Hello I am Zin and guess what! Everyone wants to win!
Alex, Amanda, and Nate gather for their Last Supper in Las Vegas! Again the Last Supper, I am tired of Last Suppers, it was funny when Top Chef did it with people like Wylie Dufresne and Jacques Pepin but who cares what Zakarian and Donatella and Simon want for their last meals! And it shows! Because someone wants Haddock! Haddock? What kind of last meal is Haddock? And chicken! Farm chicken, as opposed to… factory chicken? They did not say free-range or cage-free, just farm chicken, and no matter how you feel about the Perdue method they are still called farms! Then there is Sea Urchin which at least is something I do not have in my freezer! The sad thing is they have to show their passion for these ingredients, but who can have passion for haddock?
I thought something was up with this, like the judges would turn out to be two kids who picked the chicken and haddock, but that was not it! The chefs do not know who asked for which ingredient when they cook! They pick envelopes so they do not know what they are getting!
Amanda picks Farm Chicken. She says her nickname is Chicken! I do not believe her! If anyone called me Chicken I would be insulted! Her favorite part of the chicken is the crispy skin, so she breads the thigh skin and deep-fries it! She calls her dish Lusty Lemon Roasted Chicken and serves it with lemon ricotta made with schmaltz (rendered chicken fat), braised dark meat, and roasted vegetables. Zakarian chose the ingredient for his last meal (I do not believe this!), and he thinks she pushed it just enough with the lemon and parmesan, and the chicken is cooked just right. Donatella calls it spectacular! It is seasoned perfectly, the veggies are luscious and she loves the ricotta! Simon also says it is cooked to perfection, the jus had depth, and it is one of the best dishes in the entire competition! Oh come on it is roast chicken! Roast chicken is a wonderful thing, one of my favorite meals in fact, but they are being silly!
Nate picks haddock! Poor Nate, he does not really have a passion for haddock (I love him for that), but he does love clam chowder so he starts from there, with bacon and potatoes and great big clams, and serves poached haddock and clam chowder with parsley buttered crumb topping to remind them of oyster crackers. It turns out it was the ingredient Simon is said to have chosen (no way!) and he was thinking fish & chips but the fish is poached perfectly and the broth is terrific! He does think the clams are a bit of a mistake, they are chewy and did not add much to the dish, and there is not enough smoky flavor. Donatella is not a big fan of haddock but she likes this, especially the parsley crumbs! Zakarian calls it the essence of fish cooked properly, and it brings back memories.
Alex draws Sea Urchin, which seems way too upscale for a last meal, but it turns out it was from Donatella so I believe it, she is the type who would pick the most expensive thing just because! There is so much room between haddock and sea urchin! Alex makes corn flan in the sea urchin shell with Brussels sprouts and roasted sunchokes, and a foam of sea urchin, lemon, and butter which is a departure from her typical style but she used it to represent the foam of the ocean! She thinks it represents her growth as a chef, but then she worries it is too esoteric, which is hilarious that Iron Chefs are now worried about being esoteric! In the judging room she worries because she is standing under a giant sea urchin! I did not notice, was Amanda under a giant chicken? That would be a dangerous place to be! Donatella was worried about the foam but it actually enhanced the dish. Zakarian thinks the custard could be more custardy! Simon likes the combination of sweet and briny, but wishes there were more lemon in the foam!
Amanda and Alex go to Kitchen Stadium! Nate disappears from the NIC universe!
So the persistent rumors of the Save card were wrong! I have to admit I had hopes until that moment that Falkner, or even Marcel, would be back and rescue us from complete boredom! I am glad there will be another woman in Kitchen Stadium, but does it have to be one of these women? Could they not find a real chef? I heard Naomi Pomeroy was moving to NY!
Kitchen Stadium: Battle Respect
The chefs are faced with a whole table of ingredients chosen by current Iron Chefs to represent their cuisines! Bobby Flay has selected things like corn, avocado, lime, and chilis, for Southwest cuisine; Michael Symon does Mediterranean food, so eggplant and olives represent him; Morimoto has Japanese ingredient like miso, daikon, wasabi, panko, and ponzu! They keep trying to squeeze in a product placement brand but I will not cooperate! The competitors must choose two from each group and make three dishes, an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert! This is like Chopped except you pick your own basket! Bobby, Symon (with a “y”) and Morimoto will join the usual judges on the panel!
