This was indeed best challenge because we truly got to know the chefs–and they all cooked to their level.  Briefly, Besh’s stew with the coxcomb was the best dish of the night–very deep complex soulful flavors, beautiful dish.  Coxcomb is more about texture than flavor and i was glad he got it in there.  I think over all even Symon would agree that if there had to be a choice of a winner, it would have gone to Besh.

That said, Symon’s two forcemeat preps were impressive, delicious and smart choices.  Sausage was delicious, but too much bread so this very special creation was kind of a lost dog.

The guy to my left of Tour d’Argent was young and opinionated, that’s all.  I loved hearing all comments from the French–especially the residence chef next to Andrew.  They enjoyed the food and were unfazed by donatella’s decolleté (unlike Americans, the French have a healthy understanding of sexuality).

Most interesting was the response to Symon’s float.  They winced and shook their heads, but then started smiling till the last slurp.  They’d never encountered a carbonated ice cream drink, it seemed.  That was cool.  And the dessert was delicious.

Cosentino, so sad to see him go. What a great spirit and great visceral cook!  I liked his melon and booze dessert.  Donatella thought it showed deceptive finesse.  In the end though neither his first or second courses delivered the flavor the way Besh and Symon did.

I don’t know why i didn’t like eating besh’s dessert–the awesome berries, the great presentation.  maybe it was because he used store-bought biscuits!  (we didn’t find out till after judging.) Symon had a rough time in the kitchen with ovens going out and equipment failures and difficulty working with the sous.  Besh was cooking really strong, and his flavors were excellent.

Read Adam Roberts’s post at Food Network.

Serious Eats commentary here.

Andrew Knowlton has been quiet this morning over at bon appetit blog. Theory about this: Donatella I believe was actually turned on by Andrew’s bizarre outburst over the lobster roll and the two were seen leaving together that night; no doubt last night’s ep rekindled the smoldering, but undeniable embers.

The penultimate challenge–and one chef gets sent back to the States.  Will it be Cosentino–the clear underdog judging from people’s comments–or will Cosentino reach deep into his offal soul and pull off an upset?  Have the producers pulled a Bachelor and only made Cosentino LOOK like an underdog?  Will I continue to do nothing more than curl my lip and wince and make snotty comments about insignificant details of these great chefs’ cooking?  Find out Sunday at 9 on the Food Network.  (And don’t miss this good article on Besh, chef, restaurateur and family man, from Wednesday’s Times).

Guaranteed I’ll be opening my big fat mouth.

Post Show UPDATE:  The battle in kitchen stadium is set.  Was the result inevitable?  I have my thoughts on this, but what i loved best about tonights competition was that each chef got to cook what they wanted and each chef showed exactly who they were through their cooking. Why they had to make those damned platters that gave them so much grief, I don’t know.  But the food was who they were.


180 Wonderful responses to “Next Iron Chef in Paris”

  • Clare

    Andrew Knowlton is a bully. Well, he’s kind of like a little cartoon bully, with his Dutch Boy haircut, tiny hands and pinched nose.

  • Annie

    And if you replay it backwards, the blueberries say “Paul is dead”.

    I’m not so much interested in Donatella and Knowlton as I would be in, say, Ruth Reichl and Colman Andrews. I’d be REALLY interested to know if Knowlton is getting the anger management therapy he so desperately needs.

    For more jokes ‘n’ drools, take a look at my blog: http//

    And Michael, thanks very much for answering my questions.

  • Marlies

    “Alton looks old/angry in this photo….wrinkled brow…bulging forehead vein…jowly”…..

    haha, not to mention the dowager hump.

  • Christie

    JoP in Omaha writes:

    “Now, the match I’ve been hoping for: Symon and Besh head to head. But I fear I’m going to have an issue with the outcome. I REALLY want Symon to win this. His passion shows clearly on screen; Besh is no doubt equally as passionate; he couldn’t be operating 4 (I think) restaurants without passion, but he doesn’t let his passion show. Symon makes me want to get in the kitchen and try new things (like the lobster hot dog–could I do that? I want to try); Besh doesn’t do that for me.”

    I couldn’t agree more. JoP, you *so* hit the nail on the head.

    I could watch Besh in Kitchen Stadium, but I REEEEEALLY want to watch Symon.

  • Francesca

    FYI….Donatella does not have Italian bazooka’s, they are of greek ancestry. Now, mine….well, they are 100 % Italian ancestry. LOL.

