Monday, November 12, 2012

The Next Iron Chef, Redemption, Episode 2 - "If you can't be innovative, you can't be an Iron Chef"

As evidenced last week, we're in for quite a treat with this season of Next Iron Chef, aptly named "Redemption," in which chefs who crashed and burned in other seasons have been given a chance to come back and show food nerds like ourselves their greatness.

In tonight's episode the tensions were high as last week's winner Alex Guarnaschelli was given the task of dividing the remaining chefs into three teams of three who would be going head to head in the Chairman's Challenge where this time they would be required to cook global

This came as a surprise to our crew of food super heroes because the challenge began at  Nickel Diner in downtown LA where the chefs thought they would be given the opportunity to work their collective magic on traditional diner food.

But with the theme being global, donuts, bacon, and American cheese were thrown out the window in favor of tacos, falafels, and banh mi sandwiches.

In light of that, Alex had the difficult job of picking the teams and I thought she chose wisely, pitting chefs with less experience with particular types of cuisine against one another and placing herself against Spike and Duskie in the taco category for what looked like an easier win for Alex based on the street cred and experience of the group as a whole.

The teams were as follows:

Spike Mendelsohn, Duskie Estes, and Alex on tacos, Amanda Freitag, Jehangir Mehta, and Marcel Vigneron on falafel and  Elizabeth Faulkner, Nate Appleman, and Eric Greenspan on the Banh mi.

As an aside, Greenspan of redemption grasshopper fritter fame, called out his competitors as "The Banh Mi group of death," and I don't blame him. In head to head competition this early in the season Appleman and Faulkner would not be my first choice of chefs to compete against!

As another aside, Spike was channeling his inner  Ninja Warrior as he looked into the camera and said: "It was a bad pick picking me to be on her team, because since my show down, I'm in the zone right now."

Spike, Spike, Spike... you are up against my girl Alex G - in other words, Godspeed, and may your knives be blessed.


The dye was cast (to steal a line from host Alton Brown) and the chefs were given 60 minutes to create innovative versions of their assigned dishes. Nate Appleman put together a banh mi fo, Chef Faulkner attempted a banh mi ravioli (but got tripped up cooking her pork), and Chef Greenspan, who said "If you can't be innovative you can't be an Iron Chef," came up with an amazing banh mi panzanella.

The innovations were every bit as amazing for the other two teams and when the time of judgement came, Chef Mehta's take on falafel won. Greenspan's panzanella and Alex's taco also received high marks while Chef Freitag, Chef Duskie, and Chef Faulkner - who was none too happy with comments from the judges - were left to compete in the secret ingredient show down which featured white bread.

While all three chefs came up with incredible offerings for the secret ingredient challenge, Chef Faulkner blew me - and the judges - away with her amazing menu which included a french toast ice cream.

Not only was hers the winning dish, she was told it was in the top five of best dishes ever created in the history of Iron Chef!

Week 2 - girl power, going strong!!

In the end, it was a close decision, but Duskie who won the internet challenge and made a ravioli to remember, was asked to go home.


As a non chef I like to play along with these challenges, and elevating myself to "Iron Home Cook" - here's an innovative (and incredibly delicious) recipe I've come up with using white bread.

I hope you enjoy!

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