Each chef gets two sous chefs, and guess who shows up for Alex, it is Ashley Harriman from Top Chef! She is the woman who was offended at having to do a Bachelor/ette party because she was not able to get married due to Prop 8! Did I know she worked for Alex when she was on TCS6? It is nice to see her! I do not know when this was filmed, but she has not worked for Alex since April! But I do not think it matters, because TC5 Ariane Duarte (she won the Today show gig for putting tomatoes and watermelon on the same plate) was sous for Amanda, as she was few years ago when Amanda was a challenger, and she does not work for Amanda! They do seem to cook together sometimes though!
Alex makes a different course for each specialty.
Appetizer: miso and soy seared scallops with miso marinate shallots and hen-of-the-woods mushrooms and she puts bass in the sauce to give it more body! Symon likes that she used the Japanese ingredients but the dish is in her style. Simon loves the miso but one of his scallops was overcooked though the other was perfect. Zakarian loves the dish. Morimoto is very happy with her use of miso.
Entrée: Lamb loin with fennel and olives, and ratatouille over eggplant puree. She is worried about making lamb for the King of Lamb, as she calls Symon but he thinks it is perfect and likes how she wrapped it in fat to cook it. Zakarian loves the eggplant, it is like a luxurious baba ganoush.
Dessert: With the Bobby ingredients pasilla chilis and lime she makes a cherry tart with sour cream ice cream! Bobby says at first he did not get the chili and then it hit which is the magic of chili, and he thinks it is brilliant and inspired. Simon loves the sour cream ice cream. Donatella thinks it is the best dish she has ever made, and Zakarian likes it the best too, it is bursting with flavor. I am a big fan of cherries, maybe next summer when I make my version of cherry pie I will work in some kind of gentle chili and lime!
Amanda combines the cuisines in each course.
Appetizer: Feta Burrata Caprese in a Milk Skin, which sounds kind of disgusting, but it is cheese in cheese so I guess it is good! She makes a Milk Skin, and puts in Feta then twists it up to make a ball and puts it over tomatoes. The tomatoes are seasoned with ponzu, lime and shiso. Symon wants to steal the idea, it is super creamy! Zakarian thinks it is gutsy but I am not sure why! Bobby likes the burrata (which is a cheese, I am not exactly sure what this dish actually is), but wishes there were more shiso and ponzu. Morimoto tastes them just fine! Maybe Bobby has burned out his taste buds on so many chilis!
Entrée: Lamb Loin with charred eggplant pureed with yogurt and chermoula. Simon and Symon both love the eggplant, it has a meaty texture and is not bitter. Donatella thinks it is balanced and yummy!
Dessert: Brown Sugar Corn Cake with miso honey praline ice cream and blueberries with ginger. Morimoto asks her about the miso, she used white miso, he says that is good! Bobby could use a little sugar but Donatella likes it less sweet and appreciates the use of miso in the ice cream! Simon likes how the natural sweetness of the corn works with the miso and is interesting and tasty!
The chefs go away for a while and the judges discuss! They split on the appetizer and dessert but everyone agrees Alex made the best dessert, though Simon thinks it was closer than everyone keeps saying, the miso honey praline ice cream Amanda made was really good! Zakarian says Alex had the perfect execution but Amanda showed more creativity. Alton says Amanda mixed great components in an interesting way, while Alex took an alchemist approach and melded flavors into something new like cherries and chilis. Symon says Alex made his favorite bite of the day.
Alex and Amanda come out to get the verdict! Alex can not remember her name or her address or what she had for breakfast! Did she hit her head? I hope someone makes sure she gets home safely!
The Next Iron Chef is… Alex.
So the conspiracy theorists were right! Her first battle will be next Sunday against Judy Joo!
Iron Chef is taking the Reader’s Digest approach to cooking competitions: get rid of anyone who might be too interesting and bring on the familiar and safe Food Network staff! But maybe Ashley will be her sous chef, that would be fun!
Thank you for joining me on this journey! See you in the summer for Food Network Star!