    I hope my cable is working at my new place by next week…I am ready to just to, well, hmmm….I will leave that alone….at the thought of not having cable next week.

  • Darcie

    “BTW… Anyone really planning on visiting Cleveland for Symon’s food – he has donated a private, 3 course cooking class for 10 to a local charity. Great opportunity and a great cause. Currently listed on E-Bay: Cooking Lesson For 10 With Michael Symon NIC Finalist. Check it out!”

    I really wish I could afford to bid on this….I will definitely buy a lottery ticket this week! I will be going to Cleveland sometime soon (husband’s business has him going there several times a year and until I saw NR on Cleveland, I opted to pass. Dummy!) and hope to dine at Lola or Lolita, and visit some of the other places mentioned here, on NR, and other blogs.

  • Sophia

    Are the contestants watching the shows for the first time just like the rest of us?
    It’s amazing how the camera shows us the “real person” inside. You can’t hide the look in your eyes or the facial expression or body language. Amazing. I heard that the Chairman is an actor. Is there really a “secret chairman” in the background, who calls the shots? Hmmmm…I wonder?

  • Debbie

    Question – why didn’t the Judges speak to the Chef’s at all? Is it now just about the food served?
    PS – I thought the frenchy sitting next to you was a bit of a PePe La Pew!

  • Christie

    Yah, who was that blowhard sitting next to you? Did he have anything nice to say?

    Or perhaps he got screwed over by the editors? (Did they remove all the positive comments he made and only leave in the negative ones?)

    I wish both Symon and Besh could be Iron Chefs. (Get rid of Flay.) And while they’re at it, they can replace Cora with des Jardins. It killed me to see Traci go first.

    Michael, please give us a more thorough update on last night’s show. Like who was this “clear winner”? Were you happy with the editing? Did they get it right?

  • gfweb

    Ok. Lets add up the tea leaves and portents…Besh profiled in the NYT(FN publicity machine revving up)…Only subsequent losers have so far appeared in the KIA ads and Besh hasn’t(why would KIA want to run an ad with someone after he was kicked off of the kitchen island?)…A .Knowlton is still a tool.

    and the winner is…Besh by a nose at the wire.

  • Kali

    I like this blog, but Knowlton’s is also very good. re: food. Personally, for $144 per person, I’d want something other than American comfort food, gussied up with upscale ingredients and some changed up flavors.

    American-style dumplings…fantastic lobster wasted inside a big bun…and (ugh, veal) meatloaf plus truffled mashed potatoes–it just all seemed kind of…gloppy (just like downscale American comfort food so often does).

    On the other hand, it also seemed reminiscent of Bobby Flay on ICA, so probably either winner will work out. I just wish I found Besh’s, Symon’s, or Cosentino’s style of cooking as exciting as the judges apparently do. (In fact, I’d much rather see Sanchez, Marou, DesJardins and/or Kaysen as finalists. Their ingredients and combinations just seems so much more interesting.)

    Oh well. I’m sure the battle next week will be fun to watch, but this competition has underscored why food on ICA doesn’t hold a candle to the variety and distinctiveness of preps on ICJ. JMO.

  • gfweb

    Keep Flay and lose Cora and Morimoto. Take Besh and Symon. Have Jill Davie take Brausch’s job (who wants to look at him?). Maybe she and Alton could get something going….. Finally, make Steingarten, Donatella, Ruhlman and that queer-eye guy permanent judges.

  • Francesca

    I stand corrected about Donatella….I thougnt I read that she had greek ancestry….oh well, I stand corrected. Thanks for pointing that out Claudia. I honestly thought she was Greek.

  • sailorgrrl07

    “They enjoyed the food and were unfazed by donatella’s decolleté (unlike Americans, the French have a healthy understanding of sexuality).”

    I don’t understand this comment actually…what does one’s attitude about sexuality have to do with whether a wardrobe choice is appropriate for a judging, where the focus should be on the food and the contestants?

    By this measure, Mssr.s Ruhlman and Knowlton would have not have been out of place to attend the event shirtless. People who know me know that I have no issues with prudishness, but this just seemed like wearing an electric fuschia dress to a friend’s wedding. Just unfortunately distracting.

    Ok, I’m done snarking.

  • Alison

    I have to admit I did a little research on André Terrail, who seemed to me to have all the worst traits of the French with none of the better ones. (And I’m not French-bashing; I lived there for thirteen years and am a dual citizen).

