Yesterday I met Marc Forgione and Marco Canora, the last two potential Next Iron Chefs in a darkened (virtual) conference room. Also on the call, a Food Network chaperone who would ensure neither man let on who won. On Sunday, we all can watch the chefs face off at Kitchen Stadium (though the finale was filmed in July) and we will all know whose cuisine will reign supreme But yesterday, for a few hours, they pretended they not yet knew who would be...NEXT IRON CHEF.
[Canora and I are the first ones on the call.]
Marco, you're not an actor, how do you deal with having to be so coy? Have you found it difficult to keep the cards close to your chest?
Um, not really man. Especially after signing a confidentiality agreement. It kind of makes it very real.
What are your plans for watching the finale? Are you going to do it at Terroir?
It's funny. My PR people said I had to do airings or whatever. I feel like I've earned the right to watch it surrounded by my friends and my family and to sit back and enjoy it. The idea of doing it at a restaurant and watching strangers watch me watching myself on television is too fucking weird.
[This is Lauren. I don't think Marc got through. He said his code didn't work. But I tried it and it obviously did.]
Is this a hidden challenge? Secret Ingredient: Conference Call.
Marco, it doesn't seem you were that familiar going into this with the complex agenda and all the narrative necessities of a reality television company. Did you find that difficult?
[There's a weird tri-tone and Marc Forgione enters the conference call.]
Forgione: Marco, you talkin' trash about me over there?
Forgione: I knew it.
Canora: I've been talking shit. It's what I do best.
Forgione: Sorry to be late guys. My password wasn't working.
Hi Marc, we were just talking about how you guys dealt with working within a production schedule and a production company with its own narrative demands?.
Marco: I can say for myself, it was an amazing learning experience because I've never done reality tv before.
Marc, you feel the same?
Forgione: Yeah, it's very different being there and watching it. It's actually impressive to see what they do and the storylines that they built. I think they made really good tv so far.
Are you guys happy with how you are portrayed? Marco?
Canora: I am definitely not. I am absolutely not happy with how I was portrayed.
Do you feel you came across as an asshole?
Canora: Yes. Listen, here's the thing: I am an asshole. No, I wear shit on my sleeve. I have my whole life so I didn't really filter myself. However, I had no idea they would grab onto a three second soundbite and play it four times before the episode, five times during the episode and another four times after. It's so insanely exaggerated. I am perceived as the biggest crybaby whiner vocal guy ever. Also, an arrogant prick.
Forgione: I agree with Marco in that the only thing you could do is go on that show and be yourself. We weren't acting. There was no script or even advice.
Yeah but, Marc, Marco was definitely the colorful crybaby villain. You weren't.
Forgione: All we were told was to be ourselves. Ming got this whole "This is my destiny" blah blah. They could cut any three second bite they want to. At the end of the day all we could do is go out there and cook and try not to say anything stupid.
Are you happy with how you were portrayed?
Forgione: Yeah, I mean so far. They just make me seem a lot quieter than I am.
They do make you out to be a quiet pensive Al Pacino-like ninja cook.
Forgione: I'll take that.
Marco, there did seem to be a funny dynamic between you and Ming Tsai where basically you were just calling him out the entire time for being caught in the late 80s' to early 90s time warp.
Forgione: If I could step in on that, everybody did.
Canora: I said a thousand things, and they picked two things and put them on air 50 times.
Forgione: Something that everybody at home has to realize is that the adrenaline that was pumping through our veins during those battles, to try to wrap your head around that, when you have 90 minutes and this is a battle for something that could change your life and you can't find something like the parchment — and it was moved from where it was — I would be screaming at the top of my lungs, "Where the fuck is the parchment paper?" too. Trust me.
Canora: It doesn't seem like people understand the extenuating circumstances of the competition.
It also doesn't seem like the production company is interested in elucidating them either.
Forgione: The viewing public, they just want to watch a good show.
Canora: Yeah, they don't give a shit.
Did you largely agree with the comments from the judges?
Canora: I didn't have any moment of "Wow, they're out of their fucking minds."
Forgione: Well, Marco hasn't had many negative comments, in case you haven't noticed. But from my end, the veal cheeks were definitely salty. The pasta was too thick. The things I disagreed with the most was when it was opinion, not fact. I know Maneet got a lot of flack for only cooking Indian style with Indian flavors. Then again, I was doing American the whole time. Marco was doing Italian the whole time. Ming was doing East meets West the whole time.
Was there anything that happened that you wish made it on camera?
Forgione: They took a lot of the funny stuff out. We had a good time on the boat for example.
I have to say though watching this program, as opposed to Top Chef, there did seem to be a lot more respect amongst the contestants.
Forgione: We all did respect each other. We all did get along. That's not fake either. I think that's the reason they cut out the banter.
Canora: Any animosity perceived by the viewing public was created in the editing room.
Forgione: Maybe they'll make a comedy out of the B-Roll.
And you can't give me a hint who's going to win?
Canora: Are you out of your fucking mind?
Forgione: It's going to be an Italian. I can tell you that much.
Well, thanks guys. And good luck to your past future televised selves!