Behind the Scenes of the Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs, Episode 4

Get a closer look at the challenges faced by a lineup of Super Chefs on this season of The Next Iron Chef on Food Network.
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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.

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: Arturo Lorenzo/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: Leanna Creel/Creel Films ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

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

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.

Beau Mac Bids Farewell

Chef MacMillan survived one Secret Ingredient Showdown, but Chef Zakarian edged him out in episode four's Battle Coconut. "I knew this was going to be a humungous test for me, and I was honored to be a part of it," said Chef MacMillan. "The day you stop learning in this business, you die. I'll be back again."

A Night at the Improv

The episode began at the Improv in Hollywood, where comedian Kevin Nealon joined Alton Brown to rally the crowd for ingredient suggestions. Of course, they weren't random after all — the Super Chefs would be cooking with them in this week's test of Improvisation.

Octopus, Kumquats, Tortillas and Marshmallows

The chefs certainly had to improvise with the four ingredients selected by Kevin Nealon and the comedy club crowd: "I had a funny feeling that this was just another cruel joke," said Chef Zakarian.

Branching Out

Italian expert Chef Chiarello aimed to show the judges that he can "at least cook in other parts of the Mediterranean." He planned a Spanish-inspired, octopus-tortilla-kumquat-marshmallow dish.

Chef Chiarello's Dish

Chef Chiarello served this Spanish Tortilla With Smoky Paprika Grilled Octopus on an Arugula Salad With Kalamata and Kumquat Dressing With Toasted Marshmallow Aioli. He was nervous to present a Spanish dish to Simon Majumdar, who has lived in Spain.

All Smiles

"The marshmallow aioli was brilliant," said Iron Chef Michael Symon. "My best bite so far in the competition." Simon Majumdar also loved it: "It's a very well-considered dish and well executed." Chef Chiarello took home the win.

Octopus for Breakfast?

"This is the hardest challenge so far. Whatever the Chairman wants me to do, I'll give it my best," said Chef Zakarian. He had an idea for a breakfast dish with the octopus and ran with it.

Chef Zakarian's Dish

The judges found Chef Zakarian's Blackened Tortilla and Octopus Polenta/Marshmallow Scrambled Eggs/Kumquat Truffle Fritto dish "a bit one-note" and "muddy." He ended up in the bottom two.

Mexico by Way of Asia

Chef MacMillan typically cooks with Asian flavors, but with tortillas in the mix, his first thought was to go Mexican. "This is no joke, man," he said. "We started off at a comedy club and now this is getting tough."

Chef MacMillan's Dish

The judges generally felt that there was just too much going on in Chef MacMillan's plate of Grilled Baby Octopus With Blue Corn Tortilla Fritter, Kumquat-Jalapeno Jelly and Miso-Marshmallow Brulee. "It was like kung fu fighting in my mouth," said Judy Joo, "Disjointed and, quite honestly, disappointing."

Mano a Mano

Partners in the first episode's wilderness challenge, Chef MacMillan and Chef Zakarian found themselves facing off in the Secret Ingredient Showdown. "He's a little older than me and has a vast knowledge of technique. Bottom line is, it's him or me, and I'm going to have to come up with something big," said Chef MacMillan.

Battle Coconut

Like castaways on a desert island, "You must depend on coconuts for survival," said Alton. Chefs MacMillan and Zakarian got right to work cracking them. "Coconut, man, awesome ingredient," said a confident Chef MacMillan. "I use it all the time."

Overreaching?

Despite warnings against it, Chef Zakarian decided to present two dishes: "The coconut needed another avenue to explore, so I did a crudo. I feel good about this one. I know you're all pissed that I'm doing two things. I believe I can do it successfully."

Chef Zakarian's Coconut Dishes

The two-dish risk paid off for Chef Zakarian. The judges liked his hot dish, Lentil and Coconut Crusted Halibut, but his cold dish, Sour Coconut Marinated Halibut Crudo, was the highlight of the day.

In the Zone

"Man, I love this ingredient. I'm not going home today. The pressure's cooking and you're fighting for your life to hang on. I feel 100 percent about my dish," said Chef MacMillan.

Chef MacMillan's Coconut Dish

Chef MacMillan's Coconut Curry Stew With Braised Shellfish also fared well: "This is one of the best dishes you've put in front of me in the whole competition," said Simon Majumdar, "It's a rather splendid dish."

Close Call

In the end, it was Chef Zakarian's fantastic crudo that edged Chef MacMillan out of the competition. "You did not have a bad day in the kitchen, you had a great day in the kitchen," Alton told Chef MacMillan. "Chef Zakarian's day was just a little bit better."

Gracious Exit

Everyone was sad to see Chef MacMillan go home, even the judges. "He's such a nice guy," lamented Simon Majumdar.

Final 6: NYC Bound

After Chef MacMillan's departure, the remaining chefs learned from Alton that they would continue the competition "in kitchens in and around New York City." The chefs were excited — especially the four that call NYC home (Burrell, Guarnaschelli, Samuelsson and Zakarian).

More Super Chef Highlights: Advantage, Falkner

As the winner of last week's Chairman's Challenge, Chef Falkner got an advantage: five extra minutes to begin cooking with octopus, tortillas, kumquats and marshmallows.

Chef Falkner's Dish

Four of the seven chefs ended up on top this week, including Chef Falkner with her Octopus and Potatoes With Tortilla Romesco, Creamy Kumquat Marshmallow Vinaigrette, Roasted Marshmallow Ash and Crispy Blue Tortilla Crumbs.

Bring It

Chef Burrell aimed to keep her momentum going: "Michael Symon told me to think outside the box and bring it, so that's what I'm trying to do."

Chef Burrell's Dish

"My dish looks a little more simple than everyone else's," said Chef Burrell. She shouldn't have worried, since the judges loved her Kumquat Braised Octopus and Charred Tortilla Kumquat Raviolo With Tomato Marshmallow Kumquat Octopus Sauce.

Octopus Options

"I have my octopus in the pressure cooker, and my other octopus, as backup triple-secret emergency, in the sauté pan," explained Chef Guarnaschelli. "My strategy is options."

Chef Guarnaschelli's Dish

Chef Guarnaschelli went with the pressure-cooked octopus and presented Octopus With Napa and Red Cabbage Cooked in Marshmallow With Tortillas, Chili, Shallots, Kumquats and Toasted Marshmallow. Simon Majumdar's reaction: "I did actually just lick my plate clean."

Drawing Inspiration

"This is my chance to cook and tell a story about my life a little bit. Marshmallows actually come from Africa, and we do a lot of pickling in Sweden," said Chef Samuelsson. He decided to pickle the octopus with kumquats.

Chef Samuelsson's Dish

Chef Samuelsson's Kumquat Pickled Octopus With Tortilla Gazpacho and Marshmallow Yogurt Whip got mixed reviews. "It was a mess, but it was tasty," said Alton. "You survive to cook another day."

Girl Power

Chef Burrell is feeling confident heading to NYC: "None of the girls have been in the bottom. All of the boys that are left have been."

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