The Next Iron Chef: Week One

Well. That does interesting things to my predictions.

First things first. This year's format is completely fucking awesome. The first 40 minutes is devoted to a challenge on a level with a Top Chef elimination challenge. Sure, the first week - wilderness, wood fire, whole pig - was about as unoriginal a "twist challenge" as you can get, but it was at least appropriate in terms of challenge and scale.

And then, when that's over, the two people who fucked up the worst duke it out in a 30 minute (20 of show time, and yes, I know the first ep was 90 minutes, I'm estimating here) Iron Chef style, one-dish cookoff with a secret ingredient. I love this, and the first episode proves why I love it.

First elmination? Spike. Spike was at the bottom of my middle tier. I didn't expect him to go out first, I thought that would be the pastry chef, Elizabeth Falkner. Falkner did not do well, but the team format and the editing made it tough to tell how much of her team's fuckup was her, and how much was Alex Guarnachelli, who turned out to be a basket case of nerves during this first outing.

Irvine did OK, but was paired with one of my top picks (Burrell). Beau McMillan was part of the winning team, but seemed like he was carried by Zakarian, who I admitted I was probably undervaluing in my original handicapping, and who I am probably going to be irritated by for far longer than I'd hoped. My underdog favorite Chuck Hughes was paired with Michael "Napa Valley Douche" Chiarello, and they did quite well.

Notice I haven't mentioned Marcus Samuellson yet? That's because he was Spike's partner, they both came in last, and so Spike had to face Marcus in the cookoff, and that went pretty much exactly how you'd expect.

The editors showed very little of the actual decision-making and who-did-what that went into putting the team in last place. Their big mistake was trying to serve the ribs of the tiny, borderline anorexic pigs they were given to butcher. But my obvious favorite (and the show's - they really went out of their way to play up how afraid everyone was of Samuelsson, even more so than with Ming Tsai last year) did not do well this week.

So, having seen the format and the first ep, I'm modifying my earlier rankings a bit, although again, this is based on their cooking ability, and the show may not well measure that. From bottom to top:


I could still be very wrong about Beau McMillan, but I really think Zakarian was the mastermind behind their winning dishes. I'm keeping Burrell high despite her performance this week, because I like her and think she's got plenty of chops, but that may bite me on the ass around week three or four. We'll see.


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I think they've cut off their nose to spite their face with this Show. The Network would be much better off if they could just hire Ming Tsai and make him an Iron Chef.

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