I gotta admit, I'm still stewing over the results of The Next Iron Chef. At the beginning of the episode, we were promised that two would be banished, but instead they just kicked off Bryan Caswell and then wimped out of picking another to boot. There are rules, people. In America, we follow rules.
So this episode, we hear again that two must go, and my bet this week stands at Ming Tsai and Mar Forgione. Celina Tio and Marco Canora will be the ones to make the finals in Kitchen Stadium. I also think the Eagles will cover the spread on Monday Night Football. Both these projections are for entertainment purposes only.
We're still in Las Vegas where fruits, veggies and herbs sit before all the contestants. They have to Anvil-it up for the secret ingredient challenge and make cocktails that seduce the senses with bar snacks to sit alongside.
Ming grabs some lychees and fondles the orbs as he describes them as being sexy. In a way, I hope he doesn't get ejected this week; he makes writing these updates really easy. He also says something about tequila.
Gin and elder flower and oysters on the half shell are getting the Tio treatment.
Canora will fill his cherries with goat cheese and use gin, maraschino juice and lime for an "aviation cocktail."
To the judging, where cocktail expert (I refuse to use the word mixologist, nope, not gonna do it) Charlotte Voisey will give her opinions.
Canora rocks everyone's world again with the way that his bacon and cherry snack fits perfectly with the lighter cocktail.
Can we rewind the entire run of the show and put Voisey in every episode? We likey... her cocktails, her cocktails of course.
What is the least seductive thing on the planet right now? Ming Tsai, and all involved agree that his shrimp cocktail is a little blah and the beverage is just a run-of-the-mill margarita. Maybe an Iron Nerd competition would suit Ming better.
Careful man, there's a beverage here, and it is a good one for Forgione. Mezcal and champagne work together, and homemade tater chips and dip wake up the room.
Lime, jalapeno and salted radish on top of a raw oyster get a yes from all for Celina Tio, but she is not declared the winner.
It's not a shock that Canora wins in a tiebreaker and is judged the most successful. This time they don't take a least successful vote, so Ming isn't forced to do the walk of shame.
The Chairman's Challenge presents four luxury ingredients for the contestants, and they pick them site unseen out of a safe.
Tio gets moi fish, Forgione selects Maine lobster, Canora steals Tsai's Wagyu beef and the Mangalitsa pork falls to Ming.
The contestants get 30 minutes to select the ingredients that will go into their highfalutin dishes and race around the Las Vegas resort to grab what they need.
I'm really re-examining what I complain about in my life. When I see a pre-commercial teaser and I am really intrigued about why Chef Canora is yelling about not being able to find the parchment paper, can anything in my life be that bad right now?
The chefs have 90 minutes to prepare a three-course meal using the main ingredient.
As he shucks corn and pulls the silk from the shaft, we hear Marc Forgione say that the shape of food can seduce.
Some of the top-sounding highlights from the menus: Canora's fresh beef broth with hole-punched beets, Forgionne's lobster sashimi, Tio's olive oil poached fish with mushrooms and pea puree and Ming's pork shumai.
The answer to the parchment paper mystery is that it was moved to the pots and pans. My guess is that the ghost of Bryan Caswell hid it as a way to enact revenge.
Judging time and Tio is up first. She gets high marks for the moi sashimi with chili, but the reviews are mixed for her porcini-poached moi.
We now have Tsai, and the shumai get perfect marks. He runs into big trouble when he tries to use the lard of the hog and the judges have textural problems.
Canora goes third and creates magic with his Waygu beef tartare and egg, and the steak and mushrooms "killed it."
Forgione gets no negative reaction for his lobster sashimi with avocado mousse or his surf and turf osso buco. But that's not the case for his corn ravioli, as the consensus is that it's a little too dense and chewy.
Night falls in Vegas, and the judges get to sleep on their deliberations. I'm sure Michael Symon's all night bender at Spearmint Rhino helped clear his head to make a decision.
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The conversations center primarily on the fact that Ming flies high sometimes and flops badly others, Tio made her best effort of the competition so far, Forgione's offering was mixed, and Canora really used his ingredients to their top potential.
It's not a surprise that Marco Canora wins the challenge in dominating fashion, and the only tense moment comes with the question of who will join him in the finals.
My prediction was wrong, as Celina Tio is shown the door first, then Ming Tsai. Ming, I have to say that we have had an up and down relationship over the run of the show. Sayonara, old friend, but you are still a tool.
It'll be Canora versus Forgione in the last episode set in Kitchen Stadium, and I am really excited to watch.