Tag: Simon Majumdar

Iron Chef America — Tailgating in Hawaii

by in Shows, January 29th, 2012

iron chef america hawaii
As a very recent immigrant to the United States, I have to hold my hand up and say that most American sports remain a complete mystery to me. Until recently, I thought the term “all net” referred to fishing and that a “power play” was something you found at a Van Halen concert. But, even in my ignorance, I still knew all about the Super Bowl, one of the greatest sport events on earth.

So, when Food Network got in touch and asked me if I would like to judge a very special Iron Chef America episode to air just before Super Bowl XLVI, I jumped at the chance. When I found out it was going to be filmed in Hawaii, I was even more determined to take part and, when I was told that my fellow judges were going to be the irrepressible Sunny Anderson and the current Miss Hawaii, Brandie Cazimero, I almost offered to pay for my own ticket. Almost.

What made it more exciting for everyone involved was that this episode was also going to have a very, very special audience selected from the extraordinary men and women of the United States armed forces. It made all of us even more determined to put on a great show, particularly Sunny, who is a veteran of the United States Air Force.

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Fight to the Finish on the Next Iron Chef – Critical Moments

by in Shows, December 19th, 2011

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.

Since my first visit, for the finale of The Next Iron Chef season 3, I have been fortunate enough to find myself at the judges’ table in Kitchen Stadium more than a dozen times. Despite the repeated visits, I still get a huge buzz of excitement as I take my place and know that there are literally millions of people in the United States who would give their right arm to swap places with me. It’s a great honor and the task of judging is one I definitely do not take lightly.

It was even more of an honor on this occasion as Judy Joo, Iron Chef Symon and I entered the arena to choose the new addition to the illustrious roster in Kitchen Stadium. The previous weeks had seen some of the most intense pressure imaginable, not only on the chefs, but also on the judges as we strove to select the two best chefs for the final challenge. There had been lots of disagreements along the way, but I stand by our choices and know that we were all looking forward to the battle ahead.

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Hamptons Seafood Showdown on the Next Iron Chef — Critical Moments

by in Shows, December 12th, 2011

Next Iron Chef: The Final Four
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.

In the penultimate challenge, the four surviving chefs were given the task of showing us just what truly passionate cooks they could be. To do this they were each handed $500 by Alton Brown and given two hours to source enough ingredients to feed not only the judges but also 20 noteworthy individuals of the Hamptons dining scene.

While they were running around in search of the best fish, seafood and produce they could afford, the judges waited in the comfortable surroundings of the Montauk Yacht Club. I would like to say that we relaxed, but it simply wouldn’t be true. Just as the pressure had mounted on the chefs with each elimination, so it was weighing down on the judges each week as we looked into the eyes of the despondent chefs we had to send home.

The pressure was even greater now as we were informed that we would have to choose two chefs to compete for the title in Kitchen Stadium while crushing the dreams of the two others. Michael Symon told me that the thought of the decision ahead was making him physically ill. I could totally sympathize, as Chefs Falkner, Chiarello, Zakarian and Guarnaschelli had all proved time and again that they were each capable of going on to the show.

On returning from their quest the chefs had two hours to cook, the guests started filling up the seats on the terrace and we were led to the judging chamber. Read more

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