Sunday, August 7, 2011

Next Food Network Star: Iron Chef

Kitchen stadium
Alton Brown will challenge you
So bring your A game

There are only four remaining contestants on the Next Food Network Star: Mary Beth, Susie, Jeff and Vic. They all take a moment to say serious things about how important this has become and how they are all in it to win it. Vic instantly mentions "mama boy" twice since last week he dropped the Vegas facade. I am already annoyed.

The challenge this week is the ever important Iron Chef challenge! The are taken to kitchen stadium where they have their own versions of Iron Chef portraits hanging on the wall. Alton Brown describes the challenge: there will be two battles of two chefs at a time. Each will have one hour to create three dishes using the day's secret ingredient. When not battling it out, the remaining chefs will be required to provide commentary to show off their culinary knowledge. We know Alton will ask crazy hard questions just to try to trip up the contestants. Jeff is excited about this challenge and gives Alton [and all of us] sexy eyes:

Hi there, handsome.

Since Jeff won last week's challenge, he is allowed to pick his challenger and he picks Susie. In my opinion this is a bad decision as she seems to be his biggest competition cooking-wise of those left in the competition (if you think it's Vic, remember the La Changa).

The contestants get a sous chef and get to choose from: Penny, Whitney, Jyll and Chris. Chills run up Mary Beth's spine when she sees the Mediterranean Mama walk in the door. Jeff gets to  pick his sous chef first and picks Whitney. The rest of the contestants pick names out of a hat. Susie gets Chris, Vic gets Jyll and of course Mary Beth picks Penny's name and she feigns excitement. This is about to get interesting.
Read more about the events in Kitchen Stadium after the JUMP!

Battle 1: Mary Beth versus Vic
Vic arms reach new heights of excitement when Alton announces that their secret ingredient is rack of lamb:

It's like he's carrying two invisible briskets.

Vic decides to make: lamb carpaccio, lamb patty melts and a lamb chop dish. Vic's carpaccio becomes a seared loin via trial and error. His second dish will be lamb burgers and he has faith that it will work out. Vic's third dish will be lamb chop with mint jelly (Jylly?) and the judges worry it will be too sweet.

Mary Beth looks at the groceries and decides to make lamb chops for every season. She decides to use an umami flavor for her first dish. Her second dish is a grilled lamb chop over Israeli couscous and winter fruit. Penny is becoming distracting and is slow to the point where Alton approaches her and asks what the hell her problem is. "I'm methodical," she says. If methodical is the new word for bitchy then I buy it. Judgement eyes are thrown her way.

Susie is cute - but judge Suzy thinks she falls back on her giggles/adorableness to compensate for her lack of food knowledge. Susie's intro from commercial break is boring. Alton asks about white asparagus and doesn't know what the hell she is talking about and again turns to giggles. Fiber-y? Fibrous. Even I know that word.

Jeff's is ready to demolish Susie in the commentary and makes a slightly dirty joke to Alton (Umami Explosion) and instantly makes Alton smile when he says, "That was the name of my high school rock band! We were progressive." Genius. He also is quick on his feet when asked to throw it to commercial. Alton asks Jeff about umami and he once again tickles the judges with his response, especially Suzy who has previously expressed her lust for Jeff. That methodical! [Just kidding, she's probably my favorite judge].

Vic's dishes

  • Rare seared loin of lamb with an arugula salad: Mary Beth pans it but says she likes the dish. The other judges like it
  • Lamb burger with sweet potato fries: Everyone likes it and Suzy says it's the best think she's tried from Vic. The fries on the side are bad.
  • Broiled lamb chop with mint glaze: The mint glaze "has no room in Iron Chef kitchen - ever," says Bobby Flay. Uh oh. That can't be good.
Mary Beth's dishes
  • Israeli couscous with grilled lamb: Mary Beth gives a story about how her dishes each be seasonally themed and talks about grilling during the winter. Vic likes it as does Judge Michael Simon. Nothing real exciting there.
  • Pan cooked lamb chops with fall pears: Vic's is overcooked. They like the idea, but it's lacking finesse and technical skill.
  • Roasted lamb Unami Explosion: Again, her dish is overcooked. Giada says that the lamb is the worst thing on the plate but does say she likes her stories. Unfortunately, stories don't win cooking challenges.

