Nicep6new_iron_chef
On book tour and a bit squishy here in Seattle so will try to be concise.  As Andrew Knowlton comments on his post, we all tasted the food. I pretty much agree with his assessment.  Donatella I’m sure would too.  Where I differed with my fellow judges was the degree by which Besh bettered Symon.  I would say Besh edged Symon whereas Donatella and Andrew felt he beat Symon by a wide margin.

We were taking into account the entire course of the competition with our decision.  We offered our overview of the competition to the iron chefs  Had you been able to see the entire discussion, you’d have heard, after our overview, Alton’s asking me if I had decided.  I told him no, because I hadn’t.  It was too close.  I wanted to hear what the judges said.  Had they overwhelmingly praised Besh and said his dishes were definitively better than Symon’s, I was prepared to give my vote to Besh.  What’s fair is fair.  I certainly couldn’t simply give it to Symon because he’s from Cleveland—I know it’s only a TV show, but I just couldn’t do it.  Again, I was prepared to vote for Besh if the iron chefs persuaded me that Besh far outshined Symon (as Donatella and Andrew believed, and frankly, as I thought they might, given that they seemed to clearly favor Besh in their comments on the food as we heard them during the tasting).  But they did not.  And so I voted for Symon.

While I think that my being from Cleveland and knowing Symon well was, if anything, a detriment during the competition, can I say that it was a detriment here?  No, clearly it was not.  In an even contest—and I can’t imagine two chefs who are more evenly matched in technical skill and culinary imagination—if they had been even in every single respect, I’d then have given my vote to Symon.  I would have no other choice.  As it happened, I chose the person I thought would make the best iron chef given what I saw and tasted throughout the entire competition.

What was interesting to me was how pissed Donatella was.  Andrew was as well, but he didn’t seem to take it personally.  Donatella accused me off camera of knowing Besh beat Symon and casting my vote for Symon anyway.  I think she’s a woman who’s used to getting her way.  That’s just a guess.  She furthermore accused me of being the swing vote, which I wasn’t (had it been 3-3, nto 4-2, it would have gone to the Chairman/FN execs to make the call).  Then she had it out with Flay and Cora, both of whom defended their vote.

So there it is.  Know what you should do now?  Next time you’re in Cleveland or Louisiana you need to go to their restaurants and taste the real work of these excellent chef-restaurateurs.

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262 Wonderful responses to “Next Iron Chef: Final Comment”

  • 7cats

    Mario’s absence isn’t surprising. FN dropped Molto Mario and he told them he’d no longer do IC.

  • Grubbjunkie

    Michael, I applaud you for stating that it’s only a TV show. I find it perplexing that so many think you should be held to the ethical standards of a judge in a real competition. It’s a show, designed for over-the-top entertainment, and it delivered. My only gripe is that I wanted to see more cooking and less of the judges (no offense). Knowlton is a priss and Donna came across as a vindictive know-it-all.

  • Jeanne

    I started out being a Besh fan but later changed to favor Symon. I’d love to see both of them as Iron Chefs, though.

    I don’t understand the people here questioning why Symon won even if Besh was slightly better in the final show. It’s been said from the start that the winners from all the shows would be taken into account, and Symon won 4, Besh only 1.

    And with all the Knowlton bashing going on – I’m surprised no one has question Donatella’s attitude toward Besh’s loss – and that no one even noticed her lustful looks at John Besh when he was presenting his food. Talk about bias.

  • md

    Those of us here in Toronto, Canada have known for weeks the outcome of Next Iron Chef. I know it’s been mentioned here before but a revealing – and puzzling – article appeared in the Toronto Star that more than hinted at the outcome. Michael, that must have put you in an awkward position given that you were obligated to keep the secret. How odd for FN executives – either in the US or here at FN Canada – to allow that to happen. Can you comment on this now that it’s finished? I’ve been to Lola and Symon seems to deserve the title, for both his food and TV personality, which is where he really bested Besh.

  • ava

    Andrew does not need a haircut! I think people keep saying that because they are jealous of his hair! He looks hot as he is…no changes needed!

