The Next Iron Chef on the Food Network is the best ever. When they promoted it as the battle of the super-chefs I was a little skeptical, since it seemed to be closer to the battle of the Food Network Chefs, but as I read up on the pedigrees of the 10 contestants I was convinced.
The show challenges have also taken it up a notch, with an extreme outdoor challenge, movie theater food and a Hampton's seafood/passion challenge to name a few. With the addition of a weekly 30 minute lightening round cook-off between the bottom 2 contestants for that week's challenge featuring such daunting secret ingredients like peanuts, coconuts and party crackers, this nail-biting round is made even more nerve-racking as your fellow contestants stand behind you second guessing your cooking decisions and techniques.
One of my favorites, Robert Irvine, was eliminated in week 2. I had the feeling that the judge Michael Symon was not a fan, and rumours on the web seem to back that up, since Irvine replaced Symon on the show Restaurant Impossible. The surprise breakout is Elizabeth Faulkner, from Citizen Cake and Orson in San Francisco. Several of the other contestants repeatedly remarked that she was JUST a pastry chef. She has proven she is so much more. Michael Chiarello, (Napa Style, etc.) who was eliminated this week was always regarded as the one to beat, but in the end, it was the elegant, refined classic French style of Geoffrey Zakarian, (Lambs Club, NYC) who will face Faulkner in a final cook-off in Kitchen Stadium. Bloggers are saying that Cat Cora is being replaced, letting the odds-makers lean toward a win for Faulkner. Bottom line, tune in Sunday, December 18th, 9pm on the Food Network to find out.