream with peanut butter brittle was a close second and proved beyond a doubt that he had become a very serious challenger for the title.

Chef Guarnaschelli’s insistence on playing it safe could have seen her relegated to her first Secret Ingredient Showdown. She was saved by Chef Appleman’s undercooked pasta in an oil-slick sauce, however, and Chef Mehta’s preparation of bone marrow did little to hide his contempt for the candy element of his pairing.

Although I am certain both chefs were delighted to see such a beautiful array of shrimp for the Showdown, neither produced a dish that will linger in my memory. I did not experience the issues with spicing that Iron Chef Zakarian found on Chef Mehta’s plate, but I did think that it was a very disjointed dish.

The fact that Chef Appleman’s pancake was dense and chewy would have made our final decision a much closer call, but he was saved by a last-minute inclusion of a grilled shrimp head that delivered a final burst of flavor. He will have to do better if he wants to progress to Kitchen Stadium, but it was enough to keep him safe for now, and that meant that Chef Mehta was the latest chef to hear the words, “I’m sorry, but you will not be The Next Iron Chef.”

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 episode below (click the play button):

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Comments (135)

  1. Lana says:

    I am a Chef Alex fan all the way. I don't think she glided through the last few challenges. They told her that she was not as risky as she should be. This last challenge was "Fusion". She did play it safe but it was her flavours that kept her out of the bottom two. The others made outright mistakes!

    I was very shocked to see Chef Falkner go. She is top drawer! Chef Freitag is someone I have watched on Chopped and she is definitely a force to be reckoned with. Chef Appleman is a talented guy and he deserves to be where he is. But Chef Vigneron is a real surprise for me. I really don't know much about him. He should have been booted out with Chef Mendelson for that "same plate stunt".

    • Linda says:

      I do agree that they should both have been booted for the 'same plate' stunt. After all, all of the others were judged based on their complete plate. That stunt was a very obvious thumb to nose on the part of Mendelsohn and Vigneron. If your stuff in on the joint plate and the plate fails… everyone whose food there should go.

    • alexfan says:

      I was not shocked to see Falkner go.

      IC Zakarian knows that Falkner has difficulty in execution and he rightfully pounced on her mistakes. He knows that when the pressure is on, as an Iron Chef you need to be able to give up a little on risk and plate good tasting food.

      IC Zakarian is a good Iron Chef and getting 5 plates in a competition means that not every plate needs to be a home run – but the ones that aren't home runs cannot be inedible or memorable for all the wrong reasons.

  2. Jill says:

    I will be satisfied with any of the Chefs as the next IC, EXCEPT for Marcel. It's been quite a while since he was on Top Chef and I still can't get the bad taste out of my mouth. He's seems to be an arrogant, selfish, egotistical expletive. Just IMHO of course.

    • Judy says:

      Normally I would agree, Marcel was not a nice person on TC – either time. However, Appleman has taken over the arrogance and snarky attitude in this show. I can't believe I'm saying this but, Go Marcel. (At the very least, beat Nate).

      • Jill says:

        I think they should both go actually. I suppose it would be nice to see a women Iron Chef. I like Alex, but think Amanda might handle the pressure a little better.

  3. WestCoastFan says:

    OT. Another Rachel vs Guy next year. I'm torn. I don't know whether to go screaming into the hills or be thrilled. I will say that I am eager to see Hines Ward. I enjoyed him greatly in DWTS.

    Anyone going to watch?

    • borntolose says:

      What department at Food Network do you work for? Is Food Network paying your overtime to advertise that show on this blog on your "off time"?

    • jln says:

      I'm going to give it a shot. I like Rach. As for the relevancy of your comment going to another post, there isn't a relative post, yet, so this one is good enough for me!!!

    • Penelope says:

      OT. Anyone watch IC Symon's show on the cooking channel? Is it instructive? I find a lot of show on the Food Network to be silly game and lifestyle shows, but not about cooking or technique.

      • jln says:

        If you're referring to Simon's Supper, it is somewhat instructive. I find it more for the accomplished cook that is looking for a different spin on food. It doesn't give details. I find it assumes you know what you're doing in the kitchen, and gives more ideas rather than how to. Hope that was helpful. I find it's best to watch a show a show to see if it fits your needs, and watch or not based on that.

      • jln says:

        I love watching Chef Michael Symon. I have a pocket rocket that I have nicknamed Symon because it reminds of him. I hope one day I get to meet him.

  4. fiorangela says:

    Personally I don't think Chef Zakarian should be allowed to judge while Chef Guarnaschelli is in the competition. I don't believe he can be objective enough, considering their obvious affection for eachother. I have nothing against either one of them personally, in fact I was rooting for him last season. However, if I was in this competition, I would feel that Alex has an unfair advantage. I hope I am proven wrong and that the remaining chefs are judged solely on their merits. Best of luck to the most talented chef!!

    • downnotout says:

      True dat.

      Cook Zakarian is on a mission to save Alex and it is becoming obvious to even a fan of Alex that I used to be. Something isn't right and I just cannot stand what I feel is corruption – even if it is just TV. I think Donatella sees right through Zakarian as well and Simon challenges Zakarian openly.

