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'Next Iron Chef' shocker: Appleman goes home

November 2, 2009 |  5:41 pm

Nate Appleman was cocky 'til the end.

This week, the competitors had to cook a five-course Indian feast. At one point, Appleman crowed: "I'm a white boy who's never cooked Indian before and I just cooked five Indian dishes and I'm pretty sure I won this."

The winner and survivors of this challenge would be heading to Asia for the next round of the competition. Not only did Appleman not win, he found himself up for elimination: "The Next Iron Chef" host Alton Brown held one plane ticket in his hand as he stood in front of Appleman and chef Seamus Mullen to deliver the news. One of the chefs would be going home. Appleman seemed certain it wouldn't be him: "Alton is holding one ticket. ... I think it has my name on it."

I didn't think so, either.

After all, the chef, recently of A16 in San Francisco, was named rising star chef by the James Beard Foundation and recognized by Food & Wine mag as best new chef. Although he has proven himself to have sharp elbows and was willing to say whatever was needed to curry favor with the judges, the guy could clearly cook.

But not this week. His Indian feast was a flop with the judges, who said it wasn't even vaguely Indian. Brown summed it up this way, "You're a great cook ... but in the end, someone had to go."

As might be expected, Appleman didn't go quietly. "I still think I should be the next 'Iron Chef.' "

After this week's double elimination -- chef Roberto Trevino was also bounced -- it's down to four. There doesn't seem to be a single standout, they've all had their ups and downs. Who do you think will be the last one standing?

-- Rene Lynch