Last Sunday night, the first part of the Next Iron Chef rivals’ road to redemption came to an end when they moved from their home base of sunny Los Angeles to Las Vegas to begin the second half of the competition. For Chef Nate Appleman, this transition proved to be a moment of mini redemption, as in Season 2 he was sent home just one episode prior to the chefs traveling to Tokyo, while for others the change of scenery was nothing remarkable, just another city in which to cook. “Regardless of the setting, I’ll do what is good food and what is my style,” Chef Jehangir Mehta said.
This week’s installment of Rival Recipes celebrates this shift in the season with a play on one part of Sin City in particular: the Strip. In Las Vegas, the Strip is known to be a bustling, tourist-heavy area packed with hotels, casinos and entertainment venues of all kinds. But in the culinary world, the strip is understood to be a marbled slab of beef that is deliciously tender and juicy. Chefs Elizabeth Falkner and Tim Love, two rivals who didn’t make the cut to travel to Vegas, have brought their best beef to the battle and are prepared to face off in a strip steak showdown with a New York in Cast Iron and New York Strip Steak With Serrano Lime Butter, respectively.
On last Sunday’s episode of The Next Iron Chef, the remaining rivals packed up their knife kits and flew east to Sin City after five weeks of challenges and showdowns in Los Angeles. For the chefs, the move to Las Vegas proved to be a turning point in the competition, a sign that they are one step closer to claiming the only title that matters.
For Alton Brown, however, the move to Vegas was an opportunity to dabble in matchmaking — ingredient matchmaking, that is. With an altar of savory delicacies and sweet confections, he created a series of odd pairs like squid and marshmallows, chicken livers and peppermint candies, and bone marrow and fruit candies, which forced the rivals to think beyond the ordinary and create harmonious marriages out of culinary confusion.
Looking ahead to this week’s episode and the sneak-peek image above, it may seem as though Alton is once again experimenting with something new: flying. It turns out, however, that he is a frequent flier, and not just in the passenger sense. For more than 10 years, he’s been operating his own private airplane and only relies on commercial flights when there’s no other option.
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When it comes to the holidays, you must have a strong resolve to get through the rigors of gift giving, meeting the day-to-day demands of a hungry household, and entertaining a crowd. Let Food Network help you out with all three.
Don’t know what to do about gifts this season? Let Trisha show you how to make your own treats and package them. If you’re looking to refresh your winter recipe repertoire, get five brand-new ideas from Rachael. And don’t get stuck in a rut when entertaining a crowd this holiday. The chefs of The Best Thing I Ever Made are here to show you how to do it right.
Trisha’s Southern Kitchen: “Trisha’s Favorite Foods to Gift“
Trisha and her friend Kim get together in the kitchen for the classic Southern tradition of making edible gifts for the holidays. There’s Hot Corn Dip to snack on while they cook and assemble the gifts. Trisha uses nostalgic recipes like Margaret’s Raisin Bread, Slow Cooker Chocolate Candy and Peanut Brittle. You can’t go wrong with a homemade gift.
Tune in: Saturday, December 15, at 11am/10c
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Wonder how the food for Episode 1 of The Next Iron Chef: Redemption got on the beach? What about the unforgettable auction episode with calf heads, a giant mortadella and paiche fish that sent Chef Falkner home? Or how about what happens to all the leftover food? The culinary team at Food Network gives fans a peek at what it’s like on set from a food perspective. Click the play button above to watch exclusive commentary from Alton, Simon and Geoffrey, too.
Get more fun facts about The Next Iron Chef: Redemption Kitchen Set
Creating 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.
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On Holiday: Impossible, Robert Irvine shifted his focus away from restaurants and onto a deserving organization just in time for the holiday season. He traveled to Joplin, Mo., to transform a local Boys & Girls Club that has given so much to its storm-ravaged community after a deadly tornado struck the region in 2011. Unlike any renovation he’d done before, this was Robert’s largest and most difficult mission to date. Robert’s challenge in Joplin was twofold: give a second life to the expansive, multi-purpose space at the Boys & Girls Club facility and cater a special holiday party for a whopping 1,000 people.
In celebration of the season, Robert completed the mission with a bit of holiday cheer, thanks in large part to the generosity of his Restaurant: Impossible team, fellow chef friends and the Lexus Culinary Masters, who increased his time and spending limits from the usual two days and $10,000 to three days and $30,000. After just 72 hours, the Boys & Girls Club in Joplin reopened with secure entrance, bright, colorful walls, a fully equipped kitchen, increased storage and other functional elements that will help the club carry out their kids-first mission.
