Iron Chef Gauntlet episode 4: Classic combo flavor conundrum


Iron Chef Gauntlet episode 4 had chefs reinvent four classic combos. The challenge proved too much and another chef was sent packing.

With just four chefs remaining, Iron Chef Gauntlet episode 4 had chefs baffled with simplicity. The chairman’s challenge had chefs reinvent a classic combo flavor. While some chefs tried to be inventive, the challenge left some struggling to find the flavors. Followed by the chicken elimination challenge, one more chef left Kitchen Stadium.

The competition becomes more difficult on Iron Chef Gauntlet. The last four chefs standing need to be ready to face the Iron Chefs. The chairman’s challenge proved that simplicity can be a conundrum. The classic flavor combinations may not need reinvention, but an Iron Chef needs to think out of the box.

Iron Chef Gauntlet episode 4, photo from Food Network

The four flavor combinations were coconut and lime, honey and mustard, sour cream and onion, and chocolate and peanut butter. Everyone knows these flavors. Finding a new way to present the classic is part of the challenge.

First, the chefs were randomly assigned a number, which determined the ingredient picking order. Still, each chef received their desired combos. Even with their preferred choices, the chefs had difficulty creating successful dishes within the 30 minute challenge.

Put the lime in the coconut.

Chef Dady was the winning chef. His coconut and lime curry highlighted the classic combo. While a curry was somewhat expected, the coconut lime ice was a refreshing component to the dish. The ice cut the curry’s heat but didn’t overwhelm the delicate scallop.

Chef Grueneberg survived another challenge. The pasta queen made potato and sour cream dumplings. The dumpling was paired with a charred onion chutney. An additional ingredient, bottarga, was unnecessary and prevented her from winning again.

Iron Chef Gauntlet episode 4, photo from Food Network

Chef Izard had positives and negatives in her chocolate and peanut butter Korean short ribs. While the dish was flavorful, Alton couldn’t taste the chocolate. When the secret ingredient isn’t prominent, the dish is unsuccessful.

Unfortunately, Chef Nakajima was on the bottom again. His honey and mustard dish lacked mustard. For the third week in a row, Chef Nakajima faced elimination.

No foul, secret ingredient chicken.

Facing his third elimination challenge, Chef Nakajima awaited his challenger. Chef Dady selected Chef Izard as the opponent. This week’s secret ingredient challenge featured chicken. While the chefs didn’t have boneless, skinless chicken breasts on the altar, the chefs could use roasting chicken, capons, Cornish game hens and black silkies.

While popular in the home kitchen, many chefs avoid the boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Although healthy, chefs can’t infuse a lot of flavor into this part of the chicken. In this challenge, neither chef used a chicken breast.

Iron Chef Gauntlet episode 4, photo from Food Network

Chef Izard, with her previous Iron Chef experience, understood this challenge required some inventive dishes. Using her knowledge of Asian cuisine, Chef Izard started with chicken feet dim sum. Most home chefs wouldn’t think of cooking or even eating chicken feet. Although chewy, chicken feet bring a lot of flavor and texture to a dish. While her presentation was boring, the chicken feet were a big, bold choice that delivered on flavor.

The second dish was thinly sliced chicken thighs. Again, the dish may have lacked creativity, but the blending of sweet and spicy paid off. The judges commented that they would buy it in a restaurant.

Lastly, her third dish pushed the envelope. Chef Izard presented a dish inspired by a chicken pot pie, but a dessert-like version. She created a chicken liver ice cream with a chicken pastry dough. The ice cream was velvety without an overpowering chicken liver flavor. Chef Izard greatly impressed the judges with her third dish.

Iron Chef Gauntlet episode 4, photo from Food Network

Chef Nakajima was a little out of his element with this challenge. Asian flavors were prominent in his dishes. His first dish, a chicken heart skewer, was big on flavor. Although not a perfect dish, it did excel in highlighting the chicken.

His second dish took on the black silky chicken. For those unfamiliar, the black silky is a black chicken (color is pitch black). This chicken is difficult to cook, but Chef Nakajima tackled the challenge like a pro. Both judges were impressed with his choice to cook this particular chicken. His second dish, again, was big on flavor and overall successful.

Finally, his third dish, a chicken meatball, was the least successful. While his dashi was delicious, the judges faulted his chicken meatball. One comment was that his meatball was too dense. With the final dish not being the best, the outcome wasn’t good for Chef Nakajima.

After surviving two elimination challenges, Chef Nakajima was sent home on his third challenge. Chef Izard crushed Chef Nakajima 33 points to 24. Chef Izard’s dishes were most successful on flavor. Her use of layered flavors in each dish proved most successful.

Three chefs remain in battle.

With just three chef remaining in the competition, kitchen stadium is reaching a boiling point. Hopefully, the final challenge will pit Chef Izard against Chef Grueneberg. The two Chicago chefs are highly successful in the industry and have very different culinary points of view. Both James Beard Award winners, these two women have the talent, knowledge and determination to be the next Iron Chef. Sorry Chef Dady, but I’m wanting a Chicago woman chef to win. Too bad both Chefs Izard and Grueneberg couldn’t win.

Next: Iron Chef Gauntlet episode 3, sweet, savory and cephalopods

The kitchen stadium doors have closed on Iron Chef Gauntlet episode 4. What was learned from this episode? First, classic combos can be reinvented, just as long as you don’t lose the original flavor. Second, chicken is more than just the chicken breast. Lastly, flavor is king. Without it, a dish can never be successful.

Check back next Sunday for episode 5. Who will ultimately face the gauntlet remains to be seen.