11/05/2012 02:57:00 PM

Next Iron Chef Redemption Episode 1: Death Fruit Deathmatch

Image via Food Network
Next Iron Chef: Redemption, the fifth season of the Alton Brown-hosted series premiered last night with a 90-minute opener featuring eight previously eliminated Next Iron Chef competitors (Elizabeth Falkner, Nate Appleman, Amanda Freitag, Jehangir Mehta, Eric Greenspan, Marcus Samuelsson, Spike Mendelsohn, Alex Guarnaschelli) two newbies: Top Chef runner-up Marcel Vigneron and Texas chef Tim Love and Duskie Estes, the scrappy chef who clawed her way in via the show's online competition.

The episode's opening sequence was steeped in melodrama - with all the returning chefs ruminating about the devastating eliminations they suffered in their previous season. LA chef Eric Greenspan moaned about the grasshoppers he was given to work with last time, Alex Guarnaschelli lamented her lack of lobster confidence in Montauk and Nate Appleman shared that he was "furious" after being eliminated. He also lets us know that,"when you back a dog into a corner you're going to get bit." He's got all the best threats! Jehangir Mehta meanwhile tries to tell the public not to be scared of him and his creepy intensity (maybe it's that Dr. Evil-esque voice of his): "just because I'm intense doesn't mean I'm a bad guy - and I'm going to prove that." Although we're pretty sure he can laser-cook with his eyes.

The first challenge was set on a beach, Extreme Chef-style, and had the chefs creating a dish featuring the ingredient that previously got them eliminated (theme is 'resourcefulness'). Tim Love is acting all goofy and decides to drink white wine and grill himself a steak while he's preparing his dish. If you've ever seen reality TV before, you know this one isn't going to end well. Eric Greenspan (who's rocking Fieri-esque sunglasses) is "known for his grilled cheese" and decides to smash his nemesis ingredient (grasshoppers) into a grilled cheese with bleu cheese and toss the rest into a fennel salad. Alex G. is not screwing up those lobsters this time and Marcel Vigneron who notes "most people know him as that molecular gastronomy guy" manages to prepare an avocado dish without foam.

To no one's surprise, Tim Love's phoned in kale salad is one of the judges' least favorites, as well as Spike's scallop dish which has "too much going on." Alex Guarnaschelli wins and the rest are sent off to safety and now Love and Mendelsohn are pitted head-to-head in the secret ingredient showdown. The mystery ingredient is revealed to be pineapple which everyone knows is the "death fruit" - because it's like totes overpowering and '80s. Tim Love made a pineapple salsa in 1984. We find out that Marcel and Spike were roommates for like nine years (this explains SO much) and because of that, Marcel is confident that Spike can secure the win.

Mendelsohn's game plan is to stew pineapple in a bottle of hot sauce and serve it over fish. Tim Love pickles his pineapple and serves it alongside quail and a corn pudding, and just to stick it to the judges, he makes crispy kale too to make up for his greasy salad from the previous challenge. Shockingly, the judges like both dishes, including Spike's hot-sauced stewed pineapple so it's going to be a close one. In the end, Tim Love gets sent packing (OUCH) and Spike narrowly avoids once again being the first chef sent home. Until next week, folks!


  1. As someone who's eaten at Chef Mehta's restaurants and met the man personally, it's easy to see why he was selected to return for his competition. While he is intense and focused, he is a kind and sincere man.
    Any creepiness can be blamed on the editing. I really hope that this time, he wins the competition.

  2. Personally I found Love’s attitude to be off-putting. It seemed (perhaps editing) that his ego is what did him in. His FU attitude as described seems to come accross as though he felt he deserved to win, rather than actually trying to compete.

    I have eaten at two of his restaurants in Fort Worth (Lonesome Dove and Love Shack). While the food at Lonesome Dove was very good, it wasn’t spectacular (the best part of the meal was some fried spinach) mainly wild game. I’d say it’s better than The Reatta, but not as good as Bonnell’s (just my opinion). The Love Shack was not great. I had the Dirty Love Burger and it was overcooked. Forget how you dress it up (Love Sauce and a fried quail egg) if the main component isn’t that good, nothing you put on it will make it better. Now I know that Chef Love didn’t make my burger, but it is a representation of him.