  • janet

    Uncle hulka: So, you think it would have been fine to have Michael Ruhlman replaced on the jury by John Besh’s mother (assuming for the sake of argument that she’s qualified to judge such a competition)? After all, she doesn’t have mind-control powers, so she couldn’t have influenced the outcome.

    And no, I’m not accusing anybody of deliberate favoritism or any other skullduggery. Just pointing out what I consider to be a fatal flaw in the “he only has one vote” argument.

  • Joisey

    I thought that Batali’s absence from the judging panel was more intriguing than anything else.

  • sheila

    Michael, if you felt that Besh was the better man then that’s the way you SHOULD have voted, never mind what the other chefs thought! If you had voted for Besh like you wanted, it would have been a tie and therefore out of your hands. I don’t understand, were you pressured? I think not.
    I myself thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing and thought either of them would make a good Iron Chef.

  • keith

    At the same time, Claudia, the 8 who agreed to take part did so because they presumably did want to be an Iron Chef, and appear semi-regularly on FN. As Batali once said of ICA episodes, “In the long run does it matter? No, but you still want to win.”

  • juliette

    Interesting post about how the increased interest in Symon could increase sales of Ruhlman’s book (since its the only book that provides a Symon biography–and a very laudatory one at that.)

    I’m sorry, but there’s no way that isn’t a SERIOUS conflict of (financial) interest, as well as the personal friendship conflict. I’m glad Donatella let it all out after the finale, because it was a very bad decision. (I hope she also gave the FN execs an earful. What were they thinking?)

    Alton hosting the finale seemed relegated to supermodel status (or less). So wrong….

  • frances

    Michael, thank you again for your behind-the-scenes take on TNIC. It added much more perspective to the edited show for me.

    It’s so difficult to tell from the edited show who would make the best Iron Chef, but it seemed to me that Besh and Symon were sufficiently close in quality of dishes and presentation. That was exciting to watch — so much so that we watched it at its airtime in our house rather than waiting to see the DVR version (the advertisers have to love that).

    I’m not sure this hasn’t been mentioned here before, but does anyone remember Symon from the Sissy Biggars show “Ready, Set, Cook”? I think he was a regular on that one, way back when (Sanchez, too?) Anyway, the guy has certainly paid his dues on TFN and he’s entertaining to watch in the kitchen. Congrats, Iron Chef Symon!

  • K.Leszke

    “I certainly couldn’t simply give it to Symon because he’s from Cleveland—I know it’s only a TV show, but I just couldn’t do it.”

    Am I the only one who doesn’t believe that this sounds like the words of a judge? ONLY A TV SHOW? Yes – it MAY only be a TV show, but in that case I am left wondering – given your attitude – just why Food Network recruited you to judge their “only a TV show” show in the first place?? Do you even LIKE or WATCH Iron Chef?

    Your final words on The Next Iron Chef sound dismissive and disdainful. If you cared about the outcome of the whole series, you would have tasted the dishes, judged which was the best, and voted true to your heart – NOT waited to see what the rest would do so you could vote with a strategic bias.

    What a shame.

  • BKbella

    Claudia:

    All I said was that the competitors would likely not agree that it was just a TV show. Symon would likely disagree with Ruhlman’s statement as well.

    Never said anything about how the show did “make or break” anybody. I know as well as you and anybody else that for most, there is no such thing as bad publicity.

    Why try to put words in my mouth? That often seems to be a problem on this blog. Why is it wrong for some to state a preference/opinion on this site, particularly if it goes against what Ruhlman says? Having a diversity of views is not a bad thing.

  • Lisa

    Oops! Besh beat Batali, not Flay, in Battle Andouille Sausage, so Flay’s vote for Symon could not have been revenge for a prior culinary smackdown. My bad!

  • Claudia

    BKbella:

    I think the seven chefs who did not win did take the competition seriously, but do YOU seriously think they’ve gone home crying into their (now not-so-clear) consommes? Strip any one of them of a hard-earned and well-deserved Michelin star and then, I think, they might be devastated, upset, and concerned – but losing TNIC? Aaron Sanchez was just all over the Daily News as one of the city’s sexiest chefs (hey, he agreed to be interviewed for the article) and got a lot of ink about being an IC competitor, and Besh has been all over the media, coast-to-coast; Kaysen is cooking at Boulud, Traci des Jardins is still highly regarded, and the bookings have probably shot up at Josie’s (Jill Davie) AND Momou’s restaurant in DC just on the strength of her sunny personality (and his beautiful plating!) Believe me, there were NO losers in this competition. And any chef who’s more concerned with his future Q rating and how his demographics skew in, say, Valley Stream, Long Island than his food, his restaurant (or even getting a Mich star) deserves to go home.

