Jehangir Mehta hugs Nate Appleman after being eliminated from "Next… (Food Network )
The front-running competitor on "The Next Iron Chef" was outdone by a shrimp.
In a shocking turn of events, chef Jehangir Mehta was ousted after a one-two punch that began with a diabolical "fusion" challenge. The chefs were required to play matchmaker by marrying two clashing tastes. Think chicken livers and peppermint candies. Or squid and marshmallows.
The advantage going into the challenge went to Marcel Vigneron, who was able to choose his odd pairings -- he went with bleu cheese and peanut butter, and came up with a dessert dish that made the judges swoon. "I don't like this dish...I adore this dish," said Iron Chef and judge Geoffrey Zakarian.
Moreover, one of the other judges, Simon Majumdar, seemed to predict that Marcel would be the last chef standing. (He might be a bit biased. Simon also confessed a love of peanut butter and bleu cheese sandwiches.)
But the challenge seemed to unnerve the two most tightly wound competititors, Nate Appleman, who ended up with clams and strawberries, and Jehangir, who had bone marrow and rainbow candies.
"I've never eaten a candy of that nature," a miffed Jehangir said.
Nate arguably had the tougher dish. Fruit and seafood is a huge no-no. But he had a brilliant twist -- using strawberries to sub in as tomatoes on a pasta dish. Crazy, yes, but also clever.
Jehangir had a tougher time, admitting that he tried to "kill" the candies by trying to soak out their cloying taste. "In your attempt to kill the candy maybe you killed it too much," said judge Donatella Arpaia, who said she needed some "acid and sweet" to cut the overpowering richness of the bone marrow.
In the secret ingredient showdown, both dishes seemed to suffer. Nate made a savory shrimp pancake that was too tough and not all that tasty. Jehangir "went to his happy place" and drew from childhood memories to prepare a seared shrimp dish with cumin and mustard seeds.
And then, because he couldn't leave well enough alone, he tossed on some breaded shisito peppers, almost as an afterthought or garnish.
The judges were not overly impressed with either dish, and said victory would go to the dish that was "least forgettable."
And that was Jehangir's, which apparently was too spicy for the judges. And because Nate managed to turn his roasted shrimp head into a sauce packet that flavored his dish. I guess you just had to be there.
I would have bet good money -- or at least a shrimp head -- that Jehangir would be the "Next Iron Chef."
With Jehangir gone, who will it be? Marcel? Nate? Amanda Freitag? or Alex Guarnaschelli?
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