Two of the country’s most talented chefs, John Besh and Michael Symon, compete in kitchen stadium, Sunday Night on the Food Network.  FN so secretive about it, even I wasn’t able to procure an advance screening.   Damn (thanks Lisa!).  And I’m going to be at Book Passage in San Francisco, then en route to Seattle flogging the new book (and so far meeting excellent people, thank you St. Louis and Atlanta, and especially Viking kitchen staffs). Can I catch the finale in an airport?

Will it be the man in black?

Or the man in white?

I heard from several Besh supporters here in Atlanta (and no Symon supporters), and Besh getting a lot of national press (deserved). Judging from comments here, Symon has popular appeal.  Both are great chefs and business owners, and most importantly here, superlative cooks.  Who will it be?  And where does Symon get his pants? And who does Besh’s hair? Can’t WAIT to hear comments on Monday!


248 Wonderful responses to “Next Iron Chef Finale”

  • Chance (Is I Am Or I Know Your Boss)

    @Shelley: I thought you might like that play on symbols Sometimes, offal is so awful (or should that be the other way arond ;-))

    Nice citing of certain ingredients and libations…

    Personally, I think wine is more elegant and was appropriate in general, but also as a companion and not a distraction to cuisine.

    Lobster overpowering (the swordfish)? Yeah, I do not agree with this either, even if s-fish is rather tasteless without herbs & spices. Lobster, on its own, just boiled, can be rather tasteless or ordinary too, so I did not understand the ICs opinions of this particular one of Besh’s dishes.

    Was that the dish with the stock of shrimps heads & s-fish bones? If so, maybe that is why?

    I still think that dessert was a bold move by Besh. If the “customer” in this last episode was really the ICAs, then, IMO, you cook to please your customers, even if you may disagree with their desires and demands. The key to not acquiescing (while providing the illusion that you have – since the customer is always right) is, to make the dish your own, and not their way – that exudes confidence and trust in one’s knowledge and skills.

    Also, Shelley, I loved this part of yours:

    (I forget one of the four, but it’s drunk and I’m late.)


    And, I think someone was wondering why Batali the Great is gone? IIRC, FN mothballed (or refused to renew) Molto Mario.

    I loved Molto Mario, and I loved the ingredients he used. Highly instructive, and elevated while not being snobbish or exclusive. But, most of all, it made one want to either to try and cook some of these dishes, or to go out and try them. Batali is inspiring.

  • LauraTheRed

    dlayphoto: Hahaha, I thought I’d see you pop up in here. This is your friendly neighborhood drunkenlawyer 🙂

    Yes, I totally agree with your Symon and R.R. battle (only this time, she won’t have the greatness of Batali to back her up, like she did when Giada De Laurentiis was f-ing ROBBED by having to work with that culinary hack and Food Network puppet Bobby Flay).

  • JoP in Omaha

    I just saw this on

    “The Next Iron Chef winner Michael Symon is challenged to a Turkey Day battle Sunday at 9 pm / 8c.”


  • allie

    “I’ll have to go back to wishing the real Iron Chef were on again, and watch the American version knowing I could cook circles around Bobby and Cat and Symon.”

    I’m sorry, but this made me actually laugh out loud.

    sure you could…

  • Chance (Is I Am Or I Know Your Boss)

    @ JoP: “The Next Iron Chef winner Michael Symon is challenged to a Turkey Day battle Sunday at 9 pm / 8c.”



    Interesting that it’s Turkey.

  • allie

    chance- I think their comments about the lobster/swordfish dish had more to do with there being too much lobster and not enough swordfish, not that lobster itself has an overpowering flavor.

  • Lisa

    Tech issue/question: Does anyone else have trouble with the comments field when it gets this long? I’m having a problem seeing all the comments–sometimes none of them display, other times the last few dozen come up blank. (The same thing happened to me with the last TNIC entry with a long comments field.)

    Note to Michael: others might be having this problem too; maybe start a fresh blog entry for discussing TNIC finale. Clearly we all can’t wait to hear what you have to say, and will want to comment on that!


