Monday, October 15, 2007

Next Iron Chef: M.G. Edition

**Danger Will Robinson, Spoilers Ahead**

Well week two is down and another one bites the dust.

Jill Davie put up a good fight, and I really thought her Bone Marrow Potato was a great idea, or at least in concept. Sadly from what Michael Ruhlman hinted to it came down to taste; which the dish failed to achieve.

I'm kind of sad to see Davie go, the second of only two women to be in the contest. I would have liked to see her last at least a little longer, but even since the first episode she seemed to be barely holding on.

She said it herself "At least I had fun." and really she seemed like she was having a blast.

Lets take a look back at the episode and I'll give you my humble opinion and mention things I found to be very interesting.

The first challenge was for the chefs to create a dish that could be consumed in one single bite. What the Chairman was looking for was for each chef to use their signature style to create the dish.

I have to say, given the time allowed there were some beautiful looking dishes being made. I called it when I said that Gavin Kaysen would be the quiet guy in the corner who surprises everyone. His one bit dish was beautifully plated. Sadly he wouldn't do so well on the next challenge.

The one thing that REALLY ate at me during the One Bite challenge was the fact that Aaron Sanchez failed to plate all 6 required plates in the given time. Then he goes on to throw a mini temper tantrum about not being allowed to plate after the timer stopped. Ok man, come on. You competed on Iron Chef America and won, did you have to be totally plated by the end of time on the actual show? yes, so what makes you think the contest to be the Next Iron Chef would be any different. Stand up, say you fouled up, and be thankful your butt didn't get cut because of it. Frankly not being plated on time is a major no no, even in culinary school. Your late plating and you get points off.

I have no doubt in my mind that Aaron Sanchez is a awesome cook, but get it together man.

They let each of the chefs judge each others one bite dishes and the result was the majority felt as though Michael Symon portrayed himself the best in the challenge.

The second Challenge was, for me, an awesome event. There's allot of blow back from the blogging and foodie community about this event, but I'm not everyone else am I? nope.. I loved it.

Molecular Gastronomy is the name of the game this time.

The chefs stood before numerous M.G. gadgets, including an AntiGriddle, a Sous Vide machine, as well as numerous chemicals used in M.G. foods. They each had to come up with a dish using the gadgets to show innovation.

Frankly I was down right startled to find none of the chefs had even seen or heard of most the stuff. Have they been under a rock for the last two years or so?! no, they've been neck deep in their restaurants. Not all of us have time to read the fine print these days, but I was really glad to see they focused a little on M.G.

It was also really interesting to see how the chefs reacted to the gadgets. When Wylie Dufresne walked in along with Philipe Preston, president of Polyscience, I was giggling in my seat like a school girl. As far as M.G. goes they couldn't have picked two better people to step in and give a basics course for the chefs, well next to Ferran Adria of course.

Regardless the chefs seemed to have some fun with the gadgets, but in the end it was Jill Davie; who's frozen composed salad was a big miss with the judges. Gavin Kaysen came dangerously close to losing his head this time, his attempt at a smoke pillow was initially well received but it seems he spent so much time on getting it together he didn't pay attention to flavor in his main dish.

Flash and Glitz is grand, but flavor is above all most important. Its how chefs like Grant Achatz, Wylie Dufresne, and Ferran Adria have made M.G. work in their kitchens, they haven't forgotten about flavor.

All in all it was a fun episode to watch. I'm sad to see no more female contests and I'm just getting sick of all the camera time they're giving Donatella Arpaia. Yes we know she wears low cut shirts and bats her eyelids when Michael Symon tells her how pretty she is, but come on, less about looks and more about the food please?

Even Adam Roberts, The Amateur Gourmet, mentioned how much time they spend swooning over her with the camera and less on the judging.

"-I'm frustrated that we don't get to hear more of the judging. At one point Andrew Knowlton said, "I disagree" about one of the dishes to Michael Ruhlman. What did he disagree about? Why couldn't we hear that argument play out? I feel like we get little snippets-like Donatella's flirty exchange with Chef Symon-but no meaningful discourse. These are all really intelligent judges and I want to hear more of them-it's a wasted opportunity to have their reactions trimmed down so mercilessly. (Luckily, judge Michael Ruhlman is blogging about each episode when it's over on his blog"

I'm with you on that one buddy.

Lets hope it gets better next round, but somehow I wouldn't bet my favorite side towel on it.


Anonymous said...

For me, I find molecular gastronomy an interesting "fun with science" moment. Seeing some of the work that Chef Dufresne has produced at WD-50 is quite amazing, but I just can't get in love with the technique. My idea of cooking is certainly in line with Chef Symon - taking the chemicals out of food, not putting it in.

The flirty camera time is annoying, Chef Symon is married and it's ridiculous for the producers to hype on this. Someone needs to give Donattela a sweater 'cause her girls are getting cold. When the camera angle zooms down a woman's blouse so much one can ascertain the color of her bra and the arc measurements of her breasts, the producers need to display a bit more decorum.

The Foodist said...


I agree with you in regards to application of the process in a working kitchen. Its hard, very hard to do. Some MG stuff is very time consuming, like the anti griddle and making "roe" using chemicals. Items like the Sous Vide machine are really great in a kitchen for "idiot proof" doneness on meats.

The camera time in regards to the judging is kind of disappointing to me. They need to spend more time on it I think, I know theres a time crunch for the air time but come on, let us know WHY the persons being cut.

Emily said...

About the Aaron Sanchez time issues, what he did is actually in accordance with what they do for Iron Chef. He finished one plate (presumably the camera plate) in the time allotted and assumed that he would have time to plate the others later. Quoting from the Wikipedia article on Iron Chef America:

"Moreover, at the end of the 1 hour battle, the chefs must still prepare 4 plates of each of their 5 dishes for the judges and the chairman. This is done during a 45 minute period after the battle ends and before tasting begins. They consider this to be part of the competition, and it is timed, but it is not recorded or shown to the viewers. The plates which the audience sees prepared during the 1 hour battle are the plates used to obtain close-up footage of the dish for use in the final episode."

Sanchez was obviously wrong to assume this, especially given that this was not their first timed challenge. They were only preparing one dish, six plates, so there was no reason to give extra plating time. It was as if he'd never seen a Quickfire Challenge on Top Chef. (Oh wait, he probably hasn't.)

So I understand why Sanchez thought he'd have more time. That said, he certainly could have come off less like a spoiled child.

The Foodist said...


Thanks for the info, though Im if'y to assume everything on wikipedia is correct there seems to be some validity to whats stated on it.

Im still waiting to hear back from Michael Ruhlman as to exactly why there is and what the difference is between ICA and NIC in regards to timing.

But Im sure, as with most camera work, his hissy fit was played up for the show appeal, still your right he could have been less whinny about the whole thing