The Next Iron Chef

FOOD NETWORK REVEALS CAST FOR NEXT IRON CHEF: REDEMPTION

Chefs Get Second Chance at the Ultimate Culinary Title
Premiering Sunday, November 4th at 9pm ET/PT

Next Iron Chef RedemptionNEW YORK – August 7, 2012 – Food Network reveals the cast for returning primetime competition series The Next Iron Chef: Redemption with a roster of elite competitors, most returning for a second chance at the ultimate culinary title. The fifth season is all about redemption, with many cast members taking another shot to prove their skills are Iron Chef-worthy, along with some newcomers who have their own redemption stories. The cast includes: Nate Appleman, Amanda Freitag, Eric Greenspan, and Jehangir Mehta from The Next Iron Chef: Season Two; Elizabeth Faulkner, Alex Guarnaschelli and Spike Mendelsohn from the cast of The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs; and first-time Next Iron Chef competitors Tim Love and Marcel Vigneron. Premiering on Sunday, November 4th at 9pm ET/PT, Alton Brown will again host this 8-episode, top-rated series, which recently completed production in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

The tenth slot will go to the winner of a web-exclusive competition taking place on FoodNetwork.com, the four chefs taking part in the web battle are: Duske Estes and Robert Trevino, who have previously competed on The Next Iron Chef, and newcomers Lee Anne Wong and Madison Cowan.

In The Next Iron Chef, the contestants bet on their culinary skills and put their reputations on the line for the chance to compete in legendary Kitchen Stadium. The winner will join the ranks of chefs including Bobby Flay, Marc Forgione, Jose Garces, Masaharu Morimoto, Michael Symon and Geoffrey Zakarian as a member of the Chairman’s team on Iron Chef America.

I’ve got a hunch we’ll be seeing something of this nature for Food Network Star next year as well.  Thus far there has been no casting call for season nine and I’ve heard a few comments from former cast members.  However, no one has been willing to go on record about it.

Review: Eat My Globe by Simon Majumdar

Simon MajumdarFor many in the US, Simon Majumdar is a bit of an unknown entity.  Is he a chef?  Is he a food critic?  Is he an internationally renowned restauranteur?  Why is he on TV so much?  Who the hell is Simon Majumdar?

Over the past few years I have had the pleasure of watching Simon critique food on Food Network hits like The Next Iron Chef and it’s benefactor Iron Chef America.  In that time we have become friends in the way that you only can in the cyber age – via Twitter and Facebook.  In September Simon will be joining forces with Alex Guarnaschelli and another of my virtual friends Troy Johnson of the under-appreciated series Crave for the new show Undercover Critics.  In UC the three noted critics, employing hidden cameras, survey restaurants.  They then share their thoughts with the owners so they may fix the problems before being formally reviewed.

Back to the earlier question of who the hell is Simon Majumdar?  There was a time when Simon was a powerful player in the world of publishing.  But in his early 40’s he began to feel that life had more to offer than the daily grind of meetings, meetings and still more meetings.  One day he stumbled across a sort-of bucket list of goals he’d written as a school boy.  On that list were the instructions to go everywhere and eat everything.

Eat My GlobeSimon quit his job and embarked on a geocentric culinary quest to do just that.  The resulting book, Eat My Globe (Free Press) is why you now see him your TV.  Majumdar has an opinion and he knows how to express it.  None other than Anthony Bourdain  is quoted on the cover of Eat My Globe saying, “the bastard can write.”  There are lots of other praises that adorn the cover as well but none of them are as cool as a profanity-laced blurb from Tony.

Bourdain is right about Simon’s prowess with a phrase.  Observe:

Children like me.

Don’t laugh.  It’s true.  Kids love me. I may look like the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang but for some reason children seem to take to me.  At dinner parties, I am inevitably the one sitting in the corner with my host’s kids playing games rather than indulging in series adult conversation. On the few occasions when I am invited to christenings or weddings, I invariably plunk myself down at the children’s stable to talk to them rather than listen to some stranger tell me all about his career as an accountant while spitting bits of cold poached salmon in my direction

Kids just love their adorable Uncle Simon.

Eric Balic, however, hated my guts.

Or.

If anyone ever tells you that traveling by train is romantic, I want you to kill him for me and I want you to do it slowly.

Simon even has his own panache for travel advice:

The Japanese train station bento box is definitely one of the world’s great foodie treasures.

Along his journey he encountered many different cultures and practices.  Here is a taste:

There is a reason that Russian men have a life expectancy of only fifty-nine years, and almost always die before their wives.

They want to.

In China:

Butcher blocks held every kind of animal imaginable, and the putrid smell of the meat brought a wave of nausea over me.

And of course, there was dog.

Eat My Globe is exceptionally well written.  It is humorous, intelligent and not the least bit pretentious.  It has something for everyone, even fans of weird food.  On his travels Simon ate the aforementioned dog as well as rat, cod sperm, fermented mare’s milk and even rotten shark meat to name a few.

So the next time you’re watching ICA and you find yourself wondering who does this bald-headed British jerk think he is? just grab your copy of Eat My Globe and refresh your memory.  For more answers to the question of who the hell Simon Majumdar is just visit his web site HERE.

ICA: Morimoto vs. Cohen

Just two more episodes left of season 8 of Iron Chef America.  Still no sign of the newest Iron Chef, Jose Garces.  Perhaps that is why the Network is ready to kick off another season of the Next Iron Chef in a few weeks.  But that is neither here nor there.

Amanda Cohen on WannabeTVchef.comThis week kitchen stadium is visited by New York’s Amanda Cohen.  A vegetarian chef, Cohen’s motto is, “Anyone can cook a hamburger, but leave the vegetables to professionals.”  She is a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute.  NGI is not a strictly vegetarian cooking school as they do have classes on eggs, poultry and seafood, but there are no mammals in their curriculum.

Since receiving her degree from NGI, Cohen has labored in several of New York City’s vegetarian restaurants.  She has done a little time as a teaching assistant at Angelica’s Kitchen which has specialized in organically grown plant-based cuisine for over 25 years.  But it was at Spanish Harlem’s DinerBar that she gained notoriety, oddly enough for her Buffalo Wings.  When pop star Moby decided that he wanted to open a vegetarian tea room he picked Cohen as the first chef at Teany.

Cohen has since worked at a number of vegetarian eateries culminating with her own restaurant, Dirt Candy.  Cohen’s restaurant has since been named “Best Vegetarian Restaurant in NYC” by amNew York and L Magazine, voted “Best Vegan Restaurant in NYC” by Citysearch readers and the Village Voice singled it out for “Best Grits in NYC.”

Amanda Cohen enters Kitchen Stadium having proven herself a star in the vegan counter culture.  But the question that remains is can she go blow for blow with Iron Chef Morimoto armed with a menu full of side dishes?

Well, the Chairman took care of that by banning the use of meat, poultry and seafood.  So the judges (Melanie Mannarino, Jeffrey Steingarten and Kelly Hu) got to sample ten said dishes.

Be sure to check out my exclusive interview with Chef Amanda Cohen.

Click HERE for the outcome.

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.

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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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