  • Tags

    “I’ll have to go back to wishing the real Iron Chef were on again, and watch the American version knowing I could cook circles around Bobby and Cat and Symon.”

    Okay, start with Poland, then move on to the Benelux countries, no, wait, sorry, Austria first.

    Once you nail down Belgium just move right through the Ardennes and on to Paree.

    And, for crying out loud, leave Russia alone!

    still LQTM

  • Kalyne

    JoP: I’m pretty sure that Knowlton’s “2:1 favorite going in” comment was about Symon at the start of the competition, not the

    Bobby Flay always seems very likable and constructive in judging situations. Who knew?

    Got to admire Cat Cora staying on message so well (message being, for whatever she was tasting, “The dish has some potential, but you’re not IC caliber–like me–yet”.)

    I think Besh got some (hypothetical) points for taking a chance with dessert at the last minute, but lost some because it almost seemed disrespectful to think you could produce a battle-worthy dessert in 5 minutes. Nothing special about mascarpone (+ choose ingredient) fried in brik and dipped in fruit. Nice try, but I think he should have stayed focused on “quality”.

    Morimoto was quite humorous–and that drawing of the final dishes with Japanese notation would be a fun souvenir. Wish he’d auction it on eBay….

    Glad they lost/won in KS, under real ICA situations, judged by real chefs.

  • Tags

    And Iron Chef Symon, now’s a good time for that pep talk with the Browns defense. It worked for Indy last year.

    Treat Coach Dungy to a lush multi-course dinner, get him loaded at Velvet Tango, and casually ask him what he said to the Indy D last year that moved them to improve from 31st to Super Bowl caliber.

  • LauraTheRed

    ” ‘I’ll have to go back to wishing the real Iron Chef were on again, and watch the American version knowing I could cook circles around Bobby and Cat and Symon.

    I’m sorry, but this made me actually laugh out loud.

    sure you could…’ ”

    I think my black lab could cook circles around Bobby Flay and Cat Cora. Than again, so could a half-eaten ham sandwich.

    I think Bobby Flay secretly likes to wrap his dick in lettace and hide it in people’s salads.

  • Shelley

    They’re flying to Turkey to battle on Sunday??? Whatever for?


    Batali’s not totally out yet, y’all. They say he’s in at least two more battles next season. Look it up on da web… and catch him at 1pm Eastern on the other, better Scripps channel, Fine Living.

  • Kansas City rube

    The right man won.
    Congrats to Michael Symon. I thought he was much more creative throughout the show, which I think is the quintessential characteristic of an Iron Chef.

    The format of the judging to determine the winner surprised me. I thought the final battle would be winner-take-all, with only the three judges determining who won the battle. Did I miss something or did they not even show the scores from the three Iron Chefs?

  • Ava


    When has Andrew ever worn a shirt that doesn’t fit? He always seemed to me to be the most polished one on the entire series. The guy looks like a male model.

  • Crystal

    Just to clear up a couple of uninformed posts. All of the judges tasted the dishes. We just didn’t get to see Michael, Andrew and Donatella tasting the dishes. Also, Besh lost to Symon 4-2 not 5-1. Andrew Knowlton shares this information in his blog. Here’s a link…

  • Crystal

    KC Rube – No, you didn’t miss anything. They didn’t show scores. The battle was not scored like normal ICA battles are. The judges simply wrote down the name of the person they wanted to win.

  • Chance (Is I Am Or I Know Your Boss)

    @ Ava:


    When has Andrew ever worn a shirt that doesn’t fit? He always seemed to me to be the most polished one on the entire series. The guy looks like a male model.


    Ava – as much as I do not care for Knowlton’s critique, his narcissism (and personal attacks not so well veiled by his “professional” knowledge), I have to say that he’s quite the fashion maven. He looks very Chelsea (as in NYC, not London) and Heaven forbid, I wouldn’t want for any one in that business to dress like, say, Tyler Florence, in all of his awful frathouse and Northern Exposure attire. Knowlton has style, no doubt. Rather Dandy-like.

