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.

Iron Chef America (Part 1)


bpearis
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm another person who voted for Michael. While Mario's dishes looked pretty OK, Michael seemed to center around the theme while Mario, for the most part, used the theme as an accent.

I love Michael's use of 3 types of salt in the first dish, each accenting a different dish. This shows a real understanding of the subtile differences between the chocolates.

I have a feeling that Mario's pasta was what turned the originality points to his favor.

"Instead of orange juice, I'm going to use the juice from the inside of the orange."- The Brilliant Sandra Lee

http://www.matthewnehrlingmba.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Am I the only one who finds ICA completely and totally humorless and too self-consciously serious? I miss the fast intercutting, humor, jocular banter, and irreverance of the original and that Alton displays on Good Eats. ICA manages to take the original concept and make it not only boring but painful to watch at times.

One of the things I like most about the original Japanese version is just how over-the-top campy it is with the English voiceovers, Japanese mannerisms, and ability to positively gush at the thought of eating delicacies like abalone liver sorbet with lemongrass-uni coulis.

While I tend to like Alton's style when he is scripted and within the conceptual context of Good Eats, am I the only one who thinks he falls flat when trying to be casual and supposedly extemporaneous? Do they really think Alton is a reporter and not an actor in a drama-dy? I also happen to find the actor who plays Kaga's (son? grandson?) far less interesting a character than Kaga and thus the entire premise of the show is less believable (which is not to say that it was *ever* very believeable).

Now that I got off my chest, I actually do understand why there is controversy over why Iron Chef Batali won the battle when the judging comments seem to go the other way: This Is Television and We Aren't Seeing The Entire Judging Process. The footage of the judging is edited in a way that deliberately generates ambiguity, tension, and uncertainty as to who will be the winner while inviting discussing the "controversy" as is being done here. I am certain that if we were shown the footage of the entire judging we'd be able to easily tell who the winner was going to be.

Not to slight Michael's efforts in the least (I started watching last night show about half-way through the judging of his pieces but what I saw looked very interesting and would not hesitate to order them if they showed up on a menu somewhere), but if we saw the entire judging the outcome would have been obvious. Of course, the producers of the show have no desire to telegraph the outcome before it is announced by Kaga Jr with his uncharismatic, unflamboyant, anticlimactic delivery - sort of like a souffle falling (and in true IC style make that a cod roe souffle over a fan of marinated sea cucumber garnished with foie gras braised in plum wine).

:Clay

edited to fix a rilly stewpid typoh

Edited by chocophile (log)

Clay Gordon

president, pureorigin

editor/publisher www.chocophile.com

founder, New World Chocolate Society

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I always enjoy watching Mario on ICA. He always looks like he's having fun, always looks genuinely concerned that the judges like his food, love how red his face gets when they compliment him. Just seems like an all-around good guy.

Flay, on the other hand... not so much.

...wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --Alexander Pope

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hate to admit it but I have never really been a Mario fan (bad experience at his restaurant last year, no comment), however, I do like how he works with his staff and his genuine passion for cooking.

"Instead of orange juice, I'm going to use the juice from the inside of the orange."- The Brilliant Sandra Lee

http://www.matthewnehrlingmba.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love Michael's use of 3 types of salt in the first dish, each accenting a different dish.  This shows a real understanding of the subtile differences between the chocolates.

I actually wonder if the salt varieties might have hurt him in the judging? Steingarten has a piece in one of his books debunking gourmet salts.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Did anyone else think that Batali's chocolate pasta dish looked like worms in sauce? Big plate of nightcrawlers and broccoli. I kept gagging every time I saw it. I really thought one of the judges would say something.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

choux: no, thats exactly what i thought. It looked completely unappetizing. Only it looked like worms in dogfood to me.

As far as the dresscode goes, i think there should be one. When your in front of people your part of the package. Quality of work SHOULD be enough, but its not. Thats why we wear a uniform. Someone may be a really good pastry chef, but if you walk past a pastry shop and the PC's standing there smoking a butt in jeans and a dirty apron with a dirty appearence, THEN you look across the street and see micheal laiskonis standing in another shop, which one ya goin in? Its unfortunate at times but image is everything, maybe even more so in this profession because delicious as a dessert may be, it still has to look great. no one wants to eat the ugly pastries, cept me :biggrin:

...and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce it tastes alot more like prunes than rhubarb does. groucho

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was really surprised that Mario won. The comments from the judges, really seemed to contradict the decision. I wonder if the judges really based their choice on the combatants use of the theme ingredients. If so, then I don't see how Mario could have won. Maybe the same comments were hurled at the competitors, we just never saw it.

Thar being said, I'm not disappointed that Mario won. He's a great chef, and really seems to enjoy the show. Flay...I still can't stand.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

choux: no, thats exactly what i thought.  It looked completely unappetizing.  Only it looked like worms in dogfood to me.

