Next Iron Chef: Can We Talk?

Last night I finally got around to watching (my recording of) the premiere of The Next Iron Chef (on Food Network).  Carl and I have a few “competition type” shows we like to watch together (hello Amazing Race!) and it took us a few days to find the time to sit down to watch this 1 1/2 hour show.  This is going to be a great season.  Are you watching?  Join me, and we can discuss!

First, I was excited that I recognized all but one of the “super chef” contestants.  Obviously I watch way too much Food Network and Bravo –  I’m not gonna deny it.  These are all true super chefs!  I’m excited about this season so excuse me if I sometimes lapse into “teenage girl talk”.  I’ll try to keep it to a minimum.

So let’s talk.

1)  I usually like Alex Guarnaschelli as a judge on Chopped.  It was fun to watch her on the other side of the judging table but let’s face it,  she freaked out!  She’s always so calm and reserved on Chopped but I guess the competition brought out her anxiety.  Clearly all the chef-contestants this season have great respect for each other because her cooking partner for this challenge, Chef Elizabeth Falkner, really could have made fun of poor Alex.  Good thing they didn’t end up on the bottom cause I think it would have been the end of Alex.

2) Speaking of the “bottom”, I felt so bad for Chef Spike Mendelsohn.  I liked him when he was on Top Chef and I would have liked to see him stay around a bit longer.  But he had to face-off with the great Marcus Samuelson (winner of Top Chef Masters).  It was hard, but I think the right chef went home.  And what were they thinking when they used that lake water for their stew???  I hope they boiled it a good long time. Yuck.

3)  It was really hard for me to watch all the pig butchering in this challenge.  In fact, I didn’t watch it.  I just turned my head towards Carl and watched his face.  From his expressions I could tell when it was safe to watch the TV again.  Ummm… people eat pig ears???  Ew.  I thought those were just “treats” for dogs.

4)  Super star-chef Michael Chiarello went into the field to pick wild mustard (and something else, I can’t remember) for his dish.  Whoa, that was awesome.  Before I started eating mostly vegan dishes, I used to faithfully watch his show and attempt to make some of his dishes.  I love his kitchen in Napa!  So jealous.  One of his dishes I still make is a grilled avocado guacamole that has an Italian flair (duh).  He calls it “Rockamole”, check it out from the FoodNetwork site.

5)  I think Chef Robert Irvine is going to have a serious edge with some of these wild challenges — he’s so used to impossible situations from his work on “Dinner Impossible”.  Love that show.  But I’m not sure he has the same finesse as some of those other chefs.  We shall see.

6)  I love, love, love the new format with the double challenges.  First one is where they all compete, but the second one is a head-to-head challenge between the two bottom contestants from the first challenge.

7)  Final note (for now).  The whole “The Chairman” thing is so very hokey.  How do the contestants not laugh during the scenes where they are getting his instructions?  I wonder if it requires many, many “takes” to get that scene they way the network wants it.  They could do without that part.  But I do love Alton Brown.

Are you watching? Do you have a favorite chef yet?  I thinking Chef Sameulsson, or maybe Chiarello, or…..  Tune in and then share your thoughts/observations with me in the comments.  Or if you have your own blog and you’re talking about it there, let me know so I can join you.

The Next Iron Chef is on Food Network on Sunday nights.  I might watch a day later because it conflicts with The Amazing Race (can’t miss that).

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