We continue to be more than a little in love with The Next Iron Chef. Last night’s episode managed to maintain the fast pace and high energy of the first, while upping the ante even higher with two great challenges. We’re increasingly betting on a win for Michael Symon: not only is he a killer chef, but he’s great TV…very funny and articulate. Let’s take a look at some of the episode’s other highlights:
•By far the best part of the opening credits is the moment when all eight of the chefs fold their arms in unison.
•We’re very much charmed by how much the chefs seem to truly like each other. Every time they’re cooking, you can see them affectionately teasing each other and/or complimenting each other’s food (we particularly enjoyed Symon’s comment after tasting new Cafe Boulud chef Gavin Kaysen’s dish: “I’m going to retire and hire you.”). It’s a nice change after hyper-competitive shows like Top Chef and The Next Food Network Star. And why should these chefs be competitive? They have nothing to prove. Each runs a hugely successful restaurant that’s garnered nationwide attention. Appearing on NIC can only boost their recognition, even if they don’t win. It’s a win-win situation, even for the “losers.”
•The first challenge was to create one single bite that expresses their culinary philosophy. In an excellent twist, they then judged each other’s morsels. Symon emerged victorious, due to an awesome-looking lamb tartare with garlic, olives, and heirloom tomatoes. Aaron Sanchez ran out of time and wasn’t able to plate more than one portion of his take on shrimp ceviche. He whined about it. A lot. Dude, you have to watch your timing on these shows! John Besh, who, as the winner of last week’s elimination challenge, got to taste Sanchez’s only portion, pronounced it “perfect.”
•The evening’s second challenge was to create a dish using molecular gastronomy tools such as an immersion circulator and an anti-griddle. Interestingly enough, given the hype that molecular gastronomy receives in the media, all of the chefs said that these were definitely not tools they used in their restaurants and most, including Chris Cosentino (who quickly surpassed Sanchez for “Whiner of the Night”) and Michael Symon, seemed moderately unhappy about being forced to do so. Wylie Dufresne of wd-50 came on to teach the chefs how to use the tools, and despite their pronounced dislike for molecular gastronomy, everyone seemed to perk up when Dufresne made instant ice cream by combining creme anglaise with liquid nitrogen.
•Besh continues to sweat like a whore in church every time he cooks. Seriously. He makes Top Chef’s Howie look like a spokesman for Old Spice.
•Despite his moaning, Cosentino won the challenge. Tragically, Jill Davies, who we had grown to adore over the course of the episode, was eliminated. Her super-peppy attitude continued even after elimination. Unfortunately, between her elimination and Traci Des Jardins’ dismissal last week, the one thing we know about The Next Iron Chef is that he will be a man. Sigh.