Super Chef Journals: Michael Chiarello

Get an inside look at the top-secret journal of the Next Iron Chef rival eliminated this week.

Photo By: Kevin Lynch ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Second Runner-Up

Chef Michael Chiarello, owner of Bottega restaurant in Napa and host of Easy Entertaining, came so close to the Next Iron Chef title. He lost out to Chef Falkner in the pre-finale battle, making him this season's bronze medalist.

Into the Wilderness

For the season's first challenge, Chef Chiarello was paired with Chef Hughes to cook in the middle of nowhere. Chef Chiarello outlined some ideas for this rustic cooking challenge in his journal.

Porktastic

"I'm so lucky to be paired up with this guy," said Chef Hughes as Chef Chiarello ran off to pick wild hyacinth to garnish his pork dish. Their team ended up among the judges' favorites.

Ballpark Fare

The next challenge brought the chefs to San Diego's Petco Park, home of the Padres. Knowing only the destination, Chef Chiarello jotted down a list of "could-be's" for the challenge.

On the Bottom

When they arrived, the chefs were sent off to collect ingredients at the ballpark concession stands and create two dishes. A runny egg sent Chef Chiarello to the Secret Ingredient Showdown, where he prevailed over Chef Irvine and thus lived to cook another day.

Movie Snacks

For the movie snack challenge, Chef Chiarello got stuck with one of the toughest ingredients: gummy candy. He outlined his two dishes: lamb (savory) and panna cotta (sweet).

Up For the Challenge

Chef Chiarello embraced the test of ingenuity and tried to incorporate the gummy candy in inventive ways. "Nothing says rustic Italian like gummy candy," joked Michael Symon.

Gummy Candy Gone Gourmet

Chef Chiarello served up a hit and a miss. The judges loved his Grilled Gummy and Rosemary Marinated Lamb Chops, but not so much his Gummy Candy Panna Cotta. Simon Majumdar didn't mince words about this dessert: "It was like a funeral in my mouth." Fortunately, it didn't land him in the Secret Ingredient Showdown.

Improvise With Octopus

Chef Chiarello made it to the next round, where comedy clubgoers shouted out random ingredients for the chefs to cook with. They ended up with octopus, tortillas, kumquats and marshmallows. Chef Chiarello sketched a dish plan in his journal.

Winning Dish

The octopus-tortilla-kumquat-marshmallow dish ended up giving Chef Chiarello his first Chairman's Challenge win. "The marshmallow aioli was brilliant," said Iron Chef Michael Symon. "My best bite so far in the competition."

NYC Inspiration

The top five chefs, including Chef Chiarello, made it to New York for the remaining challenges. The first was all about NYC, and this West Coast chef still had ideas to draw from for his Statue of Liberty-inspired dish.

Storytelling Skills

"I thought it was fantastic, the way you wove in facts that nobody really knows about," said Chef Charlie Palmer. The chefs cooked at his restaurant in Grand Central and Chef Chiarello landed safely in the middle.

Final Chairman's Challenge

The Chairman's final challenge asked the chefs to show passion on the plate. They arrived in Montauk to cook a seafood tasting menu for 20. "This is now my favorite challenge," said Chef Chiarello. "Three courses to tell a love story." He sketched them here in his journal.

Farm-Stand Shopping

When you're cooking for 20 in the Hamptons, $500 doesn't stretch very far, Chef Chiarello learned: "I'm over budget and all of these ingredients are essential to get the flavors that I need. I have to get back and start cooking."

Dish Blueprint

Chef Chiarello's final sketch of his seafood trio looked remarkably similar to the finished product.

A-Game

The judges were impressed by Chef Chiarello's Cocoa Spiced Scallop With Carrot Caponata, Ahi Tuna Crudo With Tomato Caviar and Smoked and Olive Oil Poached Fluke. He just barely lost to Chef Zakarian.

Final Showdown

With so few chefs left, just missing the win meant Chef Chiarello ended up in the Secret Ingredient Showdown. He faced Chef Falkner in a unique battle of Town House crackers and entwine wine.

Edged Out

After an incredibly close battle, Chef Chiarello learned he was the one going home, and not to the finale in Kitchen Stadium. "I gave nothing but 300 percent," he said. "I'm disappointed. I didn't come here to go home today."

More from:

The Next Iron Chef