In true finale form, last Sunday’s eighth and final episode of The Next Iron Chef: Redemption featured no ordinary cook-off, but a next-level contest designed to celebrate current Iron Chefs and test the future Next Iron Chef. While most Kitchen Stadium competitors find themselves presented with a single Secret Ingredient, the top two rivals, Chefs Amanda Freitag and Alex Guarnaschelli, met an altar of more than 12 different ingredients inspired by the flavors of Southwest, Japanese and Mediterranean cuisines, and they had to cook with at least two offerings from each culinary category to honor long-standing Iron Chefs Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto and Michael Symon. Although the rivals took different approaches to their appetizer and dessert offerings, their main dish presentations were strikingly similar, both showcasing juicy lamb loins as a sign of respect for Iron Chef Symon. The judges were impressed with both chefs’ balanced, beautifully cooked entrees, but ultimately it was Chef Guarnaschelli who took home the coveted title of The Next Iron Chef.
Bacon was the name of the game on last Sunday’s episode of The Next Iron Chef: Redemption, as the final four rivals were challenged to transcend the everyday Las Vegas buffet by creating a five-course buffet offering with bacon at the forefront. Teammates Nate Appleman and Amanda Freitag embraced the test wholeheartedly, featuring an easy-to-eat spread complete with bite-sized dishes and Sin City-inspired plates alike. Chefs Alex Guarnaschelli and Marcel Vigneron had buffets on the brain when they imagined their French-style feast, but a few technical flaws forced them into a Secret Ingredient Showdown. In the end, it was Chef Guarnaschelli who survived to cook in the upcoming finale episode alongside Chefs Appleman and Freitag, after a raw rack of lamb proved to be Chef Vigneron’s undoing.
In this week’s installment of Rival Recipes, we’re putting the focus back on everyone’s favorite pork product and asking the top three finale-bound chefs to bring their best bacon-centered bites to battle. Chef Appleman has chosen to use pancetta (Italian cured bacon) in his big-batch side dish of Roasted Green Beans With Pancetta and Yogurt, while Chefs Guarnaschelli and Freitag are letting bacon shine in an appetizer and main dish, respectively. Chef Guarnaschelli’s recipe for Flatbread With Bacon and Scallion Pesto uses thin slices of thick-cut bacon to finish a lemon zest-topped dough, while Chef Freitag’s Bacon-Wrapped New York Trout With Brussels Sprouts and Mustard Sauce features a bacon blanket and classic Italian seasonings.
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.
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.
Canned foods: the pantry staple that everyone loves to hate. Professional chefs tend to stay away from these packaged, preserved goodies since fresh is always best, so last Sunday when the Chairman presented the Next Iron Chef: Redemption rivals with an altar of canned meats and seafood, they were anything but excited. Although all of the rivals ultimately rose to the occasion, Chef Spike Mendelsohn’s and Chef Marcel Vigneron’s dishes left something to be desired, and their canned Vienna sausage – and clam-inspired offerings, respectively, were deemed the weakest of the day.
In this week’s installment of Rival Recipes, we’re giving Chef Spike a chance to redeem himself with perhaps the most-popular canned ingredient: tomatoes. Like in the Chairman’s Challenge, he and his cook-off competitor, Chef Elizabeth Falkner, must look beyond tomatoes as they are in the can and imagine them as something greater, the star of a refined dish.
Chef Spike lets canned tomato sauce shine in his hearty, comforting, all-American Uncle D’s Chili, named after his Uncle Denny, while Chef Elizabeth pairs canned San Marzano tomatoes with Italian flavors in her Minestrone soup. Both bowls are packed with fill-you-up beans and bold spices, but Chef Spike’s is packed with beefy meat, bell peppers and barbecue sauce and Chef Elizabeth’s is vegetarian, filled instead with celery, carrots and haricots verts.
It’s never easy for a rival to hear Alton say, “You will not be The Next Iron Chef,” but for Chef Eric Greenspan last Sunday, his elimination was particularly challenging, given that he disagreed with the panel’s reasoning behind it. He told us in this exclusive exit interview that he has “tons of respect for all the judges on the show,” but ultimately maintains that “my dish was well-balanced and the flavors spoke to what I find delicious based on past experience and my own palette. I know I wasn’t outcooked.”
In this week’s installment of Rival Recipes, we’re giving Chef Greenspan a final chance to redeem himself in another showdown, this time against Chef Alex Guarnaschelli with one of his all-time favorite culinary subjects: the sandwich.
Not surprising since he is the grilled cheese guru, Chef Eric has chosen to bring The Champ, a next-level grilled cheese sandwich, to the battle while Chef Alex is featuring a Croque Madam Sandwich, a French-inspired ham and cheese sandwich. Both between-bread creations boast layers of rich, buttery cheese, but Chef Eric’s is built on dark raisin bread with an apricot-caper spread while Chef Alex’s comes together on thick-cut sourdough and is topped with a fried egg.
