Next Iron Chef Finale: Thoughts and Predictions

NIC4Banner Recap: Next Iron Chef 4, EP 7

Elizabeth FalknerGeoffrey Zakarian
Since the beginning of Next Iron Chef 4: Super Chefs the Online has been buzzing with innuendo, controversy and conspiracy theories.  I have seen the boards on some sites where the ladies are lauding Chef Falkner’s success but they all seem to include some version of this sentence, “You know if she wins they are going to say that it’s because they needed a woman Iron Chef.”

Only a fool would think that does not play a part.  Like it or not a show like Iron Chef is still a business that makes it’s money by attracting ad revenue.  Other companies choose to advertise on a specific show because of demographics.  The fact that Elizabeth Falkner is a female helps those demographics.  So does the fact that she is gay.  That’s the real world.

I have also seen a lot of chatter that Geoffrey Zakarian will win because he is a New Yorker, essentially an insider.  That has merit as well.  Logistics are huge.  Looked at Chopped.  It is an insanely popular series yet the contestants come almost exclusively from the tri-state area.  That’s because airline tickets and hotels cost a lot more money than a cab ride.

Food Network is a very successful cable channel but they do not have the unlimited funds of major networks like NBC who’s parent company GE is one of the largest corporations on the planet and because of their allegiance to the White House don’t have to pay any federal taxes.  For Food Network, flying Chef Falkner from the West Coast to the East Coast a dozen or so times a year to tape ICA is expensive.  Geoffrey can take a cab.

I see these issues as a wash.  What’s more important is that either Falkner or Zakarian, as well as the eight chefs they defeated, would make an amazing Iron Chef.  To be brutally honest for a second, that has not been the case in past seasons.  Each of the first three casts contained ratings fodder – contestants who didn’t stand a chance – so that the first elimination or two would be painless.  This cast was so good that you could have chosen the winner out of a hat and still gotten a great Iron Chef out of it.

Now as far as my prediction.

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For weeks I have felt that Falkner was on a course with destiny.  Set aside the fact that she best fills FN’s demographic needs, there is also the back story of a pastry chef wanting to prove she can hang with the savory crowd.  Like Marc Forgione (last year’s winner) she was the least known competitor.  Just like Forgione she has an affiliation with a famous chef.  Marc is the son of the godfather of American cuisine Larry Forgione and Elizabeth is Cat Cora’s former sous chef.

But in the last 24 or so hours I’ve started to second guess myself.  The reason?  Social media.

During the Food Network Star competition all of the contestants were very active on Twitter and Facebook.  That is except for two, Vic Moea and Susie Jimenez.  As it turns out they lost out to Jeff Mauro in the finale.  Mauro, for his part, was quite active on Facebook and Twitter.

Most of the NIC contestants have been live Tweeting the show this year.  Samuelsson, Guarnaschelli, Irvine, Chiarello, Burrell and Zakarian especially have been very active on Twitter.  Curiously absent from the party is Chef Falkner.

So that’s it.  That’s what I am basing my prediction on, Elizabeth Falkner doesn’t Tweet a lot.  Sure it sounds flimsy but is it worse than any other theory?  Regardless, I say Zakarian is the Next Iron Chef.

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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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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
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2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
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