The Next Iron Chef has completed its incredibly short season. What will we do with our Sunday nights now? Answer: probably not work. Unlike last week, we didn’t lose our notes from this week’s episode, but we did have a dinner party involving several glasses of wine right beforehand, which may or may not have lead to us shouting that Andrew Knowlton and Bobby Flay should shut up before they’d even opened their mouths. What can we say? It’s all class all the time at our apartment. Our own tipsiness aside, this was another excellent episode of TNIC, and one that left us wishing that the season was just a few weeks longer. Let’s take a look at the highlights.
•The episode smartly followed the format of an Iron Chef America battle, albeit one where the Chairman and Alton were wearing tuxes. The secret ingredient? Swordfish! We can’t honestly remember the last time we had swordfish, but we’re now quite sure that we’ve never seen the creature at full size. Those things are gigantic! My (our?) stars!
•Both competitors seemed oddly laid back about the challenge at hand, which made us do some thinking about what, exactly, the stakes are here. Obviously, attaining a place in the pantheon of Iron Chefs elevates one into the upper echelons of celebrity chefs. However, we’d also be willing to bet that simply appearing as a contestant on TNIC will boost business significantly for all eight chefs and certainly increase their national name recognition. To a large extent, both Besh and Symon had already won by making it this far into the competition.
•Both chefs came across very well. We’ve picked on Besh throughout the season, but we must admit that he acquitted himself very well with all his dishes and came off much more as much more likeable than he has in previous episodes. Symon continued to be adorably Midwestern and create delightfully clever dishes. We especially enjoyed the obvious camaraderie between the two men. They kept up a steady and pleasant patter throughout the challenges and as soon as time was called, they hugged.
•In a “shocking twist”, the chefs’ dishes were judged by Bobby Flay, Cat Cora, and Masiharu Morimoto (this would seem to confirm that Batali’s reign as an Iron Chef is, tragically, over) rather than Ruhlman, Arpaia, and Knowlton. Although we cannot stand Bobby Flay, he was fairly charming in this context. (We especially enjoyed his comment after tasting Besh’s smoked swordfish: “I’ll be stealing this dish.” Bobby Flay is the Carlos Mencia of the food world, guys.) Cat Cora proved to be the harshest critic, which made us like her more even though we’re still peeved that she doesn’t actually have her own restaurant. It was Masaharu Morimoto, however, who stood out as the most likeable. He made drawings of each dish! He giggled a lot! He made our favorite remark of the night, in reference to Symon’s progression of dishes: “You are coming little by little. Punch! Punch! Punch! Punch!”
•No matter how much Iron Chef we watch, the beauty shots of the food never cease to drive us insane. We haven’t seen focus that soft since those “inspirational” stories of athletes that air repeatedly during every Olympics.
•In the end, Symon was revealed as the titular Next Iron Chef in a move typically used on America’s Next Top Model. The Chairman pulled a curtain to reveal a giant picture of Symon. Besh seemed fairly unhappy, but was gracious. Symon was just giddy. It seemed to us that, while Besh’s food certainly looked delicious, Symon’s was simply more creative. We’re looking forward to watching (and recapping!) Symon’s first battle next Sunday.