Where’s “Next Iron Chef Winner” Jose Garces?

On January 17th of this year, Jose Garces made his debut as the newest Iron Chef.  His lofty title was achieved by winning the second Next Iron Chef competition.  On the night where he made his triumphant ascension into Kitchen Stadium’s “veritable pantheon of culinary giants,” Garces defended his newly claimed regency by defeating Rachel Yang of Seattle’s popular Joule in Battle: Hawaiian moi.  It was May before Garces had another bout, a win over Colorado chef Kelly Liken in Battle: Bleu Cheese.  Garces battled Portalnd’s Naomi Pomeroy in Battle: Truffles in a contest that Pomeroy revealed was actually taped way back in 2009.  Apparently all of Garces battles were filmed then and he has not been back to Kitchen Stadium.

Since then no one outside of Philadelphia has seen hide nor hair of Iron Chef Garces.

Jose Garces on WannabeTVchef.comHe is still listed on the Food Network’s web site as part of their stable of chefs.  There is even a congratulatory note about winning the Next Iron Chef contest.  However, there is no mention in his official Network bio of being an Iron Chef, rather it says that he, “appeared on Food Network’s Iron Chef America.”

Chef Garces’ own media kit also stops short of calling him an Iron Chef but instead saying, “As the winner of The Next Iron Chef, Chef Garces will appear on the upcoming season of Iron Chef America.”  Which of course he has three times. . . before he disappeared.  So the question remains, is he an Iron Chef or not?

If gone, Garces would not be the first Iron Chef to leave the show.  The venerable Wolfgang Puck did a one-and-done as an Iron Chef before “retiring.”  Michael Symon’s inclusion was the result of Mario Batali’s desire to reduce the number of battles he performed so he could concentrate on building his restaurant empire with business partner Joe Bastianich (son of Lydia Bastianich and co-host of MasterChef on Fox).  Emeril Legasse on WannabeTVchef.comBatali has only appeared in one battle since his 2008 match-up against Paul Bartolotta.  That was the special “Super Chefs” battle that pitted Batali and Emeril Legasse against Iron Chef Bobby Flay and White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford.

Garces’ absence from what is still the best TV-based cooking competition might have gone unnoticed if not for the announcement from Food Network in April of this year of a third season of NIC.  Now the blogosphere is buzzing with rumor and conjecture.

Is Batali gone for good?  Is Cat Cora stepping away to spend more time with her growing family?  Is Flay, Symon or Morimoto leaving?  The most popular assumption is that there has been some kind of falling out between the Food Network brass and Chef Garces.  Never one for rumor I went straight to the sources to get answers.

First, I contacted the folks at Garces Restaurant Group and here is what I got from their end:

Bubkis!  Not a single word.

Then I called on Scripps Networks (the parent company of Food Network) and this was their response:

First I got, “We are releasing info on the new season of ‘The Next Iron Chef’ in a few weeks, can I reconnect with you then to answer your questions?”

Then, as promised, I got, “The winner (of The Next Iron Chef 3) joins the ranks of Symon, Bobby Flay, Masahaharu Morimoto, Mario Batali, Cat Cora and Jose Garces and launches into instant fame as a member of the Chairman’s team on Iron Chef America.

“The winner begins their reign as Iron Chef with a heated Iron Chef America battle on Sunday, November 28th at 9pm ET/PT.”

While it didn’t really address all of the questions people have about the future of ICA it does give us a hint as to where we stand on the career of Jose Garces.  Any comments?

Food Network’s web site does list one more battle (also taped in ’09) for Garces set to air in late September but beyond that nothing.  If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my exclusive interviews with Iron Chefs Bobby Flay and Michael Symon as well as ICA challengers, Amanda Cohen and Maria Hines.  Also learn more about Next Iron Chef 3 HERE.

Be sure you check back each Sunday for the NIC Recap.

Next Iron Chef 3

I am curious to see what unfolds on the Next Iron Chef 3.

next iron chef on WannabeTVchef.comThe original was amazing television that was made up of past Food Network stars like Aaron Sanchez and eventual winner Michael Symon and introduced us to some new ones like Chris Cosentino (who now co-hosts Chefs vs. City with Sanchez) and TLC’s John Besh (Inedible to Incredible).

The drama of that first season lay in the fact that every contestant was an established star chef who realized that winning NIC could mean the difference between a six figure salary and a seven figure salary. Also adding to the chemistry was the fact that most of the competitors were old friends. Though there was a little friendly trash talking there was a strong sense of camaraderie among that first group.

Season 2 was not very good. With few exceptions (Amanda Freitag, Eric Greenspan, Nate Appleman and Jose Garces) there were few truly well-known chefs in the contest. What there seemed to be was an over-abundance of was contrived drama and a gaggle of idiotic challenges that did nothing to prove who was best qualified to be an Iron Chef.

