Recap: Next Iron Chef 3, EP5

Are we at the halfway point already?  It appears so.  Estes is gone, Chauhan is slipping and Tio is starting to emerge as a contender.  All five of the chefs remaining have experienced both highs and lows but one thing is for sure – all of them have a legitimate chance at being named the Next Iron Chef.

Next Iron ChefNot only does the talent of the contestants as a whole seem to be a step up from last year but we have also seen a reduction in lame challenges.  I believe there have only been two truly moronic challenges so far this season whereas last year the biggest piece of drama was waiting for a challenge that wasn’t stupid.  All in all I’d say season 3 is making up for the disappointment of season 2.  The self-judging remains a blight on the current season.  Virtually everyone watching and Tweeting has made a negative comment about it.  I know it is too late to do away with it now but if there are any future NIC‘s Food Network would do well to 86 it.  It’s bush league.

Challenge #1 – Battle: Potato.  Wow and actual secret ingredient challenge that will be judged by a Marine Colonel.  This is cool.

Challenge #2 – Americano.  Make a dish from each of the four corners of the 48 contiguous.  NIC 2 winner Jose Garces sits in as a guest judge subbing for Mike Symon..

My thoughts:

Marco Canora – Canora has made himself a strong contender, although last week he was excessively douchey.  Hopefully that was just a case of unflattering editing.  1st challenge was butter poached potatoes.  Since he got to gather his ingredients first on the 2nd challenge Canora took everything leaving nothing for the other chefs.  That is classless.  Anyone who would do that is not worthy of the title Iron Chef.  It’s cheating plain and simple.  Three of his dishes were good one was overly salty.  Top 2 finish.

Bryan Caswell – Another very good performance but still not great.  1st challenge – truffled tater tots.  The ladies on Twitter continue to love Chef Bryan’s appearance but his food has just not been as popular with the judges so far. 2nd challenge food was OK but crawfish and grits is not an Eastern dish it is a Southern dish.  They didn’t care for most of his dish but they loved his collard greens.  Middle two finish.

Maneet Chauhan – After flying out of the gates in the first two weeks, Chef Maneet has struggled the past three.  This could be her swan song unless she can turn it around.  1st challenge – potato ravioli.  She responded well with the first challenge.  Her second challenge seemed to go well but the judges hated her presentation while liking her food.  Bottom two finish.

Mary Dumont – Went home week 3.

Duskie Estes – Went home week 4.

Marc Forgione – Another strong outing last week.  Though he didn’t win either challenge is was a strong runner up in both.  You have to like the fact that Forgione always tries to judge the other chefs without respect agenda.  1st challenge – potato gnuddi.  It was a major failure.  He came in last and was penalized.  2nd dish he did an ode to the great eateries, Delmonico, Chinois etc.  Some was good and some was not so much.  He is in danger of going home.  Bottom two finish.

Andrew Kirschner – Went home week 1.

Mario Pagán – Went home week 2.

Celina Tio – What a week Tio had last time out.  She won both challenges – the first time we’ve seen someone do that this year.  Another good performance and we’ll have to consider her a genuine contender for the title.  1st challenge was not received well by Casweel but everyone else seemed to like it.  2nd challenge was mediocre as well.  Middle two finish.

Ming Tsai – With all respect to Chef Tio, Ming Tsai was the clear winner of the first challenge last week.  So why didn’t he win?  The stupid self-judging which is used simply to let the other chefs stay in this competition, otherwise this might already be over.  1st challenge – sweet potato risotto.  2nd challenge Ming brought both the funk and the noise.  He’ll be hard to beat.  Top 2.

Leading the pack: Ming Tsai

Dark horse: Marco Canora, Marc Forgione

Tonight’s winners:

1st challenge – Chef Canora.
2nd challenge – Chef Tsai.

Quote of the night – “Her meal was like Iron Chef junior.” Donatella on Chef Chauhan’s plate presentation.

Next week: Vegas.

Have you missed an episode of NIC because you were tracking escaped convicts from the Phantom Zone?  No problem, you can get caught up HERE.  Be sure to check out my exclusive interviews with Celina Tio (HERE), Mary Dumont (HERE) and Maneet Chauhan (HERE).

The Next Iron Chef will not be . . .

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Maneet Chauhan

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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards
2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up
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