***SPOILERS WITHIN, you have been warned***
Its not often I get ants in my pants about a particular television show, even less so about ones on the Food Network, but call it hometown pride at the first part of N.I.C. being shot at the CIA or reference it to the uncontrollable urge to watch a train wreck, I was there in my seat before the clock even chimed 9pm.
I have seen many of the I.C.A. which the contestants were involved, many of which I enjoyed very much (which is a stretch when it comes to Iron Chef America). Some of my favorite past competitions were Traci Des Jardens, John Besh, and Morou Ouattara.
The first trial involved speed. Pitting 4 at a time against the clock and each other to Clean a salmon, Open 8 bi-valves, de-bone a whole chicken, retrieve 2 cups(I think thats right) of coconut juice from a coconut, and slice a daikon so thin you could read a newspaper through it, all in 15 minutes.
I was down right amazed at Morou's speed as he completed the task with 3 minutes on the clock. Sadly speed is not everything, as he was docked points due to numerous bad cuts, which included leaving the fins and bones in the salmon. There was some outrage from blogger's I've seen saying Morou got cheated because it was a test of speed, but think of it this way folks.. would it not take MORE time to go back and correct the problem then to do it right the first time? I stand by the judges call on that one, there's no DOUBT in my mind he could have done it perfectly the first time, he had 3 minutes to spare!
The second contest was to create two desert dishes, and with no cheese, butter, or sugar to be found in the kitchen. On top of that the contestants had to choose one item not normally found in a desert course to work with and feature. Tripe being the most amusing of the lot.
I was downright amazed at some of the creations, most impressive was Besh's catfish and grape truffles, Chris Cosentino's Tripe croutons, and Jill Davie's beef gastrique.
Sadly in the end it was Traci Des Jardens who got the axe. Her choice to use salmon roe on her desert seemed to be the unanimous downfall.
After watching the first show I have to say there are some I am rooting for and there are those I cant wait to see go.
The Good Guys
John Besh- I love this guy. His attitude in the kitchen is both focused and funny. He's busy cracking jokes and hassling his co-competitors as though its no big thing. He's laid back, funny, and a damn damn good chef.
Morou- This guys a powerhouse. His presentation on his deserts were flawless, and I'm going to love to see what he does next. Not only that I loved how even though he was competing he was still watching everyone's back. Calling out to Jill Davies that her cream was boiling over, and calling a 15 minute warning on the clock, sign of a true team player.
Gavin Kaysen- The quiet young guy in the corner no one expects to fly out and wow you. He's not getting allot of camera time, but I think in the end he's going to really wow allot of people.
Jill Davies- There's something about her I both like and dislike. But I find myself rooting for her mostly because of how she both turned beef into a desert AND made a fantastic call of judgement on making her own ricotta cheese and deciding the desert lacked beef flavor, choosing to add another component to the dish to enhance that.
The Goodbye Guys
Michael Symon- I know there are allot of people out there who love him, but frankly I can't stand him. He seems to be an ego-maniac and bull headed. I've worked with people like him before, all of them needed to be taken down a notch, which is what I think losing this competition would do for him.
Chris Consentino- Cooler heads prevail they say, which is one lesson I dont think our friend Chris has learned yet. He's wound up so tight he's going to explode, mark my words.
Aaron Sanchez- I'm still 50/50 on him but I'm going to put him in this camp because there's something about him I dont like. I look at him and look at the way he works and I see the guy who would throw salt in your soup just to spite you. We'll have to see how it plays out in the end.
All in all there are two people I would LOVE to see this come down to: John Besh and Morou. I loved what they did on their Iron Chef America episodes and I love what they've done so far on N.I.C.
Ill be tuned in next Sunday to see who gets cut.