There’s reason to celebrate in kitchens everywhere tonight: For the first time since 2012, a new Iron Chef has joined the Chairman’s esteemed ranks. Stephanie Izard, a chef and restaurateur based in Chicago, defeated not only six challengers to earn the right to run the gauntlet but also a trio of Iron Chefs — Bobby Flay, Michael Symon and Masaharu Morimoto — following a series of three epic battles on Iron Chef Gauntlet. Each of these showdowns featured a different Secret Ingredient, and it was up to her to decide with which Iron Chef she wanted to do battle as each altar was revealed. It took only the first heat to realize that she wasn’t going to make this mission easy on herself, as she chose to face off against undisputed pepper king and Southwestern-cooking master Iron Chef Flay in Battle Pepper. From there, she challenged Iron Chef Symon to Battle Cheese and Iron Chef Morimoto, a seafood guru, to Battle Tilefish. And though she fell to Iron Chef Flay in the first heat, she ultimately out-cooked Iron Chefs Symon and Morimoto to best their combined score by three precious points.
We were on set with Chef Izard became Iron Chef Izard and caught up with her moments after her momentous victory. Read on below to get her take on where she went wrong in Battle Pepper, and find out why she told us, “I made the challenges as hard as possible for myself.”
Congratulations, Iron Chef! Take us back to the moments before Alton announced the results. You see an empty fourth podium, one that you could potentially take your place on as an Iron Chef. What was going through your mind?
Stephanie Izard: I had a feeling that Iron Chef Flay had beat me by a couple points, and I had a feeling that I had beat Symon by, hopefully, more than a couple points. … Morimoto made a soup and I made a soup, and in my mind, I was thinking, “I wonder which — even just coming down to which soup would you want to eat more.” I feel like the Iron Chefs are like: “All right, all right. You can be in our club.”