So, to give a little context here, Colin and I rarely get into TV shows. (Minus LOST.) I hate being emotionally involved in a show that I have to watch regularly. (Except for LOST. The universe stops for LOST.) We don't watch a fraction of the various shows our friends rave about, suggest to us, buy dvds of, or have on at parties with the sound off because they've already seen it 6 times. In fact, for the months of October and November, I even forgot about The Office, which might be the only other series we even watch. We had to catch up on like 6 episodes one night when we remembered that it existed at all.
Anyway. So that brings me to the weeks we utterly wasted after accidentally catching the first episode of The Next Iron Chef on the Food Network. It didn't seem to offer much, and we were bored. Granted, we were huge fans of the REAL Iron Chef series, back when it aired in the 90s and was a Japanese cult favorite. Now that was some awesome food television. Occasionally we've flipped on Iron Chef America, usually with the hope that Chef Morimoto would be competing. The rest of the series annoyed me. To say it was "Americanized" doesn't quite cover it.
But I digress. I didn't come here to whine about what a mockery of a cooking show Iron Chef America is, although I could.
The thing that really caught our attention that one fateful night we decided to watch The Next Iron Chef was this. HIM.
(courtesy of/stolen from foodnetwork.com)
Chef Jehangir Mehta. Born in Mumbai. Specializes in pastries. Owns Graffiti restaurant in New York City. Slightly weird, yet completely awesome. Colin does an impression of him that you would really find entertaining if you watched this series or gave a rat's ass that I was even talking about this.
AN INDIAN IRON CHEF?!? I've been waiting for this since like 1996. Indian cuisine was by far the most underrepresented style of cooking on all Iron Chef shows, America and Japan.
So yes. We were hooked. And guess what? HE MADE IT TO THE VERY END! YAY! Suddenly I was rewriting all my negative feelings about Iron Chef America. Maybe they were trying to rework their whole format. Maybe they too noticed the lack of Indian cuisine. Maybe this whole series was all a farce generated specifically to get Chef Mehta on the show. Think of what he would add! Think of how he would balance the cast! :oO
But, no. They weren't thinking any of those things. Mehta's competition, of course, was Chef Jose Garces, a South American influenced chef born in Chicago and working in Philly. Now, I don't actually have anything against Garces, except that he was boring, and seemed to be some sort of cross between Bobby Flay and Michael Symon. And who wants to watch another down-home-semi-spicy-American-grill-boy on a show with so many others just like him anyway? Apparently the people at the Food Network, that's who. I knew it was over the moment they announced the secret ingredient.
Ribs. What? RIBS?! That's the "fair ingredient" you came up with? Are you on crack, Alton? RIBS? Between a latin grill cook and a PASTRY CHEF FROM INDIA?! I can think of 10 things off the top of my head that would be more fair than ribs. How bout corn, Alton? Maybe chilies? Bananas? Butter even? AGH. I wanna see Chef Garces grill up a strawberry.
And to cement the whole situation, of course they decided to bring out 3 current Iron Chefs to contribute to the judgment, along with the regular judges, despite the fact that they were never present at any other time in the competition (okay, Morimoto was once) and had no possible way of gauging the overall cooking abilities of the 2 chefs over the course of the last however-many-weeks we've been doing this. Why have the same 3 judges for the ENTIRE competition if not so they would have a complete, varied experience with these 2 chefs' cooking skills? Why do Morimoto, Flay, and Symon suddenly get a say in any of this? Because they're Iron Chefs too? Then why weren't they present THE WHOLE TIME?
And of course Flay and Symon liked Garces better. Of course they noted his exceptional grilling skills. Grunt. Grill. Meat. Grunt. Even Jeffrey Steingarten (one of the judges) pointed this out when he countered with "You only like him because he cooks like you do." To their shock and dismay. Ugh. In fact, all the judges seemed to have the same issue, which was the inverse of Flay and Symon's opinion. "Yes, Garces can cook well in a technical sense, but he's boring. It was all boring." They went on to note Chef Mehta's moments of genius and creativity, factors they felt were important in awarding the title of Iron Chef. As anyone sane at the Food Network would realize. In fact, they made sure to mention that not only did Mehta create the best dish of the entire night (which Flay and Symon agreed with) but last week he also created the best dish of the entire competition. Sure, maybe he added too many flower decorations to his plating, but he would also be different from any other chef on the show. Including Morimoto.
But of course Garces won. I bet it was nearly tied between the regular judges, who seemed to prefer Mehta, and the Iron Chef judges, who showed up for the day to add points toward Chef Garces. I notice they didn't actually show the final scores. Fair, Alton? Fair is not one of the words I'd use here. (I furthermore wouldn't constantly comment about how Kevin Brauch is Canadian all the time, but that's another story.) I'm certainly less inspired to watch Iron Chef America now, whereas I may have become a new fan after a win for Chef Mehta. Oh well. However, according to the statistics I've seen on foodnetwork.com, Bobby Flay is by far the preferred Iron Chef of all, so already I know that most of America doesn't agree with me.
Score yet another for the down-home-semi-spicy-American-grill-boys.
Jehangir Mehta, you rock. And your messenger bag was KILLER.
[and to the rest of you: oh come off it, i know this was long and self-indulgent. why are you even reading this anyway? this blog doesn't exist yet.]