It All Came Down to a Cherry Tart — Critical Moments

by in Shows, December 24th, 2012

Chefs Freitag and GuarnaschelliIt was clear from the very first taste of Chef Freitag’s Lusty Lemon Chicken that she was going to be the first rival chef to reach Kitchen Stadium. It really was that good. But deciding who would be joining her would prove to be much more difficult.

I very much liked Chef Appleman’s use of haddock (chosen by me because of my love for fish and chips) in his chowder, but agreed with my colleagues that it lacked the advertised smoked element. Similarly, while we all thought that Chef Guarnaschelli’s dish of sea urchin was elegant, it definitely lacked the acidity that it needed to bring out the depth of flavor of the seafood. It was close, but in the end Chef Guarnaschelli took the second spot in Kitchen Stadium.

Both these chefs deserved their places in the finale, and to make sure that the long-standing Iron Chefs had their say in the final decision, Bobby Flay, Michael Symon and Masaharu Morimoto helped swell the ranks at the judges’ table. In honor of the Iron Chefs, the Chairman revealed the Secret Ingredients on the altar, which represented each of them and the cuisines they specialize in.

Chef Guarnaschelli's Cherry Pasilla Chile TartWith only three dishes with which to shine, there was no room for complacency, and the final two combatants brought some of their very best work to the tasting table. Chef Freitag’s feta burrata was creamy and delicious, while her puree of eggplant beneath perfectly cooked lamb was one of the highlights of the day. Chef Guarnaschelli’s starter of scallops showed real respect for the ingredients chosen by Iron Chef Morimoto and her cherry tart with pasilla chiles, with its crumbly almond crust, was considered by many the very best bite of the finale.

My vote went to Chef Guarnaschelli by a whisker. Although I know that it was not by any means unanimous, the majority of the judges agreed that it was her name that would be called out by the Chairman as he announced the winner.

Iron Chef Guarnaschelli, as she will now always be known, has definitely earned her place among the pantheon of the culinary greats, and I look forward to judging her in Kitchen Stadium.

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

Relive the final episode (click the play button):

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Comments (184)

  1. Flour Child says:

    I have nothing against Alex on a personal level. My single wish is that she would have 'brought it' during this NIC competition. Instead, she hung back and made "safe" dishes that lacked creativity. In most of her talking head interviews, she said as much. That doesn't seem very Iron Chef-y.

  2. Charlotte says:

    Chef Amanda Frietag rocked this season of NIC!!!!!!! She was more than deserving of the win with her creativity, innovation and skill. Unfortunately, the powers that be at FN wanted Chef Alex to win all along. I personally believe Zakarian should have recused himself from voting in the final since Alex is his sous chef. I like Alex but can anyone tell me how shaving some chocolate over a dish is Iron Chef worthy? Or, stealing a competitor's item is Iron Chefy? She played it safe the whole season and her dishes didn't look appetizing or plated well. A cherry pie, and not the work accomplished the whole show, seals the deal??? Clearly, Morimoto and Donnatella disagreed. Although I am not a huge Marcel (or Spike) fan due to their immature and disrepecttful demeanors, Marcel can cook his you know what off. I was actually pulling for Chef Amanda to go up against either Chef Nate or Chef Marcel in the final. Had Marcel's lamb not been undercooked, he would have made it to top two. Perhaps Chef Alex will bring Chef Amanda along as her sous chef as Chef Zakarian did for Chef Alex? Chef Amanda hold your head up….you done good girl! :)

  3. Carolyn says:

    This comment is late but done with NIC. Neither of the last 2 chefs chosen are worthy. Nothing else to say for annoying and arrogant chefs.

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