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Iron Chef America (Part 2)


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the thought of combining processed cheese food with chocolate had me gagging.

Yeah, there's just something rather unnatural about pairing Velveta and chocolate. I'm not sure if the problem was compounded by the addition of caramel, white chocolate and nuts or not. Call me a candy snob, I don't care how many bows you tie on it, or how much red sugar you stick it in, it was an unappealing mess I just didn't want to try. And, if you watched the judges they weren't to eager to try it either. I was, however, interested in trying Tyler's Gingerbread cakes and Robert's Cranberry Clafloutie.

I have to agree with you both. As messy as it was, I'd eat Tyler's Buche de Noel over one of those fudge-cheese-white chocolate-nuts on-a-stick thingies ANY DAY. PROCESSED cheese? And Paula was PROUD of it!

I find Paula annoying. She trash talks every chef she's up against, and occasionally resorts to sabotage and generally being annoying. I don't find her cute or engaging at all. Basically, I want to smack her every time she opens her nasal mouth.

BTW, she and Cat were going on about how those two Southern gals were going mop the floor with Irvine and Tyler. Isn't Tyler a good ol' boy, too? Carolinas?

I think it would have been more equitable if they had an Iron Chef on each team. Say, Cat and Paula (The Southern Girls) against Flay and a NY pastry chef challenger. ("Hey, Paula Motah-Mouth! We gotcha stick of buttah right HEAH, b****!")

I thought the girls won on plating and originality. But I would've black magic-markered that freaking choco-cheese ball. Are they allowed to give NEGATIVE points for a dish? Minus 5 here! :laugh:

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All I know is that Paula Deen and Cat Cora are teaming up against Robert Irvine and what's-his-name on ICA. What on earth is going on at the Food Network???

That. Was. An. Abomination.

I couldn't agree more. I literally sat there last night, dumbstruck, as to how it could possibly get any worse. Was it me or did the judges seem WAY TOO lenient when it came to the judging of the dishes? Tyler's Buche de Noel was a complete disaster and the thought of combining processed cheese food with chocolate had me gagging.

it was a merde noel

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I thought the judging was worse than the cooking. Katie Lee Joel had such insightful comments as "chocolate and orange are a really good combination."

There was never any commentary about the crumb, or the texture, or flavor combinations that didn't work, or anything remotely intelligent.

Cheddar cheese (or velveeta) fudge is such a southern tradition. I can taste the chemicals in it, but I do admit it gives a lovely soft texture, and is rich without being overwhelming. But why not do a cream cheese fudge instead, for a similar fluffy texture without all the plastic flavor? Plus, the sourness would help combat all that caramel and white chocolate.

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

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Cheddar cheese (or velveeta) fudge is such a southern tradition. I can taste the chemicals in it, but I do admit it gives a lovely soft texture, and is rich without being overwhelming.

It is? That's news to me, but, then again, my eating experience when growing up was primarily centered around people who knew what the hell they were doing and knew what tasted good. I've never seen the stuff and a quick search for it using several different search terms turned up a few recipes, but they seemed to be mostly not from anywhere near here.

And, trust me, not one of the women who raised me or had anything to do with my general upbringing would invite Paula Deen over for anything-unless it was some kind of official function that called for her (being polite is requires that you make sacrifices-besides, it gives you something to talk about after they leave)-like someone in her family getting married or a funeral or something. She's tacky, annoying, tasteless, loud, way too over the top, and, while some folks may think that's "how we eat," believe me when I tell you I know waaay too many women who are considered to be just ok cooks who could put a meal out in no time that would make Paula's look like what it is-Food TV Garbage.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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I grew up for the most part in the South and have never had cheese fudge of any kind, much less velveeta. I never even saw velveeta until I got to high school and then mostly schlocky "nacho" type devices.

Paula's kind of southern cooking is more of the blue collar (trying to be nice here) style of emulating better cooking. In fairness, some of her dishes are spot on, but most rely too heavily on shortcuts and products I never saw my grandmother or mother use.

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Ah, I should know better than to make generalizations. Perhaps it is more midwestern, as my grandfather is from Oklahoma, and my family moved quite a bit.

