Should the search for the next Iron Chef have a “Sudden Death” rule?


That Next Iron Chef thing is hot! Did you see Sunday’s episode? I’m having so much fun watching that show, and even more so now that
things are really heating up leading to the final round in Kitchen
Stadium. It’s been great watching these chefs having it out, and the
closer to the finals, the more seriously they are taking the
competition. Ok, the knives are not exactly out for the other
chef-testants à la Top Chef, but the happy-go-lucky tone of the early
shows are wearing off. Now you’ve got Chris Cosentino trash talking
Michael Symon spending big money on Lobster, or John Besh calling
Chris’s cooking style erratic- or did he say erotic? A couple
shows before this you also got Symon pooh-poohing everybody else’s
Berry Gastrique. It’s all fun for us watching from the other end of
the tube.

One thing that kept popping up in my head as I watched each episode is
that there should be an out-by-technicality or a Sudden Death rule. Alton, in his constant improv narrating should swoop in and send
someone home on technicality the minute he saw one of the golden
culinary rules broken. I know it’s in the heat of the competition and whatnot,
but some things are just too outrageous to let pass. And I am
surprised the judges have been so easy on the chefs!

What kind of things am I talking about you wondered? Well, let’s begin on the very first show. Morou should have been sent home, immediately, for bleeding all over the oysters. Why not? The guy was bleeding profusely into food that would have been served raw. Your yuck meter didn’t go off the charts on that one? Mine certainly did. He should’ve gone home on that show and Traci –who wuz robbed IMHO – should’ve stayed. She would’ve so made minced meat out of some of the boys in later challenges.

Who else should’ve gone home even before the food was tasted? Aaron, cute as he is, should’ve been home the minute he started on his third ceviche attempt in the same competition. On the first show I remember him complaining that the other chefs had taken all the scallops that he wanted for his ceviche. Ok that’s one. Then he made a shrimp ceviche for another challenge, got it done before anyone but somehow managed to miss the plating. Ok that’s count two. Then on the Airplane Food challenge he made – you wouldn’t have guessed it – ceviche! Call me a wimp but you won’t see me eating no ceviche on the plane, no sirree, not even when it’s the cute chef serving it to me himself.

And, then there’s my friend Chris Cosentino. I love you man, but I would have had you out before anyone tasted the last round of your food, good as they may have looked. You’re cooking the ultimate American feast in Paris – of all places – and you went shopping for what, Burrata? Honestly! Remember what Charles de Gaulle said of France, "how can anyone govern a nation that has 246 different kinds of cheese?" So, Chris, you’re in a nation with over two hundred different kinds of cheese and you went looking for boo-ra-ta. Ok, a tiny point to you for adapting and settling with Mozzerella, or moz-za-rell as you so aptly called it in Paree. What, you can’t find any French cheese that could have melted as passionately on your take on the cheesesteak? I don’t know, Reblochon maybe? Or Brie? Or two hundred forty four other kinds of cheese they’ve got over there? And to top it all off, you went and made your dessert with Grappa. Grappa! Man, it hurts me to see you go my friend but honestly!

Before you get on my case for being so hard on Chris, let me tell you if I had my way Michael Symon would be out on his ample fanny too. The man spent nearly eight hundred euros on glorious blue lobsters, and then turned them into hotdogs. Hotdogs! That’s such an egregious assault on an otherwise innocent ingredient – and I’m not even mentioning the fact that he bought Turbot to help fill the texture of his "hotdogs" too – he should’ve been sent home on the spot! And that’s hardly the end of it. I don’t really know when the show was taped, but judging from the produce at the market – gorgeous white asparagus and frais des bois and whatnots – and the fact that Symon and Chris were wearing t-shirts, it was probably late Spring or early Summer. And Michael Symon was surprised there was no fresh truffle at the market? Undeterred, he went and bought truffle paste. Truffle paste? Yuck! In an earlier episode Symon was heard referring to his cuisine as fanatically seasonal. Seriously? You monsieur, you go home!

Unlike Andrew Knowlton and Alton Brown, I am not from the American South, so I am less bothered by John Besh taking liberty on such sacred a Southern staple as the dumplings. I’m also not all that disturbed by his hiding good caviar in a mayonnaise, nor his rather proper attire. His French pronunciation on the other hand….

While I’m at it, I’m a fan of Ruhlman’s at times acerbic blog, but I’d be sending him home too if I could. For what crime, you asked? For not only forgiving Michael Symon’s use of icky truffle paste but basically saying that there was no other way Symon could’ve elevated the mashed potato! Frankly, I don’t know if Symon’s mashed potato needed elevating at all – if it’s anything like Robuchon’s fabled pomme purée it wouldn’t have – but how could it have been helped by such poseur an ingredient as the truffle paste I had no idea. Andrew, my man, I’m totally with you on this one.

