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.
Read more »
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.
Read more »
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.
Read more »
All month long, Food Network has a bunch of holiday episodes and specials that are sure to give you some great ideas for celebrating the holidays. This weekend it’s all about entertaining family members and dear friends. Visit with Ree, Trisha and Giada as they show you how they celebrate with their loved ones. From Rachael you’ll get five great dinner recipes that you can rely on when entertaining this season. And finally, if you’re looking for the best cookie and cake recipes to serve for dessert, the chefs from All-Star Cookies and The Best Thing I Ever Made have you covered.
If you missed any of last week’s holiday episodes, be sure to check out our Program Guide to see when they air again.
The Pioneer Woman: “Christmas Is Coming“
Join the Drummond family on their ranch to see how they celebrate Christmas over three days. Ree makes Rigatoni and Meatballs, which is the perfect meal to enjoy after the work of trimming the tree. On Christmas Eve, Chocolate Mint Brownie Bites are put out for Santa in case he gets tired of all those cookies. And for a traditional ranch-style Christmas Day brunch, it’s Drop Biscuits and Sausage Gravy.
Tune in: Saturday, December 8 at 10:30am/9:30c
More holiday episodes from Trisha, Giada and Rachael
In a special holiday episode of Restaurant: Impossible, Robert Irvine takes on one of his biggest missions to date. In the spirit of giving back, Robert travels to Joplin, Mo., to revitalize a Boys & Girls Club that served as a safe house after one of the deadliest tornadoes ever hit the town.
Robert’s challenge has two parts. First, he must transform the club into a space that’s inviting for kids and adults alike — all in only three days. Second, Robert must cook a thank-you dinner for 1,000 volunteers in just five hours — luckily he has help from Chef Michael Chiarello and the Dinner: Impossible crew. With a $30,000 budget, this mission will transform not only the club, but the lives of the people who were affected by the natural disaster.
Tune in: Sunday, December 9 at 10pm/9c
Click here to make a donation to the Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri, then read how you can help the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
In this bracket challenge, you voted for the secret ingredient you thought was the hardest to work with in the past four seasons of The Next Iron Chef. In Round 1, you had to narrow down eight ingredients to four. In Round 2, you had to choose the two finalists. In the Finals, you chose the winner.
Click to find out what secret ingredient won
Facing the imminent closure of their 11-year-old restaurant, Bronk’s Bar and Grill, husband and wife owners, Erik and Tracy Brunkow, turned to Robert Irvine for help in saving their business. This Lake City, Minn., eatery had been serving dishes made mostly from frozen food in an out-of-date, unadorned space, but thanks to Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team, it reopened with a fresh menu and vibrant decor to match. We checked in with Erik a few months after the transformation to see how Bronk’s is doing now.
Immediately after the renovation, sales at Bronk’s grew significantly, doubling during weekdays and tripling on weekends. Erik says that customers have come from near and far to see and taste the changes, and everyone is wowed by the updated decor. “They say it’s brighter, fresher and more open,” he explains. “People are noticing our tin ceiling all of a sudden, which was there originally.”
Bronk’s is still serving the updated menu exclusively, and Erik notes that they’re using only fresh, never-frozen ingredients. He adds that the specialty sauces that Robert created have been extremely well-received by diners. “People want us to bottle them and sell them at the store.”