The Next Iron Chef: Episode Four

We’ll admit it. We had fairly low expectations of Sunday night’s episode of The Next Iron Chef. In setting the elimination challenge on board an airplane, they were not only subjecting the chefs to a challenge already used this year on Top Chef. Moreover, the whole thing reminded us of the Season Three Project Runway episodes where the designers went to Paris. Could TNIC live up to the high standards set by these excellent hours of television. In a word: yes. Sunday’s episode may have been one of the most engaging and exciting yet. Let’s take a closer look at what happened, yes?

•As on Top Chef, the challenge was to prepare a high-end airplane meal. In this case, it would theoretically be served on Lufthansa’s new 8380 Superjet, which seems to be one of those crazy airplanes with multiple levels (is it so wrong that those inevitably make us think of Snakes On A Plane?). Guys, we want to fly on one of those so bad. Everyone is separated into their own little pods! It is perfect for us, as we are totally misanthropic while flying.
•In an episode stuffed full of awesomeness, the most awesome thing was undoubtedly the highly staged shot of the four remaining contestants walking into the Culinary Institute of America from four different directions. Seriously, one of the best things about the Iron Chef franchise is the over-the-top sense of theatricality and The Next Iron Chef is no exception.
•The second most awesome thing was the Chairman speaking German. We wish we were clever enough to embed soundbites in this here blog, but since we’re not, you’ll just need to take our word that he fully relished it and it was awesome.
•We generally like Alton Brown much more on Good Eats where he’s like a foodie Mr. Rogers than on the Iron Chef shows where he is, frankly, kind of a dick, so we were rather pleased when he toured the Lufthansa kitchens and The Next Iron Chef briefly turned into Good Eats, complete with camera views through coolers.
•Did you know that taste buds become desensitized at high altitudes? It’s true and part of the reason that airplane food is usually so unappealing. This means that if you, like us, like to pack snacks for the plane, you should use herbs and spices more aggressively than you would on the ground.
•John Besh continued to bug us this week, both for mispronouncing spaetzle and for passive-aggressively insulting the other contestants: “I am nervous because my flavors are very subtle…they all cook alike…to me it’s all very predictable.” Thanks, Marcel.
•Chris Cosentino could use a little anger management training, we think. He repeatedly screamed at the cameraman, which seems unbecoming of an Iron Chef. If you don’t like having a camera in your face and your way, don’t go on television. On the plus side, we majorly covet his gingham sneakers.
•Michael Symon continues to charm us. There’s something very endearingly “aw, shucks” Midwestern about him and we like it. We especially enjoyed when he put back the venison he didn’t need, just to help everyone else out. He made a gutsy decision to finish cooking his salmon on the plane and it paid off big time. We definitely hope that he doesn’t choke a la Top Chef’s Casey, because we truly think he’s in it to win it.
•We suspected Aaron Sanchez was a goner last week and we were, somewhat sadly, correct. His ceviche looked good (even though you couldn’t pay us to eat pickled papaya), but in the end, his dishes simply weren’t strong enough.

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The Next Iron Chef: Episode Four