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Saturday, 31 of October of 2020

The Next Food Network Star – “Iron Chef Battle”

You are all my mortal enemies.”

A couple of a weeks ago, I skewered FNS for doing a supper club challenge because I don’t perceive Food Network as being a foodie channel. This week, they decide synergize their programming (this show is pretty good at it, I have to admit), with a Iron Chef America challenge. This makes sense for their penultimate episode, as well as a way to plug a new episode of ICA that follows it. However, where the super club challenge was a mistake as a branding issue, an ICA challenge is a weird challenge to throw at people who aren’t established and sure of themselves chefs.

It’s certainly a way to test someone’s mettle, but I feel like it’s a little unfair to the chefs, and it’s a poor way to decide who your final three are.

The upside of the challenge is that it incorporate the Camera and Star Challenges in a seamless manner. While two chefs battle, the other two would do the floor commentary, functioning as the Kevin Brauch’s to Alton Brown. In this regard, I liked the challenge for making for a smooth episode, and one that showcases the contestant in a variety of lights in one setting. It pushes them in all the right ways (though I found Aarti’s bungling of the commentary to be very surprising).

That said, I still feel like putting the Final Four in a setting that forces them to be super-creative and bold, especially this late in the audition process, is a little unfair. Yes, everyone but Aria got that they needed to go bold or go home, but when the judges have put so much emphasis on CPOV in this last push, asking for an extreme version of their CPOV, when they won’t be doing one on their show, seems silly and unnecessary. When Rachel Ray and Giada De Laurentiis came on for Thanksgiving, they didn’t go crazy: they cooked in their comfort zones, which is what the Iron Chefs normally do (even when he does breakfast, Bobby Flay makes those sauces).

Regardless, Aria’s departure from the show is her own fault. The show was hers to lose from episode 1, and she lost it at the worst possible time. Not incorporating bacon into the food was just dumb on her part, though I applaud her decision to shout her CPOV at the top of her lungs with her dishes (even if they didn’t together, beyond the lack of bacon’s place int he dishes).

Next week they shoot pilots, and while I have a clear sense of how Herb and Aarti’s pilots will be like, I wonder what Tom’s will be like. I suspect (hope for) some mix of Tyler Florence and Guy Fieri, which could be a good show. In terms of who wins the whole thing seems a bit unclear at this point. I think Herb and Aarti offer types of cooking that are missing on the channel, while I think Tom’s personality dominates the other two. It’ll be close, unless someone completely drops the ball next week.

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