Cosentino Telling isn’t it, that the iron chef candidates, all of them talented chefs and leaders of their restaurants, have no clue about so called “molecular gastronomy” technique (even that term has been disavowed by those who fathered the movement).  This is because the techniques of the avant garde are far more prevalent in the media than they are in the actual kitchens of the best restaurants.  As Symon put it, “I spent my whole career trying to get chemicals out of my food.  Now I gotta put them back in!”
    Alas, Chef Davie will not be the next Iron Chef.  The bone marrow play was fun but that was it.  The flavors didn’t come together in either of her dishes, the zest in her salad was bitter and the artichoke would have given my kitchen disposal a workout.  But sad I was to see her go—what a camera friendly smile, and what a buoyant presence generally.  I much prefer her to the head sweater, the meat man, or the bald guy with the Neanderthal brow!  But for those who lament the presence of a boys club–I can’t believe you’d say it diminishes the competition.  Would you rather the judges gave the ladies special treatment because of their gender?  I don’t think either Traci or Jill would have wanted that kind of insult.
    Cosentino’s shallot error killed that dish but his razor and shaving cream dish, especially clever given the rigid time constraints, won because it TASTED so good.  That is what it has always come down to.
    It’s the nature of these shows that they are unable to go deeply into anything.  I’d have liked to have seen more about the food, and of course more discussion of it.  Donatella, Andrew, Alton and I discussed the dishes at length, meaning that more than an hour of discussion is reduced to about 30 seconds of sound bites and the occasional shot of Donatella’s cleavage.  But again, Steve and Eytan, two of the producers from Triage, always instructed us to judge it as we saw it.  I was not surprised by this, but Andrew, cynical jaded New York journalist that he is, professed to be surprised by the amount of freedom we were given to make our choices.
    Next week, not one, but two will bite the dust.  This is indeed harsh, but such is the nature of the world of the Iron Chef.

    [Read fellow judge Andrew Knowlton's comments here.]

    [Adam Roberts, the Amateur Gourmet is the official food network blogger for Next Iron Chef.]

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109 Wonderful responses to “Next Iron Chef: One Bite/”Molec Gastronomy””

  • fideist

    Donatella has a lot more going for her than her cleavage. She has a beautiful face, she is very intelligent, she is still quite young, and she is hugely successful. The more we see of her, the happier I am!

  • sheila mullins

    Michael, I was delighted to see that you actually read our responses to your blog…….it makes a huge difference to people. Tell the morons at FN that we want to see MORE comments from you…

  • Stephen

    I too would like to think what Alton thinks of the dishes. In the DVD perhaps?

    Alton *really* knows his shit. And in fact knows the difference between shit and not.

    Still I wish Bourdain was involved somehow. Maybe in a Ramsey was, yelling at cooks in the kitchen, or at least getting under their skin.

  • Todd

    I finally got around to watching the show and I think it was better than the first though the editors really pale in comparison to the TC3 editors. The conversations between the judges looks disjointed.

    I was happy to see that even professional chefs fail as horribly as I have at executing anything related to MG (though I did make powdered olive oil successfully the other day, woot!). Makes me feel less like an idiot… not much, but a little.

    The thing bothering me at this point is the elimination. Pair it down to two, then tell the person staying first and leave the ‘loser’ in the room by him or herself. Oh, and announce the winner while half the field is out of the room? Weird, anyway… That’s so unlike most reality shows up until the very end. Dare to be different, maybe? I dunno, it’s non-manufactured drama (as opposed to the ‘I can’t plate it?!?!? WTF?’ sendup that was probably a footnote in the whole competition).

    As far as the iron chefs using this, Flay and Batali haven’t, to my knowledge, used any of these techniques during a challenge (Batali said during one battle against someone who brought a virtual pharmacy with him that he might use some if he knew what they were) but Morimoto pulled out the caviar and liquid nitrogen against Homar Cantu and the last battle I saw Cat Cora in, she produced no less than three foams.

  • Sean

    “Reverse ice cream?” I’ll admit, I’m no MG expert. As novel as it might be to watch piping hot ice cream melt as it cools, I just don’t get jazzed up by it. The reason I don’t add methylcellulose to my ice cream is because it melts just fine on its own in my bowl. What’s good about “reverse ice cream”? Oh, that’s right, my bacon and bleu cheese ice cream will last longer on my chateaubriand. What’s wrong with bacon and bleu cheese on my beef with a bowl of normal ice cream for dessert?

    Regarding Sanchez and his latin style: yes Batali, Flay, Cora, and Morimoto all have their personal style. On their shows they highlight that spectacularly. On Iron Chef, I’ve seen one or two ICs move beyond that niche and cook outside that region. The judges comments are spot on; Sanchez must be able to cook foods other than latin flavored comfort zone foods.

    Each cook on the Food Network cooks their own way on their own show, but the ICs have the added talent of being able to cook anything.

    Now, for a memorable IC season, how about mystery ingredients that go beyond “apple”, “tuna”, “asparagus”, and “tomato” and move into the realm of “seaweed”, “snail”, “foie gras”, “tongue”, and “durian”? Is that too radical for our TGI McFunster palates? Would our assembly-line-machine-pressed-chicken-nugget abused taste buds be forever damaged with a offal challenge?

  • Sean

    “Reverse ice cream?” I’ll admit, I’m no MG expert. As novel as it might be to watch piping hot ice cream melt as it cools, I just don’t get jazzed up by it. The reason I don’t add methylcellulose to my ice cream is because it melts just fine on its own in my bowl. What’s good about “reverse ice cream”? Oh, that’s right, my bacon and bleu cheese ice cream will last longer on my chateaubriand. What’s wrong with bacon and bleu cheese on my beef with a bowl of normal ice cream for dessert?

    Regarding Sanchez and his latin style: yes Batali, Flay, Cora, and Morimoto all have their personal style. On their shows they highlight that spectacularly. On Iron Chef, I’ve seen one or two ICs move beyond that niche and cook outside that region. The judges comments are spot on; Sanchez must be able to cook foods other than latin flavored comfort zone foods.

    Each cook on the Food Network cooks their own way on their own show, but the ICs have the added talent of being able to cook anything.

    Now, for a memorable IC season, how about mystery ingredients that go beyond “apple”, “tuna”, “asparagus”, and “tomato” and move into the realm of “seaweed”, “snail”, “foie gras”, “tongue”, and “durian”? Is that too radical for our TGI McFunster palates? Would our assembly-line-machine-pressed-chicken-nugget abused taste buds be forever damaged with a offal challenge?

  • Len

    “And, too bad the winner isn’t based on cumulative performance. Some of them seem consistently in the “top tier” even when not winning–on every challenge. Seems that consistent-quality-no-matter-what should be taken into account as an “Iron Chef”.”

    I agree, Kali. As far as I’m concerned, this has been a major problem with every food-related “reality” show aired. People aren’t usually wonderful at everything they try to do, there’s no reason to cut them from a competition just because of some unspoken rule that reality shows have to eliminate somebody every episode.

    I much prefer the approach used by some of the automobile magazines … comparisons in multiple categories (weighted differently or not), and the cars are ranked at the end.

    I suppose using that approach on a TV series would mean that some level of attention span or intelligence was expected on the part of the viewers :-(