Emotional Goodbyes — Critical Moments

by in Shows, December 3rd, 2012

The Next Iron Chef: RedemptionThe curse of the auction challenge strikes again.

No one who watched The Next Iron Chef Season 4 will ever forget the look on Chef Burrell’s face as she realized that her decision to place eventual winner Chef Zakarian in the Secret Ingredient Showdown was going to come back and bite her in the backside. In Season 5, Chef Falkner found herself in the exact same position.

But first, let’s give due praise to Chef Vigneron. His stunning dish of braised beef cheeks proved that he had emerged from the shadow of high school shenanigans with his pal, Chef Mendelsohn, to make himself a very serious contender for a place in Kitchen Stadium.

Chef Falkner was not so fortunate. While she managed to cook the Amazonian fish paiche perfectly, her plating was messy and further spoiled by the addition of deep-fried scales. If I was being charitable, I would describe eating the scales as being worse than chewing on dead men’s toenails. It meant that, like Chef Burrell before her, she was now going to face one of her toughest challengers to stay in the competition.

Chef Appleman had also produced one of the worst tastes of the competition to date in the form of a mortadella mousse (every bit as unpleasant as it sounds), but that all changed when he was presented with anchovies in the Secret Ingredient Showdown. For me, his choice to produce two Spanish dishes was risky, as it’s a cuisine close to my heart, but he managed to produce genuinely delicious food when it mattered the most. Chef Falkner also made ample use of the ingredient, but heavy-handedness with the saffron in a Fregola Sarda produced a bitter taste that I found overpowered everything else on the plate.

It was not a unanimous decision, but this time it was Chef Falkner who was told by Alton Brown, “I am 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 (218)

  1. Previous Andrea says:

    Err, why did you use my exact name to respond?
    Anyway, I don't think it's a given than Donatella was lying.

  2. MoHuh says:

    Mehta knows he dodged a bullet on this one…

    • And that would have been what, exactly?

      • The Other Andrea says:

        I like Chef Mehta but his soufflé was a disaster. At this point in the competition your head should roll if you take a risk on a hasty soufflé and it falls flat in shape, texture, and taste. Blah…

        Falkner tried to turn an inedible fish part into a risky element on her plate and she failed as well. It is still a mystery how that happened.

        I still don't know which one was worse, BUT I think I would have put Mehta in the cook off on further review.

        Soufflé preparations should be approached with high skill and expectation for this level of chefs.

    • JAGG says:

      Totally agree! Faulkner should not have been in the bottom to begin with — her risk taking had to have outweighed a not so interesting french toasty souffle – who the king of souffles said was not good.

      I also believe Elizabeth should have one last year over Zakarian. But with his deep ties to FN — not likely.

      I hate that the competitors have to play this particular game — isn't it enough to try to make the tastiest bite? but add to it – outstrategizing your opponents by putting someone in the bottom seems mean spirite. Keep the dirty work to the judges.

  3. Guest says:

    Cannot believe they sent Chef Faulkner home! She is twice the chef that Appleman is! What is wrong here? Do they not want another female Iron Chef invading the "Good Old Boy" neighborhood?

  4. Linda says:

    I'm not a particular fan of Faulkner's. I don't hate her either. If she'd won, I would watch and have fun cheering for her opponent. That's part of the deal with this type of show. If you don't especially care for the IC, you cheer the challenger. If you do, you cheer the IC.
    I have reason to like Zakarian. I didnt like Symon at first, but now I enjoy him,
    As far as judges go, they have had Flay, Batali, Symon and Morimoto serve . So what's the problem with Zakarian? Anne Burrell served as a sous chef to other IC's, notably Mario. Some of the other contestants have also had KS experience as sous chefs. Including Frietag. What's the big deal?

  5. puzzling says:

    An ethical man would have recused himself from judging his Sous Chef and colleague on Chopped.

    An ethical man would have recused himself from purporting to judge challengers he previously bested by cheating.

    An ethical man would pay his 152 workers the overtime that they are entitled, rather than filing for bankruptcy.

    It is one thing if the Food Network held itself out as the next WWF. Instead, it positions NIC as a world class culinary competition judged on the merits. This episode was a milestone in that it destroyed the tiny shred of credibility that the show and its judges and producers still had. Behave like grown adults or stop insulting us. If I were an advertiser, I'd pull it. Despicable and deplorable. Shame on all of you.

    • jjo says:

      I don't think anyone is accusing Zakarian of being ethical, not if they've watched him very much.

    • Kay Wiermaa says:

      I would agree that while we'd like to trust all judges to be unbiased, clearly Zacharian would give the nod to a comrade vs. someone he didn't care for as much, if they were neck and neck. Yes – I think they should find judges who have no connections to the contestants. Both Arpaia and Zacharian are in bed with Freitag and Guarnaschelli, who I think actually will end up taking it. I'm voting for Marcel Vigneron.

  6. hawknic says:

    I knew the female would go. ..ever watched chopped? Chef Appleman, who was called an angry bunny by Simon, made a flippin fritatta with romesco…really an open faced omelette wins? It's been the only dish I could replicate from all the episodes. I thought Chef Faulkner was something different in her approach from the other Chef's..something unique for the Iron Chef series. Guess Zakarian doesn't like pastry Chef's showing him up.

  7. Debby Ladiges says:

    I felt unsettled with this week's loss of the talented, watchable, creative Chef Falkner. Then I put on my
    "football glasses with thinking cap" and realized the Judges are playing the defense roll. They will blitz, huddle, tackle, do what ever it takes to wrestle the "football" away from the Chef Contenders. The skills of an Iron Chef require critical thinking, changing on the fly, take no captives. I thought the Chef's had the hardest job but now I think the Judges actually do. I still really like Chef Falkner and will watch any show, any network that she is on. But I do not always like all the Judges!

  8. katie says:

    I think Faulkner was def a cut above the rest and they do seem to favor Guernachelli's cooking-she's so old school- her food looks like straight out of the 80's. Food network just seems so out of touch-they hardly have any african-american chefs and the only good shows they have are reality shows!Give Faulkner her own show!

  9. foodie says:

    BOYCOTT NIC! BRING BACK FAULKNER! It's the same thing with next food network star- they always choose the most boring people to get new shows-wake up FOOD NETWORK- WER'E IN THE 21ST CENTURY, NOT THE 20TH! STOP THE OLD BOY NETWORK!

  10. LeeH says:

    Hi, the only way FN can save face from the disaster which is NIC, after eliminating Chef Faulker, is to make a show around her skills, both as a pastry chef and as a culinary expert.
    FN made a mistake last year when they allowed Zakarian (not to be called Chef) to flout all of the rules and then win IC. His judging this year continues to show that he is not really a fit representative of the IC genre. I have not watched every IC since he won, but I find it interesting that the ones I did wach with him, he LOST!
    PLEASE FIND A WAY TO RESTORE CHEF FAULKER!

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