Next Iron Chef: The Little Piles Episode

Metrocurean has tuned in to the Food Network's "The Next Iron Chef" for the past two weeks to watch local chef Morou Ouattara compete. (Read about week one and week two.) Spoilers ahead ...

Maybe Donatella Arpaia has a crush on chef Aaron Sanchez.

The third installment of "The Next Iron Chef" tested the chefs' resourcefulness by sticking them with coolers full of "wild" ingredients — chosen in secret by a fellow competitor — that they had to turn into two dishes in one hour with a charcoal grill and limited tools.

Our man Morou (at right), despite some tasty looking venison dishes, found himself in the bottom three, along with Sanchez and Gavin Kaysen in what would be a double elimination. Judges Michael Ruhlman and Andrew Knowlton had a spat over which chef's dish was better, Sanchez's or Morou's. The disagreement was ultimately settled by Arpaia, who seemed to ignore the challenge at hand and fall back on personal preference. And that preference was for Sanchez, not Morou.

And so ends our local chef's hopes of gaining a permanent roost in Kitchen Stadium. Kaysen also got the boot.

Trouble for Morou started when he peered into his cooler to see what ingredients chef John Besh had picked for him. "John Besh got me," Morou lamented, after finding venison and "not what to cook with it, but what the deer itself will eat." With that, he prepared grilled venison over a wild flower vinaigrette with grilled day lilies and cured venison tenderloin with walnut pesto and blueberry barbecue sauce. Both were artfully presented, I might add, but that's where things really tripped him up.

The Ivory Coast native's signature artistic presentation was lost on the judges, who wanted to see his food touching this time around. "I mean everything is constantly in little piles," Arpaia said. (Evidence at left.) Though Knowlton defended the Farrah Olivia chef's dishes, he ultimately echoed that sentiment: "We found the plating again to be a little monotonous," he later told the chef.

Those little piles got the best of him, but hey, the competition was stiff, and it was a good run. Congrats, chef Morou, on a solid showing.

In other Iron Chef news, Ricky Moore, the next contestant from the DC area to compete on the actual show, just left his post as head chef of Agraria, according to Foodservice Monthly's blog Sauce on the Side.

Oddly enough, chef Morou was also restaurant-less when he competed on Iron Chef. Hmm ...


David said...

The odd thing - to me at least - was that Morou got the boot solely because of his plating - and not that his plating was poor but that it did not vary enough. All the comments about the food from the judges was that it tasted really good. It appeared that the quality of Sanchez's and Kaysen's dishes were poor. I would think you would boot someone whose food was bad over a chef's whose food tasted good and whose plating was good but lacked variety from challenge to challenge. Just odd.

On the other hand, we now know that the judges are making decisions based not on just what happens in a particular episode but are factoring in all the previous challenges as well. That bodes well for those chefs that have consistently done well (i.e., Besh).

Amanda said...

I completely agree. It seemed really arbitrary.

My money is now on Besh, with an outside chance to Symon.

hewasrobbed! said...

Morou was robbed! Food isn't about plating -- it's about taste. I will vote with my feet by going to his restaurant. I agree that Besh is going to win, based mainly on charisma.

Jason said...

Echoing what David said, I was really surprised at the decision. I believe at one point the judges even said that his dish, based solely on taste alone, was their favorite. Yet they booted him for monotanous plating? I know plating comes into play on Iron Chef, but I also know it is not nearly that important. I wonder if it had to do with the fact that he was still going his own way rather then listening to them. Sort of an "I'll show him!" sort of thing.

I really think keeping Sanchez in was a poor decision on their part. IMHO, his work has continued to just scrape by in each episode. He's going to have a huge target painted on him next episode.

Amanda said...

Agreed. And "monotony" aside, the plates were still beautiful.

CCHarmony said...

Very unfair indeed . . . I've eaten at Farrah Olivia and it's outstanding. I hope this at least gives him some well-deserved local attention.