Please take this all with a grain of salt - the best thing my grandmother could make was tuna noodle casserole, yes with the potato chips on top.

The whole thing is about simplicity - you don't have to mess around with a candy thermometer or hot melted sugar, or worry about it setting up.

But don't think I'm defending this stuff! I haven't eaten it in at least 15 years, and have no plans to any time soon. If I'm going to eat fudge, it's going to be the good stuff.

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

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I watched this train wreck and was surprised by the results. It seemed to me like the Cora/Deen desserts would have been cloyingly sweet (and I have a huge sweet tooth). But I guess that Irvine/Florence lost on plating and originality, not on taste. I guess crap on a stick with a pretty ribbon appealed to the judges. I have now lost a little respect for Tina Fey. (I never had any for Katie Lee Joel. To me she personifies vapid.)

My first comment in this battle was 'there is no way to make a real buche noel in an hour.' I stand by that. It looked horrible but it probably tasted good.

There are legions of Paula Deen fans here, and I know several who would be eager to try the Velveeta fudge. In fact, I have a friend who looks and acts a lot like PD, but is a little less overbearing. I don't eat at her house much, especially after we argued over a boxed brownie mix tasting better than homemade. But then again, her homemade version probably used Hershey's cocoa and margarine. :wacko: (She has yet to stack up her boxed mix to my brownies.) She also swears no one can taste the difference between her doctored cake mix and homemade.

Watching this battle reminded me of the frustration I have experienced as a displaced Yankee. It also made me appreciate the pastry skills I've developed over the past few years. While I could never even think of competing in an Iron Chef cooking competition, I had some good ideas for this battle, although I didn't write them down and now can't remember them! Maybe they weren't that great... :raz:

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And, trust me, not one of the women who raised me or had anything to do with my general upbringing would invite Paula Deen over for anything-unless it was some kind of official function that called for her... 

She's tacky, annoying, tasteless, loud, way too over the top...

Brooks, you just crack me up!!!

On my drive to meet a friend for lunch today, I caught a bit of Diane Rehm's interview with Paula Dean on NPR. OMG! It was embarrassing to listen to! I kept thinking, "CRAP! Do folks thinks she represents Southern women (especially those of us who COOK)???"

Yet, many of the women I work with think Paula is WONDERFUL! They also love Rachel Ray! However, the ones I know who love those shows were ALL raised in the great frozen North! :raz:

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And, trust me, not one of the women who raised me or had anything to do with my general upbringing would invite Paula Deen over for anything-unless it was some kind of official function that called for her... 

She's tacky, annoying, tasteless, loud, way too over the top...

On my drive to meet a friend for lunch today, I caught a bit of Diane Rehm's interview with Paula Dean on NPR. OMG! It was embarrassing to listen to! I kept thinking, "CRAP! Do folks thinks she represents Southern women (especially those of us who COOK)???"

Good lord I heard that interview too!!!

I really think it's an act and I felt sorry for Diane.

I loved the way Paula danced around the callers asking her about Smithfield.

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I caught a bit of Diane Rehm's interview with Paula Dean on NPR. OMG! It was embarrassing to listen to! I kept thinking, "CRAP! Do folks thinks she represents Southern women (especially those of us who COOK)???"

Yet, many of the women I work with think Paula is WONDERFUL! They also love Rachel Ray! However, the ones I know who love those shows were ALL raised in the great frozen North! :raz:

Oh, dear Lord, I'd LIKE to be able to blame the Great Frozen North for Rachael Ray, but I can't. Unfortunately, she's a New Yorker - an UPSTATE New Yorker, okay? Not a Noo Yawhhk City Noo Yawhhker! - and we just have to live with the collectove state shame. The only thing that makes that heinous fact bearable for me is Sandra Lee, who can always take one's mind off the horror of RR with one of her Paxil and Pomegranate Martini-fueled diatribes ended only by a staggering splat into an overwrought tablescape. A little Absinthe and Oxy, anyone? :biggrin:
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  • 2 weeks later...
All I know is that Paula Deen and Cat Cora are teaming up against Robert Irvine and what's-his-name on ICA. What on earth is going on at the Food Network???