  • KevinB

    How is there even a debate that Besh should have won? Is he deserving? Hell yes but Symon crushed him in the final. They were the 2 best, they both deserved to be there and it came down to winner take all.

    How can anyone legimately take Knowlton and Tits McGee’s culinary expertise over Flay/Cora/Morimoto? The folks that actually play the game judged Symon to be the best and it was well deserved.

  • tim

    I’ll say it – Andrew is the cutest one in the room but he is an arrogant ass. The final episode is what the entire season should of been. And I really wish they get rid of the actor…uh … chairman. The figure works on Japanese tv but not here. But they have porn stars … err… actresses as judges.

    As for the last show – per its editing its quite clear that Symon beat Besh. And quite frankly – Symon fits the IC model better then Besh does. What makes an Iron Chef an Iron Chef? are they really the best Chefs in America? No. They can cook better than most and put on a good show and Symon does that.

    @salnichols
    “ruined by what had to be the worst editing and production in television history”

    Does the word “perspective” mean anything to you?

  • Lisa

    Thanks for the behind-the-scenes take, Michael. I’m about to take a work break and treat myself to a rewatch, but already I’m realizing how many ways the FN dropped the ball with the finale. Why just 60 minutes? We saw so little cooking. It was an absolute TRAVESTY to hype the finale all day with a countdown clock (not to mention all week, with promo ads), rush it with an hour’s show, and then show a 90-minute IC rerun featuring–gulp–Rachel Ray!

    And why bring in all 6 eliminated chefs and not hear a peep out of them? What a missed opportunity for some great play-by-play color commentary, spiced with a soupcon of regret or bitterness, perhaps! The sideline commentary from the current IC’s was fun–we could have used a little more.

    And where was Mario? God forbid the 3-3 tie Michael talked about had actually happened. NO ONE would be happy with “The Chairman” (actually the FN execs) making the final call, least of all Symon or Besh. Having Mario there would have guaranteed odd numbers and no possibility of a tie.

    I’m also just a tad uneasy about an IC judging someone who once beat him (Flay judging Besh), as Aspasia points out. Just a tad. Don’t know how it would color my objectivity. What is the saying about revenge, as a dish?

    Speaking of which, I hope the FN doesn’t wait too long before giving Besh his chance for a rematch. He looked so sad!

  • dana

    After reading about Donatella’s reaction, I’ve got an even bigger crush on her. She is hot!

    This decision to award Symon is pretty ridiculous when you consider that all the judges thought Besh won this challenge.

    If you’re going to factor in the entire competition, then how can you bring in three new judges when they haven’t been eating all the competitors’ dishes throught all the challenges?

    Out of the three judges who were there throughout the competition, the majority thought that Besh should have become the next iron chef.

  • D Capers

    Anyone have thoughts about those who say that Michael Ruhlman had a vested financial interest in having Symon win because it would sell more copies of “Soul Of A Chef”?

    More power to him if it does (I thought it was a great book) but I can see how those who take reality TV seriously might be pissed. I don’t, but I am entertained by the “controversy”.

  • Karen

    Laura: Thanks for the link to Johnny’s. I remember the first time I ate there, I was a little hesitant to get out of the car. It was a small, shabby, dimly lit building on the corner of a declining neighborhood. I would have bet it was more the local tavern with guys named Merv and Lou watching a hockey game at the bar than a great restaurant.

    I remember the veal was great there. It was also the first time I had bananas foster .

    As for the judging, c’mon people. It’s opinion. It wasn’t set up to be objective. Personal preference has to enter into it. Not only the taste of the food, but the type of cuisine, the presentation, the personality of the chef (and who will be more entertaining), etc.

