You will rarely find me commenting about Food TV on this blog irrespective of the network that it is on. One of the few cooking-as-entertainment shows that I watch with any degree of regularity is The Iron Chef on The Food Network. I watch it because it is somewhat entertaining and also because I am acquainted with many of the chefs and a few of the judges who appear on the show and aware of most of the others.
Starting last year when Michael Symon was selected, the Food Network
has made a big deal of selecting the next addition to their stable of
"Iron Chefs".While I tend to find this aspect of the show somewhat ridiculous in the same way that I find shows like Top Chef a bit ridiculous, it has significance because it feeds into the show that I like. I, like many others, am somewhat curious as to who will be the "Next Iron Chef."
This year's line-up, while filled with very capable chefs, is devoid of any true household names with Jose Garces being perhaps the most successful Chef/entrepreneur of the group, Amanda Freitag somewhat familiar to Food Network fans, Nate Appleman, a recent James Beard Award Rising Star Award winner and each of the others having strong culinary backgrounds. I will, however, based on two bits of circumstantial evidence, go out on a limb and make my prediction for who the winner of "The Next Iron Chef" will be.
Nate Appleman is my choice. I have yet to eat his food, but he is currently a food media and industry darling on a rapidly rising career arc, who as I mentioned won the 2009 James Beard Rising Star Chef award and had also won a Beard award for his cookbook. Given these credentials, he already has to be considered a favorite going in to the competition, but that is not the reason for my guess.
The first bit of circumstantial evidence that I am basing my hunch in is his curious decision to ditch his successful San Francisco restaurant, A16, where he was a chef/owner and burgeoning San Francisco restaurant empire to come to NYC to run a pizza place (albeit one likely to be very good and very successful with or without being an Iron Chef). Simply from the food preparation and restaurateuring points of view, this seems at best to be a lateral move and on the surface can be considered a step down. Without some additional incentive, it is certainly a gamble, int hat opening a pizza spot, however good, puts him in direct competition with many other top-notch pizzerias. In San Francisco, he was on top of his world. NYC happens to be the home of The Food Network. Being there rather than San Francisco, would make it much easier on him to be part of The Iron Chef and still maintain his restaurant cooking interests.
The other bit of circumstantial evidence I am basing my hunch on is a tweet I saw this morning from @nappleman saying "Tonight 9 PM The Food Network. The battle begins…….." Admittedly, this is pretty soft, after all, he is probably just promoting a show that he is part of. Given that the competition is essentially complete, or so I would imagine, I doubt that he would be into promoting something so directly that he did not show well in. Given his self-stated competitiveness, I suspect that he would not consider himself as having "showed well" unless he won it all.
Not even sure that I will watch the program, I will certainly not be distraught if I am wrong and wish no ill to any of the other contestants, but at least this has given me a reason to root for a particular contestant.