|By JULIETTE ROSSANT |
[Editor: To read about the winner, click here.]
Why is The Next Iron Chef worth watching?
Because a competition among great chefs with Alton Brown as foodcaster should be fun to watch and full of tension.
What's different about this show is that the chefs don't seem to know what the challenges will be before they start, unlike Iron Chef and Iron Chef America. Nor do they have sous chefs to help them do those basic chores that chefs in their position have other cooks do. Once you get to be an executive chef and a celebrity, do you still have those knife skills? Is it like riding a bicycle: you never forget?
Super Chef has reviewed The Next Iron Chef's first episode – though not the end, so we can't give anything away. The brouhaha starts at the CIA's campus. The chairman's nephew pronounces it a sacred place (as all institutions of higher learning?) and introduces this series as a global competition. It may very well be global, since the chefs are going to travel the globe -- otherwise, for "global" read "ethnically diverse." This is a rainbow competition: there are two women, a Southerner, a Latino, an African, a rising chef, and a Mid-Westerner. That leaves out Asians and African-Americans, but it's fairly representative with only eight chefs.
As Alton introduces each of the eight chefs, they have a chance to say how much they want and deserve to be the Next Iron Chef. Chris Consentino says (with a few expletives bleeped out) hat he is the most obnoxious, and Traci Des Jardin claims the most years, therefore experience in the kitchen. The dialog is clipped, but hey, that means they get to the cooking sooner!
The first competition is a 15-minute sprint to test prep skills. Teams of four chefs in a gym have to debone a chicken, french a rack of lamb, fillet a salmon, and prepare three other ingredients expertly. Most of the chefs don't complete all the tasks, for which points are deducted. Then the eight chefs have to prepare two desserts in 90 minutes, too -- without using sugar, butter or cheese.
Adrenaline flows, time flies, blood flows as the chefs struggle to do tasks typically left to subordinates. Alton let's the chefs work, calling out time but otherwise sparse with commentary. Each chef faces the same tasks, so it's easy to compare them in action.
Bear in mind, this is a reality TV show, not educational TV. Don't expect to learn how to debone a chicken from these quick shots.
The judges are Donatella Arpaia, Andrew Knowlton, and Michael Ruhlman.
So, if you are home without a great book to crack open, catch the premier episode of The Next Iron Chef on October 7 (Sunday) at 9:00 PM ET/PT. This is a good crowd of chefs, so perhaps eight is enough to choose from.
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[Food Television - complete]
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