Next Iron Chef: Inside Chef Tio's Journal

Peek inside an eliminated chef's top-secret journal from The Next Iron Chef Season 3.

Chef Tio's Next Iron Chef Journal

Each rival received a red journal to use for dish planning and reflection. Chef Celina Tio made it to the final four but left her journal behind in Vegas after a close double elimination.

In It for the Long Haul

Chef Tio came to play and outlasted her competition until the very last challenge in Vegas: "Let's bring it home to Kansas City, man. Let's show the world that the best chefs aren't only in New York City."

Day One

For the sandwich challenge, Chef Tio scrawled a plan for a breakfast version of a Cuban: "It's my version of feel-good food."

Sandwich Success

Chef Tio's Breakfast Cuban on Brioche With Slab Bacon, Chorizo Vinaigrette and Housemade Pickles won raves from fellow rivals: "She understands balance, which is hugely important." — Chef Canora

Goin' to the Beach

When asked what one ingredient she'd bring to a desert island, Chef Tio chose corn. Her journal explains the choice: "Versatile. Can be raw and fresh and crunchy. Can be dried and popped."

Desert Island Dish

Michael Symon said Chef Tio's Prawn With Fire-Roasted Corn looked simple, yet it packed a lot of punch.

Another Corn Creation

In the pickle Secret Ingredient Challenge, Chef Tio makes use of her favorite ingredient again in a corn cake and corn chow-chow relish for her snack.

Pickle Snack

Chef Tio's ideas materialized into this bite: Corn Pancake With Grilled Chorizo Corn Chow-Chow and Harissa.

Gone Fishing!

The chefs' fishing expedition went well for Chef Tio: She caught three scorpion fish and one red snapper. Unfortunately, as the winner of the previous challenge, Chef Forgione got to snatch her snapper.

Scorpion and Sardines

With no more snapper, Chef Tio embraced the resourcefulness challenge by using the fishing bait: "I'm going to be resourceful by bringing in the sardines to complement the scorpion fish."

A Dish With Personality

The judges enjoyed Chef Tio's Scorpion Fish Crudo Brined in Grilled Sardine and Scorpion Fish Cataplana. "It's really nice to see your personality come through. Much improved." — Donatella Arpaia


Chef Tio writes out a recipe for a butterscotch dessert inspired by Philadelphia, where she grew up. On the opposite page, she plans her four regional dishes: "All of my dishes are very homey, as American as can be."

Minor Setback

Chef Tio burned her butterscotch sauce and had to start over. But her biggest risk — using the pressure cooker for the first time to cook her pork belly — worked out in her favor.

Elegant Plate

Chef Tio's dishes impressed Iron Chef Jose Garces, the guest judge for this challenge: "I loved your elegant approach."

Reflecting and Planning

"If I had to prepare a meal representing where I'm from, what would it be?" Chef Tio writes in her journal. She jots down several Philly classics as inspiration.

Pastry Plans

The first challenge in Vegas was a tough one: wedding-worthy desserts. Chef Tio took a different approach from the other chefs: "I think doing a plated dessert is more ambitious than doing one big thing."

Dessert Times Three

While the four other chefs created large showpiece desserts, Chef Tio presented these: Chocolate Panna Cotta With Fleur de Sel and a Cinnamon Doughnut; Blueberry Almond Cake; Chocolate Ganache With Grapefruit Gel, Pink Peppercorns and a Cocoa Nib Tuille.

Buffet, Buffet, Buffet

Upon hearing what the next Vegas challenge entailed, Chef Tio was less than thrilled: "Buffet. Oh, joy."

Ingredient Dash

Before the clock starts, Chef Tio outlines everything she needs to grab from the pantry and walk-in.

Staying Organized

Chef Tio wrote out detailed prep lists to help her knock out five dishes in 90 minutes.

Chef Tio's Spread

Asian Garlic Cured Duck; Lobster Shepherd's Pie; Creamy Cauliflower Soup; Housemade Ricotta Gnudi; Cured and Slow-Roasted Salmon

Vegas Luxe

For the final challenge in Las Vegas, Chef Tio received Hawaiian Moi as her luxury ingredient, a fish "once reserved only for kings," according to Alton.


Chef Tio's first priority was to clean the fish and get all of the pin bones out, which took a big chunk of her time. "We have the added stress of the double elimination. You're either in the top two or bottom two." — Chef Tio

Moi Menu

Chef Tio's first course: Chinese Style Moi Sashimi With a Toasted Garlic, Sesame, Chili, Jalapeno Rice Vinegar Sauce. "The sashimi was very bright, I got a little of that chili. It was fantastic." — Michael Symon

Moi Menu

Second and third courses: Olive Oil Poached Moi With English Pea Puree, Porcini Ragu, Black Truffle and Iberico Ham; Crispy Seared Moi With Braised Daikon, Roasted Maitake and Spicy Carrot Sauce.

Final Judgment

"Chef Tio, you had probably your best day of cooking for this particular competition ... but the truth is, two other chefs had better days." — Alton Brown

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