HOLLYWOOD—I wrote about the first episode of “Iron Chef Gauntlet” when it premiered back on Easter Sunday, since then I have entertained myself by watching each episode, but I must admit I’m not a fan. After discovering the rebirth of a classic food competition in my opinion, the focus was more on Alton Brown instead of the chefs going toe-to-toe as we’ve seen in the past, and the series needs another reboot. I mean Alton should NOT be the sole judge determining which chefs go into the secret ingredient showdown; he’s one guy, and everyone has a different palate.
In addition, the level of intensity seemed demure to previous seasons in my personal opinion. Also we cannot forget mentioning that the secret ingredients in my opinion were not epic challenges. I had massive respect for many of the chefs on the series that were competing, but the one chef who I could not stand; Chef Stephanie Izard managed to make it to the end to do battle with Iron Chefs Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto and Michael Symon.
I thought Chef Shota Nakajima, who survived two secret ingredient showdowns, to be taken out by Izard, should be competing in the final round. However, Izard managed to showcase to the variety of different judges each week that she deserved the opportunity to prove that she should become an iron chef. That is another mishap in my opinion, why the hell wasn’t Donatella Arapia or Geoffrey Steingarten or even Simon Mujumdar consistent judges throughout the competition. I mean I respect a good food critic when I see it, and I consider these three to be at the top of their game.
However, the finale was a thrill-a-minute, to finally see Chef Izard duke it out against all three iron chefs in separate rounds with the option to choose which chef she would battle based on the secret ingredient. The first round saw Chef Izard battle Chef Flay in a battle over PEPPERS! Yes, I get her idea of taking on the best, but Flay is a genius; when it comes to peppers that was risky. I was in glee seeing Anya Fernald at the judging table, where both chefs went with various tactics: sweet vs. spicy.
Now, the second round was interesting with the secret ingredient being cheese, and Chef Izard tackled Chef Symon. Yeah, everyone at home was arguing she should have selected Iron Chef Morimoto for this round. Chef Izard went for ice cream, while Chef Symon went for pasta with filling. Yes, Chef Izard had a bit of a meltdown when her ice cream did not turn out as expected; but this is indeed Iron Chef, so expect the unexpected people.
The final battle against Iron Chef Morimoto was a duel to say the least with tile fish being the secret ingredient. Yeah, Chef Izard might have been wise to not allow Chef Morimoto get an ingredient that he excels at: fish! I was stunned to see Chef Izard craft just 1 dish, while Chef Morimoto crafted 5 dishes, yes, 5 dishes in only 45 minutes. That is beyond crazy to say the least people, but backfired with Morimoto having 2 dishes that weren’t that great.
So after 3 intense battles, the scoring from the judges revealed that Iron Chef Flay won round 1, Chef Izard won round 2 and as for round 3. Chef Izard took out Morimoto, attaining a feat that many chefs dream about. I think if Morimoto had cooked only 1 dish, things would have turned out differently.
So now we have the following Iron Chefs: Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto, Michael Symon, Jose Graces, Marc Forgione, Geoffrey Zakarian, Alex Guarnaschelli and now Stephanie Izard. That’s eight people. The only question I have is when; new episodes of Iron Chef America are slated to hit the airwaves because it seems it has been a while since we’ve seen battles. Congrats Chef Izard, you proved me wrong!