The fourth season of The Next Iron Chef is underway and this season is the most stacked ever. We will be recapping each new episode until the new Iron Chef is crowned. Click subscribe at the top of the page to have each recap sent to your inbox.
Last week, the chefs had to compete in a comedy improv challenge. Chef Chiarello won the week. Chefs MacMillan and Zakarian competed in the Secret Ingredient Showdown and Chef MacMillan went home.
This week, the Chefs meet Alton in New York’s Grand Central Station, where he informs them the challenge today is about storytelling. Alton has six postcards depicting iconic New York locations and the chefs will have to use the location to inspire their dish.
Chef Burrell gets Central Park, Chef Falkner gets Statue of Liberty, Chef Samuelsson gets Broadway, Chef Guarnaschelli gets the Empire State Building, Chef Zakarian gets Times Square, Chef Chiarello gets to go last for winning and gets to either steal one of his competitors’ cards or find out what the last one is. Chef Chiarello steals Statue of Liberty and Chef Falkner gets the Brooklyn Bridge.
Alton gives the Chefs $250 and 20 minutes to shop at Grand Central Market. They will then get 45 minutes to cook one dish. He also announces there will be two special guests in addition to the judges.
Chef Burrell is taking her inspiration for Central Park from the pigeons by cooking Cornish Game Hens and Chicken Livers.
Zakarian goes the obvious route with Times Square and goes for New Years Eve by making a New Years Eve Leftovers Feast. He is also doing four courses because apparently he doesn’t watch the show to see how much trouble chefs have gotten into by doing too much in past weeks. Has Chef Samuelsson not warned them?
Chef Guarnaschelli is going back to the farm roots of the Empire State Building by going for some very farm fresh ingredients mixed with the smell of street foods. Unfortunately, she drops her entire tray of potatoes into the water with 25 minutes left and has to reboot. It’s adapting to big oops like those that make or break an Iron Chef. It’ll be interesting to see how she does.
Chef Samuelsson thinks of big dreams and coming to America when he thinks Broadway so he thinks of his own background. I think he may be confusing Broadway with Ellis Island. We’ll see what the judges think.
Chef Chiarello stole the Statue of Liberty and is inspired by the rabbits running around it in its early days so he’s making a rabbit dish.
Chef Falkner is making a Brooklyn Bridge Schnitzel to honor the designer of the Brooklyn Bridge being of German descent.
The two guests this week in addition to our normal ranks of Michael Symon, Judy Joo, and Simon Majumdar are Chef Charlie Palmer and Iron Chef Forgione, winner of last year’s Next Iron Chef.
Chef Burrell serves first. She tells the story of her journey to New York from a small town in Upstate New York. She serves a Grilled Cornish Game Hen with Fried Chicken Livers. Judy loves the dish. Simon says “frankly, this is bloody gorgeous.” Chef Symon felt the seasoning was perfect.
Chef Guarnaschelli serves next. She has a bag with food inside that is only meant to be smelled not eaten and give the sense of smelling NY street foods. She then goes back to the farm with a Grilled Pork Chop with Roasted Potatoes. Chef Forgione said the story and the smells made him feel like he was walking past the Empire State Building. Judy felt it was clever but doesn’t like having something on the table you can’t eat. Simon felt that the dish wasn’t nearly as good as the story and had a problem with the lack of crunch on the potatoes.
Chef Zakarian serves next. He has Times Square. He does a four course breakfast feast. His first course is Eggs with Truffle and White Asparagus. His second is Smoked Salmon Tartare. His third is Souffle Moroccan Blinis. His fourth is a Superfood Soup. Chef Symon felt it was perfect. Chef Forgione felt it was confusing. Judy of course brings up that they were only asked to serve one dish.
Chef Chiarello had the Statue of Liberty. He chose a Rabbit Porchetta with Cherry Agrodolce because there were wild English rabbits and cherry trees on Liberty Island and he used French techniques due to the statue’s French origins. Simon said “it was a story 250 years in the making and even longer in the telling.” Ouch. Judy had a problem with the plating.
Chef Samuelsson got Broadway and he tells the story of big dreams and weaves in his own story. He serves Hot Smoked Salmon and a Crunchy Steak Salad. Once again, Marcus goes past the dish requirements and Judy calls him on it. She felt the dishes competed too much. Simon didn’t feel like the story held up. Chef Forgionne thought it was the best thing he’s eaten today.
Chef Falkner got the Brooklyn Bridge and tells the tale of German immigrants with a Pork Schnitzel with Fennel and Apple. Chef Symon was confused by the side by side plating and how it was supposed to be eaten. Judy liked the separation of the raw and cooked ingredients with the schnitzel bridging it. Chef Symon said she didn’t have the delivery on her story that they were looking for and warned her that an Iron Chef has to sell every dish.
Back from the break at Judging Table, the top dishes were the ones served by Chef Burrell, who Chef Symon said was finding her footing, Chef Chiarello, who was warned for anemic plating but good flavor and storytelling. The eventual winner of the day was Chef Burrell, who will receive an advantage next week.
Chef Guarnaschelli’s dish was criticized but was saved by her storytelling skills. Chef Samuelsson was criticized for never really getting to the story. Chef Falkner’s dish was brought down by her limp storytelling. Chef Zakarian was criticized for breaking the rules yet again, but his food was great so he is safe. Chefs Falkner and Samuelsson are in the bottom and will cook in the Secret Ingredient Showdown with one going home.
The Secret Ingredient for this Showdown is bagels. They will have 30 minutes to serve one dish featuring bagels.
Chef Samuelsson is deep frying his bagels. Interesting. It’ll either be brilliant or disgusting. He’s pickling trout to make a play on Lox and Bagel, making bagel dumplings for the lox to sit on. The chefs all praise the creativity.
Chef Falker is going with a toasted bagel and cream cheese ice cream. Also odd. It’s going to be a strange battle today.
Serving first is Chef Falkner. She serves what she’s calling Bagel with the Works. She made a bagel and cream cheese ice cream, smoked salmon, and some toasted bagel crumbs. Chef Symon thought it was a great dish. Simon called the ice cream “more interesting that outstanding.” Judy praised her use of the bagel in so many ways.
Chef Samuelsson serves a Lox, Bagel, and Cream. He pickled trout, made a homemade gazpacho for the cream, and made bagel dumplings. Simon felt everything was very elegantly composed and said it “is easily the most focused dish you’ve given us.” Chef Symon felt the pickled fish with the everything bagel spice was great but didn’t care for the gazpacho. Judy felt the entire dish was very well done. All of the judges comment on how difficult this elimination will be.
Back from the break, the judges discuss the two dishes. Simon felt Chef Samuelsson had better technique and felt he had the better food. Judy and Chef Symon felt Chef Falkner was more creative.
Alton calls the chefs back in and announces that the decision made by the judges was a difficult one because both were very good. In the end, it came down to who embraced the secret ingredient best. The felt that was Chef Falkner. Chef Samuelsson goes home on the heels of one of his strongest dishes yet in the competition. Tough day.
Next week, it looks like the Chefs will be exploring Risk and will be bidding on ingredients to see who can cook it in the least amount of time. We’ll be here to bring you the recap live. Click subscribe at the top of the page to get it delivered to your inbox.