Chatting With the Next Iron Chef: Redemption Runner-Up
The fifth season of The Next Iron Chef: Redemption was full of ups and downs, but one thing is for sure: All eight chefs redeemed themselves in one way or another.
Every week, each chef tried to pull out all their tricks to stay in the competition but, ultimately, one chef went home each week. This week we said goodbye to two (read exclusive exit interviews).
It all came down to two – for the first time, it was an all-female Kitchen Stadium battle finale. After saying goodbye to Chef Appleman in Las Vegas, Chefs Freitag and Guarnaschelli traveled to New York City to create a menu that would eventually change one chef’s life forever. Chef Freitag walked away from Las Vegas with a roast chicken dish the judges deemed perfect. In Kitchen Stadium, each chef had to create three dishes featuring two of the Chairman’s Secret Ingredients, which paid homage to three long-standing Iron Chefs: Chef Flay, Chef Morimoto and Chef Symon. While Chef Freitag’s menu, consisting of feta burrata, lamb with eggplant puree and a corn cake, was successful, Chef Alex Guarnaschelli inched her out slightly with her cherry tart. Chef Freitag battled her way to the finale, and even though she lost, she proved to viewers and readers that she deserved to be there.
The first challenge in the final episode was themed around Passion and you had to create Geoffrey Zakarian’s last meal. What would your last supper be and why?
AF: My last supper would probably be fresh pasta with butter and cheese. It is the most comforting, satisfying plate of food.
You perfected roast chicken in the finale. What tips can you share with our cooks to help them do the same thing?
AF: Always buy free-range chickens and season the chicken well with salt and pepper. I like to roast the chicken at a higher temperature of 425 degrees F to start and then finish the roasting time at 350 degrees F. Always use a meat thermometer to determine doneness.
Did cooking with marshmallows and squid — and winning that challenge of fusion — help you sympathize with or relate to the Chopped contestants you judge, who are often forced to marry disparate ingredients?
AF: I always relate to the Chopped contestants because I have competed so much and I too have been "chopped" when I competed on Chopped: All Stars. I do feel that the Fusion challenge was as cruel as a Chopped basket for sure!
What are three words you’d use to describe standing at the altar in front of the Chairman, waiting for him to unveil the winner?
What was a highlight or your favorite challenge and how was it compared to the first season you competed in?
AF: My favorite challenge was Transcendence. I enjoyed working on a team with Chef Appleman. The nature of the work we do as chefs is almost always a team effort and that is one of the reasons why I love what I do. Redemption was so different than my first competition because it was like coming home, but with a whole different set of rules and even stiffer competition.
How has this experience changed you? What’s next for you?
AF: This experience has taught me a lot about myself and gave me the ability to showcase my culinary talents to the world and my peers. I am looking forward to starting my own business and continuing to grow as a chef and a food expert.