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The Next Iron Chef, Episode 7: Quagmires

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To thoroughly enjoy the spectacle that is The Next Iron Chef, we welcome chef Eddie Huang who will be here every week to take us through the season.

[Photo: Food Network]

I like that Alton Brown went ape shit telling people not to watch the Next Iron Chef (see screengrab below). “I hate to see good people reduced to tattered bouquets of singed nerve tissue.” But it makes me think, if you actually truly hate it, why the fuck did you sign up for this show? That’s the purpose of these shows! To take people who are actually pretty talented, hard working, chefs and reduce them to caricatures. I don’t feel bad for anyone involved. You signed up, you let the network use you, and now I get to take a dump on your face. If you don’t like it, my pilot comes out in January so get even.


You have a choice in this business. They try to give you lines, tell you what to say, but at the end of the day, you always have the choice to walk, abstain, or take a dump on the show. I remember when we were shooting, the producer said, “Eddie, this is the climax of the show so give me something!”

I thought to myself, “Climax? This is fucking food television. There’s no real plot line! Don’t play yourself. You make shit in a box television, fucking own that shit.”

So, when the cameras rolled, I turned to the girl on the show as she took a bite of pie and said, “I’m climaxing what about you? Are you climaxing?” Straight horror on the chick’s face but she was cool enough to play along and said “I’m climaxing, definitely climaxing.” The camera men couldn’t understand what was going on, but that’s all I gave them. If you don’t give them shitty lines, they can’t use them. It’s pretty fucking simple so I don’t buy anyone’s excuses “Oh, the Magical Elves made me look bad!” No bitch, you made yourself look bad.

Do I hate the music on my show? Yes. Does the camera work go big box, medium box, small box, and then expand again for the transition? Yes. Does Rob Seyo probably have better camera skills? Yes. Are they trying to package it like Diners, Drive-ins, and a Really Stoned Chinaman? Yes. I did my best to keep it real but y'all be the judge. The Portland Eater editor can tell you, I had weed delivered to Ping’s during the shoot and got high in between takes. Told Marion Berry jokes for an entire location and insisted on them including statements about how Harry Potter is my favorite white person. The fuck are they going to do to you? You get paid 5k an episode; it’s not worth selling your soul or abstaining from weed for three hours for.

Alton, what can save you are not tweets about “I’m still a human being.” Make that argument at the point of conflict WHILE THE SHIT IS TAPING or in post. Don’t go do your voice over until you see a cut you like. Luckily, there are some cool VPs at the network that WANT to make good television. They’re few and far between, but if you seek them out, there’s nothing more that they’d rather do than sit down with someone that has real ideas for good food television. It takes a while and I still have a ton of things I’d change from the shoot, but I have no problem saying I fux with the show I made. If they don’t air it because I wrote this, I don’t care. This is motion picture shit so somebody’s gonna shoot it if you don’t b...

I say that to say this, if you’re a chef that doesn’t like my column, that’s more than fair. Guarnaschelli, Burrell, Samuelsson, I’ve taken massive dumps on you guys but I stand by every thing I’ve said. You guys are pariahs on the industry going on television and acting like caricatures. You’re ruining it for people who actually have a story to tell, want to tell it, but can’t because the networks have people like you in their back pockets who will follow the script and do as your told just to see yourselves on television. You’re that fucking pathetic. Eat a bowl of herpes.

Chefs I’d like to see on Food Television:
Zakarian “On Food and Cooking” - we already spoke about this
John T. Edge - On Southern Cooking...
Kat Kinsman - A show about food politics done 60 Minutes-style with short segments on one over arching topic that she explores.
Sam Sifton - A Stand and Stir Cooking show featuring Sam in the old Cosby Brownstone. Then again, he has a slightly more important job right now that he should tend to. haha
Charles Oakley - Have you seen the Charles Oakley cooking show? It’s fucking awesome!
Eater Tonight - A Daily Show weekly format on Food Network with a host that tells jokes and shits on every thing going. I pitched this idea like 6 months ago and people thought it’d be too hard to find writers. Son, I got like 10 people right now that would murk this format!


And then there were four... two male, two female, all white errythang. Now that only white people are left and trailer park burrell was gone, they take the show to Montauk. I can just see it now, Alton Brown popping up: “Congrats everybody! We have rid ourselves of the tan and dirties! Welcome to the Hamptons!” I couldn’t wait for this shit! Like, yo son, you know they gonna bring Mariah out for this episode! MARIAH TAKE US HIGHER!

In preparation for this monumental battle royale in the Hamptons and the potential arrival of My Queen, Mariah Carey, they got drops from all the chefs.


Falkner did the “Eat, Pray, Love” drop: “I’m just looking around at all of these yachts and beautiful landscapes. I can just see the clam bakes happening on the beach you know?”


