Chefs and BFFs Marcel Vigneron, left, and Spike Mendelsohn found themselves… (Food Network )
"The Next Iron Chef" judges were clutching their pearls and reaching for the smelling salts. Why? Because Spike Mendelsohn and Marcel Vigneron dared -- dared! -- to make the best of an awful situation. Now, you could argue that the chefs were exhibiting adaptability, creativity and risk-taking, qualities befitting an Iron Chef.
But that doesn't make for good TV.
Instead, the judges had their knickers in a twist over the chefs' decision to plate their dishes together.
The two chefs, who happen to be BFFs, found themselves competing against each other in the secret-ingredient showdown after they both failed miserably in an earlier challenge that required them to transform canned foods into something magical. Spike used his ingredient -- canned sausages -- as the stuffing for a Vietnamese crepe that left the judges underwhelmed.
That showing was still far better than Marcel's: He had to transform canned clams, and came up with a clam cake that was easily one of the worst things the judges had ever put in their mouths. It was deemed inedible, and overly salty. And Judge Simon Majumdar said he might need a priest to "exorcise my mouth," which has got to be one of the single best insults ever handed down in "Next Iron Chef" history.
Spike and Marcel were then given a gift -- lobster -- in the secret-ingredient showdown that pitted the two against each other.
Spike offered a bowl of Lobster Laksa, featuring foamy lobster noodles of all things. They looked gross, but the judges seemed to love them. Marcel came up with the winning dish, a mango and lobster salad with a black bean sauce.
But what they cooked was almost beside the point: The chefs turned the "Next Iron Chef" world upside down when they decided to plate their dishes together on a single platter.
I'll pause here so you can fan yourself for a few moments, and recover from this unbelievably disrespectful and unprecedented act of defiance.
"We're in this together," Spike explained of the plating decision with his bestie, and added: "Iron Chefs embrace risk and we took a huge gamble."
The judges begged to differ.
"They're really overly cocky," Donatella Arpaia sniffed. (By that measure, both Nate Appleman and Jehangir Mehta should be heading for the door before the harmless Spike and Marcel.)
I was waiting for her to scream: "Off with their heads!"
"I felt like we got played here," said Iron Chef and judge Geoffrey Zakarian (who by the by is my favorite Iron Chef, just in case you were wondering.) Simon called it unbecoming "silliness."
Do you agree with the judges? Was this single-plating maneuver totally out of bounds?
I kinda liked it. I considered it a dash of fun by two guys who are outstanding chefs but, really, at the end of the day, know deep down inside they are long shots for the job opening.
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