The Next Iron Chef: Final Four

And it's down to four. Falkner, Chiarello, Zakarian, Guarnaschelli. Which means my final four predictions are one for four. Feh.

Since we last talked, there have been two episodes. The stupid fucking storytelling challenge, which saw Samuellson finally put out of our collective misery, and the awesome fucking food auction challenge, which unfortunately sent Anne Burrell home.

I'm glad Samuellson went home, because this is the last time for a while I'm going to have to remember the relative numbers of L's and S's in his name. Also, he wasn't doing anything. But most importantly, Elizabeth Falkner should not have been in that fucking Secret Ingredient Showdown in any way, shape or form.

At this point, I'm rooting for her to win. Had I known she was THAT pastry chef, I'd have probably put her in the middle of my ratings before the show started, and out of everyone who's left, she's the only one I want to see on the show. She got put in the Secret Ingredient Showdown for not telling a good story, or selling her food strongly enough. Michael Symon called her on this, and Michael Symon knows better, because he, at least, has watched at least two episodes of Iron Chef America.

How much selling of the food do you see in the ICA tastings? How much "selling"? NONE, that's how much. They describe the food. Occasionally they briefly defend their choices or mention a motivation. Not a one of them has been more vibrant or motivated than Falkner was with her Brooklyn Bridge dish. It's not an Iron Chef skill, it's not part of the show, so don't put her on the bottom for it. Period.

This week, on the other hand, the challenge was brilliant, the advantage was devious, the cooking was intense, the judgment was thrilling, the showdown was first-rate, and the only thing I can take issue with is the result.

WHO WILL STOP HAUTE DOGG?

If Burrell couldn't beat Zakarian in a sweet curveball of a challenge (dessert with panko and ponzu), I don't know how he's going to get eliminated. He's unbeatable in the showdowns. Next week is a double elimination, so maybe there won't be a showdown, because with only four chefs left, any showdowns would be two on two. They might pick a winner and a loser, and have the middle two do the showdown, but the chances of Zakarian coming in fourth can only really happen if the Chairman's Challenge is completely anathema to him.

If Zakarian gets to the finals, the only one who might beat him is Falkner, because she's the only one with the left-field creativity to counter his technique. Plus, if Scripps is looking for Cat Cora's replacement, she's a chick.

Haute Dogg is like the Terminator. No soul, no emotion except detached snobbery, just the merciless execution of anyone he comes up against. Someone needs to lead him into the crusher, but I'm not sure how, or if, that's going to happen.