    The guy’s 27 years old and has had his job handed to him on the proverbial silver platter. It’s so rare in France to have someone that young in such a prestigious position. I really wanted to smack him. I mean, more than I’ve ever wanted to smack Andrew Knowlton. Also, his hair was eighty times worse than Knowlton’s.

    OK, now that that’s off my chest, I have to say that I can’t wait for next Sunday’s episode! I like both Besh and Symon, and am not really rooting for either one in particular. Each would make a great Iron Chef.

  • Christie

    Ruhlman has a point about sexuality.

    I think the average American’s definition of “prudishness” is vastly different from most Europeans. We ARE prudes. I’ve been surprised at all the nudity on tv when I’ve traveled to Europe (as well as many other countries). Also, our way of dress is lacking compared to theirs. (We’re bums!)

    I think they are completely unfazed by a pair of boobs, even if they’re on their salad plate.

    P.S. Thanks for the updated update, Michael. 🙂

  • Lisa

    I’ve been a Besh booster pretty much from the start, but Symon’s charm is sneaking up on me–must be the crazy-man cackle! I agree with Alison that both would make great Iron Chefs. And I would make room for both by jumping on the Dump Flay bandwagon. Boy creeps me out–there’s something synthetic and slightly off about his flavor, and I mean HIM, not his cooking.

    Of course, I’m sure TNIC doesn’t end with a Besh-Symon tie. Whoever wins, I hope The Chairman eventually invites all seven chefs eliminated during the NIC rounds back to Kitchen Stadium to face the new Iron Chef. I would love to see Des Jardins, Kaysen, Morou et. al. avenge their losses on a truly level playing field.

  • Christie


    Just read Knowlton’s blog – he thought Symon was the best of the bunch. Interesting. So no clear winner after all? I hope there’s a clear winner next week.

    Lisa: I love, love, love your idea of having the dismissed chefs avenge their losses!

  • Daniel E

    I think Flay should leave too. He still thinks that the ingredients he uses are southwest instead of Mexican. Maybe the food network is a bit xenophobic.

  • IGIF

    Ahem…(IGIF = Interested Grandma in Florida.) Sorry, but “breasticles” must be attributed to one of our very own officeholders who was caught on tape eyeing (and commenting) about the Breasticles on Peanut Island in South Florida! You can google THAT! Great show, loved efforts of all 3 chefs, and got as much as a kick out of our “own” judges reactions to their table neighbors’ comments as their judgment of each dish. Seemed like a fun night for all. Not surprised to see it down to Besh/Symon and can’t decide who I’d rather win. They are both so talented and interesting. Love Besh. That laugh, tho… (Think that the little French twerp should have been seated next to DA’s bazooms; sure they would have kept him in line!) Still waiting for a Bourdain take on this, now that we’ve heard from Messrs. Ruhlman and Knowlton.

  • allie

    although knowlton definitely comes across as douchey, I have to agree with him. as a fellow new englander, I would take cosentino’s interpretation of a lobster roll over donatella’s any day.

  • realitybites

    “In case anyone is interested, here’s a link to a nice essay Chris Cosentino has on his restaurant web site recounting Tony’s recent visit. Really nice tribute and lots of insight into a restarateur’s daily life.


    Posted by: sailorgrrl07 | November 06, 2007 at 01:12 AM”

    Great essay by Cosentino. A bit dated, as it was written during Tony’s tour to promote “The Nasty Bits.” But still, it is definitely worth a read.

  • Blaked

    “In case anyone is interested, here’s a link to a nice essay Chris Cosentino has on his restaurant web site recounting Tony’s recent visit. Really nice tribute and lots of insight into a restarateur’s daily life.


    Posted by: sailorgrrl07 | November 06, 2007 at 01:12 AM”

    I hate to do some bubble bursting, but I think that’s Mark Pastore…the owner of Incanto, not Cosentino.