    I liked Michael Ruhlman and I liked Andrew Knowlton. I liked Donatella Arpaia. They seemed to create a nice balance. Getting a wee bit snarky: I want to think that Donatella didn’t know that she’d be sitting on a bar stool or else she wouldn’t have worn such a short skirt. Michael should complain about the producers over-use of his wise, old sage nod and raised eyebrow. And Andrew needs a hair cut.

  • sailorgrrl07

    Thanks very much Michael for taking time on this book tour to give us your thoughts and backstage info. I swear to be a continuing participant here even now that the show is over.

    PS: soul of a chef got here today, I now have plenty of Ruhlman reading ahead of me, although I should be boning up for meeting Tony and Chris this weekend…. ;-)

    Cheers

  • Uncle hulka

    Senor Ruhlman,

    a question: Will this victory, aside from the obvious distractions/taping trips to NYC, affect Symon’s role at Lola? Will he move to LA or NYC or is he staying in the Land of Cleve?

    a comment: to anyone who thinks Ruhlman’s connection with Symon unfairly influenced the outcome I would ask, how many judges were there? The answer is, of course, three.

    Therefore, either Ruhlman has amazing mental powers, capable of penetrating Alpish cleavage and Silky Pony hairdo’s and convincing them to vote for an inferior chef, or – gasp – maybe Symon was simply the best chef in the competition.

  • DannyM

    Ruhlman comes through. Thank you for showing us what the editing didn’t/couldn’t. Regardless of how I feel about the result, the thoughtful commentary on has helped a great deal with what the editing left out. So I still call BS, but only on the FN, and now I’ve got a new blog to read too. Ruhlman’s candor and analysis of the show was enjoyable, but now I’m looking forward to all of the other topics on the blog, too.

  • MDAccount

    What I want to know is whether Alton had the chance to taste the food and for whom he would have voted.

  • Mike

    I wished Chef Besh had won for selfish reasons. I’m planning a pilgrimage to Lola. I’d love to meet Chef Symon, even if our fine host says the well trained staff make up for his absence.
    Michael, I served my wife your Lardon Salad yesterday, & was her hero for the day. I also prepared your Chicken Stock for tonight’s Blanquette de Poulet. The Brisket went into the brine this morning, so we’ll have Pastrami later this week.
    Everyone get out to MR’s classes for a great time with an engaging & knowledgeable speaker.

  • dwirth

    As a Clevelander – I was partial to Symon — but I’d love to know WHY the Iron Chefs all voted for Symon and how Cat and Bobby defended their Symon vote to Donatella, per Ruhlman’s comments. Was it because he would make a better Iron Chef (the intangible, the personality, the flair, etc…)?

  • dwirth

    As a Clevelander – I was partial to Symon — but I’d love to know WHY the Iron Chefs all voted for Symon and how Cat and Bobby defended their Symon vote to Donatella, per Ruhlman’s comments. Was it because he would make a better Iron Chef (the intangible, the personality, the flair, etc…)?

  • Kali

    Just to add, re: bias…

    “I was prepared to vote for Besh if the iron chefs persuaded me that Besh FAR OUTSHINED Symon (as Donatella and Andrew believed)…”

    Actually, only one or two ICs giving Symon “an edge” should have been enough at that point for you to vote for him, based on what you’ve written. To have to be convinced he “far outshines” Symon (when you came in feeling they were even), shows….sorry….

    …bias.

  • SalNichols

    I found this program to be nearly unwatchable, ruined by what had to be the worst editing and production in television history. Eight minutes into the program we found ourselves 15 minutes into the competition. IOW, last night the earth was spinning twice as fast on it’s axis just for the convenience of the producers lack of vision. At some point, I became so aggravated that it didn’t even matter who had won. They compressed the cooking segment to accomodate a virtually useless judging segment. Donatella: Go back to the plunging necklines please. Last but not lease, will someone please dress Kevin Brausch next time? He looked like Michael Moore or Peter Jackson in that tux.

  • BKbella

    I agree that Symon probably would have won anyway, but my issue here is the “air of impropriety.”

    The show itself seemed to be thrown together without much thought. The judging and competition in no way reflected how the actual “game” is played. The final judging was questionable, and perhaps FN recognized that issue. Maybe there is a reason the tally was never aired on the FN. Also, why not vote for originality, taste and plating?

