It's time for a new season of Next Iron Chef and as a person who has experienced her fair share of regret in the cooking arena, the notion of redemption has me incredibly excited.
The competitors are: Nate Appleman , Amanda Freitag (Chopped), Eric Greenspan (The Foundry on Melrose, The Roof on Wilshire, Los Angeles) and Jehangir Mehta (Graffiti, New York)); Elizabeth Falkner (Krescendo, New York), Alex Guarnaschelli (Butter, The Darby, New York, Chopped), Spike Mendelsohn (Good Stuff Eatery, We The Pizza, Washington D.C.); Tim Love (The Lonesome Dove, Western Bistro, The Love Shack, Woodshed Smokehouse, White Elephant Saloon, Fort Worth), Marcel Vigneron (The Coop, Los Angeles), and Duskie Estes who won a Road to Redemption online tournament and competed in the last Next Iron Chef.
Avid Food Network junky that I am, all the chefs were familiar to me going in and I was excited to see some of my favourite female chefs coming back to do some damage.
The only chef missing, for me, was John Besch who competed in the first season and lost to Michael Symon in a battle that took them to an amazing villa in France.
Not to be outdone, in tonight's opening the competitors were taken to the beach and presented with a cooler containing the item that tripped them up and sent them home during their first foray on Next Iron Chef.
A few chefs lucked out and got lovely ingredients like Alex Guarnaschelli's lobster, Tim Love's kale, and Amanda Freitag who got shitake mushrooms. But not every chef fared as well, with perhaps the unluckiest being Eric Greenspan who went home first in Season 2 for cooking crickets. In an act of ultimate redemption, his mystery cooler was once again filled with bags of the nasty little creatures.
However - and this why I love Iron Chef - Greenspan created two cricket dishes: a fritter, and a grilled cheese sandwich that actually looked like something I could eat (if I was incredibly drunk or moderately unconscious).
Apparently the judges thought so too because he was given the nod to carry on in the competition along with Alex and her succulent looking lobsters, and all but two of the remaining chefs.
Not so lucky was chef Tim Love who channeled his inner Outlaw Josie Wales throughout the episode - people, he was given kale as an ingredient to be innovative with and came up with a salad.
While he grilled himself a steak.
And enjoyed a glass of wine.
During the competition.
And in a bizarro twist of fate, he landed in the bottom two against Spike Mendelsohn who once again found himself the first up for elimination against a well respected chef. In the previous season Mendelsohn battled Marcus Samuelson and lost but in this episode - a fruity fight to the death featuring pineapple - Mendelsohn managed to come out on top and Tim Love was sent packing.
Stay tuned for a great season ahead and, until then, I hope you enjoy my own redemption... These chili stuffed cheesy cornbread muffins *almost* got me onto season one of the Canadian cooking show Recipe to Riches.
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