Season 5, Episode 2

Innovation

The last time the Chairman brought NIC competitors to a diner, he asked them to elevate American comfort food classics to Kitchen Stadium fare. This time, the transformation will take on a global accent. The chefs, competing in groups of three, must create an innovative and Iron Chef worthy take on humble international classics.
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The Bottom Three

Chefs Freitag, Estes and Falkner take to Kitchen Stadium for a last-ditch effort to stay in the competition after the judges deem their falafel, taco and banh mi offerings, respectively, disappointing and not on point with their usual capabilities.

Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Dining Out

The Chairman sends the remaining rivals to Nickel Diner in Los Angeles for a test of innovation. Instead of putting their signature spins on classic diner dishes, however, they'll elevate international comfort foods: the Vietnamese banh mi sandwich, Mexican taco and Mediterranean falafel.

Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Alex's Advantage

Thanks to her week-one win, Chef Guarnaschelli chooses which chefs cook which dishes. "That could be to my benefit, but it can also very easily be my end doing," she explains.

Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Chickpea Central

Back at Kitchen Stadium, the chefs have only one hour to take their assigned dish to the next innovative level. Chef Vigneron, part of Team Falafel, focuses his offering on chickpeas, falafel's main ingredient, and showcases them in three ways: a chickpea salad, fried chickpeas and pureed tahini.

Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Quality Control

Before dishing out his Asian-inspired falafel, Chef Mehta goes in for a quick taste test to make sure that the flavors and texture of his dish are where he wants them.

Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Tough to Hear

Chef Mendelsohn's fish taco-inspired dish is praised as "perfectly seasoned" by Donatella, but Simon critiques its presentation, citing the avocado balls among his least favorite element. "We are talking about becoming The Next Iron Chef, not The Next Home Dinner Party Cook."

Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Cooking Under Pressure

Part of Team Taco, Chef Guarnaschelli opts to prepare a deconstructed taco with a grapefruit sorbet. Donatella ultimately deems her offering "extremely innovative," and Chef Guarnaschelli takes home top taco honors.

Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Elbow Grease

Chef Appleman relies on a meat grinder to help him process meat for meatballs, which will be the star of his pho, a Vietnamese soup. He uses traditional banh mi ingredients like chicken liver-topped bread and fresh vegetables to round out his soup-and-sandwich-inspired dish.

Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Best Banh Mi

Thanks to a banh mi-inspired panzanella with pork that Donatella calls "very sophisticated and smart," Chef Greenspan is named the winner of Team Banh Mi. "I'm getting my swagger back," he says excitedly after the challenge.

Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Dish of the Day

While Chefs Guarnaschelli and Greenspan dish out top innovations of the taco and banh mi, respectively, Chef Meha wins the challenge overall, his rolled falafel being called "beautifully cooked" with "just the right texture" by Simon.

Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Battle White Bread

Alton unveils white bread as the secret ingredient in this ladies-only showdown with Chefs Estes, Falkner and Freitag. Their challenge is to take this everyday pantry staple and turn it into something worthy of Kitchen Stadium. "How am I going to make that taste good?" Chef Estes wonders.

Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Pulling Out All the Stops

After Simon called her Chairman's Challenge dish, a banh mi-inspired pasta, "a bit of a mess" with "fusion confusion," Chef Falkner is determined to redeem herself in this potentially final battle. "Everything's on the line," she explains. "It makes me angry and it makes me want to fight very hard."

Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

High-Intensity Cooking

"She's in beast mode right now," Chef Greenspan says of Chef Freitag as he watches the cook-off unfold. For Chef Freitag, this 30-minute head-to-head-to-head battle is nothing short of intense. "Now there's a one-in-three chance that I could go home," Chef Freitag says, "so the Secret Ingredient Showdown is a war."

Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

A Falkner Classic

"This is what I remember about your food," a very pleased Simon tells Chef Falkner of her dish, a take on the classic Monte Cristo stuffed with goat cheese and bacon served with French toast-inspired ice cream.

Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Something Out of Nothing

Chef Estes' approach to the showdown is simple: "My strategy is to elevate the white bread. That's what Iron Chefs do; they take an ingredient of any caliber and they make it incredible." She opts to prepare freshly made ravioli filled with runny egg yolk and bacon fat-laced croutons.

Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Falkner Brings It

At week-two elimination, Alton announces that Chef Falkner has won the showdown with what he calls "not just the best dish in this challenge but, quite frankly, in...the top five dishes ever cooked in a Next Iron Chef competition."

Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Estes' End of the Road to Redemption

"I wanted to make the bread the best I could," Chef Estes tells the judges, but ultimately it's not enough, as she's sent home, her egg yolk-filled ravioli falling short of her competitors' dishes. "It's crazy disappointing to want something so bad and then be told you can't have it," an emotional Chef Estes says after the competition.

Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

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