by Simon Majumdar in Food Network Chef, Shows, June 2nd, 2013
by Simon Majumdar in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 30th, 2013
Despite some extremely tough battles, it was Iron Chef Michael Symon who finally emerged victorious from the first-ever Iron Chef America: Tournament of Champions. He defeated Iron Chef Garces in a classic confrontation, claiming the title, as well as the bragging rights over his fellow members of the Kitchen Stadium club.
Before he went out to celebrate, I caught up with him and asked for his thoughts on the tournament and his victory.
Since you won, I’m assuming you think that the Tournament of Champions was a good idea. Would you still have felt the same if you had lost?
MS: I definitely still would have thought it was a great idea to have the Tournament of Champions, even if I hadn’t won it. But I’m not going to lie to you, I would have enjoyed it a whole lot less!
Bobby Flay didn’t take part in the tournament. Do you think that cheapens the title, and how do you think you would get on against Iron Chef Flay if you did battle him?
MS: You only have to look at some of the tough battles between the other Iron Chefs to know that Bobby’s absence did not weaken the tournament at all. Iron Chef Flay and I have known each other for so long and are such good friends that we have promised that we will never compete against each other. I know it’s a cop-out, but if we were forced to battle, I think it would probably result in a tie.
by Simon Majumdar in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 23rd, 2013
I am often asked which Iron Chef is the most intimidating to judge in Kitchen Stadium, and without hesitation, I always reply, “Bobby Flay.” His well-earned reputation, coupled with that calm penetrating stare when a panelist dares to give a negative comment on one of his dishes, is enough to make even the toughest of critics shrivel like a salted slug.
Fortunately for me, he definitely seems to bring his “A” game when I am on the panel, and although he is not always victorious, I am constantly reminded of why he is the chef so many contenders want to test their culinary chops against.
I grabbed a couple of minutes with Iron Chef Flay before battle to ask him these, 10 very important questions.
The Cookery Police are going to raid your house and take all of your books. They allow you to save one. Which would it be?
BF: The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers
Who was your culinary mentor(s)?
BF: Jonathan Waxman and Wolfgang Puck
by Simon Majumdar in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 16th, 2013
If all Iron Chef battles were to be judged solely on creativity, then most of Iron Chef Morimoto’s opponents should just enter Kitchen Stadium waving a white flag. Few chefs I have encountered can take the Chairman’s Secret Ingredient to such unexpected places while still creating dishes that are as delicious as they are exciting.
He may not always emerge victorious, but he’s still the one Iron Chef who gives me a shiver of anticipation when I find out I am going to be judging one of his battles.
Here are Morimoto-san’s typically enigmatic responses to 10 probing questions:
Do you feel added pressure to maintain the standards of Iron Chef America, given your association with the original Iron Chef Japan?
MM: I always feel tremendous pressure no matter which country I do the Iron Chef battle in. This pressure, however, is not because I am the original Iron Chef Japan.
by Simon Majumdar in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 9th, 2013
Michael Symon was the first Iron Chef I ever encountered in person. And I am delighted to say that, during the last three years, I have had the opportunity to hear his all-too-famous laugh on many more occasions, both as a co-judge on The Next Iron Chef as well as when I am lucky enough to judge his battles in Kitchen Stadium.
Just before he entered into battle against his fellow Iron Chefs, I took the chance to catch up with one of my favorite Food Network chums and demand answers to the following questions.
You once told me that you feared only “My wife, my mother and God — not necessarily in that order.” But is there any chef that you would hate to come up against in Kitchen Stadium?
MS: Not really. That’s not because I don’t think there are any chefs out there that are better than me, but because I live for competition and the battles in Kitchen Stadium. So win or lose, there is no one I’d be afraid to go up against.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 4th, 2013
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.
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?”
by Simon Majumdar in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 2nd, 2013
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.
by Simon Majumdar in Food Network Chef, Shows, April 25th, 2013
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.
by Maria Russo in Shows, April 23rd, 2013
If sheer determination was the only deciding factor in who became the next Iron Chef, Alex Guarnaschelli would have been taking on all comers in Kitchen Stadium years ago.
Unfortunately for her, in Season 4 of the show, a poorly prepared piece of lobster led to her elimination and possibly the end of her dream to join the Chairman’s elite crew.
by Simon Majumdar in Food Network Chef, Shows, April 18th, 2013
During more than 10 seasons of Iron Chef America competition, five new Iron Chefs have been welcomed to the Chairman’s elite team of culinary superstars, an ever-changing judges panel has filled the seats at the table, new rules and altered expectations have changed the way battles are done, and hundreds of Secret Ingredients have been unveiled beneath a single altar. Throughout the years of transformation and growth, have you, Iron Chef fans, kept up with what’s gone down inside Kitchen Stadium?
As you prepare for the upcoming tournament of champions (premiering Sunday, May 5 at 10pm/9c) in which the Chairman’s standing Iron Chefs will compete against one another in an unprecedented series of battles to become the Grand Champion, brush up on the ins and outs of this ultimate culinary contest. Test your memory of past battles and Iron Chefs’ winning records, plus your understanding of judging criteria and the significance of Secret Ingredients to find out if your knowledge of Iron Chef America reigns supreme.
Take the quiz now
One of the very great pleasures of the last few years has been getting to know Geoffrey Zakarian better, both personally and professionally.
While we may disagree a lot on the show, I have always been hugely impressed with his culinary talents and can now state, for a fact, there is no more-entertaining person on the planet with whom to break bread off set.
As Iron Chef Zakarian prepares for another season of battles in Kitchen Stadium, I caught up with him (over a martini, of course) and demanded responses to these 10 probing questions.
Read the full interview