That leaves me John Besh as the lone chef standing at the final. He can battle himself in Kitchen Stadium – or if the producers really want him to win he could battle Cat Cora. I doubt that it woud be a problem for the producers though, they just have to fill the time with Donnatella’s boob shots. Just imagine what fun we’d have with those!

p.s. I assumed if you are at all interested in Iron Chef then you already know about my friend Adam’s hilarious blog over on the Food Network page. But since a couple of you asked why I didn’t link to it, here it is!

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12 Responses to “Should the search for the next Iron Chef have a “Sudden Death” rule?

  • casey said:
    November 6th, 2007 at 4:47pm

    I have visions of pim sweeping onto the set and voicing these outrages. What terrific television that would be.

  • bb said:
    November 6th, 2007 at 4:54pm

    That was an awesome commentary. I’ve missed a couple episodes, but if you keep this up I may not watch anymore and wait for your takes!
    I felt the same thing about Chris, btw.
    Way to slice and dice the wannabes, Pim!

  • bb said:
    November 6th, 2007 at 4:55pm

    That was an awesome commentary. I’ve missed a couple episodes, but if you keep this up I may not watch anymore and wait for your takes!
    I felt the same thing about Chris, btw.
    Way to slice and dice the wannabes, Pim!

  • Sabina said:
    November 7th, 2007 at 12:51pm

    I too think cutting Traci, was a BIG mistake. She is sooo Iron Chef material–and that’s not a humble opinion, it’s a fact.
    xoxo sabina

  • bach said:
    November 7th, 2007 at 2:02pm

    “He can battle himself in Kitchen Stadium – or if the producers really want him to win he could battle Cat Cora.” — you are one hilariously cantankerous lady

  • Matt said:
    November 7th, 2007 at 2:36pm

    She speaketh truth.

  • Jeff Zimmerman said:
    November 11th, 2007 at 7:19pm

    I’m so disappointed with the outcome of “The Next Iron Chef”. I hope someday i’ll regain my appetite for this show someday. Congrats Iron Chef Simon!

  • Kris Patel said:
    November 11th, 2007 at 7:55pm

    Counter to Jeff, I am completely satisfied with the outcome of “Next Iron Chef”. I enjoy Symon’s cooking and personality as it shows through, also I am biased as having worked with him in 2003 at Lola Bistro in Cleveland. Although, I do believe that Besh is an amazing chef and I would love to cook in his kitchen.

  • ndog said:
    November 12th, 2007 at 11:36am

    This series was fantastic and I would have preferred Kat Cora leaving as to, I guess, Mario since he wasn’t at the judging? Why did he leave?
    Simon won five of the episodes right? I thought he deserved to win although I would have liked to have seen how the judges voted the final round. My seven year old thought it was an outrage that Besh lost on the other hand…

  • Susannah said:
    November 14th, 2007 at 3:17pm

    Didn’t Traci des Jardins once defeat Mario Batali on Iron Chef America?

  • Plinio Sandalio said:
    November 25th, 2007 at 7:56pm

    i’m a pastry chef. so i was thrilled to see that the first challenge was about making desserts. to be an iron chef you have to do pastries, and you have to be amazing at it. so it was rather disspointing to me to see all the chefs negative view and attitude when it came to making desserts.
    i will disagree with you on traci des jardin. what did she do? she made a cold app, not a dessert with the salmon roe. as difficult as it may have been, she did nothing but rinse the roe. lazy?! yes! lack of creativity? yes!
    honestly, i was glad she got booted out right away.
    and yes, she did beat batali on a battle. but do you seriously think any of the battles are fair on the show? i mean the iron chefs are a joke! are they really the countries best chefs?!!! no! they just so happened to all live in nyc and have shows on the food network.
    and im speaking from experience. i was on iron chef america. i was sous chef to Robert Gadsby. Talk about being robbed! watch our episode and you will clearly see what robbed really is!
    but im not too upset about losing on iron chef, we are with good company.
    so yeah. the next iron chef was a big slap to other industry professionals and just a joke. none of those chefs deserve to be iron chefs. they all have ties with the food network. they have partnerships with other food network chefs. they work very close with the food network and that is the only reason they were selected.
    if you look deep enough, all this will become aparent.

  • Qwerty said:
    December 22nd, 2010 at 2:28pm

    i like turtles…

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