2/22/2013 02:07:00 PM

SoBe 2013: Iron Chefs Talk About Fame, Selling Out, The Chew and More

This morning as part of SoBe Food and Wine Festival, Bobby Flay moderated a panel with four Iron Chefs at the Hotel Victor in Miami that included Michael Symon, Geoffrey Zakarian, Marc Forgione and the latest addition to the roster: Alex Guarnaschelli. Bobby Flay was quick to initially point out that Zakarian was the group's "metrosexual representative," and also teased Symon about his Pittsburgh Airport eatery. The group chatted about a variety of topics like how it feels to lose, if being an Iron Chef really helps your restaurant's business, how The Chew is geared toward middle America and more. One interesting tidbit that was revealed was that Alex Guarnaschelli did not initially want to do the last season of Next Iron Chef (which she ended up winning.) Here's her story:

"I'm not going to lie. I didn't want to do the show again at all. I drank some bourbon and I listened to a double album of Adele and I knew if I looked Bobby in the eye and told him I didn't want to do this again, that it would be ok. I went over to his office and said "I don't want to do it again." And then you walk in and you just get the chin. Has anybody not gotten the Bobby "chin?" That's like "get in here" and all of the sudden you're the dog that pooped on the rug. I go into the office like a dog with a tail between its legs, and I said to him "I don't want to do it." I get his line, "let me ask you a question" which in Bobby speak is "you're a f--ing idiot." And he said you really have to do it, it will change your career forever. [Bobby revealed earlier that a few years ago Alex said to him: "I have no career."] And he's looking at me and I was like ok and said yes."

Michael Symon shares that being on Iron Chef America made his restaurants busier by 25% and that no other show has the impact that it does in terms of helping a chef's restaurant traffic. He also tells the audience that when pressed between doing The Chew and Next Iron Chef he would do the The Chew, because in his mind it helps him reach a larger, less privileged audience: "The food we do on The Chew every day is typically under $3 a portion but made from scratch. It gets you into the fabric of American families. Not only America, but middle America. The Chew is geared toward people that maybe can't eat at our restaurants but want to eat our food. "

Bobby asked Alex Guarnaschelli if it's annoying to always get asked if gender makes a difference in the kitchen, to which she responded: "Yes, it's super annoying. You have to park gender and race at the door. I do have a different path. I'm not going to say there's not a connection. The inclination is for women to comment and be benchmarks for lifestyle. Women are not considered authors for what's coming up in food. Should I stay home and knit something and not try to be Iron Chef? It's important to be super scrappy."


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