Oh I almost cried, John Besh (Food and Wine’s Best New Chef 1999) wasn’t named the next Iron Chef! Instead I screamed, I threw a fit, I showed a whole new side of myself to my boyfriend.
I followed most of the shows since the beginning, always hoping Besh would win. One, because the man is cute, has a classic chef style, plus he’s Louisiana’s equivalent to Mario Batali. (He actually beat Batali in the Iron Chef competition.) But what really convinced me Besh should win was a New York Times article a couple weeks ago. A man who comes in after Katrina with a gun and a bag of beans to feed people. Now what story is better than that?
And last night, it came down to Besh vs. Michael Symon, who was an underdog in the beginning rising to success. The two beat out 6 other chefs for the final showdown in Kitchen Stadium. The “secret ingredient” was swordfish, giving them options of appetizers and main dishes (although, Besh did create a swordfish pastry). Symon created six dishes, but Besh made seven (they only have to make 5). Both contestants had positive dishes like Symon’s olive oil poached swordfish, which I will hopefully recreate, and Besh’s smoked swordfish, which sounds amazing. The twist in last night’s show…..the Iron Chefs judged the food – Flay, Cora, and Morimoto. (May I ask where was Batali? Has he quit?)
It wasn’t a surprise to me. I knew there had to be a twist and I didn’t like the real judges anyway. I don’t think they represented the original judges in regular Iron Cheff America shows like Steingarten, Ted Allen, and others, because originally its two food experts and a guest celebrity or well-known person like Jewel or Soledad O’Brien. Deciding not to do this, I think, really hindered the show and drastically changed the meaning of it.
The Iron Chefs had no real knowledge of previous battles and the original judges were needed for that. Still, I thought Besh had the upper hand, but sadly Symon won.
Does Symon deserve it? I don’t know. I don’t know him as a chef. His food sounds appetizing and he’s got spirit and quirkiness, but he doesn’t have the class that I believe an Iron Chef needs. I believe an Iron Chef needs to have that sophistication to have fun, but be professional, and I don’t know that Symon has that, but I definitely think Besh does. So I’ll be bummed come next season, when Symon is battling and not Besh, but at least I can still go to New Orleans and possibly meet Besh in person.