  • thrushgreen

    Has anyone else noticed just how many FN shows Besh has been on in the last 6-8 months? Its a wonder the man has been able to cook and be a part of his New Orleans restaurants! A lot of the FN Challenge shows I’ve seen him participating in, or judging…

    Personally, I think Symon would be the better IC, but
    Besh is more “tv”, if you follow me…I mean, from tv’s
    perspective…I was glad to read that Symon did do a show
    earlier in the 90s for FN, so it leaves me wondering if the chefs that have been eliminated so far have had any
    tv experience other than their stint on IC…I would think
    Traci DesJardins has, but what about the others? Interesting thought…

    Im just wondering…is one of the current ICs leaving? Is Morimoto already gone? I havent seen one of his episodes now for quite a while…

    Just a personal note, I am not thrilled nor happy that FN decided to remove the last vestige of Iron Chef Japan…it was on once a week early in the morning, and now even that is gone…there are so many episodes that we here in the US never got to see…just watch the opening montage to the show, and count just how many we actually have been shown…not to mention all of the earlier ones with the original chefs…

  • Blaked

    Word from the grapevine is that Batali is leaving. That being said, I totally agree that Symon would make a better IC. He’s just got more character than Besh…who just seems like a (severely) upgraded version of Flay. I also think Cosention would’ve been great. Cosentino, you will be missed.

  • thrushgreen

    After reading thru a lot of the posted comments here, I am ready to agree with JP in Omaha…is it just me, or has Besh had a comment on almost every episode “I just know it’s going to be me being sent home” (or something similar)…if you saw his original ICA contest, there was a comment he made about shutting down the restaurants to come do the show…he has at least 4, and has been filming FN shows all over the place…have his restaurants been open lately at all?

    Its coming across when seen episode after episode as a bit cocky and over confident, and that “good ole boy” Southern deal is already getting wearing…could be hard to watch on ICA after a while…its hard enough dealing with Flay’s arrogance and cockiness as it is…actually, if you needed an attitude-for-attitude and same formula dish-for-dish replacement for Flay, Besh would be ideal…

    We know that FN doesnt operate like this, but if you really want to bring the show to life, and bring a little more excitement to it, Symon is the clear choice…actually, how about replacing ALL of the current ICs with some of the challengers for this series? I could see Symon, Cosentino, Kaysen, and Jill Davie doing the series, and boy would folks be tuning in…the fireworks would fly…and talk about wanting “smell-o-vision”!!


    A revolving panel of Iron Chefs, and which 3 or 4 will be on the stand when the guest comes out to make his/her choice isnt revealed until they actually are out there facing the chairman…-2- secret ingredients, so to speak…that would give the show and the network a little more flexibility in scheduling programs during filming,
    especially when some chefs have to fly into the area…
    it would give the chefs flexibility to film programs around their own PR and cooking schedules…

  • thrushgreen

    Thanks Blaked…any idea about Morimoto? Im sorry if it is Batali leaving, as he has been the most creative, and the most fun to watch…he has been on a lot of shows lately, tho, and probably has his hands full with the restaurants…or maybe has another show of his own coming up soon on FN…I would love them to start reshowing his
    “Mario Eats Italy” again…

  • Claudia

    I think Besh has been saying it’s him going home (everty week) just so he doesn’t jinx himself. And I think he’ll drop a lot of his good ol’ boy routine if he does become IC. I think you’ll see a lot more serious Marine/French-trained chef come out.

    Much as Mario pooh-pooh’ed it, the NY Post (usually suitable for wiping off befouled seats in the subway) reported that he will not be an IC after November 18. So, once whatever he’s taped airs, we’ll just have to see.

  • Water Iris

    I have to echo Thrushgreen, and Sara who posted it 11/4. Besh crossed the line somewhere from fun trash talk to just trashy. I’ve liked hearing the chefs’ banter, it seemed to be based on comradery. No-one took it too seriously. But what changed? the editing? I know its the end and FTV has to amp up the drama- especially since a Symon/Besh finale was obvious from the second episode. I’m rooting hard for Symon now. He seems to be the complete package.

  • Sara

    Mario Batali and the Food Network have both officialy denied that he is leaving Iron Chef:

    From Serious Eats:

    From ABC News:

    The rumor about Mario leaving ICA is just that: A RUMOR. It’s been driving me crazy to see people report it as fact. To give some idea of how seriously to take it, it was first reported on PAGE SIX of the NEW YORK POST. Until either FN or Mario himself say he’s leaving, he’s not, and I know he’s scheduled for several battles throughout the season. The rumor started because FN stopped re-running “Molto Mario” (which, btw, was picked up by Fine Living for reruns, a network also closely associated with FN; also, it’s worth it to say that Batali hasn’t made a new episode of Molto Mario in *forever*), despite the fact that IN THAT PRESS RELEASE they EXPLICITLY said Mario would be staying with ICA, and he has continued to battle regularly since the announcement came out.

    Stop spreading rumors. If Mario is leaving ICA, he will announce it. Until then, assume they’re lightening the load on their Iron Chefs (who are all successful multiple restuarant owners and chefs) by adding a fifth face.

