Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

banco

Iron Chef America (Part 2)

Recommended Posts

I’m starting to feel very stupid watching ICA because at this point I have no reason to doubt that it’s fixed and yet I still watch it and pretend I don’t know who’s going to win.

I need to watch this with the mindset I had when I watched Hulk Hogan on WWF as a wee lad. If one guy had a nick name and the other guy didn’t, it wasn’t hard to see who would win. Of course, there were always the “upsets,” but the only kids who couldn’t see those coming went home on the short bus and no matter who won you always saw something cool that you couldn’t wait to try on your friends.

Cora had to win, so she did. That doesn’t mean she beat Alex Lee. It just means Alex Lee wasn’t the new Iron Chef, so it wasn’t his turn to win. The contest is so obviously fixed that I feel more and more stupid the longer I go on about how fixed it is…

It’s fixed.

Get over it… at least they still throw around thou$and$ of dollar$ in truffle$, hack up live fish, and regularly display moves that separate the real professional bad ass mother fuckers from the mere industry mortals (think Sherry Yard spinning sugar bare-handed vs whatever the hell Cat Cora thought she was doing in there).

It's a little better than the WWF/E. At least Alex Lee isn't going out there and intentionally making substandard dishes. Just watch and appreciate the exhibition of cooking skill, irrespective of the 'competition' factor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As an addendum, I generally go to bed before the scores are announced when I watch reruns of the old IC, and I still enjoy it immensely.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll admit that the WWF analogy has some problems. I doubt either chef in any given contest is aware if the outcome is being manipulated by the network. Otherwise I doubt any reputable chef would want to put themself through that kind of spectacle. I don't even think the Iron Chefs are in on it.

I believe both sides generally put forward the best possible effort, which is why I still find this all worth watching. This is also why I find it so incomprehensible that the contest would not be scored with the fairness and transparency owed to the talented men and women who put their craft on such display.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But isn't scoring discrepancies and controversial wins part of the IC lore? How many episodes of ICJ were there where the Iron Chef got ripped apart by the judges and still won? Wasn't there even an episode where Morimoto made what one judge called 'the worst dish I've ever had' and still pulled out a victory?

Yet with all that said I was still fuming when Batali lost, especially in creativity, on Sunday night! :biggrin:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those Cat Cora dishes were truly hack....Moussaka with potato instead of eggplant; Gazpacho with potato; Gelato with potato. Honestly, those were dishes of a hack.

As for Alex Lee; He did dishes that were potato...the essence of, and as someone stated earlier, elevated them even higher. Cat Cora couldnt of cooked those dishes. Honestly, she couldnt. Her ideas sucked, the presentation was overdramatic and played out...I couldnt stomach the outcome of that show. I tiraded to my wife the rest of the night.


Nothing quite like a meal with my beautiful wife.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Those Cat Cora dishes were  truly hack....Moussaka with potato instead of eggplant; Gazpacho with potato; Gelato with potato. Honestly, those were dishes of a hack.

As for Alex Lee; He did dishes that were potato...the essence of, and as someone stated earlier, elevated them even higher. Cat Cora couldnt of cooked those dishes. Honestly, she couldnt. Her ideas sucked, the presentation was overdramatic and played out...I couldnt stomach the outcome of that show. I tiraded to my wife the rest of the night.

gelato with potato and gazpacho with potato?? :shock: what was she thinking?! what where the dishes alex lee make? did he also do a "potato" dessert??

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unfortunately I didn't see the latest episode, so I can't comment on the validity of the new Iron Chef's win (BTW, did she take someone else's place (and if so, please say Flay!!!), or is she the Kobe of ICA?). However, there are some interesting points made above.

Commonality between ICA and ICJ - I watch mainly to see them cook.

Difference - while I like watching the presentation and judgement portions of ICJ, I think it's more for the over-the-top silliness and weird dubbing (while the chairman continues in subtitled Japanese :huh: ). For ICA, I don't like the presentation portion because the judges' personalities are too dry for TV (or they're dumbed down by the network editing? I don't know), and judgement is even worse for reasons stated above - namely, comments and scores have no correlation!

