Monday, November 01, 2010

Tsai on top again

Chef Ming Tsai won the elimination challenge in this week's episode of "The Next Iron Chef," and poor Chef Maneet Chauhan (whom I found cute as a button) said her good-byes. The theme this week was "respect," with the chefs being challenged to show their respect for various ingredients and American culinary traditions. Chef Marco Canora won the preliminary challenge (which featured a guest judge from the US Army), and was one of the top two in the elimination challenge, along with Chef Tsai. The big surprise, in the main challenge, was the poor showing by Chef Marc Forgione, who up to now has been one of the judges' favorites. Forgione found himself on the bottom alongside Chef Chauhan (pronounced "show-hahn," by the way). Speaking of judges: Mike Symon was nowhere to be seen; in his place was Iron Chef José Garces, the winner of the previous season's "The Next Iron Chef."

With only five chefs to go, I have to agree with Chef Tsai that the level of competition is now so high that this is no longer a matter of general skill: what will send a chef home is anything less than perfection. All the remaining chefs are extremely sharp. I still sense some insecurity directed at Chef Tsai (who, despite winning this episode, was critiqued on his somewhat old-school plating style); both Chef Bryan Caswell, the big Texan, and Chef Canora seem to like nitpicking the burly Chinese-American. But Tsai seems to thrive on competition, and tonight he proved he's still in it to win it.

UPDATE: Dammit, I missed the opportunity to title this post "Tsai Rides High."



Elisson said...

Aw, you can always change the post title.

Charles said...

Good to see MT is going strong.

The "insecurity" comment was interesting. If you've mention that before, I must have missed it.

Kevin Kim said...


I didn't use the word "insecurity," but in my very first post I did mention "intimidation," for what that's worth.


The problem with changing the title is that the permalink, once a post is published, doesn't change as well. I suppose that makes sense; otherwise, people would have to readjust their own links every time someone retitled his post. Unfortunately, the unalterable links act as a sort of history, alerting people to what a given post's original title was.


Charles said...

I remember the use of "intimidation." So has this initial intimidation blossomed into full-blown insecurity? Or am I reading too much into that?

(The word verification script has been spitting out some beauties lately. Today: muttenup. OK, so the spelling is a little off, but I can totally see myself saying: "I haven't eaten a sheep in a while. I need to head down to Chef Meili's and mutton-up." As a matter of fact, this utterance is 100% true.)

Kevin Kim said...


I guess you kind of have to take a "fill in the blanks" approach to my sparse commentary on the show. There are some blogs out there that are offering highly detailed summaries of each episode, but I suppose I'm assuming that people have access to Hulu (access is only intermittent in Korea, from what I hear; it depends on your online service) and/or that they watch the recaps over at the Food Network site, where some of the carping is preserved.

Given what I've seen this far, I'd say the intimidation I saw on the first episode-- when Chef Caswell blurted out something like, "Ming Tsai? Really? And how is that fair?"-- has either transmuted into or given rise to an underlying feeling of insecurity. Tsai keeps on surviving, and he's once again proven capable of rising to the top, which is about what I'd expect from someone that solid. If the chefs have taken to dinging him for his supposedly retro plating sensibilities, then I'd say they're worried about the threat he represents.

Tsai himself had high praise for tiny Chef Tio, the quiet, unassuming woman who's proven to be quite tenacious. She didn't do so well in this last episode, but she did well enough to stay out of the bottom two, and now she's part of the final five.

I was sad to see Chef Chauhan go. I don't think the judges gave her Indian stylings enough credit.

Time to go mutton up!

Charles said...

Ah, I totally forgot about Hulu. I actually have a proxy that I run sometimes that allows me to watch shows on Hulu (otherwise I can't), but finding the time to do that these days is tough. I suppose when I have a little free time I should see about watching a few episodes.

As for Chef Caswell's question of Ming Tsai is fair, well, this is Iron Chef we're talking about here, right? Isn't the idea to get a killer line-up of celebrity chefs? I still don't think Tsai will win this, if for no other reason than that it would be too predictable, but I think it would be awesome to see him on Iron Chef.

Mutton up, indeed. Be thankful that, among other things, you live in a land where people are not allergic to mutton. If I ever get the chance to visit you over there, I fully expect you to slaughter a sheep for me and throw it on the barbie.