  • Claudia

    Esay, Sara – Mario has apparently taped only 2 battles as of September 3, and even in the ABC story, it is reiterated that the FN is turning away from professional chefs towards “food celebs”. I hope Batali continues, but he certainly has a lot other fish to fry than IC. If Mario is continuing on IC, we’ll see him after November 18, when it was reported his relationship with FN would end. (I also hope FN would renew Molto Mario or start an equivalent show for him, since it really was one of the best around – not only from a cooking standpoint, but certainly a personality-driven one.)

    While I’ll be first to say the NY Post as a whole is a rag, you also have to keep in mind that Batali loathes the Post (for a lot of reasons), but that Page 6, ironically, tends to be pretty accurate. Let’s just say that their columnist, Paula Froelich, gets fed a LOT of cheffy info, from chefs and cheffy types themselves. So I’d just wait and see – unless, of course, you’re already using your daily edition of the Post for pooper-scooping? (A total appropriate approach, I might add.)

  • gidget bananas

    Hmmn. In the corner of New England where I grew up a lobster roll was just lobster (if you can say “just” lobster) drenched in butter on a grilled hot dog-style bun. I would call any lobster-mayo mix a lobster salad. However, if Besh can call what looked like a lasagna noodle a dumpling, then I guess lobster salad can be a lobster roll.

    Damn, I wish I were at that dinner, though. I wanted to taste everything.

  • gidget bananas

    Hmmn. In the corner of New England where I grew up a lobster roll was just lobster (if you can say “just” lobster) drenched in butter on a grilled hot dog-style bun. I would call any lobster-mayo mix a lobster salad. However, if Besh can call what looked like a lasagna noodle a dumpling, then I guess lobster salad can be a lobster roll.

    Damn, I wish I were at that dinner, though. I wanted to taste everything.

  • gidget bananas

    Hmmn. In the corner of New England where I grew up a lobster roll was just lobster (if you can say “just” lobster) drenched in butter on a grilled hot dog-style bun. I would call any lobster-mayo mix a lobster salad. However, if Besh can call what looked like a lasagna noodle a dumpling, then I guess lobster salad can be a lobster roll.

    Damn, I wish I were at that dinner, though. I wanted to taste everything.

  • Sara

    First of all, I used to work for The New Republic (albeit in an internship capacity). I know most rumors contain at least a kernel of truth, and I understand there are certain realms (like politics) where rumors are probably your best source of info. I was, however, using all available facts presented by both sides of the rumor to dispute the rumor itself. So don’t be mean.

    Second — I understand that Batali has only taped a few battles, and all the other reasons given to not disregard the rumor. But why, if you were going to phase yourself out of ICA, would you blatantly deny it to several sources when confronted with a rumor saying you’re on your way out? Morimoto has been fairly open about his desire to retire from competitive television cooking sometime soon. Now that Batali has shows on other networks, and his restaurants are at their most successful, and his celebrity is at its peak (thanks, largely, to ICA), why would he want to deny something that would focus more attention on his new projects?

    And on the topic of “food celebs” — while Rachel Ray and Sandra Dee are nice for the rest of America, there is clearly a large segment of the FN viewership that sees the *real* food celebs in these celebrity chefs. With all the success Bourdain is having on Travel Channel (I know you’re reading this, asshole), FN probably wants to capitalize on the celeb chefs they have in their roster already.

    I guess we’ll see in November. But I can’t see why they’d let Batali off ICA — he’s one of the most popular chefs to be challenged.

    Sorry, I’m a little irate today. I’m losing my patience with television on a lot of fronts (this is what happens when LOST is delayed until February….)

  • sailorgrrl07

    Not that it matters at this point but thanks to Blankd for pointing out my blunder 🙂 which was probably caused by late night posting combined with my Chris/Anthony co-crush lol


  • Hank

    I bet that if Batali *does* call it quits (which would be too bad), they will bring in Cosentino. After all, how can you have TWO Iron Chef Italians? As to the remaining two, I’m rooting for Symon – I like his food and I like that he’s from the center of the country, which for those of us on the coasts has a (largely undeserved) food reputation much like England’s in the 1970s…

  • Blaked

    Wow, didn’t mean to open such a can of worms with my comment about Batali. All I meant was that IF it is Batali leaving, I think Symon would be a much better replacement than Besh.

