Next Iron Chef Premiere- Fearlessness


next_iron_chef_silverThe new season of Food Network’s Next Iron Chef opened with much pomp and circumstance at 9 o’clock last night. The dramatic music, excited Chairman, and smug Alton Brown were all present for the much hyped night. Also in the house was Philly’s own Jose Garces.  Let the battle begin……

Test One-Memory

  • The chefs arrive in Los Angeles at the swanky Iron Chef Kitchen and are greeted by Alton Brown and given their first test. They are instructed that they have all been given specific ingredients that deal with their personal pasts. The test is to create a family-style dish that tells a story about their pasts.
  • Ingredients ranged from beer ( Amanda Freitag), Mango (Jehangir Mehta) and Apples (Dominique Crenn) to Matzah (Eric Greenspan), Country Ham (Nate Appleman), and Duck Kidneys (Holly Smith).
  • Jose Garces was given Queso Fresco and quickly went to work with soup in mind.
  • The judges for this test would be the other contestants. The winner would gain an advantage in the next challenge.
  • Some standout dishes included Chef Mehta’s Third World Mango, Nate Appleman’s Green Bean Stew with Country Ham Broth, Seamus Mullen’s Salmon, and Brad Farmerie’s Asparagus with Salsify Noodles.
  • The chef’s voted Garces’ Ecuadorian Locro with Queso Fresco to be the best dish of the bunch. Jenn Carroll won the first Quickfire on this season’s Top Chef and now Garces wins the first test on Next Iron Chef. Great showings in the early goings for Philadelphia chefs on TV.

Test Two- Fearlessness

  • The chefs were quickly assigned their next test. They had 75 minutes to create two dishes using an exotic ingredient to demonstrate their fearlessness.
  • For his win in the memory challenge, Garces was given the opportunity to switch any two contestants’ ingredients. He chose to attempt to thwart fellow tapas man Seamus Mullen by giving him Dominique Crenn’s Stinky Tofu for his Sea Cucumbers.
  • Other exotic selections included Eel ( Amanda Freitag), Jellyfish (Holly Smith), Durian (Brad Farmerie), Duck Tongues ( Jehangir Mehta) and Unlaid Eggs ( Nate Appleman). Nothing like hearing the words “fallopian tubes” and “viscera” when describing a meal.
  • Garces was given cockscombs and appeared happy with the ingredient. He put together a Spanish inspired Braised Cockscombs in a Leek Mushroom Broth with Calasparra Rice, Marcona Almonds, and White Truffle Goat Cheese Air. Very Tinto. His second dish wasn’t nearly as complex, a Tempura Cockscomb with Mango, Basil, and Lime. It also wasn’t nearly as successful with the judges; they thought that the rubbery cockscombs could have used a different fried application than tempura.
  • The winner of the challenge was Nate Appleman. He made an Unlaid Egg Carbonara with Chicken Intestines. He countered with a dessert in Unlaid Egg Zabaglione with Unlaid Egg Shortbread, Strawberries, Figs, and Basil.
  • The final two chefs standing in the room were Dominique Crenn and Eric Greenspan. Crenn had made a solid dish in Port-Wine Bacon Braised Sea Cucumber, but her Sea Cucumber Vanilla Pudding and Blood Orange Salad was too gelatinous. Greenspan had trouble with hiding his grasshoppers in a Grasshopper Salad with Mint, Mole, and Yucca. He also served a Grasshopper Gremolata atop an “almost inedible” Pork Milanese.
  • In the end, Eric Greenspan didn’t hold up against the field and was the first Iron Chef hopeful to go home.

Outlook

Jose Garces is certainly among the early favorites, even with his tempura. John Besh was probably the favorite in the last Next Iron Chef and wound up second to Michael Symon. So even though he looks great, there are still no guarantees for Jose.

I underestimated Brad Farmerie and Jehangir Mehta. Still don’t think they can take down Garces or Appleman, but Mehta is very interesting and Farmerie has serious cooking chops.

Nate Appleman is already ruffling cockscombs.

How exotic are chicken feet? If you can buy it at Shoprite, it’s not exotic. Calling them “Phoenix Feet” helps though.

Not only did they pop subtitles on Dominique Crenn two-third of the way through the episode, they did it mid-sentence. They could have gone back and done it for the entire show if they felt it was necessary.

Eric Greenspan going home in his hometown and for grasshoppers, has to sting.

“Ok?” Quote of the Episode – “Man cannot live without women, women cannot live without pastry”- Jehangir Mehta (explaining his advantage in the competition)

Anyone have reports from the viewing party at Distrito?