Chef Estes and Chef Wong definitely earned their places in the final showdown and neither seemed particularly alarmed when Alton Brown revealed their secret ingredient: a wide range of potatoes.
After a rather frightening battle to claim other ingredients from the refrigerator, both chefs set about making two very different dishes. If creativity had been the only criteria, then Chef Wong would have been the clear winner. There were two main flaws with her dish, however, that meant we had to mark her down. I felt that the use of celery leaves was a mistake and overpowered some of the more subtle flavors, while Alton found the base of purple potato puree to be gluey and overworked.
Chef Estes’ dish was less adventurous and she was faced with a battle to persuade three experienced judges that a seemingly simple chowder was noteworthy. She did that with her perfect preparation of three different types of potato and an herb cream that had us all wiping the bottoms of our bowls with our fingers.
Keep reading and relive the battle
Chef Lee Anne Wong has successfully made it to the final round of the Road to Redemption Web-series battle and this past Friday, Chef Estes also advanced, too (relive her battle below).
Making one dish in 30 minutes can be tricky, especially when you don’t know the ingredient in advance and the result has to be good enough to defeat your competitor. This was the situation for Chefs Wong and Cowan — both were seen running around Kitchen Stadium, gathering ingredients at record speeds. In between her mad dashes, viewers may have seen something shiny — Chef Wong’s golden clogs, to be exact. They caught our eye, as well. We recently caught up with her and asked her to dish on her kicks.
Chef Wong: I found a store in Venice, Calif., that does custom clogs. I figured golden clogs were the way to go. I ordered them and ended up waiting more than a month for them to be shipped to me back in N.Y. The first time I wore them I was throwing a party with Joey Campanaro at the Little Owl Venue. Needless to say, they have become my favorite pair of clogs (because I have enough clogs to outfit an entire kitchen of cooks with really small feet). They are a little beaten and worn, so I may need to send them back to get the gold leather refinished.
Next up to compete for that final spot in Season 5 are Chef Duskie Estes and Chef Roberto Treviño, both of who know all too well the pressures of competing to become The Next Iron Chef.
Although I was already very familiar with Chef Estes and her well-voiced determination to use local ingredients, this would be my first opportunity to witness the talents of Chef Treviño. I had, however, heard terrific things about his cooking, so knew we were in for a great battle.
The look on the faces of both chefs when Alton Brown revealed that the secret ingredient was coconut was worth the entrance money on its own. They both soon recovered and set about cooking two very different styles of dish. To be exact, Chef Treviño started cooking, while Chef Estes stared at her coconut for a few minutes like it was an alien and then hacked at it with a cleaver.
This season of The Next Iron Chef is all about redemption.
Nine of the coveted places in the competition had been filled. The Chairman, however, had decided to leave one spot open, to be filled by the winner of a series of sudden-death cook-offs. It was a deliciously fiendish idea.
I was pleased when I received a call asking me to help judge this Web series. I was even more pleased when I heard that my co-judges would be Iron Chef Jose Garces and Alton Brown. I was also genuinely thrilled that the first two challengers were the immensely talented Madison Cowan and Lee Anne Wong, who had impressed the Chairman with victories in Kitchen Stadium previously.
When Alton announced that the mystery ingredient was peanuts, both chefs went straight to their happy places: in Chef Wong’s case, to her skills with Asian cuisine and in Chef Cowan’s case, exuberant Caribbean cookery.
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While the nine returning chefs have been revealed for the upcoming fifth season of The Next Iron Chef, let’s shift focus to lucky contestant number 10. The tenth slot will go to the winner of a Web-exclusive competition, a Food Network first, taking place on FoodNetwork.com. The four chefs taking part in the Web battle are: Duskie Estes and Robert Treviño, who have previously competed on The Next Iron Chef, and newcomers Lee Anne Wong and Madison Cowan.
The “Road to Redemption” four-part Web tournament begins October 12 with a battle between Iron Chef America challengers Madison Cowan and Lee Anne Wong, followed on October 19 by a competition between former Next Iron Chef contenders Duskie Estes and Robert Trevino. The winners meet on October 26, where the final Redemption position will be awarded. Simon Majumdar, Alton Brown and Iron Chef Jose Garces will decide who becomes a Next Iron Chef hopeful.
Watch a sneak peek after the jump