“The Next Iron Chef: Redemption” Winner Is”¦
By LaDale Anderson
Dec 26, 2012 - 7:01:33 PM

HOLLYWOOD—This has indeed been one of my favorite seasons of “The Next Iron Chef” competition.  “Redemption” took culinary titans to new heights and it was a treat to watch each week, but in the end there can only be one.  In a penultimate battle Sunday night Chef Alex Guarnaschelli was crowned the victor.  I knew it and I predicted it awhile back! 


That woman has ferociousness, intensity and drive for expertise that took her to the top.  I was a bit off in my prediction as I expected Chef Nate Appleman and Chef Guarnaschelli to go toe-to-toe in Kitchen Stadium, but she did indeed face tough competition from Chef Amanda Freitag who came quite close to winning the crown.


Before reaching Kitchen Stadium our top three chefs were forced to cook dishes reflecting PASSION from judges Donatella Arpaia, Simon Mujamdar and Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian.  Chef Appleman was edged out slightly by the other chefs; in my honest opinion, Appleman would indeed make an exceptional addition to the culinary titans, but fierce competition from these two ladies sealed his fate.

Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli.


I was ecstatic to finally see two women duke it out in Kitchen Stadium.  It was something we have never seen on “The Next Iron Chef” competition so it was a welcome change.  In addition, it was the first time another woman besides Iron Chef Cat Cora would stand alongside Bobby Flay, Michael Symon and Mashahru Morimoto.  It’s an accomplishment in so many ways; Amanda and Alex were setting the stage for women in the competition who are as equally skilled in cooking as their male counterparts, if not better.


The final challenge involved RESPECT; the chefs would be forced to use ingredients that Iron Chefs Bobby Flay, Mashahru Morimoto and Michael Symon use quite often while in the kitchen.  It was indeed a tough challenge to incorporate Ponzu into a dish, or how about the use of chili peppers in a desert.  Neither of those ingredients sounds appealing, but a true Iron Chef can make those ingredients come to life and tantalize any person’s palate. 


That’s exactly what Chef Freitag and Chef Guarnaschelli did.  Alex’s dish with cherries and chili peppers was sensational, as was Chef Freitag dish with lamb stuffed with eggplant; just talking about both dishes are making me hungry.  It was a close battle as the judges were equally divided on both competitors.  The judges saw much more creative spark in Chef Freitag’s dishes, while the judges were pleasantly impressed with the taste delivered by Chef Guarnaschelli. 


I found it quite ironic that two chefs from the popular series “Chopped” are now iron chefs, but when I think about it, it doesn’t surprise me so much.  Chef Zakarian and Chef Guarnaschelli are equally trained in the kitchen and exceptional when it comes to technique. Look out current iron chefs and competitors, a new champion has entered Kitchen Stadium and she is a force to be reckoned with. “Iron Chef America” airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on Food Network.

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