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August 29, 2015

The Next Iron Chef: Season Finale - open thread

by Bob Sassone, posted Nov 23rd 2009 12:27PM
Next Iron ChefSo last night was the big battle between Chef Garces and Chef Mehta, the two finalists on Food Network's Next Iron Chef with two very different cooking styles. I didn't watch much of this season, but judging from last night's episode I wish I had. Jeffrey Steingarten is one of my favorite judges, and it's interesting to see other iron chefs in the judging chairs.

Did the right chef win?

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Well, the very set-up of TNIC encourages strategizing and attempted sabotaging of your competitors, e.g. selecting which ingredient they get, selecting pairings and which restaurants they go to, having a limited amount of certain key ingredients, etc, so I'm not going to assume one of the competitors is a villain for a comment that may have been taken way, way out of context. Its not exactly a competition where the creme de la creme compete honorably against one another and let the best man or woman win -- all these cooking competitions like Chopped and IC are being shown on FN to broaden their viewership beyond the cooking show devotees into reality TV competition type fans.

I have to admit I was largely disappointed by this group of competitors, and I have no way of knowing who, if anyone, deserves to be an "Iron Chef", but what is more problematic for FN, is that for me, as well as a couple people who commented above, Chef Garces is a complete and utter snooze fest. Even if he cooked like Pavarotti, which he apparently doesn't, he's something less than scintillating. Excepting Chefs Freitag and Mehta, the chefs were all pretty lacking in charisma and personality on screen, and it takes a great deal of dullness indeed to stand out in a field of boringness, yet he managed to achieve it, and out-dull most of the competition. I wasn't interested in watching anything to do with him on TNIC, either in terms of personality or culinary endeavors, I can't imagine I'd be interested in tuning in to watch him on Iron Chef.

December 07 2009 at 11:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Since I am a huge fan of Chef Mehta's my opinion may come across as biased so take it with a pinch of salt but I think the most deserving contender for the title was Chef Mehta. I don't think any other chef brought the multi cultured and multi cuisine experience that Chef Mehta did to the table. So the question is how did Chef Garces win? Can the esteemed panel of judges really get such an important decision wrong? The answer is in the format of the judging. I think Judge Steingarten pinned the answer to that when he told the panel of ICs that they were unable to think of selecting someone who had a completely different style of cooking than theirs. The final decision was based on technique and creativity and Chef Mehta had an upper hand because he was at par with Chef Graces in terms of technique and miles ahead of him in terms of creativity. I checked out an interview http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/2571650 where they have spoken about being judged by fellow chefs and I agree with Chef Mehta when he has said that not everyone can keep out the bias when it comes to judging. According to me the decision was made by a partial panel of judges and that is never fair. On the other hand it's a competition and we need to take it in that spirit! Hope to see a better judging mechanism by the next season.

November 26 2009 at 12:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

@ aaron:
I completely agree. ICA is quite different from the original, much more elegant and dignified IC. It is a pity ICA is so full of flash, smoke & mirrors, exaggerated swish & swoosh nonsense etc etc. All show, little food. Even the food platings are so over-the-top most of the time, just too much stuff on them. Only Morimoto manages to restrain himself on a regular basis to keep some elegance and refinement in his dishes...

As for TNICA - since the choice came down to Garces vs Mehta - yes, Garces was the correct choice to me. Without technique innovation cannot occur.

BTW in the context of my comments at the beginning I found Mehta's grouping/presentation for the "Kaiseki-inspired" challenge to be QUITE HORRIFYING. It really did look like a song-and-dance funeral procession. Tacky beyond words. He and Appleman also had in common those sneaky, snaky, scheming knife-in-the-back character traits - at least insofar as they were presented to us via the editing of the show. This last point is not immaterial; it has also been a point of contention in discussion about Top Chef. How does one factor in properly the fact that the editors of the shows choose what they want to feed the audience and perhaps lead them in certain directions?


November 24 2009 at 9:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I haven't watched yesterday's episode yet, but don't much care about the spoilage as I haven't been particularly invested in this season.