Having said that, I was still shocked but proud when Feenie won. (In that episode, Feenie did seem genuinely shocked when the judgement came. Maybe he thought the fix was in the other way?).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To answer some questions posed above: Cat Cora is the Kobe of the new show, she hasn't replaced anybody. Alex Lee did also make a potato dessert, but his was more of a light potato tart with apples - he made a point to explain how they got thinking about pommes d'terre, and how that should go with pommes, and there you have it... unlike Cora's, his dessert was very well-received by the judges' comments.


I want pancakes! God, do you people understand every language except English? Yo quiero pancakes! Donnez moi pancakes! Click click bloody click pancakes!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that Cat Cora has her talents as a chef. I'm eagerly waiting to see what they are.

Her choice of dishes focused on inventiveness and novelty which she repeatedly tried to root in culture by mentioning her Greek heritage and the Greek influences. (Yes you are Greek, certainly you are Greek, did you mention that you are Greek?). She did answer a burning question for me though, "Is there anything worse than cold mashed potatoes?" Yes, sweet, frozen mashed potatoes.

It hurts me too when talent and substance lose to flash and false drama to generate ratings. But don't the losers gain something by being on the show? Publicity. They get alot of publicity. I'm not saying that's the only or primary reason for chefs to be on the show. I know plenty of professional chefs who would love to be on the show or something like it whether or not it's televised for the sheer sport and adrenaline rush of competing. But the fact is ICA is on TV. I've heard of Chef Bayless before, but after seeing him on the show I take his recipes more seriously. Alex Lee? Who's this chef? Wow, now I know he is talented and has a deep understanding of ingredients. The only time I've seen Anita Lo was on a program where she made a nouvelle Korean dish and then I read about her in the NY forum in relation to her dimsum restaurant. (I know it would work better in LA than New York). I know very little about her and Anissa. But now I'm planning on eating there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I gotta tell you from what I saw the challenger could have beaten any of the other chef's. How about that dessert?


"He could blanch anything in the fryolator and finish it in the microwave or under the salamander. Talented guy."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was disappointed by the Cora/Lee result, but was still in disbelief over the Lo victory over Batali.

She whined about things from the start. Please shut up about the lack of BTUs. A true professional would have dropped their head and doubled their efforts, not started complaining. And on television? One of her sous chefs was obviously affected, and was kind of loud and bitchy later on (again, on TV?), and that revealed a bit about Lo's lack of authority.

All of this leads up to the fact that her dishes, if not by taste then by appearance and technique, sucked. I think that the judges decided that she had used the mushrooms more effectively than Batali had, but their comments were transparently one-sided. The main course with deep fried guinea hen had no mushrooms whatsoever until plating when the dish was finished with a truffle sauce then topped with shaved truffles. Oh, that bread pudding looked good, didn't it? Actually, it looked almost exactly like the previous dish, a corn flan.

I think she won because she is a girl. Witness the advertising push by the Food Network over the whole 'female Iron Chef' thing. Now imagine the ratings advantage of having two whole shows in a row where women beat men. I think it's a ploy.

I realize that this is just like rehashing the Rowdy Roddie Piper/Hulk Hogan grudge matches in 7th grade homeroom, but fuck if I can stop myself.


If we aren't supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I didn't realize there were two on last night, so I missed the Cora battle, but I did see the Battalli vs. Lo.  This is the only one whose outcome I have been totally dead-set against so far, and the first time I have really seriously believed that perhaps the judging system could be flawed.  Just looking at each set of dishes, Battali's looked so much more flavorful, colorful, and well, appealing.  I'm not generally a skeptic, but I have to wonder in this case if it was PC concerns that lead to the first all-female team taking the W.

Very interesting. I had the opposite reaction - Lo's dishes were far more appealing and seemed to feature the main ingredient more prominently. Batali's looked interesting, but hers looked delicious.