  • Chance (Is I Am Or I Know Your Boss)

    @ Allie:

    chance- I think their comments about the lobster/swordfish dish had more to do with there being too much lobster and not enough swordfish, not that lobster itself has an overpowering flavor.


    Thanks a lot, allie. I am feeling dense (not as dense as that lobster, though ;-)) and so, I guess it had to do with the amount, as M-moto pointed out, of lobster.

    Hindsight is 20/20, but instead of the concept and riff of and on the roll, maybe, instead, Lobster medallions or coins would have been more to the ICs liking? Who knows. But, I do hope Besh gets to do something, somewhere on television (without abandoning his mothership of restaurant and cooking). He’s vital, even if not the next crowd-schmoozer that Emeril is, and his personality: I do like his “over-confidence,” since it’s backed by knowledge, skill and ability.

    Also, Besh’s dry humor and on the outside looking in gaze is a nice contrast to the more “personable” and crowd pleasing chefs. It’s not like Cat lights up the stage, as much as she may be okay etc.

    And, last but not least, Besh is suave, dresses like the type of man he is, and is much more worldly than most of his fellow chefs.

    Yowsa, I digressed (but stayed on topic about chefs!)

  • gfweb

    Anybody else cringe at Cora’s talking about what is and isn’t iron chef cooking?

  • BKbella

    I found Andrew’s “2-1” comment very interesting. I too feel like it pertained to the fact that Symon was the Golden Child entering the competition. Despite having a judge in his pocket during the competition, Symon did deserve the win. I think having the competition judged with IC parameters (Originality, taste, plating) would have been much more fair and appropriate (this is, afterall, Iron Chef).

    Listening to Morimoto speak makes me weep for the state of Iron Chef. FN killed it. Too much production and very little emotion. Best wishes to all the contestants. I hope they encounter much more fairness on their road to success.

  • ava

    I definitely agree with you said about style. I hate the frat boy look.

    I also understand there were times Andrew came across as harsh, but why do you think he’s a narcissist? He simply gave his opinion like the other judges. I’m just curious why everyone seems to think he’s such a jerk. I seem to be his only fan.

  • Kalyne

    Correction to my post to JoP: You’re right. Knowlton said Symon was favored “going into” the final, which does make more sense.

    He also said he thought the original three judges–who’d tasted ALL of the food from the beginning–should have made the final decision. (But they didn’t, since A/D were 2:1 Besh).

    He also said that he thought Besh CLEARLY won the final, no question.

    I wonder if NIC changed the final judging rules midstream, or if the final vote was always supposed to be decided like that? (And, if so, would AB have broken a tie?)

  • Ed

    >>>I’m just curious why everyone seems to think he’s such a jerk.

    Could it be that almost every opinion he expressed involved an insult to another judge or competitor? I’m sure that he was editied to some degree to come off this way, but read his blog…he is dumbfounded that he was outvoted and thinks it was unfair that other Iron Chefs had a say…how arrogant. He may have tried all 50 dishes, but how many have the IC’s cooked and been sucessful with? To disregard their greater perspective is pretty over the top, he seems to believe that his opinion is the only correct one. I did agree with him most of the time, but he definately rubs the wrong way. As a judge he is worse than the close minded Karine Bakoum who was a perenial judge during the first few seasons, and that is saying something.

  • Shelley

    Nice to know from Knowlton’s blog that the original judges did taste the food. Yes, I would have liked to hear their comments in the broadcast. But obviously Knowlton would have been just as whiny as ever.

    Ava, I don’t get what you see in that boy. Is there an echo in that big empty fan club room? 🙂

    As for Cat Cora, she’s not THAT bad an Iron Chef, y’all! My young daughter is her biggest fan. We always root for her, even though she’s not as strong as the others.

  • Sara

    Shelley Wrote: “(I forget one of the four, but it’s drunk and I’m late.)”

    That is:

    1. Hilarious

    2. My worst nightmare (if taken out of context).

  • Shelley

    Roger that, Sara! “It’s drunk and I’m late,” is an all-around good excuse for making a mistake (not the reproductive kind, I hope).