That said, Donatella and Steingarten? Better get out my anti-pomposity gear. Donatella I just find annoying, but Steingarten's so full of himself its a wonder he can fit any food in there.

November 23 2009 at 9:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

One thing I'll say is I have eaten at both Flay's and Garces' restaurants (as well as many other "high-end" places) and Garces food is by far the best. Amada in Philly is my favorite restaurant. The food is classic, but innovative and absolutely delicious. Only being able to compare Bobby to Garces, I'd say he deserves to be an Iron Chef.

November 23 2009 at 7:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Chef Mehta is a complete douche bag. Totally un-rootable. And totally pretentious.

You know who Mehta is? He's Brian from Family Guy.

What really pissed me off was that I believe the fix was in early on from the judges when it came to Mehta. Look how poorly he did two weeks in a row, and yet wasn't even in the bottom two when Appleman and Freitag were eliminated.

Seriously, go back and watch the eps. Those two out-did him in every way except "presentation."

I'm with Symon: who cares if it plates nice if it tastes like crap?

The fix was in with Mehta, and the ONLY thing that saved us from having to watch that self-important douche bag forever WERE the Iron Chefs, who I believe, in unison, voted for Garces and Symon did enough to sway Donatella.

And Jeffrey is a douche bag, too. What a frakking snob. Of course he liked Mehta. He's probably the guy who kicked Appleman and Freitag out to push Mehta foward.

Freitag got HOSED.

November 23 2009 at 5:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I also lost interest when Freitag was eliminated. Garces is boring and Mehta proved himself to be a little too sneaky and very hard to root for.

As for Cat Cora, she is entertaining and I'm happy to watch her as an Iron Chef.

November 23 2009 at 4:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Iron Chef doesn't matter anymore. The title "Iron Chef" was diluted beyond all meaning when Cat Cora was named one a few years back. Since then, who cares?

November 23 2009 at 3:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How unfortunate that a wonderfull show like Iron Chef (Japan) could be so degraded by the Food Networks "Next Iron Chef". It is ironic that "Integrity" was an episode when the end result is so poor and has so little of it. Without preparing the same ingredients, there is no legitimate judging of the Chefs abilities. The emphasis on "Top Chef" style bickering and personality antics is an insult to the dignity and respect of the original. When the top three finalists exemplify their abilities by the inability to cook rice (and serve it to Dr. Hatori!), and serving "raw" pork and "undercooked" meat in the final, it is quite appropriate that comments like "If you prepared food like this, you would not win any battles"(Iron Chef Symon), and "I would not pay for this meal". "It looks pretty rough out there" is an understatement! What a tragic fall from grace into the pits of sensationalized entertainment. Another journey to the collective mediocre bottom ala The Food Network. Thank goodness the original Iron Chef re-runs are on FLN. Any original episode viewed for the fifth time is still better than what is being served up by the Food Network. Does everything have to be a race to the bottom? Bring back William Shatner on a Harley in Vegas and get it over with already!

November 23 2009 at 2:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I would wager that the only reason they are doing this at all is to replace one or two of the existing Iron Chefs that have given notice...

Mario, for instance, doesn't seem to enjoy himself and is rarely on the show anymore, I believe he won't be there much longer. He has bigger fish to fry!

As for the others, they are all excellent, but I think that the latest addition will be quietly dropped after a year or so. He doesn't have the personality to be an Iron Chef. I found all of the contestants to be fairly boring, and the two finalists depressed me no end. I simply didn't like either one. Regardless of the skills, if the chef is not likeable, they will fail on the show.

November 23 2009 at 2:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to MikeM's comment

That's what I assumed from the get-go - that they're fishing for a replacement.

My first guess was replacing Mario, who's pretty much done with FN, but with all the Asian emphasis late in the series, I'm wondering if maybe it's not Morimoto. I hope not, as I vastly prefer him and Cora to Flay and Symon.

November 23 2009 at 9:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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