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'Next Iron Chef' finale recap: A coat well earned

December 24, 2012|By Jenn Harris
  • "Next Iron Chef" competitors Alex Guarnaschelli, left, and Amanda Freitag went head-to-head in the show's finale.
"Next Iron Chef" competitors Alex Guarnaschelli, left, and… (Stephen Lovekin / Getty…)

After a season of demanding, almost impossible challenges and big egos, Alex Guarnaschelli has won  "Next Iron Chef: Redemption." Guarnaschelli joins Cat Cora as the second female Iron Chef on the show.

For the finale, Nate Appleman, Guarnaschelli and Amanda Freitag created a last supper using chicken, haddock and sea urchin. Freitag's perfect roasted chicken with lemon ricotta and crispy skin made her a shoo-in for the final battle, but the judges weren't so sure about Appleman's haddock chowder and Guarnaschelli's sea urchin flan. No clue what gave Guarnaschelli the edge over Appleman, but I was happy to see her win and turn it into an all-girl final battle. "Iron Chef" desperately needed representation from a woman other than Cat Cora.

Iron Chefs Bobby Flay, Michael Symon and Masaharu Morimoto joined the judges table, and the chairman finally made an appearance, ninja sound effects and all. For the challenge, the chefs had one hour to create three dishes that paid respect to the existing Iron Chefs. Here's a breakdown of the dishes:

Freitag prepared an inventive feta burrata (made with milk skin stuffed with feta) with tomatoes, ponzu, lime and shiso leaf; lamb loin with eggplant and yogurt puree; and brown sugar almond cork cake with miso honey ice cream.

Guarnaschelli's menu consisted of seared scallops with mushrooms, and miso-marinated shallots; lamb roll with eggplant puree, black olives and ratatouille; and a cherry and pasilla chile tart with sour cream sorbet and lime.

Both chefs put out dishes that were inventive, challenging and looked great, leaving no clear winner. After a nail-biting judgment, the chairman revealed Guarnaschelli's picture and named her the next Iron Chef.

Freitag was consistent all season, winning more challenges than her other competitors, but Guarnaschelli's fierce determination and almost scrappy performance gave her the win. If they hadn't called her name, I was afraid she'd start foaming at the mouth!

Guarnaschelli's first battle will be against Iron Chef UK Judy Joo on Dec. 30.

Do you think the right woman won? Tell us in the comments below.


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