Edited by hjshorter (log)

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I was disappointed by the Cora/Lee result, but was still in disbelief over the Lo victory over Batali. 

She whined about things from the start.  Please shut up about the lack of BTUs.  A true professional would have dropped their head and doubled their efforts, not started complaining.  And on television?  One of her sous chefs was obviously affected, and was kind of loud and bitchy later on (again, on TV?), and that revealed a bit about Lo's lack of authority.   

All of this leads up to the fact that her dishes, if not by taste then by appearance and technique, sucked.  I think that the judges decided that she had used the mushrooms more effectively than Batali had, but their comments were transparently one-sided.  The main course with deep fried guinea hen had no mushrooms whatsoever until plating when the dish was finished with a truffle sauce then topped with shaved truffles.  Oh, that bread pudding looked good, didn't it?  Actually, it looked almost exactly like the previous dish, a corn flan. 

I think she won because she is a girl.  Witness the advertising push by the Food Network over the whole 'female Iron Chef' thing.  Now imagine the ratings advantage of having two whole shows in a row where women beat men.  I think it's a ploy. 

I realize that this is just like rehashing the Rowdy Roddie Piper/Hulk Hogan grudge matches in 7th grade homeroom, but fuck if I can stop myself.

I thought Anita Lo won fairly. Her dishes looked alot better, mushrooms were featured more than Batali's dishes.

Complaining about the lack of BTU is a fair criticism - ICA should know that people are going to do Chinese cooking, and should outfit the kitchen accordingly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was quite disappointed with the Cat Cora / Alex Lee battle. Cat Cora's dishes were creative - too creative. Seemed poorly planned and executed. Creativity doesn't count unless you can actually make it work...

Alex Lee on the other hand, had very good technique, made very good looking dishes. Some of the complaints by tasters were rediculous - doesn't taste like potato? I wasn't there, but as a fellow professional and onlooker it appeared as though Lee showcased the potatoes pretty well.

The result was obviously a fix... Lee won on taste AND presentation, but Cora won on creativity... Creativity in cooking means making something unusual THAT WORKS. If it doesn't work and taste good then theres no point, and IMO is not creative.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fixed? Too right! ICA has turned into a joke around our house trying to guess which piece of equipment is not going to work. But it is still great to see Real chef's do theree stuff on TV.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I asked Steingarten in an email if he thought it had been rigged, and he said, 1) alex lee should have cooked a lot better, 2) he scored lee very high, though suspected the other two favored cat, 3) that he was confused by the results given how high he'd scored lee and 4) that if he thought the show were rigged he wouldn't be on another one and would somehow go public with it.

so there you have it from the most eminent of the judges.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As for equipment issues - Are these shows not all taped back to back in a flurry of sessions. It appears to be a TV studio and not a professional kitchen, and the equipment seems to be wired all over the place with people running around with cameras and knives etc. Stuff is bound to go wrong and not get repaired before the next session.

I would not imagine the departing Chef telling the newcomer - "Oh, the left hand convection oven runs about 50 degrees hot and the blast freezer does not work ! Good Luck"


Edited by nwyles (log)

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Battle Potato was obviously rigged. Cat's stuff didn't look as good, present as well, or produce enough positive remarks (the producers couldn't scrape together enough positive clips to even make it sound even in the editing room). The purple potato ice cream made the tasters sound like they were going to hurl, and the "moussaka" was puzzling to say the least.

The producers didn't need Steingarten to make sure their Superstar Woman Chef won her inagural battle. To paraphrase Stalin: The only part of an election that matters is who counts the votes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Recently caught Battle Duck, Flay vs. Tsai, and was happily surprised that not only did Tsai beat Flay, the margin was pretty wide. They both did some pretty impressive work but I did think Tsai did more creative and varied things -- including a dessert. Foie gras creme brulee, I think?


