Chatting With the Latest Next Iron Chef: Super Chef Exile

By: Sarah De Heer

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NIC4 Episode 7 Chairman's Challenge "Passion"

NIC4 Episode 7 Chairman's Challenge "Passion"

Rival-Chef Alex Guarnaschelli Eliminated and Rival-Chef Elizabeth Falkner, Rival-Chef Geoffrey Zakarian and Rival-Chef Michael Chiarello comfort her in Episode 7 Chairman's Challenge "Passion" as seen on Food Network Next Iron Chef Season 4.

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

Edward Chen/Creel Films, 2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

The fourth season of The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs is coming to a close, with just two chefs left fighting it out for a grand prize that so many would-be chefs covet: joining the ranks of Iron Chefs Marc Forgione, Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto, Cat Cora, Jose Garces and Michael Symon. Each chef will try to pull out all their tricks to stay in the competition but, ultimately, one chef must go home each week. Every Monday, FN Dish brings you exclusive exit interviews with the latest Super Chef to get the boot.

This week, two competitors said goodbye in a double elimination. Alex Guarnaschelli has certainly proved herself worthy of being in this competition throughout the season. She's made us laugh with her zingy one-liners and she's impressed us with her vast culinary expertise. However, we had to say goodbye to her this week.

FN Dish: The judges were extremely torn over this decision. Michael Symon said, "I loved the way you cook and embrace these challenges." Did you walk away agreeing that the lobster dish had its flaws?

AG: It wasn't my best showing. There was so much stress and I really psyched myself out. I second-guessed my choices a thousand times. I think I gave less thought to writing my entire college thesis than I did to those dishes. Mike Symon said, "When you really want to win, make a cocktail," so I made one with my first course, but it was one that made the dish better than it originally was. I loved my first and second courses. The lobster could have been better. I didn't taste the other chefs' dishes, so I wouldn't even know where to begin comparing anyway. I trust Michael Symon.

FN Dish: This challenge was one for the books. Between the ingredients and the race for time, I believe you said it best: "It's like homicide sometimes." Was this the hardest challenge you faced throughout the entire competition? If not, which one was it?

AG: It wasn't the hardest, but I was the most fatigued mentally and emotionally. The hardest? Probably the movie candy. Processed food is such a tough thing to break down and reconstruct. My ice cream nearly gave me a heart attack that day.

FN Dish: You said, "If you don't put yourself out there and take these kinds of chances, than what kind of chef are you?" Would you do it all over again (the competition)?

AG: What time does the plane leave for the first shoot location? Why not?

FN Dish: What is the most surprising thing you learned about yourself throughout this competition?

AG: I dug deep in my catalog of food experiences and drew from inspiration in a way that I haven't in a long time. Cooking alone just for yourself is so inspiring and such a wakeup call. Alton kept saying, "Cook chefs, cook!" He was right.

FN Dish: What's next for you?

AG: A quiet vacation somewhere without any candy, legs of lamb or water baths. Then I want to take some cooking courses, brush up on forgotten things and finish writing my first book. The never-ending lesson in humility that goes with being a cook is never lost on me. I am humbled, inspired and driven to continue learning. After all, I am the next, next next Iron Chef!