Battle 2: Jeff vs Susie
For the second battle, the secret ingredient is: lobster!

Susie decides to makes a ceviche, a tomato lobster stew, and a cliantro pasta enchilada (what?) that will have a nice cumin flavor.

Jeff, the sandwich king, decides to make a lobster roll (that was a given) with lobster bisque, a BLAT - bacon, lobster, avocado, tomato sandwich, and a Baja style lobster taco with a radicchio slaw. He soon finds out that there is no available avocado and turns to store bought mayonnaise as a substitution.

Vic is totally not comfortable with his commentary. When asked about harissa (did he not watch last season? Aarti Party used it every week!) he says it's the devil's toothpaste. I frown. The judges laugh. His intro back from commercial is awkward. Vic tries to be serious. Poor mama's boy.

Mary Beth should be great at the commentary seeing as she is a food writer and has extensive food knowledge. She is comfortable with her commentary but is a little over the top. Alton give a giant fake ass laugh and then tells the camera, "that's not funny." Yikes. Her throw to commercial is cute. Alton asks her what salt is not sea salt and she draws a blank. Her confidence is shaken. All salt is sea salt. Alton's dislike for her is obvious.

Jeff's dishes

  • Classic lobster roll: Susie says the lobster is cooked perfectly and the judges like the added walnuts.
  • Baja style lobster taco: the lobster is poached and then tempura fried. Bobby says there is too much batter. Judge Suzy says she likes that he continues to reinterpret what a sandwich is and can be. He wins me over further cause I love tacos.
  • LBT (the lobster, bacon tomato sandwich) with lobster bisque: They like the sandwich but are upset that he didn't make his own mayo. Apparently lemon mayo is a great addition to meals. 

Susi's dishes

  • Lobster ceviche: Michael Simon loves the dish and says the lobster was made the star of the dish, as it should be.
  • Lobster enchilada: Giada says the chard wrapped enchilada is a great interpretation of a dish. Her second dish again has perfectly cooked lobster. Jeff needs his headband because he's now sweating in his chair. [I swear that early in she said something about pasta in this dish. It's not there so I must've heard wrong.]
  • Tomato lobster stew served over a potato cake: Bob loves it and calls it a heap of sunshine. Once again they love it.
Now comes judging time. In battle rack of lamb they know that Mary Beth was handicapped by Penny but say she was stumped by Alton. They say she was the best judge of the four remaining contestants but lacks the cooking chops needed (pun!). Vic's two first dishes are the best of the challenge but his mint jelly dish was by far the worst. He is criticized for his commentating and judging. We see a montage of him saying "overall" a bunch. His recycling of words sound like my blogging.

Jeff is panned for not making his own mayo. They say he was a good judge and an amazing commentator. Jeff takes this opportunity to say he is really the man for the job to showcase sandwiches. He even looks like a sandwich! They giggle. I don't quite know what a a human sandwich would look like, but I don't quite think it's Jeff. 
Susie created the best dishes of the night and Giada is glad that she went back to her roots. They do say she was not a great resource during the commentary. Susie wins her battle and Vic wins his. With Jeff and Mary Beth left as the bottom two it is apparent that it's Mary Beth's turn to go home. She says her goodbyes and is grateful that she made it this far in the competition. 

Do you think Mary Beth was the right person to go home? Is there someone in the top three you wish hadn't made it this far? Were you happy to see Penny?

Next week is the reunion show. Five bucks that Penny cries.


  1. Hello from Ann Arbor! I still would not DVR any of these people. Even Jeff's sandwiches. They should just give Alton another show.

  2. I like that when Bobby Flay says the mint glaze has no room in the Iron Chef kitchen - ever, Vic says, then why is it in the Iron Chef kitchen, huh?
    Boom! Chefed.