Cooking and writing and writing about cooking at the SIMMER blog

Pop culture commentary at Intrepid Media

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm looking forward to attending a taping of ICA on Monday morning. As a long time fan of thsi show, it will be so interesting to hear the full comments of the judges instead of the edited versions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Battle Potato was obviously rigged. Cat's stuff didn't look as good, present as well, or produce enough positive remarks (the producers couldn't scrape together enough positive clips to even make it sound even in the editing room). The purple potato ice cream made the tasters sound like they were going to hurl,

Taro ice cream is actually quite an orthodox type of food in south east asian countries (phillipines, malaysia etc.) Knock some points off CC for "originality" because it's not at all original!!!!! e.g. would you call green tea ice cream original?

It sounds weird but it tastes great. And it does come out purple. The texture is the tricky part. The good ones I've had did not have any grit or starchy feel to it.


Edited by doctorandchef (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
. . . .

It sounds weird but it tastes great.  And it does come out purple.  The texture is the tricky part.  The good ones I've had did not have any grit or starchy feel to it.

It appears you didn't get to hear the comments made by the panelists. I believe that was the dish that drew the comment asking if she (the chef) had tasted it. The clear inuendo was that someone who might have tasted it, might also have likely decided not to serve it. The reply was "Yes," which then drew the question asking if she liked it from another panelist. Here there was no mistaking the tone of incredulity.

It appears to me that the producers of the show know little about food and less about fine food. I would assume they assumed Alex wasn't important as he didn't have his own restaurant. I would assume they made no inquires about his talent or reputation among professionals and faced with an embarrassing situation just decided to bluff their way through assuming their target audience knew no more than they did.

I'd love to hear Jeffrey Steingarten's story, but only in court as sworn testimony. I'll also assume they've all signed a non-disclosure statement that will have everyone associated with the show making rather insincere private statements that vary according to the target of the statement. Alas my sources are discrete and as the old parlor game of "Telephone" proved, second and third hand reports are unreliable. They're bound to vary anyway.

Even without the comments whose one sidedness surprised me -- could they not have edited them to be more supportive of the winner or were they trying to compensate the victim -- I don't think you had to be a professional to see who looked good and who looked as if they were seasoned professional chefs who've carried a restaurant Patricia Wells once named as one of the ten best in the the world.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't think you had to be a professional to see who looked good and who looked as if they were seasoned professional chefs who've carried a restaurant Patricia Wells once named as one of the ten best in the the world.

Regardless of the result, and without the benefit of tasting the dishes in person, just by judging from the technique and the respect of the theme ingredient, I think most people would agree on who won, so I guess the "official" result is of no consequence. Nobody said the show could not be rigged, I mean it's not the Olympics or anything... oh wait, figure skating was rigged....

Alex Lee was (IMHO)quite a well known chef during his stint as Daniel Boulud's right hand man for years. I met him way back during the time restaurant Daniel was at the present location of Cafe Boulud. I still remember that meal as one of the best French meals I've had in my life. I had assumed he was still with Daniel at the time of competition.

BTW, I encourage people to try taro ice cream if they haven't. Look in your local asian supermarket.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I asked Steingarten in an email if he thought it had been rigged, and he said, 1) alex lee should have cooked a lot better, 2) he scored lee very high, though suspected the other two favored cat, 3) that he was confused by the results given how high he'd scored lee and 4) that if he thought the show were rigged he wouldn't be on another one and would somehow go public with it.

so there you have it from the most eminent of the judges.

That's more than enough for me. I am now convinced that it is not rigged and I am glad as I had always hoped guys like Batali would not be involved in a crooked contest.

Is there just no accounting for taste?


Edited by fiftydollars (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I asked Steingarten in an email if he thought it had been rigged, and he said, 1) alex lee should have cooked a lot better, 2) he scored lee very high, though suspected the other two favored cat, 3) that he was confused by the results given how high he'd scored lee and 4) that if he thought the show were rigged he wouldn't be on another one and would somehow go public with it.

so there you have it from the most eminent of the judges.

That's more than enough for me. I am now convinced that it is not rigged and I am glad as I had always hoped guys like Batali would not be involved in a crooked contest.

Is there just no accounting for taste?

You must really want to be convinced, since #3 suggests that it is fixed...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...