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Recap: Next Iron Chef 3, EP7

The Final Four in Vegas!  That sounds like a Gambling Anonymous sponsor’s nightmare.   And this time two will be going home.  It’s hard to believe that this time next week we’ll be discussing the newest Iron Chef.

Celina TioLast week was supposed to be the double elimination week but the judges were unable to come to a consensus as to who should go home between Tsai, Tio and Forgione.  Now that makes me a little nervous.

You see in season four of Next Food Network Star the judges failed to reach an accord on who between Adam Gertler, Aaron McCargo Jr. and Lisa Garza should be eliminated before the finale.  That was extremely odd since McCargo had just turned in the single worst performance in the history of NFNS.  Most of the scuttlebutt was that McCargo had been deemed the winner before the contest started.  In retrospect that makes sense.  Of the dozen or so competitors that season McCargo was no better than the fifth best.

So that’s why the judges “indecision” makes me a little nervous.  On the other hand, there was no one performance last week that was clearly worse than any other.  In fact, I have a hard time buying Canora with the best performance – that’s seems fishier than not being able to send one of the other competitors home.

1st Challenge:  Make a signature drink and an Iron Chef quality bar snack.  A neat challenge.

2nd Challenge:  Create an extravagant meal with extravagant ingredients.

My thoughts:

Marco Canora – If you haven’t learned to dislike Ron Jeremy’s doppelganger yet you’ve still got time to beat the Christmas rush.  One thing Canora has proven throughout the contest is that each dish he serves comes with a complimentary glass of whine.  1st. challenge – He did well and sort of won (more below).  2nd challenge Canora played the douche card and used his 1st challenge win to sabotage Tsai. . . twice.  First he took Ming’s theme ingredient wagyu beef but Ming ended up with a premium cut of super expensive pork instead.  Then when deciding who got first shot at the “groceries” at the various restaurants in the resort he took the Japanese restaurant to keep Ming from getting familiar ingredients.  But in so doing he missed out on a giant summer truffle.  Canora nearly had a stroke trying to find the parchment paper that he claimed “was moved” only to find it in the exact place every restaurant keeps it – right next to the sheet pans.  The judges liked some elements of his meal and not others.  There must have been something about the editing because it seemed like the judges enjoyed his food the least – they were certainly the most critical of his menu according to what made the air.

Bryan Caswell – Went home week 6.

Maneet Chauhan – Went home week 5.

Mary Dumont – Went home week 3.

Duskie Estes – Went home week 4.

Marc Forgione – Of all the chefs in this contest, Forgione has done more to elevate his reputation.  Whether he is the Next Iron Chef or not Chef Marc is a star on the rise.  1st. challenge – went very well.  2nd challenge he got lobster.  The judges felt his food was really good with one exception.  He has made a strong push the entire season and would make an outstanding Iron Chef.  He approaches his challenges the way I feel rookie football players must feel when they cash their first check for playing a kid’s game.  He has had the best energy throughout the contest.

Andrew Kirschner – Went home week 1.

Mario Pagán – Went home week 2.

Celina Tio – Tio has never lacked for talent or respect but by spending the bulk of her career in Kansas City she has merely flown under the radar.  She’s proven to be a solid chef.  1st. challenge – the drink was good but her bar snack was raw oysters – she didn’t actually cook anything but still tied for 1st place.  2nd challenge she got Moi – a fantastic Hawaiian fish.  The judges thought her food was good for the most part.

Ming Tsai – Another win last week for Uncle Ming and it was actually in one of those stupid self-judging rounds (of course there was an extra vote cast by a guest chef).  During the season no one has beaten Ming.  He has beaten himself and he has been denied earned wins from collusive self-judging but no one has proven themselves a better chef. 1st. challenge – it was OK.  2nd challenge he got Wagyu beef but Canora douched him out of it so he ended up getting the best ingredient available – premium pork.  Judges felt his presentation was very good and the flavor was good although two did not like one texture element while the other loved it.  Win or lose Ming has given it quite a go seeing how the cards were firmly stacked against him.  Perhaps he was targeted by the other chefs because he was the one well known chef in the contest, a strong departure from last year where half of the chefs were well known and the first season that featured nothing but star chefs.

Tonight’s winners:

1st challenge – Chef Canora (actually tied with Tio but they pulled some chicanery to let Canora win).
2nd challenge – Chef Canora.

Quote of the night – “Bacon gets me excited.”  Marc Forgione.

Next week – Forgione vs. Canora (or a winner vs a whiner).

Have you missed an episode of NIC because you were storm chasing in Tornado Ally?  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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Tio or Tsai

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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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