During Season 3 of The Next Iron Chef, I probably gave Chef Forgione more grief than both of the other judges combined did and called him out a number of times for various reasons.
Despite that, he managed to make it all the way to the finale, where his superb take on a Thanksgiving dinner made him my clear winner. Since then, Iron Chef Forgione has gone on to prove himself a very worthy addition to the culinary pantheon.
With the Iron Chefs currently battling each other to see who is the greatest of the great, here are 10 questions and answers that will hopefully give you more insight into the youngest of their order.
Your father, Larry Forgione, is often called “The Godfather of American Cuisine.” Was coming from a family of such astonishing culinary provenance a help or a hindrance as you climbed the ladder?
MF: A little bit of both. I think it definitely helped open doors for me, but at the same time everything I did was a lot more closely watched. There’s nothing worse than getting yelled at by a chef and then having them say to me, “Do you think your father would be happy with that?”
Some of the mystery basket ingredients that get used on Chopped are pretty unusual, to say the least. But the culinary producers who come up with them don’t just draw them out of a hat — though sometimes it does seem that way! They take their time to decide on the ingredients, making sure the basket components are just right and actually manageable. FN Dish queried the culinary producers to find out the top 16 weirdest basket ingredients they’ve had on the show. The list of ingredients ranged from goat brains to gummy eggs over easy — almost no ingredient is off-limits.
Now, Chopped fans, in the past four weeks, you’ve been voting in this Bracket Tournament to determine the weirdest mystery basket ingredient ever used in the show’s history. What started out as 16 ingredients was narrowed down to just one. Today, FN Dish is revealing your winner.
Find out which ingredient you voted the weirdest!
The Chopped judges have seen their share of odd, uncommon ingredients come out of the mystery baskets — haggis, goat brains and shad roe sack, to name a few. But sometimes what trips up the competitors more than any strange products is a selection of ordinary ingredients, like eggs, flour tortillas and apples. If the competitors are judged on their abilities to use the basket ingredients, they’ll have to think beyond omelets, tacos and fruit salads, for example, if they want to avoid the Chopping Block.
On tonight’s all-new episode of Chopped, judges Alex Guarnaschelli, Maneet Chauhan and Marc Murphy welcomed four moms to the kitchen with baskets of familiar ingredients that home cooks would likely use. In the entree round, that meant a spread of mustard greens, pork butt, red quinoa and carrot baby food — products that, while perhaps difficult for these nonprofessional cooks, should have been a cinch to prepare for the chef-judges, who later tried their hands at this very basket.
Alex admitted that, with the exception of the baby food, “It’s like a nice, innocent little basket.” But that didn’t stop her and the rest of the panel from facing some of the same challenges the moms did, like how to make a tough piece of pork tender and how to quickly cook quinoa with limited time. During their friendly face-off, Marc resorted to using a meat grinder to break down the pork and make it into meatballs. Maneet incorporated the meat into a casserole-style dish, and Alex took advantage of almost every second of the competition to fully cook her quinoa.
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Every week, Justin Warner, winner of Food Network Star Season 8, is back remixing the Chopped All-Stars baskets as seen in the episode Sunday night in pure Justin Warner style: edgy, intense, passionate and full of wit. If you’ve ever watched an episode and found yourself yelling at the TV, “I would have made this and that instead!” then these are the posts for you.
by Justin Warner
Welcome to the final installment of the Chopped All-Stars Rebel Remix. It is bittersweet to pen this, as it signals an end to a really fun five weeks of shouting at my TV, but as you are about to see, the finale is where one retires the pea-shooter in favor of the potato cannon, and I really love potato cannons.
Appetizer: soft-shell crabs, sake, crunchy peanut butter, sea beans
I spent most of my formative years and adolescence in the great state of Maryland, where we enjoy soft-shell crabs whenever possible. Nothing is more gratifying than a sandwich with crunchy legs sticking out of a nice potato roll. If you’ve never had the treat, head to your local sushi bar and order a spider roll. Don’t be scared, it’s 100 percent cooked and 110 percent spider-free. You’ll notice it has a crunchy texture that reveals silky sweet meat with a whisper of funk. That’s the mustard, aka the guts, highly prized among many. Fancy chefs here in Brooklyn are smearing crab guts on brioche and charging as much as a whole crab would cost. Anyway, the soft-shell crab is a very tasty morsel I hold in very high regard. To prep them, cut off their faces without hesitation. Flip them over and pull open the key. This will open up the body for you to remove the feathery gills. Voila.
