Tag: Simon Majumdar

Tuna Jerky Soufflé and Sardine Bread Pudding on The Next Iron Chef – Critical Moments

by in Shows, December 5th, 2011

chef burrell vs chef zakarian
Next Iron Chef judge Simon Majumdar joins us on the FN Dish each week to share his insider’s take on what went down Sunday night.

Our next adventure told the tale of two unlikely dishes. One chef transformed a rather nasty ingredient into a dish that completely blew the panel of judges away. The other transformed a decent ingredient into one that I have to hold up as my worst bite of the entire competition.

But, let us not get ahead of ourselves.

There are those who believe that the Chairman has his own special corner of Hades awaiting him for the challenges, twists and turns he throws in the way of The Next Iron Chef contestants. After experiencing the emotions of this latest adventure, I am tempted to join them in that conviction.

This time, the Chairman’s challenge to the chefs was to prove that they could take risks, and the five remaining combatants were led into the rarified environs of a high-end auction house. There, Alton Brown informed them that they were not going to bid on priceless art, but priceless minutes of cooking time in which to prepare a single dish using the ingredients he revealed from beneath shining silver domes.

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New York State of Mind on The Next Iron Chef — Critical Moments

by in Shows, November 28th, 2011

Anne Burrell and the judges

Next Iron Chef judge Simon Majumdar joins us on the FN Dish each week to share his insider’s take on what went down Sunday night.

There was a tangible change in atmosphere as we entered the second half of the competition.

In part, it was because our location moved from laid-back Los Angeles to the electrifying buzz of New York City. Four of the remaining chefs call this amazing city home, while the two others were obviously determined to represent their West Coast towns. Where once there had been jollity and camaraderie, now there was tension and nerves set on edge. One mistake, one poor dish or one unwise choice in presentation, and the chance of a lifetime could be over.

If you are going to prove you can cook on a grand scale, where better to do so than in Grand Central Station, one of the most beautiful buildings in New York? This time, the three regular judges were joined by restaurateur Charlie Palmer and the winner of NIC Season Three, Iron Chef Marc Forgione. Their role was to add sage words to our own comments about the dishes presented by each chef in response to the Chairman’s request to prove themselves as great storytellers. It may seem like an odd task for a cook, but the current Iron Chefs will tell you that many battles have been won or lost based on how the dishes have been presented to judges in Kitchen Stadium.

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Octopus and Improvisation on the Next Iron Chef — Critical Moments

by in Shows, November 21st, 2011

alton brown and kevin nealon
Next Iron Chef judge Simon Majumdar joins us on the FN Dish each week to share his insider’s take on what went down Sunday night.

Great chefs don’t just work from recipes. The very best can take disparate ingredients and turn them into something unexpected and often magical. I have witnessed this many times in Kitchen Stadium, but this was the first opportunity for the judges to see if the remaining seven chefs had enough improvisational chops to hang with chefs of the Iron variety.

A seemingly innocent trip to a comedy club ended up not only in an encounter with Saturday Night Live legend Kevin Nealon, but also with an ingredient list for the Chairman’s Challenge that would test any chef in the world to their absolute limits. The bemused combatants were informed they would have to create a single dish that included the unlikely bedfellows of marshmallows, kumquats, tortillas and octopus. That they were able to create even vaguely edible dishes from these ingredients cemented their status as superstars. The fact that some chefs were able to produce dishes that were among the best of the whole competition was even more remarkable.

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Movie Snacks and Tofu on the Next Iron Chef — Critical Moments

by in Shows, November 14th, 2011

alton brown chairmans challenge
Next Iron Chef judge Simon Majumdar joins us on the FN Dish each week to share his insider’s take on what went down Sunday night.

The ability of many Americans to consume an entire meal while watching a movie equally amuses and frightens me. Whenever I head to the movie theater, I almost inevitably find myself seated next to someone slavering over a tray of cheesy nachos larger than a football field or thrusting their hands deep into a tub of popcorn only a tiny bit smaller than my first car.

Once they have finished with the savory element of their repast, they usually move on to dessert and the carefully crafted dialogue of many a great film (and some pretty dreadful ones, too) is drowned out by the rustle of wrappers or the sound of hard candy cracking under firm tooth pressure. Most of these “treats” are neither good nor good for you, and when Alton Brown informed the judges of the Chairman’s latest challenge, I suspect we rolled our eyes as much as the eight remaining chefs did.

