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'The Next Iron Chef': If only they'd hand out a prize for lying...

October 19, 2009 |  1:26 pm

Brad_Ep-3 Nate Appleman is clearly an amazing chef. He's also a liar. Hey, that's his word.

He arrived before the judges with his Americanized spin on an Asian dish -- he took pot roast and mashed potatoes and made it with short ribs and mashed rice. And then he began spinning a charming tale about how it was an homage of sorts to his mother's pot roast and her always-lumpy mashed potatoes.

Later, he said none of that was true. "It's complete lies," Appleman confided to the camera. "I'm just trying to wow them."

The judges ate it, and his dish, up. It was enough to allow Appleman to survive to cook another week, as they say, but not enough for outright victory. That went to Chef Amanda Freitag's fish cake, and Chef Seamus Mullen' reuben.

And that irritated the fellow competitors. Chef Jose Garces questioned whether such simple fare was "Iron Chef-worthy." While Appleman remarked, "I got beat by a sandwich and a crab cake -- that didn't have crab."

But it doesn't really matter what those guys think. The judges ruled the fish cake and the Reuben the two best dishes to come out of this week's challenge, which began with a field trip showing off some of L.A.'s edible highlights, including Pho Huyhn, Nak Won, Din Tai Fung Dumpling House, and Jitlada. It was a brilliant twist on the "taste-it, now-make-it" challenge that has become common place on food competitions: Pairs arrived at their respective Asian restaurant, tasted the restaurant's signature dish, and then had to make it in that very same kitchen -- struggling with the unfamiliar setup and ingredients -- and then face judgment by the restaurant's staff. (And those people were tough!)

Once back in Kitchen Stadium Lite, the chefs faced the ultimate challenge -- inspired by the Kogi taco truck: Transform a traditional Asian dish into an American package, with extra points for innovation. Unfortunately for Chef Brad Farmerie, his Pittsburgh-Peking Perogies just didn't cut the mustard. ("Back to the Farm" is the irresistable headline.)

There were some wild moments. Appleman scrambling over the counter -- not very hygienic. Chef Mullen conceding that he may have confused the sugar and the salt. But the real shocker: the Kogi truck, sans any line.

-- Rene Lynch

Memo to Mehta: Stop it already with the ice cream. That machine either does not like you or it does not work.

Photo credit: Food Network