Some of you know that I'm a big fan of Iron Chef America, Top Chef, and (to a lesser extent) Next Food Network Star. I've enjoyed moments of Next Iron Chef, which is drawing to a close tonight. Apparently some wiki has already spoiled the conclusion, but I haven't looked. Honest. And my money is on John Besh. This is an optimistic bet, based on the fact that I think he's cooking on a very different level from other show participants. This is not a bet based on who I think Food Network will want us to see and see again.
Each episode of Top Chef is supported by blogs from the judges, hosts, and food world notables. Next Iron Chef doesn't host blogs for the participants, and I've only enjoyed the entries from Michael Ruhlman.
I posted my take on the Next Iron Chef match-up in the comments of Ruhlman's blog, I'll quote myself here:
Coming to this conversation late, but I can't be the only one that thought the very likable Symon got his backside handed to him by Morimoto. Morimoto hamming it up and laughing that Symon didn't deserve to make sushi rice in a kitchen with him was it? Besh and Batali seemed close, even though the ingredient was right in Besh's wheel house.
Symon's mutant ability --everyone has one after all-- seems to be making good reads on situations. Cooking rather than warming his salmon with airplane oven, serving a drink with his plate of grilled birds. That knack will serve him less well in a show where the format doesn't change.
Based on the recent coverage, I'd say Besh's mutant ability is entrepreneurial. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It's certainly something he has in common with Bobby Flay and Mario Batali.