Alton Brown and Eric Greenspan on Greenspan's previous season of… (Scott Brinegar / Food Network )
Sunday night's edition of "The Next Iron Chef" was a little sad and a lot frustrating. What started as a playful trip to the original Farmer's Market in the Fairfax district turned into an all-out, knife-slinging war.
The Chairman's Challenge: Using photos that famed photographer Todd Selby took of the chefs in the Farmer's Market, create a dish that captures the personality of one of the other contestants in one bite. The chefs were split up into four "teams" and competed head to head. The least successful chef in each pair was automatically sent to the Secret Ingredient Showdown.
As soon as Alton Brown gave the go-ahead, Nate Appleman and Marcel Vigneron slammed into each other, throwing elbows, each in search of a truffle. After Vigneron found one, Appleman asked repeatedly to use half, and Vigneron, like a petulant 5-year-old, refused.
"This will come back to bite you, my friend," said Appleman as he glared and stood by, holding a knife. "This will come back to bite you." He might have come off like a serial killer, but Vigneron deserved it.
The best-performing pair of the bunch was without a doubt Appleman and Eric Greenspan (Greeny), but the judges had to pick one, and sent Greenspan to the bottom four. The bottom chefs, Vigneron, Elizabeth Falkner, Jehangir Mehta and Greenspan were tasked with making a dish using Rice Krispies and Raisin Bran for the Secret Ingredient Showdown.
Already this was a mess. None of those chefs, with the exception of Vigneron, should have been in the bottom. Spike Mendelsohn scooted by Mehta's pizza dolmas with bacon-wrapped shrimp? A complete travesty.
Falkner again cooked like a mad woman, and in the hugest upset of the season yet, the judges let Vigneron stay after making cereal treats and coconut ice cream. The judges gave Greeny the boot, telling him he was just slightly out-cooked.
Are you kidding me? He pulled out a cereal-crusted tuna with Raisin Bran puree and sunchokes and you let Vigneron stay for coconut ice cream?
--Mendelsohn responding to Mehta choosing him as his competitor: "Don’t let all this hairy face and messy hair fool you; I’m here to win.” With a bacon-wrapped shrimp? Step it up, Mendelsohn.
--Mendelsohn's and Vigneron’s bromance coming to life during the Secret Ingredient Showdown. Cheered Mendelsohn: "Bring it, Marcel"; "Yeah, crack that coconut, man”; "That looks good." "You look good," responded Vigneron.
--Greeny getting sent home way too early in the competition. I was looking forward to seeing what else he had to offer.
"The Next Iron Chef" runs Sundays on the Food Network at 9 p.m. EST.
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