Redemption Journals: Chef Alex Guarnaschelli

After an eight-week road to redemption, Chef Alex Guarnaschelli won Food Network's The Next Iron Chef: Redemption. Flip through her personal scrapbook photo journal to relive the most-memorable moments from her time on the show.
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Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Chef Alex Guarnaschelli

Chef at New York City's Butter and The Darby restaurants, Alex Guarnaschelli is a judge on Food Network's Chopped and was among the final four rivals on The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs. After an eight-week road to redemption and Kitchen Stadium showdown against Chef Amanda Freitag, Chef Guarnaschelli earned the title of The Next Iron Chef.

Reflections on Redemption

All of the rivals were given journals to use during their time in the competition, and Chef Guarnaschelli filled hers with serious reflections on judges' critiques of her food, notes on challenges, plus detailed to-do lists and inspiration quotes, like this one from Mickey Mantle. "It's amazing how little we know about a game we've been playing our whole lives."

Seaside Cookout

At Redemption Beach in Malibu, Calif., Chef Guarnaschelli took a few moments out of the competition to detail her plans for her ingredient, lobster, and reflect on others' preparations. "Greenspan has grasshoppers again! Awful," she said of Chef Greenspan's redemption ingredient. "Appleman's clam/bacon dish looks delicious beyond belief."

Early Success

It turns out that it was Chef Guarnaschelli whose redemption offering was "delicious beyond belief," as her lobster bathed in a butter-lime sauce was deemed the best dish of the day. "I can't believe I won. I'm really excited about the vote of confidence that I feel I just got," she reflected after the premiere challenge.

Picture This

Famed photographer Todd Selby visited the rivals to take still photos of them in their food elements, and his images would serve as the inspiration for rivals' culinary representations of each other. Chef Marcel Vigneron ultimately used an image of Chef Guarnaschelli making from-scratch sausage to help him put her personality on a plate.

Moved and Honored

"I am genuinely touched by Marcel's dish to represent me," Chef Guarnaschelli reflected on Chef Vigneron's offering during the Chairman's test of simplicity. "Beets, egg so unusual and beautifully made. He even had me taste it for approval. Am so touched." She, too, put considerable thought into the dish to represent Chef Vigneron, paying attention to "Marcel's skills."

From Excitement to Disappointment

Although most rivals weren't thrilled with their canned ingredients, Chef Guarnaschelli happily accepted hers of canned spiced ham. "It's mild and delicious," she penned in her journal. Later, however, she admitted to being less than confident in her final offering to the judges. "My dish was awful. Simon asked me if I put a frog in the blender to make my dish."

Memories of Auctions Past

Thinking back to last year's ingredient auction, Chef Guarnaschelli wrote, "Last time there was an auction, I ended up with only 20 minutes and a bone-in leg of lamb." This season, however, she was sure to not rewrite history by bidding on the very first ingredient, bison ribs, and won them with a cooking time of 45 minutes.

Saved by Taste

Although the judges questioned the little risk she took in preparing her bison, they complimented her on a stellar-tasting dish. "We had a chef that made the tastiest dish of the day, not the riskiest dish of the day," Alton said, speaking of Chef Guarnaschelli. This was ultimately enough to keep her from a week-five Showdown.

Spotlight On: Bacon

Chef Guarnaschelli detailed the specifics of the bacon buffet challenge and even penned the French-inspired menu she and Chef Vigneron would prepare to help their team stay organized during the challenge. Looking back on the test of transcendence, she said, "Those two hours were the fastest two hours I can remember having," she said after the challenge.

Showdown Rookie

Chefs Vigneron and Guarnaschelli's bacon-inspired buffet was less successful than the other team's, and their once-partnership turned to a fierce rivalry as they went head-to-head in a Secret Ingredient Showdown. Although this was her first-ever time competing in a Showdown, she completed it successfully and outcooked Chef Vigneron with a chocolate-laced duck dish.

Imagining Sea Urchin

Before beginning the final Chairman's Challenge in Las Vegas, Chef Guarnaschelli drew a simple rendering of what she hoped her last-supper-inspired offering would look like, plus she jotted down the step-by-step process she would take to clean and prepare the sea urchin. This dish ultimately earned her a place in the Kitchen Stadium finale.

Finale Preparations

With only one hour to cook, Chef Guarnaschelli and her two sous chefs set out to prepare a three-course offering with at least six Secret Ingredients. On her menu: seared scallops with miso and hen of the woods mushrooms, rolled lamb with eggplant puree and ratatouille and a chili-cherry tart.

No Cause for Concern

Thinking about her Iron Chef Bobby Flay-inspired dessert of chilies and cherries, Chef Guarnaschelli wondered, "Question is, can the dessert have the earthy flavor of the dried chilies without overpowering?" The answer turned out to be yes, and ultimately Iron Chef Michael Symon deemed this dish not only the best of Chef Guarnaschelli's offerings but the top plate of the day.

Winning Moment

After presenting her three-course offering to the panel of Next Iron Chef judges — plus three long-standing Iron Chefs Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto and Michael Symon — Chef Guarnaschelli saw for the first time her Iron Chef portrait hanging along the wall of Iron Chef greats. "I do not believe what just happened. I am The Next Iron Chef," she said afterwards. "Nobody wake me up. I'm dreaming. This is incredible."

Dream-Like Bliss

"Somebody pinch me," she wrote after hearing the Chairman announce that she had become The Next Iron Chef. "Did I dream this?" Soon after the announcement, however, her thoughts soon shifted from dreams to reality and she wondered, "How will they fit my whole last name on a chef's jacket?"

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