As far as the dresscode goes, i think there should be one.  When your in front of people your part of the package.  Quality of work SHOULD be enough, but its not.  Thats why we wear a uniform.  Someone may be a really good pastry chef, but if you walk past a pastry shop and the PC's standing there smoking a butt in jeans and a dirty apron with a dirty appearence, THEN you look across the street and see micheal laiskonis standing in another shop, which one ya goin in?  Its unfortunate at times but image is everything, maybe even more so in this profession because delicious as a dessert may be, it still has to look great. no one wants to eat the ugly pastries, cept me :biggrin:

I see what you're saying, but as the original comment was specifically about Mario Batali - surely his Shorts and Orange Chucks are a big part of his image, part of what sets him apart from more stuffy chefs in the eyes of many people. Making him wear a more traditional outfit is a bit like putting Iggy Pop in a tux - what's the point (apart from the novelty value?)

Edited by VeryApe77 (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good show over all and I thought Michael was the winner for sure! I was really surprised by the final scores. :hmmm: Hope you get a rematch Michael!

Pamela Wilkinson

www.portlandfood.org

Life is a rush into the unknown. You can duck down and hope nothing hits you, or you can stand tall, show it your teeth and say "Dish it up, Baby, and don't skimp on the jalapeños."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good show over all and I thought Michael was the winner for sure! I was really surprised by the final scores.  :hmmm: Hope you get a rematch Michael!

:raz: Fabulous show. Great to see chefs that we all actually might know, rather than the fossils from the early 80's. How about a thread on your favorite fantasy Iron chef matchups ? Ducasse vs. Vongerichten in a steel cage, Batali vs Bastianich (Lidia) in a texas strap match. Bouley vs Boulud in a shave the loser's head match. The possibilities are endless. T-shirt sales, (coats and aprons) would be fabulous. Imagine an arena full of orange clogged fans screaming MOLTO !!. or a group of sullen French cheering on Daniel. What about Tsai vs. Morimoto, whose Asian is still not too Americanized. The mind wanders...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Did anyone else think that Batali's chocolate pasta dish looked like worms in sauce? Big plate of nightcrawlers and broccoli. I kept gagging every time I saw it. I really thought one of the judges would say something.

one of the judges said that batali's chocolate pasta dish was good overall(i think,but personally i wouldn't touch that thing), but couldn't taste the chocolate. that occurred a lot when the judges tasted batali's offering. not as much as when they were tasting michael's dishes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a lot of respect for what Mario has accomplished in all mediums, but lets be honest about the finished product, there was no comparison between Michael's and Mario's. I think that the most telling part of the show was how serious Mario was, and how genuinely humble he was when declared the winner. I seem to remember a boxing match in Seoul 88 where Roy Jones was similarly reassured by the "victor." Either way, great cooking by Mark Ladner, and Michael's crew, and the decision says more about the country's collective "taste" than the chefs.

Take care all, and Michael, you should know that you represented yourself exceptionally well.

Time to change the diapers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mario did a great job, although he barely used any of the ingredients in a few of his dishes. At least the judges said they couldn't taste them.  My issue is not so much that Mario won. It is that there was such a wide margin based on originality. So what if he doesn't typically make dishes like that? It doesn't mean they were original. I think Michael's problem was that his dishes were perhaps a little too spare on the plate. All I know is that I think I would have preferred to eat his dishes, myself.

I was thinking the same thing ... about the sparseness of Michael's plates that is. However, all in all, that had to be the most entertaining ICA yet. I realized a few things last night

  • I enjoy the show much better when Flay isn't cooking
  • The banter between Alton & Mario is hillarious! Not just this episode either.
  • Steingarten actually has a sense of humour
  • I like when the Chairman adds special "rules". Like requiring the chefs to make at least 3 savoury dishes.
  • While I was hoping for a dessert battle, chocolate would have been a really boring ingredient for that.

We're really looking forward to next week's battle here in Vancouver. Our own Rob Feenie is going up against Morimoto (if memory serves me correct ...)

A.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thought Michael did a fantastic job, and i wasn't worried that his savory dishes would count against him, knowing that he's worked both sides of the line.

I also learned something from him - i'm sure everyone except me has already incorporated this trick, but it simply never occurred to me. Did you see when he dipped his strawberries in a combo of dark/white chocolate? Well, i've always dipped first in dark and then scribbled in white, but the simulataneous combination makes a MUCH better presentation. So, for Valentine's service tonight, i dipped cherries in the two swirled colors. What a great effect. Everyone loved them. So....thanks, Michael! And i totally thought you were going to win, despite the tempering mishap.

You rock! Way to represent! Gimme an "L".... etc :)

Marsha Lynch aka "zilla369"

Has anyone ever actually seen a bandit making out?

Uh-huh: just as I thought. Stereotyping.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just some personal thoughts on this show: I noticed the judges repeatedly commented that they didn't taste the chocolate or coconut in Mario's items so I thought that was going to count against him more.