Comfort food was the name of the game on last week’s episode of The Next Iron Chef, as the Chairman challenged the rivals to put innovative twists on classic dishes. But instead of focusing on the all-American meatloaf, macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes, they embraced the flavors of three global favorites: banh mi, tacos and falafel. While the chefs were busy taking these Vietnamese, Mexican and Mediterranean staples, respectively, to the next innovative level, we noticed that one country famous for its tried-and-true comfort food was left off of their international food tour. Home to hearty, cheesy pastas, warm breads, beefy meats and perhaps the most-decadent pastries, Italy could have offered the rivals a fourth and formidable comfort food: the meatball.
That’s why this week’s Rival Recipes cook-off is picking up where the Chairman’s Challenge left off and introducing meatballs to the competition. We’re pitting three Redemption rivals against each other and asking the question: Who makes a better ball? Chefs Nate Appleman, Duskie Estes and Elizabeth Falkner are bringing their best saucy bites to the showdown, and it’s up to you, Next Iron Chef fans, to pick whose recipe reigns supreme.
Are you all about the beef? Then you may appreciate Chef Appleman’s Pepperoni Meatballs from Food Network Magazine, made with four different kinds of beef, plus red wine and creamy ricotta cheese. If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, Chef Estes’ Sicilian Lamb Meatballs with pistachio nuts and cherries may be more your style. Chef Falkner’s Spaghetti and Meatballs with herbs and cheese from her cookbook, Cooking Off the Clock: Recipes From My Downtime, however, will appeal to traditionalists who just can’t enjoy a meatball without a twirl of pasta alongside.
On last week’s episode of The Next Iron Chef, rival chefs Spike Mendelsohn and Tim Love went head-to-head in the Secret Ingredient Showdown. They battled it out with pineapple, otherwise known as “the death fruit,” according to Alton, since it’s ousted all past Next Iron Chef finalists who’ve tried to feature this sweet, juicy fruit in a savory dish. Both chefs tempted fate by cooking decidedly savory dishes, and in the end, this cursed ingredient got the better of Chef Love. Chef Mendelsohn, however, claimed victory over his rival — and pineapple — with a savory seafood dish with pineapple and sweet and sour sauce.
This week’s Rival Recipe matchup forces Chef Mendelsohn to once again bring his pineapple A-game, this time in a showdown against Chef Jehangir Mehta. Both rivals boast standout recipes for pineapple-focused fruit salads: Chef Mendelsohn a colorful Fresh Fruit Salad with red and green grapes, bright pineapple and fragrant mint, and Chef Mehta a refreshing Orange-Marcona Almond Salad With Pineapple Granita featuring juicy oranges, crunchy almonds and pineapple juice.
Now it’s time for you, Next Iron Chef fans, to channel your inner Simon Majumdar, Donatella Arpaia and Iron Chef Zakarian and judge which fruit salad reigns supreme. Would you prefer the classic combination of fruit featured in Chef Mendelsohn’s dish, or do you like the different textures that are offered in Chef Mehta’s offering? The vote is in your hands. Tell us whose pineapple salad gets your pick.
Last week, FN Dish introduced Rival Recipes, a weekly series that pits Next Iron Chef rivals, judges and standing Iron Chefs against one another in themed battles to find out whose recipe reigns supreme. In our first installment, Iron Chef Marc Forgione went head-to-head with Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian in an Italian Dish Showdown. In the end, Chef Zakarian’s pasta with bolognese bested Chef Forgione’s gnocchi with brown butter, but only by a few dozen votes. Didn’t get a chance to vote last week? There’s still time to pick a plate.
This week’s mashup features Iron Chefs Bobby Flay and Michael Symon, and they’re leaving behind Italian classics and focusing on Thanksgiving favorites. With Turkey Day just a few weeks away, everyone wants to know: dressing or stuffing — which side pairs better with the bird? The chefs themselves are divided on the issue. Chef Flay is bringing an earthy, smoky Sourdough, Wild Mushroom and Bacon Dressing to the battle, while Iron Chef Symon opts for Cornbread Stuffing made moist and luxuriously rich thanks to heavy cream.
The vote is in your hands — are you a loyal stuffing lover or do you prefer the simplicity of dressing? When it comes to bread, does crusty sourdough strike your fancy or will you reach for golden, crumbly corn bread? Vote below.
A little friendly competition never hurt anyone and the newest season of The Next Iron Chef: Redemption is sure to have plenty of it.
With just eight days until the premiere (Sunday, November 4 at 9pm/8c), FN Dish decided to heat things up and start the competition early. Starting today and continuing each week, editors will present two chefs with their corresponding dishes in what’s called Rival Recipes. Fans will then pick their favorite dish in a poll: the winner gets bragging rights and fans get two delicious recipes (it’s a win-win situation for the reader).
First up are the two newest Iron Chefs: Chef Marc Forgione (Season 3 winner) and Chef Geoffrey Zakarian (Season 4 winner), who is also a judge this season. Both chefs have mastered and revolutionized American-style cooking and here they offer two classic Italian dishes.
We’re pitting Chef Forgione’s Gnocchi With Brown Butter and Sage (from Food Network Magazine) against Chef Zakarian’s Perciatelli With Bolognese. Dumplings versus spaghetti. White sauce versus red sauce. Which will you choose? Vote below.
VOTE NOW: Which Iron Chef’s dish gets your vote?