Recap: Next Iron Chef 4, EP 2

NIC4Banner Next Iron Chef 4 Lineup Announced

TV’s ultimate cooking competition may be Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef.  This cast is sick!  Easily the best line-up since NIC 1 which included John Besh, Aaron Sanchez, Chris Cosentino and eventual winner Michael Symon to name a few.

What a premiere!  As reported earlier in the week it helped make October the best month in Food Network history from a ratings standpoint.  2.4 million million viewers tuned into the first episode of NIC: Super Chefs and they were not disappointed.  Marcus Samuelsson, winner of Top Chef: Masters 2, almost went home.  He and Spike Mendelsohn were the bottom two after the Chairman’s Challenge and therefore had to go one-on-one in the Sudden Death challenge with Marcus just edging out his fellow Top Chef alum.  It was an invigorating first episode.  I like the espirit de corps with this cast.  Much better than the raging egos of the past two seasons and other shows.

I love the Sudden Death challenge.  It is what NIC has been missing and, in my opinion, should be.  My vision of NIC doesn’t have any of the exotic locations or quirky challenges, it would be a double elimination tournament using standard Iron Chef rules.  I know that doesn’t make for  flashy television but it would be the best way of finding the Next Iron Chef.  It would also be a hell of a lot more intense.  We’re never going to see my vision so this new format is as close as we are going to get and I like it.  On to week 2.

Battle: Transformation

NIC ChiarelloChairman’s challenge:   “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”  The chefs were sent out to Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres. They were asked to produce Iron Chef caliber ballpark fare.

Sudden Death challenge: Pits the bottom two finishers each week in a “loser leave town” match. Secret ingredient: Peanuts.

Anne Burrell – Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, Worst Cooks in America (Food Network)

  • Chairman’s challenge: If nothing else Anne proved she’s the slowest runner.  Brisket stuffed with pork and shrimp in a lettuce wrap.  Chicken & Kielbasa Sloppy Joes.  Wrap was OK, same for the sloppy Joe.  Middle of the pack.

Michael Chiarello – Bottega Restaurant (Napa Valley), Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello (Cooking Channel)

  • Chairman’s challenge:  Fish Cake with Shrimp Cioppino.  Sausage and Peppers with Coddled Egg.  Fish was a home run (pun intended).  Sausage was a strike out (dido).  Bottom three.
  • Sudden Death: Peanut Pesto with Fettuccine (pasta from scratch no less).  Chef Chiarello has nads of steel.

Elizabeth Faulkner – Citizen Cake, Orson (San Francisco), Iron Chef America – challenger (Food Network)

  • Chairman’s challenge:  Cheese Steak with Bleu Cheese Ice Cream.  Remodeled Corn Dog.  Cheese Steak was a winner, corn dog not so much.  Reflected the theme well.  Top three.

Alex Guarnaschelli – Butter, The Darby (New York), Alex’s Day Off, Chopped (Food Network)

  • Chairman’s challenge:  Italian sausage and peppers.  Lemon sherbet.  Sausage was a big winner.  The sherbet worked as well.  Simon called it “Ball park perfection.”  Top three.

Chuck Hughes – Garde Manger (Montreal), Chuck’s Day Off (Cooking Channel), Iron Chef America – challenger (Food Network)

  • Chairman’s challenge:  Pork and Shrimp Hot Dog.  Tilapia Corn Dog.  Tilapia Corn Dog was a big hit.  Hot dog not to much.  Top three.

Robert Irvine – Robert Irvine’s eat! (Hilton Head Island), Dinner: Impossible, Restaurant: Impossible, Worst Cooks in America (Food Network)

  • Chairman’s challenge: Deconstructed Fish Taco.  Hot Burg (Hot Dog/Burger fusion).  Hot Burg was great.  Fish taco was good but not perfect.  Bottom three.
  • Sudden Death – Asian Peanut Crusted Halibut.

Beau MacMillan – Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain (Phoenix), Challenge, Iron Chef America – challenger (Food Network)

  • Chairman’s challenge:  Deconstructed Cheese Steak.  Deconstructed Corn Dog.  Big flavors on the corn dog but a little off.  Cheese steak as carpacio didn’t fly.  Middle of the pack.

Spike Mendelsohn – Eliminated in week 1.

Marcus Samuelsson –Red Rooster Harlem (New York), 24 Hour Restaurant Battle, Chopped (Food Network)

  • Chairman’s challenge: Made four dishes.  Shrimp Tostadas. Fish Taquito.   Bleu Cheese Pulled Pork Sandwich.   Fish went well.  Shrimp went well. Pork went well.  Middle of the pack.

Geoffrey Zakarian – The National, The Lambs Club (New York), 24 Hour Restaurant Battle, Chopped (Food Network)

  • Chairman’s challenge: Brunch at the ball ball park – Gazpacho, Avocado Egg in the Hole with Shrimp and Corn Toast – Cajun style.  Great food but not exactly fit the theme.  Bottom three.

Leading the pack: Michael Chiarello, Geoffrey Zakarian

Dark horse: Elizabeth Faulkner

Tonight’s winners:

1st challenge – Chuck Hughes, Elizabeth Faulkner and Alex Guarnaschelli.  Alex was #1.
Sudden Death challenge – Chiarello vs. Irvine.  Winner:

Quote of the night – “I’m kind of crapping my pants.” Anne Burrell

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 NIC contestant Alex Guarnaschelli (HERE) and NIC judge Michael Symon (HERE).  Also check out my interview with last year’s winner Marc Forgione (HERE).

The next Iron Chef will not be . . .

Robert Irvine

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less
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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