  • Sara

    Does Symon do Italian food? Or Besh? My impression from No Rez Cleveland was that it was New American. Maybe it was all the pork; I could be totally wrong. And Besh seems southern/French (kinda like Louisiana, actually..) ICA seems less stringent about Iron Chef/Food Style relationships (no one would call Bobby Flay “Iron Chef Southwest,” for example… though that’d be funny. Especially if there were Bolero ties involved) than the original Japanese show.

  • Claudia

    Sara, I’m not being mean. I’m just saying – relax. I’D personally want to see nothing but professional chefs, not “personalities” on FN. And if Mario was unhappy about some accommodation FN was not wiling to make, then, yes, I could see him wanting to pack up his marbles and go home. FN’s (and our) loss, not Mario’s. (Here’s hoping it isn’t true.)

    Ex-CBS News (staffer, not intern)

  • Tana

    I would have had a hard time ingesting anything, sitting at the table with that sweaty pig Bushie Ambastatard to France. Seriously. You’re a prince, Ruhlman.

  • Sara

    Damn, Claudia, that’s awesome (the CBS staffer part). I’ve always shied away from TV — I don’t want my face anywhere near a camera — but that’s pretty much a dream journalism job.

    I tried to explain — it’s been a lot of months without LOST, there’s a damn writers strike (not that I don’t support it, I’m just not looking forward to my favorite shows running out of episodes)… it’s enough to make a girl cranky. And it just seems pointless to have people state over and over again that Batali is leaving when all of the official words about it state the opposite. I understand the merit in rumor, but it doesn’t help a discussion any to use unsubstantiated information as if it’s fact. I’m sure you know that better than I do.

    Yes, they’re no longer rerunning his cooking show, but I can’t imagine them letting him out of his ICA contract. I’m sure he signed one. Either way, it’s pointless to speculate about it until someone has word on whether it’s true or not beyond what has already been published. And while I’m sure that Page Six knows what celebrity was making out with what other celebrity, I feel less confident about their reach into the world of cooking, restaurants, television and chefs.

  • doodad

    Sara, maybe you should not watch so much C-SPAN.

    I hate to see you get so worked up over the Law of the Sea Treaty.

    Avast! %^)

  • Claudia

    You’re understandably put out today, Sara – I would be, too, if I lost my primetime lineup -but I think the only thing here is go get yourself Ruhlman’s book and everything else on your wanting-to-read list, and immerse yourself in them. Until the WGA strike (and November 18) passes. I’m sure everything will be MUCH better by then. And soon.

    (Also ex-WGA union member, BTW!)

  • sailorgrrl07

    Speaking of journalism If there are any writers for The Onion out there, I would love to see the Onion do a write up on this series, wouldn’t you? disrespect intended but I could see it.


    (I once had a SF Giants press pass, can I join?) 😉

  • Sara

    I think the writers for the Onion are secret monkeys locked away in a basement somewhere. Seriously. They are *never* looking for staff, and yet no one knows anyone who works for the Onion. The Onion is the Willy Wonka of the journalism world.

    I would love to work for the Onion, but I don’t know if I can be that funny.

  • Todd

    Finally got around to watching it and very good episode with few minor exceptions… like the Sandra-Lee-Esque ‘tablescapes’ (huhwha?).

    Awesome to see the chefs finally not have to jump through silly hoops and just cook.

  • Shelley

    I know… this may seem totally off-topic… but I just spent the whole day in Austin at a thought-leader meeting on social media (social media like Ruhlman’s BLOG, for instance).

    I have been amazed at the difference in Ruhlman’s and Knowlton’s volume of blog commentary: about 100 to 2, I’m estimating. Are we having a genuine conversation here with MR _and_ other commenters because MR has an open-door policy? Are the responses to AK’s blog being screened by Bon Appetit? Or are we just more inclined to shout out here because we like Ruhlman better as someone we can relate to?

    Hmmm… maybe the original post here is too stale in BlogTime to garner much comment, but I’m genuinely curious. And hmmm number two… I might need to follow up with you, MR, on some of these social media goings-on. Thinking book promotion, I mean. Let me mull this over a bit.

    p.s. I finnally noticed that I tend to use numerical references in my comments. Not that YOU notice, but… it could be an OCD thing I should seek help for. ;]

  • Shelley

    “Finally,” not “finnally,” she typed.

    Gawd. I’m OCD for sure! 🙁

  • Kina

    Sorry all you “decolette fans” but word to Donatella:
    underwire bra!

