Handicapping Next Iron Chef 4

NIC4 BannerWe’re just seven days away from the premiere of Next Iron Chef 4 and one thing is for sure, this cast is sick!  Easily the best line-up since the original NIC which included Traci de Jardins, John Besh, Gavin Kaysen, Aaron Sanchez, Chris Cosentino and eventual winner Michael Symon to name a few.

Dig this roster: Anne Burrell, Michael Chiarello, Elizabeth Faulkner, Alex Guarnaschelli, Chuck Hughes, Robert Irvine, Beau MacMillan, Spike Mendelsohn, Marcus Samuelsson and Geoffrey Zakarian.  That is some serious chef knowledge right there.  The international panel of judges is hefty as well featuring the original ‘Next Iron Chef’ Michael Symon, esteemed food journalist Simon Majumdar and UK Iron Chef Judy Joo.

Anne BurrellMy money is on Anne Burrell and here’s why:

  • Demographics.  All indications are that Cat Cora is giving up her spot in the pantheon and ideally the Network probably wants a woman to replace her.  Only a fool would think that those kinds of things do not play a part in who wins so-called reality TV contests.
  • There is currently no Iron Chef with a strong Italian cuisine background.
  • Those reasons are superfluous compared to the fact that Burrell is a ferocious competitor; ask Robert Irvine.
  • But to me this is the real kicker – Anne has competed in Kitchen Stadium some twenty times as Mario Batali’s sous chef.  There is no replacement for experience.

In the month leading up to the premiere of NIC 4 I have noticed a great deal of Anne Burrell in the news including her first cookbook (Cook Like A Rock Star available at amazon) and tons of TV appearances.  The media push included appearances on Access Hollywood and ABC’s The Chew where she announced that she was set to begin filming season nine of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef and season three of Worst Cook in America which will be co-hosted by Bobby Flay.  I’m not saying the Burrell buzz means she’ll win NIC 4 but it is worth noting.

I also wouldn’t count out Elizabeth Faulkner.  Like Forgione last year she comes in as a dark horse but she also used to be Cat’s pastry chef and has been in Kitchen Stadium a few times.  Faulkner also represents demographic gold.  NIC 4 is hosted by Alton Brown and premieres Sunday, October 30th at 9pm ET/PT.  Be sure to check out my exclusive interviews with contestant Alex Guarnaschelli HERE and judge Michael Symon HERE.

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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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