    • Linda says:

      If we were to try to eliminate any chef as judge, who knew and liked any of the contestants, there would be no judges. Alex is well known to and liked by all of the judges. So is Amanda, So is Nate. And so on.
      Alex has been a recent sous-chef for Zakarian on IC, but Amanda has also served as a sous-chef for him and for other IC's. All of them except for VIgneron have appeared with just about every chef on FN and have interacted with them in various events. As far as I know, every single contestant or possible contestant has interacted with other potential judges. The upper levels of professional chefs are very intertwined. Everybody is a critic and they are universally merciless when judging one another.

      • cynthia says:

        tks, Linda i totally agree with you, they're all 'intertwined' and i don't think there's any favoritism going on…besides…why would Zakarian want to lose the best sous-chef an IC ever had???

    • Hap Wilson says:

      Yes, it is a serious conflict of interest to have chef Zakarian as a judge, since he works with Guarnaschelli and Freitag on Chopped. Guarnaschelli skates through every round, playing it safe, knowing that she is the chosen one, since the Iron Chef producers really want a female chef to replace Cat Cora. I have pointed out other conflicts of interests to FoodNetwork, to no avail.

    • teachmoore says:

      I would love to see them do a blind judging of at least one round of the competition. Judge the food; period.

    • FanFare59 says:

      I agree that Zakarian shows his bias FOR Alex and should not be part of this season of judges. He tips his hand every single time. It's too obvious and takes the fairness out of the game. I can't stand his redundant comments anyway: "This marries well" or This is not a marriage." That's all he says, folks!

  5. amandafan says:

    Appleman is angry because he see's Alex doing c r a p and they're calling him out? He cooks pasta al dente after properly marrying his two ingredients while Alex slimes by…

    Freitag, Marcel, and Nate should've been safe. Alex and Mehta should've been in the cook off.

  6. ChefVidac says:

    I don't understand why chef Vigneron was allowed to stay in the competition after his sophomoric display that truely proved that he is not Iron Chef quality, or has the mentality or maturity that is displayed by any previous Iron Chefs.
    He may have a few good recipes, but is a panty-waiste as a person not at all an Iron Chef.
    The only two that have really shown Iron Chef quality are Chef Appleman and Chef Freitag. Chef Guamschelli is a decent chef and mature about her approach, but won't attract the audience, Chef Appleman has the conviction to stick to his righteous indignation at pseudo-Chef Vignerons' s immaturity and lackluster appeal,

  7. Hap Wilson says:

    It is true that Food Network shows are way too inbred. Why do we always have to have Simon Majumdar and Donatella Arpaia as judges, with Alton Brown hosting? Viewers want something different once in a while. Isn't there anyone else in the entire world that has food judging experience?

    • joyce says:

      I agree with you on the judges. I would love to see everyday people be the judges. It would be nice to what the public had to say about there food.

    • Linda says:

      Since the contestants are being judged on professional standards, it probably would not be useful to have 'everyday people' as the judges. Not very many 'everyday people' would have the experience of some of the more exotic ingredients so that they could judge appropriately.
      Some might find they didn't like the resulting flavor alteration when too much saffron is used. But they might not know what it was or why and be able to tell why they were giving poor scores. They might like a dish, but not recognize that a specific desired flavor was deficient and thus give a high score that was not appropriate
      I realize that sounds snobby, but it isn't intended so. The thing is that people who are professional chefs or food critics have the experience and knowlege to distinguish specific flavors and whether or not an unususal element is prepared as it should be. Every day people might have the ability to judge the overall result but most of us aren't able to pick out specific elements of a dish and critique them so that the contestant knows what they did right or wrong.

      • DeenaG says:

        I thoroughly dislike Majumdar's judging. I've seen him on other food competition shows and he almost always appears to start off with a negative attitude towards female chefs.

        • amandafan says:

          Puhleeeze!!!

          Simon is the equal opportunity critic – he beats up (in a dignified manner) on all sexes of Chef whether they be male, female, androgynous (Mehta), lesbian (Falkner) and Marcel (who knows?).

  8. jymrj5rhyt says:

    it is painfully obvious that alex fat.

  9. Jules in WA State says:

    Vigneron has got to go!! I have watched him through his attempts on Top Chef…on the little reunion that they had where Fabio hosted and he was an ass then. His own failed attempt at a show. His weird relationship with Hung . I thought that what happened on season 2 where they "acted" like they were going to shave his head was stupid. He did deserve to be angered about that, but he acted like a 10 year old. Every single thing I have ever seen, heard or know about Vigneron is not good. He should have been sent home with Spike, like others have said. Bad form and foam king. I want the door to hit him where the good Lord split him.

    • noFalk4U says:

      The younger generation is stupid and senseless – Vigneron will represent them well if he becomes the NIC.

    • Mat says:

      Jules, have you been carrying those thoughts of Vigneron in your 'hurt bag' for all these years?

      You are just another hater…

    • alsharpton says:

      Hey Hey Ho-dee-ho,
      Vigneron has gots-ta go!!

    • FanFare59 says:

      Uh, oh. Someone's foaming at the mouth…. When Marcel was attacked in S-2 of Top Chef, he was pounced on (by a competitor twice his weight) in the middle of his sleep. He didn't know what was happening to him. Of course, he got angry and fought back and left the room. That was not the behavior of a 10 year old. It was a normal reaction to anyone who was being terrorized by a thug and his idiotic pals egging him on. Regarding his other TC interactions, I found Marcel to be annoying at worst. However, in this contest, he has shown to be calm in the kitchen and cooking the pants off some of his current competitors.

  10. jln says:

    What is the correct way to stack a burger?

    85/15 hamburger with bun, lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, jalapeño, and sauce

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