Behind the Scenes of Season 2

Photo By: Mark Hill

Photo By: Jace Downs

Photo By: Jace Downs

Photo By: Mark Hill

Photo By: Mark Hill

Photo By: Jace Downs

Photo By: Steve Dietl

Photo By: Mark Hill

Photo By: Mark Hill

Photo By: Mark Hill

Photo By: Steve Dietl

Photo By: Jace Downs

Photo By: Mark Hill

Photo By: Mark Hill

Photo By: Mark Hill

Photo By: Jace Downs

Photo By: Mark Hill

Photo By: Mark Hill

Photo By: Jace Downs

Photo By: Mark Hill

Photo By: Jace Downs

Week 3: A World of Versatility

Alton Brown unveiled an altar with global implications this week; not one but five internally focused sets of Secret Ingredients were up for grabs, one representing a different country around the world, and each challenger was tasked with bringing that cuisine to life through the lens of versatility. Though Chefs Thaimee and Tien were hoping to land Thailand and Japan, respectively, as they’re both naturally familiar with those styles of cooking, neither one was fortunate enough.

Getting There

For Chef LeFevre, the challenge to cook Japanese food was a test in restraint. He opted to do a simple ahi tuna presentation, but such a classic dish demanded that every element be just right. He manages to pull it off — mostly — though Alton notes that there’s a lack of salt in his sauce.

Choices and Consequences

Feta, eggplant and lamb were on the Greek altar for Chef Thaimee, though the challenger chose to use only feta and pair it with sweetened tomatoes for yet another ice cream dish. Alton pressed her on her plan to forgo the lamb, but she was intent in her decision. Ultimately, her offering didn’t give Alton the Greek vibes he needed, and she headed into the Secret Ingredient Showdown.

A Strong Showing

Though Chef Gomes was worried about running of time while prepping her Indian dish—even Alton told her that she had the hardest job this week—the challenger managed to present an impressive offering. And she won. The host awarded her top honors this week, and she earned the right to choose who Chef Thiamee would battle in the Secret Ingredient Showdown.

Ready, Set, Wild Boar

Chef Tien, who faced off in the Secret Ingredient Showdown just last week, returned as Chef Thaimee’s challenger this week with a meaty altar: wild boar. Like his competitor, he too opted to stay with what he knew, opting for a trio of Asian-inspired dishes.

Safe, Barely

As both challengers were relatively unfamiliar with boar, their dishes weren’t as strong as they’d likely otherwise be — and the judges noticed. Both Chefs Thaimee and Tien received low scores from Iron Chef Jose Garces and Anne Burrell, but ultimately Chef Thaimee out-battled her rival by just one point to advance to next week’s contest.

Week 2: Innovate and Entice

When Alton unveils an altar of bread with which the challengers innovate sandwiches, chefs react with both sweet and savory intentions.

Plan B

When Alton questions Chef Balloo’s plans to make a simple toad-in-the-hole egg sandwich, the challengers upends his prep and starts his dish over again, this time opting to make a deconstructed sandwich. Though unusual, his dish goes over well with Alton, though the host warns him and all challengers to stand by their food.

Dessert Admiration

Chef Thaimee’s ice cream sandwich — smeared with Thai iced team ice cream — is the best of the day, according to Alton. She’s given an automatic pass to next week and the advantage of choosing which chef will battle Chef McKay in the Secret Ingredient Showdown. Her pick? Chef LeFevre, whose Mediterranean-inspired flatbread wasn’t a hit with Alton.

Mission: Beets

Chef LeFevre admits that beets, the Secret Ingredient awaiting him and Chef McKay on the altar, are a love-them-or-hate-them kind of ingredient. His plan is to showcase them alongside seafood in a trio of offerings, similar to Chef McKay who’s featuring a duo of seafood as well.

Chef LeFevre Lives

Though both chefs present impressive beet plates, ultimately it’s Chef LeFevre who survives to next week, as judges Iron Chef Marc Forgione and Judy Joo award him four more points than his rival.

Week 1: A Resourceful Start

In the Chairman’s Challenge battle of resourcefulness, each of the competitors found themselves working with a specific protein, meat like chicken and duck and seafood like lobster and salmon.

Meeting the Demands

Chef Balloo, who wound up with octopus, took the challenge to heart, recreating a classic spaghetti and meatballs presentation in the form of seafood: octopus noodles, octopus meatballs and a squid-ink sauce. According to Alton, it was GOOD!

Alton Sees All

Thanks to his perch in the Gauntlet arena, which features multiple monitors displaying every camera in the kitchen, Alton is keenly aware of what goes on at each person’s station at all time. Nothing is getting past him.

Risotto Plus Plastic

Though Chef LeFevre wasn’t thrilled to be working with chicken, he made the best of it and managed to plate up an impressive risotto dish — complete with a piece of plastic. Alton, of course, was not pleased, though the host admitted that the dish was still the best-tasting of the day.

Quick Check-In

Alton dropped by each competitor’s station as the Chairman’s Challenge unfolded and questioned them about their plans of attack for the battle.

Keeping Track

All the challengers were given notebooks at the start of production, and they’re theirs to use as they please. Most chefs opted to make in-challenge notes and jot down quick ideas in the heat of battle.

Highs and Lows

“It’s a mess,” Alton told Chef Thaimee rather bluntly of her salmon-focused plate. However, when it comes to the flavor of her offering, it was indeed spot-on. She survived to cook another day, but Alton warned her, “Clean up your station.”

Panna Cotta Conundrum

Despite Chef Roland’s best intentions for her lobster-studded panna cotta, the dish proved to be too loose, and ultimately the misstep landed her in the Secret Ingredient Showdown. Her rival, Chef Tien, joined her in this face-off with a particularly fishy Secret Ingredient: Spanish Mackerel.

Early-Round Loss

Chef Tien admitted to being the youngest chef in this competition, and while others perhaps guessed that they’d struggle because of that, he proved them wrong with a win over Chef Roland in the Secret Ingredient Showdown. He ousted his competitor 35-24 following a tally of scores from this week’s judges, Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian and Ching-He Huang.

Contestants Kevin Tien and Hong Thaimee stand before Judges Jose Garces and Anne Burrell, as seen on Iron Chef Gauntlet, Season 2.