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Earlier on FN Dish, we broke down the final round of All-Stars, including an interview with the runner-up (spoiler alert).
If you missed the show and recorded it, don’t read any further — FN Dish is about to break down the episode and chat with the grand champion.
SPOILER ALERT: Find out who won
Five episodes, 15 baskets and 60 out-of-this-world ingredients later, there’s a new All-Stars champ to crown. And while there can be only one winner, who can forget the All-Star chefs and celebs who have turned out one impressive dish after another in an effort to win $50,000 for a charity of their choice?
If you missed the show and recorded it, don’t read any further — FN Dish is about to break down the episode and chat with the runner-up.
SPOILER ALERT: The exclusive interview with the runner-up
Earlier this week, FN Dish caught up with Geoffrey Zakarian for a Facebook chat about Season 3 of Chopped All-Stars. Geoffrey answered questions about the current season, what it’s like to judge a wide array of dishes and how his experience as an Iron Chef informs his judging. He also chatted about what he’s up to next in his career.
Read highlights from Geoffrey’s chat
Despite the rivalries and fierce content of the Iron Chef America: Tournament of Champions (Sundays at 9pm/8c) that awaits the Chairman’s Iron Chefs, almost all of Kitchen Stadium’s elite came together at this winter’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival for an informal conversation about what it takes to be an Iron Chef, what privileges and expectations come with the job, as well as their own experiences in rising to their newfound roles. Although he won’t be competing in the series, Bobby Flay was on hand to lead Alex Guarnaschelli, Geoffrey Zakarian, Marc Forgione and Michael Symon in the hour-long chat, moderating the event and posing questions to both the group and the chefs individually that touched upon their histories in the kitchen, battle records, ingredients of choice and so much more. Masaharu Morimoto, the other original Iron Chef along with Bobby, couldn’t attend the panel, but the group quickly agreed that within their circle, Iron Chef Morimoto is the preeminent master of Kitchen Stadium and that a loss in battle to him is practically a rite of passage. “Everybody has to do it once,” Iron Chef Symon joked.
Although these culinary powerhouses may be all business during competition, there was no shortage of laughs and good-natured joking at this gathering, which took place just steps away from the sandy shores of South Beach, Miami. Read on below to hear from Bobby, and find out what Iron Chefs Guarnaschelli, Zakarian, Forgione and Symon had to say about life before and after they accepted their titles, what it’s like to fall in battle and their winning moments on The Next Iron Chef.
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This weekend, it’s all about Mexican food and a night of serious competition with the finale of Chopped All-Stars and premiere of Iron Chef America: Tournament of Champions.
Start your Saturday morning with Paula, who’s cooking a feast of sloppy but delicious Tex-Mex inspired recipes with her friend Cheryl. Later in the morning, Giada makes modern interpretations of Mexican dishes. On Sunday morning, Guy’s cooking a south-of-the-border feast. And on Sandwich King, Jeff is making Mexican wraps.
On Sunday evening tune in to all the competition, starting with a new episode of Cupcake Wars, where the bakers compete for a chance to serve their goods at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Then it’s the finale of Chopped All-Stars. Watch to see if Sunny, Gavin, Scott or Laila takes the championship. And last, it’s the premiere of Iron Chef America: Tournament of Champions, in which Iron Chef battles Iron Chef. In this first battle, Geoffrey Zakarian is up against Alex Guarnaschelli.
Read about the shows
This Sunday, (May 5 at 10pm/9c), the first-ever Iron Chef America: Tournament of Champions will begin — pitting Iron Chefs against Iron Chefs. In preparation for such a challenge, I thought it’d be a good idea to sit down with the Iron Chefs and ask them questions that will help readers and fans get to know them a little better. Last week we kicked it off when Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli — this week it’s all about Iron Chef, Jose Garces. Check back every Thursday for an inside look at the remaining roster of Iron Chefs.
This year gave me my first opportunity to judge Iron Chef Jose Garces in Kitchen Stadium. Although I already knew he has always been held in high regard in the culinary world, it was great to experience, first hand, how he combines his superb technical skills with an ability to make seriously delicious food.
I hope I have many more opportunities to sample his dishes again in the future. In the meantime, I caught up with him for a few moments to ask 10 questions about his culinary background and beliefs.