It speaks volumes to the quality of this year’s roster for The Next Iron Chef that not only were most of the chefs able to meet the Chairman’s Challenge to show their “Ingenuity” head-on, they also fashioned some staggeringly good dishes from ingredients that would have made lesser chefs run a mile in the opposite direction. Read more

Baseball and Peanuts on the Next Iron Chef — Critical Moments

by in Shows, November 7th, 2011

baseball challenge next iron chef
Next Iron Chef judge Simon Majumdar joins us on the FN Dish each week to share his insider’s take on what went down Sunday night.

I have only been to a handful of ballgames during my short time living in the U.S. So, I was pretty certain, as we strolled into Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, that I would be the person present who knew the least about ballpark food.

I was wrong.

The Chairman’s Challenge for the nine remaining super chefs was one of transformation. He asked each of them to take classic ballpark dishes and re-create them in a Kitchen Stadium-worthy manner. It was no easy task, and the fact that each chef approached the challenge in very different ways showed that some of them, thankfully, knew even less about ballpark food than their British judge.

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Simon Majumdar’s Super Chef Premiere Recap — Critical Moments

by in Shows, October 31st, 2011

simon majumdar with next iron chefs
Next Iron Chef judge Simon Majumdar joins us on the FN Dish each week to share his insider’s take on what went down Sunday night.

Any concerns that the 10 chefs competing on this season of The Next Iron Chef might not feel the pressure, given their remarkable culinary achievements and already stellar careers, were dispelled the moment they came face to face with the three judges on the edge of the lakeside.

The beads of sweat running down their brows were not only caused by the blazing sun under which they had been forced to cook, but also from the stern warnings given by the judges. We made it very clear that taste would count for everything during this competition, and their reputations not at all.

Chef Spike had drawn the “lucky” straw and, while he might have thought it amusing to pair Chef Irvine with Chef Burrell and wise to pair himself with Chef Samuelsson, there was a very distinct possibility that it could all come back to take a large chunk out of his youthful posterior.

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Ten New Superstars Compete for Iron Chef Title

by in Shows, April 19th, 2011

next iron chef contestants
You’ve seen several of these elite chefs judge contestants on Food Network shows like Chopped, Worst Cooks in America and 24 Hour Restaurant Battle. Now, the tables will be turned. Ten new chefs will go knife-to-knife in the fourth season of The Next Iron Chef, set to premiering Sunday, October 30.

Putting their reputations on the line for a chance to compete in Kitchen Stadium are some of the nation’s most well known and best chefs, including Food Network’s and Cooking Channel’s own talent:

•    Anne BurrellSecrets of a Restaurant Chef, Worst Cooks in America (Food Network)
•    Michael Chiarello – Bottega Restaurant (Napa Valley), Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello (Cooking Channel)
•    Elizabeth Falkner – Citizen Cake, Orson (San Francisco), Iron Chef America – challenger (Food Network)
•    Alex Guarnaschelli – Butter, The Darby (New York), Alex’s Day Off, Chopped (Food Network)
•    Chuck Hughes – Garde Manger (Montreal), Chuck’s Day Off (Cooking Channel), Iron Chef America – challenger (Food Network)
•    Robert Irvine – Robert Irvine’s eat! (Hilton Head Island), Dinner: Impossible, Restaurant: Impossible, Worst Cooks in America (Food Network)
•    Beau MacMillan – Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain (Phoenix), Challenge, Iron Chef America – challenger (Food Network)
•    Spike Mendelsohn – Good Stuff Eatery (Washington D.C.), Kelsey & Spike Cook (Food2.com)
•    Marcus Samuelsson – Red Rooster Harlem (New York), 24 Hour Restaurant Battle, Chopped (Food Network)
•    Geoffrey Zakarian – The National, The Lambs Club (New York),  24 Hour Restaurant Battle, Chopped (Food Network)

Welcoming back to the judges table is the original Next Iron Chef Michael Symon, as well as esteemed food journalist Simon Majumdar — new to this season is UK Iron Chef Judy Joo.

The winner will join the ranks of chefs including Bobby Flay, Marc Forgione, Jose Garces, Masaharu Morimoto and Symon as a member of the Chairman’s team on Iron Chef America.

Who will you be rooting for? Tell us in the comments.