    While Ruhlman’s vote wasn’t a “swing vote” per se (which I believe entails a tie that is broken by the final vote — think Supreme Ct Justice O’Connor), I do understand why Donatella felt that way.

    The votint seems to be a sore point for all three judges — an indication that perhaps this type of reality show format shoulnd’t be repeated until FN works out the kinks.

  • szg

    I have to admit I am a little surprised by the judges responses to the decision last night. Maybe it was the editing, but it was pretty obvious to me that Symon had won before they announced him. Through the on-air comments, I counted at least 4 (and I thought 5) votes for him.

    What really matters is to did you get to hang with Morimoto? I got to watch him prepare Omakase for a “special” customer at his Phila restaurant about a year ago. I was just happy to be sitting nearby watching him. Good stuff.

  • Lester Hunt

    I really don’t think that Ruhlman should have recused himself. That he knows one of the contenders was known by the FN people from the beginning. Heck, it was even known by me! They would have rightly been very upset with him if he had stepped down.

  • Kali

    Really appreciate the behind-the-scenes insights. Also glad to know Besh had such fervent support from 2 of the 3 NIC judges.

    Was the final voting method planned all along or changed at the end? Because I see Donatella’s point about Michael as the swing judge. Even he says it should have been based on cumulative performance. Andrew and Donatella voted that way–but the ICs didn’t (couldn’t).

    So, ruhlman was on the fence and essentially swung the vote for the group who HADN’T tasted ALL the food.

    Sounds like NIC didn’t have a clear plan in case of a tie, which is odd. I felt bad for Besh. He looked so disappointed. (I feel a little better knowing that Donatella didn’t just let it go!)

    Comfort point: If Ruhlman had recused himself (as, imo, he should have) Symon would still have won, based on the changed voting method.

  • stephanie

    Thanks for the insight, Michael. I was quite pleased with the outcome myself. The more engaging, and humble, for that matter, chef won – and that’s good enough for me!

    (Besides the fact that I think Chef Symon is hawt! :)

  • JoP in Omaha

    Michael, thanks for continuing to blog about NIC despite the blows you took in comments from blog-readers. I thoroughly enjoyed your insights about the week-to-week competitions.

    I’m glad to see the Symon auction back up on eBay, but, sigh, even at the reduced price it’s outta my reach. Ten lucky people will have a great time, I’m sure.

  • liz

    Who peed on Donatella’s post toasties? I mean, really, if all three of the Iron Chefs voted for Symon, and Symon won more previous episodes than Besh, it hardly speaks that the competition is somehow fixed because Symon won. Knowlton’s post episode reviews of the show indicate that he has a sense of humor and realizes that he looks like a bit of an ass in some of the judging. Besh would have been great as well, but Symon was chosen. I’m just thankful that, for once, there was a competition where one of the final two wasn’t someone I loathed!

  • BKbella

    “I know it’s only a TV show”

    I think there at least 7 chefs that may disagree with that statement.

    As for Donatella’s belief that you voted for Symon while believing that Besh should have won (and your reaction to her comment as well as those that appear on this blog) — my suggestion would be that if you can’t stand that heat, recuse yourself from the kitchen.

    From a consumer standpoint, the show bored me. I would turn in only to watch the final 8 minutes or so just to see who was eliminated. And what were the guidelines for voting in the final competition? You had the Iron Chefs voting based on what they had before them and 3 judges who weren’t exactly voting in a vaccuum. Were you, Andrew and Donatella supposed to take into account what occurred throughout the competition or only what appeared before you?

    I wish all the best to Iron Chef Symon and the other contestants. My questions and criticisms are not aimed at the talented Chef Symon but to the FN execs and producers of the NIC.

  • BKbella

    “I know it’s only a TV show”

    I think there at least 7 chefs that may disagree with that statement.

    As for Donatella’s belief that you voted for Symon while believing that Besh should have won (and your reaction to her comment as well as those that appear on this blog) — my suggestion would be that if you can’t stand that heat, recuse yourself from the kitchen.

    From a consumer standpoint, the show bored me. I would turn in only to watch the final 8 minutes or so just to see who was eliminated. And what were the guidelines for voting in the final competition? You had the Iron Chefs voting based on what they had before them and 3 judges who weren’t exactly voting in a vaccuum. Were you, Andrew and Donatella supposed to take into account what occurred throughout the competition or only what appeared before you?