    I also like to say that 69.7% of all statistics are made up. (Attribute that to Steven Wright, I believe.)

  • ava


    I’ll admit that the empty fan club comment made me laugh…As for what I see in him, I think he’s hot. He seems knowledgeable, intelligent, mysterious, and not afraid to speak his opinion. It’s just refreshing to see a guy like him on TV as opposed to all the Ryan Seacrest type airheads.

  • Tana

    I was thrilled Michael Symon won, and only cheered louder once yesterday: when Peyton “Whiny Baby” Not-a-Manning threw his SIXTH interception to a San Diego Charger.

    I thought either Symon or Besh to be very qualified, from everything I’d seen, and cannot begin to fathom the hateful bashing people here engage in (behind the cloak of anonymity, feh).

    Besh is going to continue to be an inspiration: he’s got spine and talent and a great deal of charisma.

    Symon’s shows are going to be must-watches for me, because of his sense of humor.

    And I’m with the folks who wish Symon and Besh would replace Cat Cora and Bobby Flay.

    And now to quote Drew Carey: “CLEVELAND ROCKS!”

  • Todd

    “Apparently Dorothy Hamilton thought enough of Cat Cora to interview her on Chef’s Story.”

    I almost asked what Cat Cora was doing ice skating.

  • BKbella

    What cracks me up most about last night’s finale was that Besh, a Veteran, lost on Veteran’s Day. How unpatriotic is that?!?!

  • Shelley

    Me too, Todd! Paula Deen had Dorothy Hamill on one of her idiotic party shows not long ago, and I was thinking w-w-wha… ??? Now she’s interviewing chefs???

  • so-so

    Happy for Symon who has exactly what FoodNetwork thinks we TV viewers want. The need of the many outweigh the need of the one or so the FDN surmises.
    Besh clearly outshines many Iron Chef’s already seated on their thrones. He does not have the “gregariousness” the FDN think, that we need to view and would turn the TV on for. He is quiet and dignified, so much so, like Mari Moto.
    Nonetheless, he has posh and knows his food well, from A to Z, old-soulful recipes to the “advant garde” ones. Notice, I say “old soul” because he has an old soul, you can see it in his eyes. I am almost sure that Michael Symon, respects and senses this. You can see the these two gentlemen respect each others love of food and their friendship does shine through. You can clearly see that they have a friendship that will bond them for many years to come. John carries within him many decades of “the love for food” in his old recipes within his repertoire. He has one foot in the past and one in the future, when it comes to his recipes and this is what Julia Child was all about. She never forgot the “history of food” and was not ashamed to cook or bake them for us, and she was smart enough to pass the old recipes to the “new age” viewers. O.K. maybe the “many” will never cook some of these recipes in their kitchen but I for one am so thankful that there still are chefs that out there that know of these recipes and are proud of them. But the palate of the “many” is becoming different and one must keep up with society. Emeril is another chef that keeps the respect for the old recipes as well. Enough said, I said my peace. I have to admit all is true what we all say here in this blog. Some is a little too raw, but it rings true. Many years of health and prosperity to Chef Symon and Chef Besh.
    Much happiness to Chef Symon.

  • allie

    I understand that people can dislike certain chefs… personally, I love bobby flay, but I can understand how he might rub someone the wrong way.

    however, unless you’re, say, mario batali posting in disguise, suggesting that you, any of your friends, or any of your pets could “cook circles around him” is simply laughable.

    its sort of like a disgruntled football fan sitting on the couch with his hand down his pants, talking about how he could do a better job than an NFL QB. come on, let’s stay grounded in reality here.

  • Chance (Is I Am Or I Know Your Boss)


    Agreed, to a point. I think Besh has a better sense of aesthetics, decorum and social graces, while still being a culinary progressive.



  • Ninth Ward Earl

    I’d like to share the thought that helped keep my family’s sanity during the Hurricane Katrina aftermath in New Orleans.

