By Jenn Harris
9:57 AM PST, November 26, 2012
Sunday night's "Next Iron Chef" treated viewers to an all-out brodown. The bromance between Spike Mendelsohn and Marcel Vigneron was forced to come to a head when the two were pitted against each other in the secret-ingredient showdown.
For the chairman's challenge, the chefs were asked to redeem the reputation of canned food through transformation. Highlights included Elizabeth Falkner's winning canned roast beef with Bordelaise sauce and mini cheesy Yorkshire puddings and Nate Appleman's tuna three ways with ricotta gnocchi with tuna pesto, tuna puttanesca and shaved frozen tuna.
Mendelsohn underwhelmed the judges yet again, this time by making a Vietnamese crepe with Vienna sausage. Compared to the other contestants' dishes, it looked safe, and amateur. Vigneron's dish of acqua pazza (Italian fish soup) with clam cakes made from canned clams sounded good, and I even thought he had a chance at winning, but some severe over-seasoning caused the judges to grimace with every bite. Alton Brown deemed the dish inedible and Simon Majumdar asked if there was a priest available to exorcise his mouth!
The bros faced off in the secret-ingredient showdown with lobster. Both chefs appeared to cook better and more inventively than they ever have (Mendelsohn made a lobster laksa with lobster noodles and Vigneron made lobster and mango with hibiscus sauce), but they royally insulted the judges when they decided to plate on the same plate. There is no law that says you can't be friends in the kitchen, but you're fighting for the "Next Iron Chef" gig.... Show a little respect.
In the end, Mendelsohn was sent home and Vigneron was left in kitchen stadium surrounded by five fierce competitors. None of whom he can call his bro.
Best, worst moments:
Mendelsohn whining that he brushes his teeth with nuoc cham (Vietnamese fish sauce dip). After Majumdar called his nuoc cham unbalanced, Mendelsohn proudly claimed: "Listen, I brush my teeth with nuoc cham, Simon is not going to tell me my nuoc cham is unbalanced."
Vingeron telling Mendelsohn: "There's a little Thai lady inside of you ... and she's delicious," after tasting Mendelsohn's sauce. First, that's just weird. And second, nuoc cham isn't Thai, it's Vietnamese.
Spike freaking out and making Chewbacca noises after Alex Guarnaschelli asks if she can move one of his pans while cooking. Who knows? Maybe he has a future career as the next best Wookie at Comic-Con.
"The Next Iron Chef" airs Sundays on the Food Network at 9 p.m.
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