  • realitybites

    Yes, Knowlton looked hot. But so did Ruhlman and Donatella. Sorry Claudia, I know you have a problem with Knowlton. We all know, as you so graciously keep reminding us–lest we forget.

    (ex-girlfriend of sports editor for major metro newspaper :D)

  • Claudia

    Actually, Reality, I liked Knowlton’s ensemble this past episode. And he was actually less lip-pursy than usual – right up to the lobster roll comment. And I don’ think I was the first OR only one to point out the condescension of his tone to Donatella. (Who bulldozed him with her bazookas, obviously.)

    I hope Ruhlman’s theory is right, and they happily off trysting together. Hope that answers Ava’s question as well your roiling issues about my perceived “problem” with Knowlton.

  • JoP in Omaha

    So what’s up with no bids on Symon’s eBay auction? I’m not believin’ that all foodies are somewhat monetarily challenged like I am. Let’s hope that there are bidders waiting in the weeds, ready to bid high, bid often in the final hours (27 hours from now). Meanwhile, my cousin and I each bought 5 lottery tickets……..

  • Sara

    “Sorry all you “decolette fans” but word to Donatella:
    underwire bra!

    I noticed that when she was leaning forward her boobs looked WAYYYY better. But I really, really liked that dress.

  • Claudia

    Dang, I like that dress, too. She was sexy and elegant and right up there with all the tres chic Francaise ladies. And the crimped tresses. I think best hair HAS to Donatella this week. (Sorry, Ruhlman. Just this week.)

  • Todd

    I think Ruhlman’s blog is accessible in more ways that one.

    It’s on his home page with one hop off the main site. -> click blog. The site is simply, easy to navigate. His books are popular amongst bloggers. Many people link here. The blog layout is simple and easy to read and fills the window with readable whitespace on either side.

    On the flip side, Knowlton’s blog is Got all that? Okay… maybe you go to… how to get to Knowlton’s blog — first dismiss the huge full-screen flash advertisement that’s blocking the view, mouse over features and select blogs. There, you’re at the blog and he’s listed in tiny text. There’s ads all over the place and the entire format is scrunched left. On my screen, full screened, the adds are center screen. And on top of that, as well known as Knowlton may be in the food world, his foodie exposure is hidden behind a masthead with only NICA and a couple appearances on ICA.

    If you went to first, good luck getting to the Bon Appetit blogs.

    Online communities tend to build geometrically. Ruhlman got a good start with a good layout, frequent posts that interest people, some entertaining guest interludes (built in fan base!), and tops it off with frequent response to guests in the form of replies and replies *inside* the article (or next). Solid community building skills.

    Knowlton’s blog is just another corporate blog on a confused corporate page. It’s not its own entity, like this one is.

    We know these people through their work. Ruhlman has won many a fan with his writings and continues to bolster that with his call and response here. Knowlton has ‘the bad edit’ and that’s all we know about him. I personally don’t want to waste my time on the website of a (unjustly perceived) brat.

  • Shelley

    Great observations, Todd! Agree with all of them.

    If you listened to the Tampa podcast interview with Ruhlman, he talks about how time-consuming this whole blog thing can be. I am amazed and impressed by his commitment to his readers.

  • sailorgrrl07

    I second that emotion, Mr. Ruhlman does a really good job with this blog. It can be very difficult I am sure to use a light hand but still pay attention, especially when there is so much passion and opinion herein.

    I’m looking forward to reading the new book, it’s exactly what I need.

  • Offa

    Having silently watched the judge discussions over the past few weeks, it’s time to make a few comments…..

    First, I doubt that these judges are particularly accustomed to being openly critical of food they are evaluating. They are all probably more along the lines of “It’s all quite nice, but Dish A just has that special something….” In this competition, though, the judging is about justifying selecting which chef is to be eliminated. That’s quite a different job than glorifying good vs. better vs. best food. If all the comments were vanilla, the outcry would be louder than it is now.

    Secondly, I see a pattern to the editing. If I asked you to name a judge on American Idol, who comes to mind first? Gotcha… it’s Simon, isn’t it. I suspect the editing of NIC is aimed at trying , in a foodie sort of way, to copy that pattern. I know that in several cases where comments seemed abrupt or aggressive, they were taken out of context. For instance, the “lobster roll comment” was taken from a playful, friendly interchange among the judges, but comes off as being quite aggressive when taken alone. From the attention it has received, I’d say the editing worked to create interest. Remember that the film collected from the judging was around an hour per episode, and was edited down to 2 or 3 minutes of air time.