That. Was. An. Abomination.

If I were Mario Batali, I'd be well on my way out The Network's back door.

And I would be frantically pulling every picture of myself off the walls, and every reference to me out of the files and shredding them as fast as I could, so that no one ever again could associate me with *that*.

FN CANNOT sink any lower. It didn't even have one-glass-too-many-of-wine-let's-watch-a-trainwreck-for laughs value.

I'm actually sorry I missed this. After reading everyone's comments about just how badly this show sucked, I wanted to see it for myself.

I wonder, did the Food Network pull it from the Holiday lineup because it was a complete embarrassment?

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I have to stick up for Paula on this one. As much as I dislike her act, and it is an act as succinct as Bourdain's (but not as funny), she does not deserve this kind of pressure regarding an endorsement.

It is a free country. Don't like Smithfield, don't work for Smithfield.

Just my 0.02.

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Cora keeps losing despite the endless lowering of her competition: it's embarrassing for all of us, and screams tokenism.

Cat Cora has a better won/lost record on ICA than Morimoto:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_resul...on_Chef_America

shel

Based on the figures listed on the wiki link, Kat Cora's loss percentage is at 33.33%, while Morimoto's loss is at 29.16%. And the quality of opponents Morimoto had to do battle are more skilled. Kat Cora's skills, as Iron Chef, is a joke.

Wikipedia is wrong as of 11/26/07 at 10:20 EST. The record shown in the table is Morimoto's record from the Japanese version of the show. (Actually, to my count, Cora's record is the only one shown correctly on that table.) On the American show Morimoto is at exactly 0.500.

It is not obvious to me that their quality of competition has been very different, though that is subjective, and I defer to more knowledgeable people in that regard:

(Wins by the Iron Chef are bold)

Cora: Alex Lee, Neal Fraser, Sam Choy, Kerry Simon, Dotolo & Shook, Walter Scheib, Michael Psilakis, Joey Campanaro, Elizabeth Falkner, Walter Royal, David Myers, Mary Dumont, Alexandra Guarnaschelli, Mark Tarbell, Irvine/Florence.

Morimoto: Rob Feenie, Roberto Donna (x2), Aaron Sanchez, Tom Douglas, Michael Symon, Christophe Eme, Patricia Yeo, Homaro Cantu, Linton Hopkins, Tim Love.

Notes: Morimoto went 1-1 against Donna, and his win was guaranteed by Donna essentially forfeiting by not completing his dishes. The battle against Eme was arguably uneven as Eme was short-staffed. Morimoto-Sanchez was a tie.

cora has the lowest average scores among all the iron chefs, and has a lower average scores than the challengers.

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cora has the lowest average scores among all the iron chefs

This is true.

and has a lower average scores than the challengers.

This is not true. She is better than both the average Iron Chef challenger as well as the average challenger she's specifically battled (albeit barely.) It is true that she is comparatively weak on "taste" scores, where she is, in fact, outscored on average.

Cora's average scores are:

Taste: 22.7

Plating: 12.3

Originality: 12.4

Total: 47.3

The average scores of all Iron Chef challengers are:

Taste: 22.8

Plating: 11.8

Originality: 12.0

Total: 46.6

The average Cora challenger scores are:

Taste: 23.4

Plating: 11.8

Originality: 12.0

Total: 47.2

(which means that, going by score, the previous contention that Cora has drawn the "weakest" challengers is wrong. Cora has actually drawn the toughest challengers, by this measure.)

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cora has the lowest average scores among all the iron chefs

This is true.

and has a lower average scores than the challengers.

This is not true. She is better than both the average Iron Chef challenger as well as the average challenger she's specifically battled (albeit barely.) It is true that she is comparatively weak on "taste" scores, where she is, in fact, outscored on average.