I'm another person who voted for Michael.  While Mario's dishes looked pretty OK, Michael seemed to center around the theme while Mario, for the most part, used the theme as an accent. 

one of the judges said that batali's chocolate pasta dish was good overall(i think,but personally i wouldn't touch that thing), but couldn't taste the chocolate.  that occurred a lot when the judges tasted batali's offering. not as much as when they were tasting michael's dishes.

One thing that bugs me about the judging on ICA is the relative neglect of the Secret Ingredient. In ICJ the judges were admonished to chose the chef who best expressed the SI, and it seems to me that they took it to heart. In ICA it seems that the judges don't focus much on that aspect - there are plenty of comments like "this is really good" or "this is really pretty", but few of the judges address the Secret Ingredient as a central theme. (Steingarten may be an exception here. I loved his remark about brining out the essential muddiness of the theme ingredient in Battle Catfish. :laugh: )

I think that Michael's dishes had more to say about the theme ingredient. Had the judges payed attention to that maybe he would have won. Oh well....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh wow, I didn't realize Michael was a  member and participating on EG.

Well, with that said,

GOOD JOB Michael!

Michael isn't just an eG member, he is Forum Host emeritus of the eG Pastry Forum. :) He's totally drunken our Kool Aid.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thought Michael did a superb job and was so sure he'd won I switched over to another channel and just came back to see Mario getting congratulated. I was quite surprised since I thought overall Michael's work was better. I like churros but somehow creme brulee in an egg cup with the other two dishes on the plate seemed so much more complex! Rematch!

Josette

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I believe that Mario's dishes were more creative in that he had to work with two ingredients that he rarely to never works with in his resto's and I find that creativity comes from unfamiliarity. Michael's dishes were nice but looked to be a little less "exotic". Mario is unstoppable ( is there anything he can't pull off). I thought that Michael having Pichet in his corner was a guaranteed victory ( there I go doubting Mr. Batali again). I am still puzzled as to how Michael could screw up the chocolate (sheets)? I bet it will take him a while to let that one go.

Chocolate sheets? Are you referring to the chocolate tempering mishap? It's nothing. I've worked with some great pastry chefs, tempering chocolate is not something most of them do "under fire" on the line, let alone on a TV show. I wouldn't deduct any points for this on the show or in a kitchen (unless it was a repetitive error :biggrin: ). I hope he let it go as soon as he left the kitchen stadium. And the judges (with perhaps some input from the producers) may be the final word on the show. But from what I've heard some of them say, thank God that it's limited to that show.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm trying to give the new series a chance but I'm not liking it so far. It has no soul. The chocolate/coconut battle was sad, being neither fish nor fowl.

Mario is not a dessert chef, for him to make two desserts is absurd, and chocolate and coconut aren't mainstays in his world of savory cuisine. Also, I was grossed out by the medusa-like pasta. Just too contrived, gimmicky and not something you'd really want to eat.

Michael Laiskonis is an extraordinary pastry chef, so it was disappointing to see him make three savory dishes. Just not his element. Brilliant with the sweets though, even with the technical difficulties.

With a couple exceptions neither chef really used the theme ingredients boldly and brilliantly together. How much fun it would have been to see a chocolate/coconut battle with two pastry chefs.

But alas, none of the iron chefs are of that ilk. This would have been good as a tag team, with an iron chef each paired with a pastry chef.... say Mario & Michael Laiskonis v. Booby & Sherry Yard. Now that would have been interesting.

I have to admit, I was delighted to see Michael use the cornflakes and chocolate combo, as I have a recipe (which I believe is also somewhere on an old e-g cookie thread) for chocolate crunch cookies which use cornflakes and chocolate. I look forward to making Michael's upscale version sometime.

Two terrific chefs, but one disappointing viewing experience for me.

Edited by TrishCT (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to say I was really impressed by Mario's use of ingredients to tie in coconut and chocolate together, although I'm sure he gets a lot of support from his sous. Before this battle I thought I could be a worthy opponent, but now it's back to the drawing board.

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i hope that if they do another dessert battle, it'll be only desserts only. none of that "new rule" sh*t. if you watch the original iron chef, sakai did a valentine's pastry battle vs. a lady chef. anyway, it was only desserts, no savory stuff. i still don't get how the judges score the food. is it by taste and presentation overall, even if you can't taste the secret ingredient much??

Link to comment
Share on other sites

.....

Although , I do feel anyone who wears shorts in a kitchen ( Batali ) or wears a tight dress ( Batali's female sous chef ) while working on food and is a professional, should have lost. ( I did find it funny ( and well deserved )  when Mario's sous chef with the tight dress/ skirt, was flinching when the hot oil was shooting out from the fryer while she was deep frying the churros :biggrin: )

A tight skirt/dress is great for the night club or a date, but not for kitchen stadium. - unless she was trying to catch someone's eye :blink:

Jason

That's why I love this place. You guys are such kidders. I almost took you seriously, Jason.

-- Jeff

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." -- Groucho Marx

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...