Top Moments of Iron Chef Gauntlet, Episode 2

Join Alton Brown, the challengers and the judges on set to see what it takes to make a bid for the most-revered title in the culinary industry.

Episode: Nose to Tail

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Patrick Wymore

Photo By: Patrick Wymore

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Patrick Wymore

Photo By: Patrick Wymore

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Patrick Wymore

Personal Pig Parts

It's Week 2 of the competitors' journey to the gauntlet, and Alton unveils a pig-lover's paradise on the altar for the Chairman's Challenge Secret Ingredient. There's an entire suckling pig up for grabs, but it's been portioned into six distinct pieces, one for each challenger. Immediately the chefs have strong reactions as to which section they'd like, but ultimately luck will be the decider as the challengers draw cards with their assigned parts. 

A Pig Letdown

Chef Izard wows Alton with her plans to make silver needle noodles, as the process is new to him. But despite the excitement surrounding that component, the all-important pork belly falls flat. "Your oyster sauce — spectacular," Alton explains. "However, your pork is overcooked. The belly is chewy and is the least-flavorful thing in the bowl."

When Winging It Isn't Enough

"I'm going to just figure it out on the fly," Chef Nakajima reveals of his plan to showcase pork, which he admits to Alton isn’t his forte. True to his roots, though, he opts for what he calls an "old-school Japanese" salad presentation alongside his ham. Unfortunately, though, Alton explains that the dish "is flirting with blandness" and that the pork gets lost. These missteps land Chef Nakajima in the Secret Ingredient Showdown.

Early Struggles

Saddled with dreaded pork loin, Chef Sawyer sets out to fashion a rudimentary homemade smoking device — featuring smoking alfalfa hay — to impart flavor into the meat. Alton notices that effort in the form of taste, but only "on the back end," the host says. Beyond that, Alton deems the dish, which is inspired by a classic veal tonnato offering, to be "messy."

On a Roll

Much to his dismay, Chef Gulotta's pressure-cooked pig feet and tail aren't fully cooked after a stay in the machine, though he admits that he's done almost all he can: "Pig's feet take a while to cook. ... That's kind of the way it goes." He manages to finish the dish before time is called, and like last week, Alton is pleased with the results. "This is definitely a pork dish," Alton says to the challenger of his dumpling presentation. The compliment leaves Chef Gulotta blushing, and Alton tells him, "I kind of like that about you."

Problems with Pork

When Chef Dady's pasta dough proves not quite right for agnolotti, he resorts to making ravioli instead, noting, "It's actually going to look a little bit more refined." For Alton, the ravioli and pork shoulder sauce "is a lovely, well-balanced dish." But like some of his rivals, Chef Dady has failed to put the emphasis on the pork. "This isn't a pork dish, and I was expecting a real piggy dish," Alton declares.

Rebounds and Redemption

It was just last week that Chef Grueneberg lost the Chairman's Challenge and found herself narrowly escaping elimination following a three-point victory over Chef Arrington in the Secret Ingredient Showdown. This week, though, she's proved those struggles are in the past, as she scores a win in this Chairman's Challenge, thanks to her expert use of pig's head in a wonton presentation. "I'm really proud of myself," Chef Grueneberg admits afterward.

Fighting Words

Thanks to her Chairman's Challenge victory, Chef Grueneberg earns the right to select Chef Nakajima's challenger in the Secret Ingredient Showdown. She picks Chef Sawyer, as she explains, "As a whole, [his] dish was not successful." His response? "Bring it." When Alton reveals an altar of bananas and plantains as the Secret Ingredient, both chefs are perplexed and forced to think on their feet, as neither cooks the fruits often.

Mission: Bananas

"This is a crazy sight. I have not seen a single banana come out on Chef Nakajima's board," Alton notices as time ticks away in the second round. The challenger utilizes seafood in all three of his dishes, including his first course: Scallops & Prawns in Plantain Miso Sauce. According judge and Iron Chef Jose Garces, "The flavors of the banana really melded well with the salmon, with the roe."

Of Plating and Presentation

Chef Sawyer too puts seafood to work with the bananas, as he executes a hamache-banana ceviche with Leche de Tigre (aka a Peruvian sauce featuring coconut milk and tequila). Iron Chef Garces is no stranger to this ceviche, and Chef Sawyer admits that serving the dish to the famed judge is "intimidating." Ultimately, though, both Iron Chef Garces and fellow judge Anne Burrell are pleased with the ceviche, though they question his plating and several components of his other dishes.

A Fallen Hopeful

After just two weeks in the competition, Chef Sawyer is forced to pack his knife kit and head home after his rival, Chef Nakajima, bests him in the Secret Ingredient Showdown by eight points. "It was an honor to be here," the ousted challenger reveals later. "I'm really glad to have had the opportunity to show America what someone who loves food can do with it."

Want More Iron Chef Gauntlet?

Head to Food Network's Iron Chef Gauntlet headquarters for more insider coverage of the competition, including behind-the-scenes photos, exclusive interviews with the challengers and old-school clips of Iron Chef America.

Iron Chef Gauntlet