Cora's average scores are:

Taste: 22.7

Plating: 12.3

Originality: 12.4

Total: 47.3

The average scores of all Iron Chef challengers are:

Taste: 22.8

Plating: 11.8

Originality: 12.0

Total: 46.6

The average Cora challenger scores are:

Taste: 23.4

Plating: 11.8

Originality: 12.0

Total: 47.2

(which means that, going by score, the previous contention that Cora has drawn the "weakest" challengers is wrong. Cora has actually drawn the toughest challengers, by this measure.)

To be rigorous, one must look at the judges involved. No fair compairing scores of different judges who would have differing personal scoring methods. While interesting, the above analysis of ''all IC Challengers'' is invalid for this reason.

Such a narrow margin in favor of Cora suggests to me that she's due for a losing streak...or that the judges have a tendency to favor the IC in close contests.

Edited by gfweb (log)
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To be rigorous, one must look at the judges involved.  No fair compairing scores of different judges who would have differing personal scoring methods.  While interesting, the above analysis of ''all IC  Challengers'' is invalid for this reason.

Such a narrow margin in favor of Cora suggests to me that she's due for a losing streak...or that the judges have a tendency to favor the IC in close contests.

This is anecdotal but none the less: Cora seems to draw the most "non-foodie" judges - the TV people, the musicians, the horrible comics. (her own publicist is almost always a judge when she competes)

Or to put it bluntly - they always load Cora's judge's panel. :raz:

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I was kind of shocked to read what Ruhlman reported about Cora in one of his books. She seems to be all about the fame, which always makes me uncomfortable. This is not to say she's a bad cook...I've not eaten her food but it's clear she's a badass at what she does. I just feel queasy when people are that concerned about fame.

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This is anecdotal but none the less: Cora seems to draw the most "non-foodie" judges - the TV people, the musicians, the horrible comics.

Or to put it bluntly - they always load Cora's judge's panel.

There is an element of truth here. Cora and Flay have had more "non-foodie" judges. About 35%. (Flay has actually had a larger percentage of non-foodies.) In contrast Morimoto's and Batali's non-foodie judges make up a little shy of 20% of their panels.

The effect this would have on scoring is not clear though. Though it may be tempting to suppose that foodie judges would tend to score lower, I'm not sure how you could demonstrate this. And it's easy enough to offer counterexamples. Art Smith (Oprah's personal chef) has judged five battles, and the average score of these battles is considerably higher (by over five points) than the average battle -- and no, it's not like he's the only foodie on these panels.

(her own publicist is almost always a judge when she competes)

I don't think this is true. The only regular publicist judge is Karine Bakhoum, and I see no evidence that Cora is her client. She's certainly not listed as such on Bakhoum's website. Flay was, and for the first three seasons, Bakhoum did not judge any Flay battles. There was a minor stink when she finally did starting Flay battles, and maybe that's what you're thinking of.

To be rigorous, one must look at the judges involved. No fair compairing scores of different judges who would have differing personal scoring methods. While interesting, the above analysis of ''all IC Challengers'' is invalid for this reason.

Dude, with the information available, it's never going to be rigorous. The point is that there is no obvious evidence in the scoring for some of the claims being made here (Cora is weaker or is drawing weaker opponents or less knowledgeable judges.) However, it seems to me that any bias in the composition of judging panels shouldn't affect Cora. I can think of two: the aforementioned Bakhoum not judging any Flay battles for 3 seasons and Katayama (+ Riccardi) judging most of the Morimoto battles. If you look at the regular judges, Steingarten, Allen, Huffman, Rocca, etc., they are more or less evenly distributed across the Iron Chefs. Anyway, one of the point of computing averages is to take out individual variability. I guess what I'm saying is it's not clear how an individual judge's scoring method could skew the numbers posted.

If anybody has any methodological suggestions, I'm happy to follow them.

Edited by Leonard Kim (log)
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Are any of Cora's scores really low or high...to skew the average. You dont have an SD caluclated by any chance ?

Reading some old Steingarten a while back. He is quite vocal on how he thinks Greek cuisine is not worthy of the name cuisine (a statement with which I agree). I wonder if he has judged Cora?

My suspicion is that knowledgeable judges would have the greater variation in scores. When it is good stuff, they'd recognize it and grade accordingly. Likewise, crap would be treated as such.

Edited by gfweb (log)
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