    The selection of Besh and Symon as the two finalists seems to be meeting with general approval, all of the carping along the way notwithstanding. So, these judges whose abilities have been questioned in blogs from everywhere have arrived at selections with which most of us agree from our observations sans tasting.

    Finally, as concerns blogs…. Ruhlman’s blog is great. Ruhlman’s work is as an author and food commentator. He’s good at it. I’ve ordered the latest book from Amazon to go with all the other Ruhlman books I own. Hopefully it will arrive tomorrow. He makes his money by selling books and by giving lectures. Good for him. He earns it.

    Knowlton works for a magazine. His job is, ultimately, to sell magazines so that Conde Nast can sell ad space in those magazines for more cash. I suspect he’s good at that job also. The blogs on the BA website are clearly an afterthought. The content, however, of Knowlton’s blogs is excellent. I doubt that any of you who have read them would disagree. Neither, in the blogs, does he come off as he does in the edited NIC episodes. Pithy, edgy, yes… but mean, grumpy, etc… no. Listen to the podcasts he’s done. He’s a friendly, knowledgeable interviewer who does interesting podcasts.

    I’d be happy for either Ruhlman or Knowlton to recommend me a restaurant for a great meal. If I had to choose one to go with, though, I’d pick the more critical, the one who’s harder to please. You decide for yourself.

  • JoP in Omaha

    Sigh. There are still no bids on Symon’s eBay auction. I don’t get it. Alas, I had no winning lottery tickets, so there’s no bidding in my future.

  • Claudia

    Excellent observations, Todd – Ruhlman’s blog is not only technically easier to navigate and highly user-friendly, as you pointed out, but is democratic to the extreme.

  • JoP in Omaha

    I guess we are all broke, Sara….the Symon auction closed with no bidders.

  • Sara

    $5,000 is an awful lot of money. I’m not saying Symon isn’t worth it, or that it wasn’t for a good cause, but that’s an awful lot of money. I mean, that’s 5 months of my rent.

  • IGIF

    cheesewhiz: My dad was Polish and we had potato pancakes frequently. However…his favorites were the ones served at a local German restaurant! The trick is to separate the whites from the yolks, then fold in the beaten whites later for a fluffy (wonderful) latke (can’t remember what it is in Polish). If you’d like the recipe you can email me at

    Still loving this blog, gonna get Mr. Ruhlman’s book, and enjoy reading all of your comments.

  • ShadowKat

    So many days past the original posting date, I may not get an answer, but I still want to ask.

    As a food judge, how do you deal with food that doesn’t appeal to you? For example, if any chef set any kind of raw fish in front of me, I would gag. And I have eaten tuna crudite before. YUCK!

    Has this ever happened to you, Michael?

    If Michael doesn’t answer, has anyone else here been in this position?


  • Ben


    “As a food judge, how do you deal with food that doesn’t appeal to you?”

    At the start of “The Man Who Ate Everything”, Steingarten talks about when he first got the job as food critic for Vogue; at the time, he had a whole list of foods that ranged from “absolutely would never put in my mouth” to “only if I were starving”. However, he felt it was his responsibility to overcome these (largely irrational) phobias and forced himself to try pretty much all of them (he goes on about the research showing you need to try something X [8 or 9?] times before you can really know for sure if you don’t like it).

    I suspect any judge will be in a similar mindset – even if it’s not their preferred food, they have an obligation to try and give an unbiased answer. More to the point, I suspect most people who end up food judges are the type of folks who will try just about anything, repeatedly…

  • WhatisCanadianCuisine?

    Things such as tuna crudite and tartars I think, are acquired tastes to some people. Trying one dish only once with one bite is probably not enough. I’ve known people who think anything outside of burgers and pizza are gross, but once they acquired a more sophisticated taste for things such as crudites and tartars, they never went back to burgers/pizza again.

    It also helps not to think about what it is either – I don’t refer to sushi and other rare foods are “raw” this or that. I like the name they’ve been given, rather than their descriptions. Do you think about what’s in sausage or a hot dog? And please don’t call it stuffed intestines – that would deliberately make a food unappealing.

    There’s a chapter in Kitchen Confidential that talks about Bourdain’s daring and adventurous palette. He’s willing to try anything and everything, and he’s been that way since childhood when he set out to prove something to his parents. In the process he found he liked a lot of the foods he tried, and one of the worst things he’s ever eaten is Chicken McNuggets. LOL. So you may wanna check out that book. It’s great.