Related: A New ‘Star’ Will Be Born: The Return of Food Network Star


Critical Moments: A Kitchen Stadium Thanksgiving

by in Shows, November 22nd, 2010
The newly crowned Iron Chef Marc Forgione: Simon Majumdar’s "clear winner"

Next Iron Chef judge Simon Majumdar joins us on the FN Dish each week to share his insider’s take on what went down Sunday night.

With dozens of cameras catching every glimpse and grimace, a gallery of excited onlookers and smoke billowing across the set, I could begin to see what all the fuss had been about.

It was my first visit to Kitchen Stadium and I was nervous enough. I could only begin to imagine how Chef Canora and Chef Forgione must be feeling as they walked into the arena. They had not only to impress the three judges one more time, but also to persuade Iron Chefs Morimoto and Flay that they were ready to join the pantheon of the greats.

When given their final task, to prepare for us the finest Thanksgiving feast imaginable, the way they approached it summed up their performances in every challenge to date. Chef Forgione was cool, calm and collected as he followed his story of recreating the first turkey-free Thanksgiving. Chef Canora, on the other hand, was all drama and nervous energy as he dipped into his family cookbook to bring us a traditional Thanksgiving meal. It was not long before he was literally leaving his blood, sweat and tears on the floor.

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Critical Moments: Best of the Best on The Next Iron Chef

by in Shows, November 15th, 2010
"Marc vs. Marco to be the Next Iron Chef. I could hardly wait."

Next Iron Chef judge Simon Majumdar joins us on the FN Dish each week to share his insider’s take on what went down Sunday night.

The Chairman’s decision to allow four chefs to battle it out for a place in Kitchen Stadium made the judges’ decision even more difficult. So did the fact that the remaining combatants had been the ones to impress most in the competition to date. Although it was not going to be easy, at the end of the penultimate challenge two would be going home and two would face off to become The Next Iron Chef.

With Lobster, Mangalitsa Pork, Wagyu Beef and Hawaiian Moi to choose from, the chefs could have no complaints about being denied the best of the best, even if they had to run a marathon to collect them. They did not disappoint and the three dishes placed in front of us showed each of the chefs cooking at the very top of their game. With such skill on show we had to search for the most minor of flaws in technique, seasoning and plating to make our final decisions.

Chef Canora was, for me, a clear winner. Not least for his unapologetic use of rendered Wagyu beef fat to add a delicious savory note to a beet broth and a parcel of meaty mushrooms. It was pure Canora and made me determined to give him the opportunity to cook one last time.

Against any other group of challengers, Chef Tio’s elegant cooking would have surely seen her go through to join him. Yet, while I disagreed with Donatella’s opinion that the crispy moi was under-seasoned, I couldn’t argue that she had been outshone by her rivals and, by the narrowest of margins she was the first to be eliminated.

Chef Tsai and Chef Forgione remained before us as two chefs who could both grace the final battle with their very different styles and culinary backgrounds. I put my X against Chef Forgione’s name. I had been his toughest critic in the previous two challenges, but was seriously impressed with his dishes and determination to show me he could use a pressure cooker to good effect.

Chef Tsai looked genuinely stunned when Alton announced that he would not be the Next Iron Chef, but a misjudged dish of lardo had been enough to fell Ming The Magnificent, and send an equally astonished Forgione to Kitchen Stadium.

Marc vs. Marco to be the Next Iron Chef. I could hardly wait.

Look inside Chef Tsai and Chef Tio’s Next Iron Chef journals and flip through our behind-the-scenes gallery from Episode 7.

More about Simon Majumdar:
Simon’s Website
Simon’s book, Eat My Globe
Follow @SimonMajumdar on Twitter

Critical Moments: What Happens in Vegas…

by in Shows, November 8th, 2010
This week's challenge to transform a Vegas buffet into "something that would not make any sane person recoil in terror" was "close to impossible," according to Simon Majumdar.

Next Iron Chef judge Simon Majumdar joins us on the FN Dish each week to share his insider’s take on what went down Sunday night.

The Chairman had asked the remaining five chefs to transform a traditional Las Vegas buffet into something that would not make any sane person recoil in terror. It was a close to impossible task. To my mind this is one of the low points of American cuisine and I felt as much trepidation as I did anticipation as I took my place on the judging plinth.

Despite the fact that he constantly looked on the verge of a fatal aneurysm, it was Chef Canora who came closest to meeting The Chairman’s challenge with a variety of dishes that were both packed with flavor, but also showed off his exemplary technique. He was our clear winner, although his cardiologist may disagree.

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