There was also Jehangir Mehta, a pastry chef of all things vying to be the Next Iron Chef. Mehta, though talented, seemed to get moved along each week despite a number of tragically failed challenges, cheating and other undesirable behavior. It was clear by season’s end that Mehta was not there because he was a plausible Iron Chef but because the Food Network knew viewers would hate him and tune in just hoping he’d get eliminated.  Adding to the failure of Next Iron Chef 2 was the fact that the eventual winner, Jose Garces shot three battles as an Iron Chef in 2009 and has since been invisible.

Speculation has been rampant: Has Batali finally completed his long, drawn-out exit?  Is Cat Cora stepping away to spend more time with her growing family?  She was on MasterChef you know?  Maybe Flay, Symon or Morimoto is leaving?  The most popular assumption is that there has been some kind of falling out between the Food Network brass and Chef Garces.

Season 1 produced Michael Symon who is the winning-est Iron Chef in the history of the show having taken home victory over 80% of the time he’s gone out. Season 2 produced, well, nothing really. So just what does the third season hold? Will it elevate someone new to a title that signifies the best of the best or will it be another one hit wonder?  I guess we’ll all have to wait until October.

Meet this season’s contestants HERE.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my exclusive interviews with Iron Chefs Bobby Flay and Michael Symon as well as the newest Iron Chef, Marc Forgione HERE.

Inedible to Incredible Reviews

Inedible to Incredible's John Besh on WannabeTVchef.comI’ll be honest with you.  I did not see the premiere of the TLC cooking series Inedible to Incredible starring cheflebrity John Besh.  I was seeing the A-Team instead (not bad by the way and quite funny).  So, I have collected some snipits of two early reviews with links to read each review in it’s entirety.

By Rick Ellis for

John Besh is one of those celebrity chefs who seem tailormade for television. He has a restrained and witty persona that allows the viewer to see that while he is a very serious chef, he also understands that food should be joyful and fulfilling. That’s probably one of the reasons why the New Orleans-based chef has appeared on everything from “Top Chef Masters” to “The Next Iron Chef” (he was the runner-up in season one).

Besh finally gets his own show this week and after watching a few of the 30-minute episodes, I can tell you that “Inedible To Incredible” might be my favorite new food show of 2010.

The concept of “Inedible To Incredible” is a mash-up of TLC’s long-running “What Not To Wear” and the Food Network’s “Rescue Chef.” But that touchstone description doesn’t do the show justice.


From Robert Lloyd for the LA Times:

In Scott Collins’ excellent Sunday Calendar story on TLC, he was apparently too distracted by the network’s more sensational series (big families, little people, cake, Sarah Palin’s upcoming thingumabob) to mention “What Not to Wear,” not only the best show on TLC, but the best of all makeover shows, and possibly the best reality series going. (It’s the one I sit down to watch for pleasure, in any case.) It is formulaic to a fare-thee-well, but it’s a formula that leads to changed lives, not just new looks, and it works time after time. Hosts Stacey London and Clinton Kelly have a simple message: You are already good, you could just dress better — to flatter your figure (they don’t care if you’re fat, or short, or your legs go up to armpits), to embody your spirit, to reflect your age. They want to get you out of your old dry rut and into the river of life.


“Inedible To Incredible” premiered on TLC on Monday, June 21st, 2010.  It airs each Monday 10/9 C.

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Review: Inedible to Incredible with John Besh

TLC continues to gravitate towards more food programming and clearly the centerpiece of their new line-up is Inedible to Incredible starring cheflebrity John Besh.  Besh’s legend starts in New Orleans but he gained national prominence when he competed on the Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef narrowly losing out to Micheal Symon in the finale.  Now the Besh Battalion has a regular place to see their favorite chef.  Read on:

TLC and Chef John Besh turn food from


All-new series premieres Monday, June 21, 2010 at 10 PM ET/PT

Every day, across the country, people sit down for some homemade meals… that are simply horrible. From the over-seasoned to the undercooked, these dishes kill the appetite rather than satisfy it. But hope isn’t lost for the home cook when Chef John Besh arrives to rehab those recipes and transform the INEDIBLE TO INCREDIBLE in an all-new series premiering Monday, June 21 at 10pm, only on TLC.

John Besh is a New Orleans-based chef and owner of six acclaimed restaurants ( August, Besh Steak, Lüke, La Provence, American Sector, and Domenica), all of which celebrates the bounty and traditions of the region. His first cookbook, My New Orleans, recently won the International Association of Culinary Professional (IACP) award for Best American Cookbook, and the chef has won additional accolades, including a James Beard Award.

“I’m passionate about food and it’s a dream of mine to be able to help these cooks really connect with their favorite recipes and take them to the next level,” said Chef Besh. “The series is all about having fun and being confident in the kitchen, learning how to combine fresh ingredients and simple techniques, and loving the experience of sharing a great meal with friends.”

Besh applies his thoughtful approach to cooking when he surprises an unsuspecting individual who has been nominated because their meals where making their friends and family miserable. From breaking the news that their cooking wasn’t cutting it to revealing the new creation, the chef helps guide them in a step-by-step overhaul of their kitchen skills.

The six half hour episodes premiere back-to-back Monday at 10 & 10:30 pm ET starting June 21.

Inedible to Incredible

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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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