The fifth season of The Next Iron Chef: Redemption is in full swing with now only five familiar chefs battling it out again to prove they’ve got the skills to win the ultimate prize: the title of Iron Chef.
Each chef will try to pull out all their tricks to stay in the competition but, ultimately, one chef must go home each week. Every Sunday, FN Dish brings you exclusive exit interviews with the latest chef to go home.
Find out who went home
Whenever people stop to chat with me at airports, in restaurants or on the street, they usually have the same two questions.
The first is about how I managed to land one of the best gigs imaginable, eating dishes prepared for me by the finest chefs in the United States. The second is how my fellow judges and I go about the seemingly impossible task of deciding who will emerge victorious from Kitchen Stadium.
To answer the first question, you will have to ask Food Network. As long as they keep asking me, I’ll keep showing up. Heck, I’ll probably keep showing up even if they stop asking me.
I can, however, offer a slightly more detailed response for the second question.
While I suspect I shall never be accused of being on the fence about the dishes presented in Kitchen Stadium and The Next Iron Chef set, I also think that it’s important to be able to articulate to both the chefs and the audience watching at home why I think that a dish was successful or otherwise. During my appearances on Iron Chef America and The Next Iron Chef, I have developed a series of criteria that I hope help me do just that.
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By now you know that Chef Elizabeth Falkner was eliminated on last Sunday’s episode of The Next Iron Chef, and whether or not you agree with the judges’ decision to send her home on account of too much saffron, one thing is certain: The spheres of Caesar dressing she concocted during her final Secret Ingredient Showdown were simply beautiful. Instead of merely using from-scratch salad dressing — or, heaven forbid, bottled dressing — to top her salad, Chef Falkner took her pureed mixture one step further by piping it into mini rounds and chilling them over ice until they were semifirm. These dressing bubbles of sorts kept their shape on the plate until they were burst open, their liquid insides revealed.
In honor of this ingenious dish and Chef Falkner’s masterful technique in creating it, this week’s Rival Recipes battle is all about that classic Italian-American salad: the Caesar salad. But instead of Redemption rivals, we’re challenging standing Iron Chefs Bobby Flay and Geoffrey Zakarian to bring their best salads to the showdown.
While both Iron Chefs are featuring classic flavors and textures in their Caesar salads, each has added his signature spin to elevate them beyond the everyday. It’s perhaps no surprise that grilling guru Chef Flay has chosen to serve a Grilled Romaine Salad With Spicy Caesar Dressing, a top-rated recipe that’s finished with grilled croutons, while classical chef Zakarian offers a Caesar Salad With Red Romaine, served with fresh lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. Like Chef Falkner did in her very last battle, both Chef Flay and Chef Zakarian look to anchovy fillets to add a briny, salty taste to their dressings, but only Chef Flay mixes in a dollop of mayonnaise for a rich, creamy finish — Chef Zakarian relies on an egg yolk to offer the same texture.
Shocking to say the least, Chef Elizabeth Falkner’s elimination last Sunday night was downright powerful and emotional, not only for Chef Falkner, her fellow chefs and the judges, but also you, Next Iron Chef fans. After all, given her string of successful Showdown wins and a first-place finish in the Chairman’s Challenge of Transformation, Chef Falkner seemed to be on the fast track to Redemption glory, and fans were just waiting for her to finally claim the title of The Next Iron Chef. On Sunday, however, things took a troublesome turn and, in a moment of striking déjà vu, she crumbled in the Chairman’s ingredient auction and a head-to-head Showdown against the rival she had chosen, just like Chef Anne Burrell did in this challenge last season. Despite a smart Caesar salad and fried anchovies, Chef Falkner was told that she would not become The Next Iron Chef, and within minutes, fans Tweeted @FoodNetwork and took to our Facebook timeline and blog to express their disappointment, confusion and sadness over her early exit.
Questioning Chef Falkner’s quick decline on the road to redemption, K. Patrice Williams posted a comment on Facebook (pictured above) that speaks to both Chef Falkner’s highest and lowest moments of the competition. “I can believe I cried when they eliminated her. I’m still shocked. I was convinced she was going to be The Next Iron Chef. How does someone [go from making] the best dessert any of the judges have ever tasted to getting eliminated the next week?” she wondered, echoing the sentiments of fellow Falkner fans.
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