    I wish all the best to Iron Chef Symon and the other contestants. My questions and criticisms are not aimed at the talented Chef Symon but to the FN execs and producers of the NIC.

  • Aspasia

    I see Chef Besh as class, and Mr. Symon as brass.

    I disagree with the outcome (revenge of Bobby Flay, who was beaten by Chef Besh?) but in reality, the title IC means little except to the producers of the show.

    ICA is repetitive and boring once one has seen it a few times, so it’s off my radar for now.

  • Aspasia

    I see Chef Besh as class, and Mr. Symon as brass.

    I disagree with the outcome (revenge of Bobby Flay, who was beaten by Chef Besh?) but in reality, the title IC means little except to the producers of the show.

    ICA is repetitive and boring once one has seen it a few times, so it’s off my radar for now.

  • Claudia

    Knowlton has supporters, Ed? (!)

    Michael, quite clearly, the ICs themselves favored Symon, and you really do not have to defend your vote. As I’ve said repeatedly, I think you knowing Symon was a DISadvantage to Symon, since you know his food and knew he borrowed the bacon ice cream dessert from his pastry chef, and you know better than anyone what Symon is capable of – what might have been a great dish for Donatella and Knowlton might only have been good to you, since you know Symon’s repetoire. Plus, the simple fact is that Symon won more challenges than anyone. It’s true that Besh is highly skilled and technically terrific and it’s also true that while his “greats” weren’t as “great” as Symon’s, his failures weren’t as profound as Symon’s either – he was more consistent. But Symon still WON more challenges. He still proved he could think outside of the box more than anyone (very Morimoto-like), cope with more obstructions, problems, challenges and weirdness, and do it all while making people want to watch him.

    So, even though Besh was just as deserving, Symon certainly deserves to be the next IC. And, yeah, there were THREE judges on the panel, not just you. And, yeah, all of them know Symon, not just you. And, yeah, you could make a case that Besh has been on FN as much (if not more) than Symon and has won a fair amount of FN challenges – which, you’d think – would’ve made HIM the FN darling. But no. Three chefs, independently of you three judges, tasted Symon’s food for the first time and called him the winner. (And even Cat Cora did not show complete love to her fellow Greek, Symon, over his Greek dish.)

    I’m surprised Donatella and Knowlton took time out of their Burton/Taylor brawling/trysting to get pissy, in tandem, with YOU. I hope Dona has taken Knowlton home by now and introduced him to a good stylist.

    PS: There is nothing wrong, BTW, about giving your vote to the chef who is more camera-ready than another, if that was the last deciding criteria. The Iron Chef has to be a Ready For Prime Time Player, not just a chef. It’s TV. Thee guys have to not only produce, but perform. It’s TV, folks, not a competition for a Michelin star. It’s JUST TV.

  • Jennie/Tikka

    What I hear in all this is a search for some kind of “definitive proof” that qualifies someone as a “better cook” than someone else. There is no such proof – its all based on personal opinion. There are very few facts that qualify someone’s food as “better” than another’s.

    Shows like this are trying to make cooking a sport – like football of hockey. While its obvious when somebody scores in sports, its not so obvious how you score in cooking. The whole idea of cooking as “sport” is where the wheels come off the wagon, imo. All I hear in shows like this is “Yeah-huh,” “Nuh-uh,” “Yeah-huh,” “Nuh-uh” and there’s no way to clear it up.

    Can’t find the answer because there is no answer.

  • rockandroller

    Thanks for the insight and comments, that it was this close is really interesting, and telling in that they are both very, very talented.

  • Karen

    I would have preferred Besh. I thought he was consistently good throughout the competition. Additionally, he’s more likely to prepare food I would like to eat…but that wasn’t what the competition was about. Frankly, I would be incapable of eating some of the stuff that gets put before the judges.

    I do think that Symon has more of “ze wow factor”, as Chef Schmidt called it. He seems more likely to push the envelope than Besh. So it wouldn’t surprise me if Symon was pre-ordained as the Next Iron Chef by F.N. execs. He’s flashy and fun (his “who’s your daddy” comment as he was muscling the swordfish back to his station was a hoot!). Besh is certainly more sedate.

