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'The Next Iron Chef' recap: What happened to Marco Canora's artichokes?

October 18, 2010 | 10:16 am

Fishing

Chef Marc Forgione says this battle is gonna be a dogfight. Right now, it's a food fight, with the judges delivering verbal body slams left and right.

The first challenge Sunday -- a test of resourcefulness -- had the cheftestants preparing a "portable snack using pickles." Forgione won with a bite-sized foie gras-meets-bruschetta that had a little pickle-ness on top. That gave him an advantage going into the next challenge: The would-be Iron Chefs had to catch their own fish and then prepare it. Forgione won the right to swap his catch with someone else's hard-earned booty, and he did.

And that's when the judges started swinging.

To be sure, the judging panel gave out some compliments. Chef Bryan Caswell "looks like a linebacker and cooks like a ballerina." And "welcome to the race," they told Chef Marco Canora, who won the fish-then-cook challenge. (Although the way they fawned over Forgione, I thought for sure the win was his.)

But it was the insults that left a mark.

Chef Maneet Chauhan's presentation was unappealing, suffered from a felonious lack of salt. Worse, her salad, according to Donatella Arpaia, "tasted like dirt." And not in a good way.

"Nasty" is the way Judge Simon Majumdar described the pineapple-infused sauce that chef Mary Dumont served alongside her seafood dish.

And when it came to Ming the Merciless, Arpaia was the merciless one: "Chef Tsai is frustrating me because he's a little all over the place. He needs to step it up five notches to become the next Iron Chef."

Ouch.

Dumont went home, and Chauhan, who was in the bottom two, lived to cook another day, as they say.

That's when host Alton Brown delivered his body blow, telling Chauhan: "Don't feel victorious. You just managed to fail a little less than someone else."

Double ouch.

But here's what I want to know: What happened to Canora's artichokes? Given all the cameras, that footage has to be somewhere, right? My best guess is that it was a production error -- maybe a camera man knocked them into the garbage. Why else would they not show that? Another question: If they weren't going to solve the mystery, why did they bother to show Canora running around, wondering whether a saboteur was to blame? It's more than a little irritating that this element was left hanging.

--Rene Lynch
Twitter.com

Photo: Alton Brown takes the crew fishing. Credit: Food Network

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