Zakarian came with that Stuntin’ is a Habit drop: “The Hamptons really are famous for a number of things. Agriculturally they’re famous. Great food, wonderful beaches and attracting a number of very wealthy people... I come here on occasion.” AHAAHAHA I have never seen such effortless swag. Show me son, show me how to do this because I have to wear gold chains and dri-fit socks.


Guarnaschelli went with the usual Tracy Flick Schtick that we all hate: “Now the stakes are incredibly high, we’re down to four people but I want to win more than any other competitor here. I’m destined to become the next Iron Chef.”

We see the Chefs on a boat to Montauk and the assholes are all wearing Chef coats. I expected more from you Zakarian! You’re on a boat mother fucker, rock this joint!


Puerto Rican tank top with holes, classic boat wares. The Chairman’s challenge is passion so luckily Marcus wasn’t there to promote tourism to Swafrica, but we did get a Guarnaschelli crock pot of shit:

Then there was the requisite shot of Chefs running for ingredients. Why the fuck do they film them running? It’s not like we’re watching Marion Jones, it’s Falkner and Guarnaschelli. Is this exciting? Is this woman at it’s best? They definitely don’t look fucking fast...?

Zakarian screams, “Guys get out of my way cause I’m gonna knock you down.” Dude, I love you on TV, but I have a feeling you are a huge cock and balls in person. So hopefully I never meet you cause you’re probably the rare person that’s actually better on reality TV than reality. “You need to passionately maneuver yourself through the quagmire of each and every challenge. Maybe I can deal with just one creme fraiche. Every day is a brand new challenge.” - Chiarello on how hard it is out there for a white boy...

Then Alex says “I’m an extremely passionate person. I grew up in a house where my parents were passionate about food. They’d rather buy a pound of chanterelle mushrooms than pay the rent.” Look, my parents love food too but they spent all their money on piano lessons and my Dad ate a lot of Shin Ramyun. Have you tried the mushrooms in there? Fucking MSG bombs! Come to think of it, in contrast to Zakarian. For all the shit I give Guarnaschelli, I’m sure her and her family are nice people. Alex, on your day off, STOP GOING TO THE FOOD NETWORK it’s ruining you!

The Chefs all had interesting things. Zakarian had a dope scallop sausage, a Blackfish Minute Steak which I’ve never seen before. Falkner made a Vichyssoise Chowder and Lobster Cioppino that look good and Alex made a smoked clam chowder with bacon. But Chiarello... Oh Chiarello, this dude went off the deep end.


“My menu is passion through the ages all the way back to Venus, who flew into the world on a scallop shell so we’re doing scallops for her. We’re doing a carrot caponata, a vegetable sweet and sour mixture. Now we’re with Eve, so there’s a little tuna crudo arrabbiatta. Do a little angry mixture and a little forbidden fruit, there’s a little sea pod for fertility. The fluke represents my wife, we met as an absolute fluke...”


Son, not only do you have a boombox over your head right now, you just called your wife a dead fish... “NO PUSSY FOR YOU!” - Soup Nazi

Falkner nails it again with they vichyssoise. Judge Simon was literally licking his plate, but he wanted more smoke with the scallop. Then Michael Symon makes a good observation and asks “Is there some vanilla in here?” and Falkner responds “it’s just the corn.” I love corn, but cooking 101, anytime you’re doing succotash, corn chowder, etc. it needs a pepper element to break up the monotonous sugars in corn. Good technical catch. They also loved Zakarian’s trio and Symon again caught something interesting which was the hint of smoked tomato in Zakarian’s dish that I didn’t even see as he was making it. Interesting flavor to fold in.

But, that other judge Simon continued to focus on the trivial and has nothing of substance to offer. His only comment was “this isn’t the prettiest plate of food.” Interestingly, they let the audience also have an opinion this week, and of course they loved Zakarian, didn’t particularly like Guarnaschelli’s fluke with tomatoes, Chiarello had overcooked scallops, and Falkner’s scallops were bland. I’ve said it all along, from episode one, you knew Zakarian was the best and Chiarello #2, but the real surprise is Falkner. I didn’t know much about her and she really has a lot of range. I’d say she has the most modern cooking of all the chefs, is the most daring, and understands how to tell a story with food. Her concepts are sharp and they’re not over wrought like Chiarello’s.


Zakarian wins again with the Hello Kitty Band-Aids! Guarnaschelli loses and Chiarello comes in second. I actually really enjoyed the battle between Falkner and Chiarello. Chiarello has the stronger technique, probably a more focused chef, but he doesn’t do very well telling stories and his concepts are cornholio.

Falkner, on the other hand, has a variety of techniques and flavors from multiple cuisines. She may not be the master of any one, but she is very skilled at pulling together the things she does have and telling a good story. I always want to see what she made. Chiarello loses, but it’s close. Really good episode. Chefs, don’t take it to seriously. Every one really had a good show, good food, and at the end of the day, this is subjective. I’d write more but I’m late for my Wellness in the Schools meeting at Telepan! WU-TANG is for the CHILDREN!

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