    I lived in Cleveland for many years (pre-Symon) and it’s a great place, both in terms of food and living. Is Johnny’s on Fulton still around?

    I’ll continue watching, it’s good fun. I can’t wait to see Paula Dean and Cat Cora throwing back Ouzo shots during their upcoming tag team battle.

    “Ooopa, Kitty Cat! Fill ‘er up again for me, then we’ll really be cookin’”

  • FoodPuta

    Michael, did you personally know any of the other contestants? I ask the same question about Donatella and Knowlton? I would imagine that at some degree everyone knew a lot of the players. I just don’t see how this can be construed as you playing favorites just by acquaintance with one of the contestants.

    I thought Symon won, and I don’t know him or Besh.

  • Amye from

    Personally now that I know Donatella behaved like a clique-ish high-school girl who got left off the cheer-leading team, I think I might think twice before watching any future IC’s with her in it.

    Taken overall then, yes Symon beat Besh hands down. He did win four of the challenges.

    If there were a tie, I think the FN exec’s would’ve gone with Symon, only because of the chef’s demeanor during the last challenge. MS was relaxed, chatting. JB was tense and quiet. It IS a tv show and personality matters.

    And that laugh is to-die-for….

  • The Dude

    Great Show – Great Competition! Thanks for the insight, Michael. Your critique throughout the series was spot on and the only one of the 3 judges that was worth listening to.

    I might be wrong, but I don’t believe Andrew or Donatella have ever actually worked in a kitchen. Kinda funny that the four judges last night who have actually cooked in a kitchen, all picked Symon. Truly A Chef’s Chef!

    BTW… Just saw a charity auction on E-Bay for a private cooking class with Symon… packing my bags for Cleveland!

  • Ed

    Does anyone else find it odd that the few Knowlton supporters are women who think he is “hot?” What the hell does that have to do with anything? I have to admit, Kat Cora is far more attractive to me than the guys, but she is clearly the weakest.

  • Beatrice

    It seems kind of bizarre that all three of the season-long judges (you, Donatella, and Knowlton) thought that Besh, at least to some degree, won the evening’s battle, but (as I understand it…) all three of the Iron Chefs thought that Symon did. Do you have any explanation/thoughts on why the split fell that way?

  • jsmeeker

    Thanks for this feedback, Michael.

    I was just in Celevland the other week. And I went to Lola. Fantastic. I think Michael will be a great addition to the Iron Chef America show. But I will say that I am really impressed by Besh. If I ever make it to the Big Easy, I will have even more places to seek out a great meal.

  • Ava

    I actually thought this episode revealed a nicer side to Andrew. I don’t understand why he’s called names like “assface” when(I think) he was probably the hottest guy in that building. So what that he has an opinion. He is a judge.

  • Shelley

    Duh, I just read that all over again. No cutting room floor, because D’s comments were all off-camera. Still, it woulda been nice to see more of the judging AND cooking.

    Was there a “wrap” party? Catered by… oh, never mind.

  • kevin

    Michael,
    I hadn’ seen any of the episodes until last night when I watched the last three. Apparently I didn’t miss anything, the shows were just silly. I can see that participating in the competition might be fun, and even judging it would be, but watching it was a bore.

  • Shelley

    Wow, thanks for the scoop, Ruhlman. Surprised they didn’t show Donatella nagging, but there you go! It’s on the cutting room floor, for whatever reasons we can all guess.

  • LauraTheRed

    I find that appalling. I think you were just as fair as anyone could be in that competition. It’s not like Symon’s married to you or something. You’re from the same city, and you happen to know each other. I don’t thank this tainted your judging at all (and myself judging from the food at Lola’s, I do believe the best man won).

    Let Donatella and that snippy assface Knowlton have their opinion. They’re just control freaks who wanted to have more power than they did in steering the competition to their tastes.

    Michael Symon totally earns the title of Iron Chef.

  • search_for_the_holy_gruel

    Personally, I’m happy w/the outcome. And I, too, felt Chefs Besh and Symon were even in their skills and imagination. But, ultimately, it’s still just a TV show. Doesn’t necessarily mean one is better than the other.