The Next Iron Chef Journals

Chef Marco Canora kept his red journal by his side through the final battle in Kitchen Stadium. Its pages give an inside look at this New York City chef's road to the finale.

Photo By: Leanna Creel ©Leanna Creel Inc.

"I'm here to win."

With 20 years of experience as a chef and restaurant owner, Chef Canora was a strong contender from the get-go.

Cooking on the Beach

Chef Canora stayed true to his cooking style no matter what the challenges threw at him: "I'm into subtlety in food."

Photo By: Leanna Creel ©Leanna Creel Inc.

Battle Pig

Along with two other rivals, Chef Canora chose suckling pig as his desert island ingredient. On the opposite page, he plans ahead, listing potential dishes and components he'd like to use in future challenges.

Desert Island Dish

Chef Canora finished in the top three with his Grilled Stuffed Pork Loin With Papaya and Pineapple. Simon Majumdar applauded him for turning the pork into "something fatty, moist and delicious" in a short amount of time.

Photo By: Leanna Creel ©Leanna Creel Inc.

Keeping Focus

Chef Canora scrawls some motivational words in his journal between challenges.

Bring the Heat

In the pickle Secret Ingredient Challenge, Chef Canora topped cherry peppers with hot pickled garlic. "You know what they say: If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." — Chef Canora

Fishing Trip

Chef Canora returned from the boat trip with scorpion fish and decided to prepare two variations of cacciuco, an Italian seafood stew. One would be "Old World" and hot, the other "New World" and raw.

Going for the Win

The judges loved Chef Canora's Hot and Cold Cacciuco With Scorpion Fish, Santa Barbara Prawns and Manila Clams. It won over Donatella Arpaia: "Chef Canora, welcome to the race."



Chef Canora's approach to the state fair challenge: Turn "high-fat, high-sodium, unhealthy" fair food into "healthy, tasty, fun" fair food. "It's risky but I like it," he writes in his journal.

A Day at the Fair

The chefs arrive at the San Diego State Fair and listen to the specifics: They must prepare three fair dishes, one fried, one grilled and one on a stick.

Getting Organized

With limited ingredients gathered from the fair's concession stands, Chef Canora maps out the prep list for each of his "healthy" fair dishes.

Good-for-You Fair Food?

Chef Canora's ideas materialized into these three dishes: Mediterranean Vegetables and Feta Stuffed Fried Chicken Thigh; Tomato Salad on a Stick; and Grilled Shrimp Taco.



The judges liked Chef Canora's food, but Chef Tio beat him out for the win. His post-challenge journal reflections: "I really feel I deserved to win this one BUT I won the last one ... "

Out of His Element?

For the next elimination challenge, Chef Canora is a little nervous about preparing regional American food: "The Americana thing, it's not really my shtick. Not very user-friendly for the Old-World Italian cook guy."


Head in the Game

Chef Canora maps out his dishes for North, South, East and West. On the opposite page, he gives himself a little pep talk.

Italian Chef Goes All-American

Chef Canora's final plate: Snapper Crudo With Apple (East); Raw Vegetable Salad (West); Louisiana Fried Soft Shell Crab (South); and Rosemary and Lavender Marinated Lamb Chop (North).


Welcome to Vegas

For the first challenge in Las Vegas, the chefs must create wedding-worthy desserts, which puts all of them out of their element. Chef Canora's dessert got a harsh critique from guest judge Jean-Philippe Maury.

Pastry Plan B

Chef Canora intended to make croquembouche — a French dessert that's essentially a tower of tiny cream puffs — but his cream puffs failed to "poof." He decided to cut them in half and make little sandwiches.

Buffet Planning

Each chef must prepare three hot and two cold dishes to modernize the classic Vegas buffet, so Chef Canora maps out his spread in his journal.


Chaos in the Kitchen

After winning the buffet challenge, Chef Canora recaps in his journal: "I'm not a religious person, but I must say it was a miracle that I finished all of my dishes for this challenge."

Chef Canora's Buffet

Compressed Fruit Salad; "Seafood Salad" Scallop Carpaccio With Salmon Belly Sashimi; Arista With Fennel Passatta; New School Eggplant Parmesan; Braised Veal Cheek


Master Mixologist

Chef Canora took the win in the next Secret Ingredient Challenge, despite his lack of cocktail experience: "Here's this uber master mixologist, and that's not my world. I'm just not comfortable in that arena."

Chef Canora's Winning Pairing

"Avariation" Cocktail: Gin, Maraschino Liqueur, Lime Juice, Crème de Violette, Lavender Lime Salt Rim. Snack: Goat Cheese-Stuffed Cherry With a Black Pepper Bacon Bite.

On a Roll

Chef Canora's win in the Seduction Challenge was his third in a row — and it secured him a spot in the final Kitchen Stadium battle.

Winning Wagyu

Chef Canora's winning three-course menu included this Wagyu Beef Tartare With Uni, Osetra Caviar, Jidori Egg, Yuzu and Chives.


On to New York

"It's phenomenal! Kitchen Stadium is something I've been watching for a decade, and to think I'm going to be going to Kitchen Stadium, it's pretty special."


Final Battle

When he learns the final battle will be Thanksgiving-themed, Chef Canora begins hashing out ideas.

Honoring Tradition

Chef Canora decides to serve soup as a first course, as his family does every year: "I not only wanted to honor tradition, but also my own family tradition on Thanksgiving day."

Thanksgiving Soup

Chef Canora's First Course: Roasted Fennel Soup With Butter-Poached Lobster, Orange and Sweet Pumpkin-Spiced Pickles.

Respecting the Bird

For the main course of his Thanksgiving feast, Chef Canora "very much felt obliged to do turkey" to honor tradition. Morimoto loved it: "Best turkey I've ever had."

Talking Turkey

While breaking down a heritage turkey, Chef Canora answers questions from Kevin Brauch. What's the tattoo on Canora's forearm? It says "terroir" — the name of his restaurant and wine bar.

Turkey Dinner Plate

Chef Canora's Third Course: Turkey Breast With Porcini Stuffing, Cranberry Puree, Sage Salt.

Finishing Second

"I was shocked. I thought I won it. It's bittersweet. I got this far and I'm going to go out with my head high, for sure. It's been a wild ride." — Chef Canora