    From our roof, waving sheets to attract a Coast Guard helicopter, to the Superdome, where they let us off, to the bus lines, days later, our spirits were always lifted by a variation of the following exchange.

    “You know, it could be worse.”

    “How could this be worse?”

    “We could be in Cleveland”

    Bless you, Besh!

  • Chance (Is I Am Or I Know Your Boss)

    “Cleveland Rocks” should go to Ian Hunter.

    Who doesn’t reside in Cleveland, but in New England.

  • so-so

    I wish that I never found out from the Canadian Newspaper that Chef Michael Symon won, I kept watching the episodes with a different viewpoint, even up to the last minute, I said “who will it be?” One part of me wanted the final outcome to be “unheard” news. It kind of took all the fun out of the ending. Wasn’t that great, I saw this familiar figure (can’t mistake that head of hair) sitting between Chef Besh and Chef Symon and guess who it was? Chef Cosentino. I wonder if that was a coincidence him sitting right there. Bless all the Chefs who participated, it was fun, and I’m sure each and everyone of them came away with some knowledge about themselves they did not have before. What an exercise in development. It was like a school for grownups, I bet the Judges have learned a thing or two about themselves as well. Imagine if we could all have a movie made of our lives and be able to look back and see our mistakes and our triumphs.

  • barbie-cinti

    Mostly I am a blog spot voyeur, but since everyone here
    is a huge Bourdain fan (and this is completely off the
    subject) you have to read the interview he gave a DC
    reporter while promoting his book a few days ago. You
    can find it at
    At one point the reporter describes our beloved as
    “having the hips of a 13 year old girl”

  • Claudia

    Ava –

    Knowlton’s dress shirt definitely did NOT fit – he looked like a 13 year-old going off to his bar mitzah in his 17 year-old brother’s borrowed shirt.

    And, yes, Is I Am, Knowlton has looked very Chelsea (NY) – but 4 years out of date. The whipstitching on this jacket made it look like he snatched the raw shell of it away from his haberdasher before he got to finish it. It’s not enough to look “Chelsea good” – it also has to translate to camera. Which is why no one on camera in the right mind will wear, say, houndstooth or pinstripe . . . those patterns “bleed” on camera. Only a size 2 would wear white – even she would start looking like the Michelin Man. Donatella looked great, mostly – except for needing some more support in the black Paris dress. Ruhlman took an appropriate, conservative approach and outdressed everyone, but even if he hadn’t, at least I’m pretty sure his shirts would have fit.

    I still think Donatella should clasp young Knowlton to her ample bosom and whisk him away to her stylist. She has lots of hair, like he does – she justs knows better what to with it. They can bicker and shop, and shop and bicker and eat their happy little way through SoHo (NY) or Chelsea (NY) or wherever . . . I hope they’ll be very happy together (!)

  • David

    Well, I’m just going to look forward too a Besh vs. Iron Chef Symon rematch grudge battle. Be a neat episode. With the right commentary form the Chairman, it’d be very old school Iron Chef. The addition of that sort of thing to NICA was one item I liked seeing more of

  • Claudia

    I think a Symon/Besh “grudge” match, in the time-honored tradition of Morimoto v. the dread Ohta Faction, would be a fine story line. Or, even better, Symon and Besh teamed up against Flay and Morimoto for a special battle. Who can forgot the time Flay and Morimoto were partnered with each other, with sea urchin as the secret ingredient?

    Morimoto: “Bobby, how many sea urchin you want?”

    Flay (completely at a loss, just stares back helplessly.)

    Morimoto: “Never mind, Bobby, I know!” (Chuckle, chuckle, and waggles his fist full of urchin at the camera before scurrying off.)

    C’mon, we KNOW we all want this (!)

  • TKO

    Even thoug Besh looked cute as a muppet with fine hair & all his ingeniuous dishes…I some how found myself drawn to chef Symon because when I heard that laugh over and over and his personality and seeing these explosive dishes he made, well, I was hooked on this guy. For the first time ever now Im using beets in my Thanksgiving menu…thanks to both of these guys.