Iron Chef Gauntlet Season 2 premiere recap: Resourcefulness


Seven chefs entered the kitchen gauntlet with hopes of becoming an Iron Chef. Can any of these hopefuls conqueror Iron Chef Gauntlet Season 2?

Last night, Iron Chef Gauntlet Season 2 premiered. Seven chefs readied for the challenges based on characteristics that exemplify an Iron Chef. Only one chef will run the gauntlet. Did any of these seven chefs emerge as a front runner?

Host Alton Brown with the Contestants, as seen on Iron Chef Gauntlet, Season 2.

The seven chefs on Iron Chef Gauntlet Season 2 have varied, yet highly touted backgrounds. The list of their accolades is long. From Michelin Stars to James Beard nominations, these chefs are some of the best in the industry. While they may not be household names, their culinary creations are impressive.

In this first episode of Iron Chef Gauntlet Season 2, the Chairman’s Challenge was a battle based on resourcefulness. To be an Iron Chef, these chefs must show that an ingredient can be used in various ways. A plain poached piece of fish isn’t going to win this type of challenge.

To determine each chef’s protein, it was a mad dash to the altar. It was unclear if any chef had an advantage in their protein selection. Truthfully, all the chefs should have been able to cook any of these proteins well. Creativity in using the protein in various ways would set them apart.

Since this is the first episode of Iron Chef Gauntlet Season 2, there isn’t a lot of detail on each chef cooking their respective dishes. Sure, Alton questions the chefs as they cook, but it is more generalized. It would have been nice to know how some of the dishes were prepared. A simple description while Alton tasted was all viewers got. Hopefully, as the season progresses, the details will come.

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In the Chairman’s Challenge, a winning chef is chosen and a losing chef is chosen by Alton. Personally, one of Alton’s favorite dishes was concerning. Although he didn’t win, Chef LeFevre was a top choice. His chicken seven ways risotto sounded good. Plus, a chef who can do a risotto well in this time frame is gusty. But, his dish had a piece of plastic in it.

Alton picked off the piece of plastic, but that inedible piece is a major problem. Would you want to put a piece of plastic in a dish? Personally, LeFerve should have been up for elimination due to that error. It would have been a major issue in a restaurant.

Host Alton Brown with Contestants Timon Balloo and David LeFevre, as seen on Iron Chef Gauntlet, Season 2.

Winning the Chairman’s Challenge was Chef MacKay. His flounder dish sounded nice, but it wasn’t perfect. Alton didn’t like the mousse. Personally, I was a little confused by the chorizo crust. Apparently, the stew portion is what pushed the dish to the top.

As the winning chef. MacKay got to send one chef into the Secret Ingredient Showdown against the losing chef from the Chairman’s Challenge. This choice is always strategic. MacKay’s choice was a smart one. He sent Chef Tien into the elimination battle.

The losing chef from the Chairman’s Challenge was Chef Roland. Her protein was lobster. While she used lobster in several ways, her dish was flawed. By including a hot piece of claw meat into the center of the custard, the custard became broken. If she had more time, this dish could have been better.

Looking at this particular dish, it didn’t really succeed on resourcefulness. While she used lobster in several ways, it didn’t take into account the timing. An Iron Chef must push herself yet be aware of the time limitations. No one will get points just for attempting a hard dish. She must execute.

Host Alton Brown with Contestant Jeanie Roland, as seen on Iron Chef Gauntlet, Season 2.

For the Secret Ingredient Showdown, Chef Rowland faced off against Chef Tien in Battle Spanish Mackerel. Each chef had to create three dishes highlighting the special ingredient. While neither chef had three perfect dishes, one chef had an edge on taste and creativity.

Chef Tien had a clear vision and stayed true to his culinary point of view. All of his three dishes were well composed and thoughtful. The first dish with the pickled strawberries was very intriguing. I never would have paired a pickled strawberry with Spanish Mackerel. Definitely a dish that I will look for in the future.

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Also, his dishes were visually appealing. The classic pot dish with an egg, mushrooms and flaked fish was a strong presentation. Of course, the flavors were also on point, which is paramount.

Chef Rowland struggled on certain dishes’ components. Her fish dish was good, but it needed more texture. The single piece of crispy fish skin wasn’t enough. Texture, or a variety of texture, in a dish is always important.

The least successful dish was Chef Rowland’s taco. A good taco has a big punch of flavor. In her dish, the flavors were too muted. It needed more spice or acid to really highlight the fatty fish.

The first chef sent home on Iron Chef Gauntlet Season 2 was Chef Rowland. The direct comparison between the two chefs had Chef Tien as the clear winner. It wasn’t that Chef Rowland had major execution issues. Instead, her dishes just weren’t at the same level as Chef Tien.

Did this first episode of Iron Chef Gauntlet Season 2 give any glimpse of a chef who could have a strong chance at becoming an Iron Chef? I don’t think so. In last season, all the chefs had high points and low points. It will take another couple of episodes to see if a leader emerges.

What did you think of Iron Chef Gauntlet Season 2 premiere? Will you be turning in next week?