Geoffrey Zakarian has been slowly edging ahead over the last several weeks. He is easily the most skilled in technique, the most focused, of all the super chefs. I was not surprised to see him emerge the winner today. At one point Simon Majumdar referred to him as Darth Zakarian.
In the Secret Ingredient Showdown, it was Michael Chiarello against Elizabeth Falkner. I identified Falkner as the chef to beat a couple of weeks ago. Zakarian has risen to take the lead, but she is still the chef with the widest culinary comfort zone. Chiarello is a brilliant chef, but I thought he was fading a bit. Falkner edged him out to join Zakarian in the finale next week. That makes Falkner the first female finalist in the series.
Looking ahead to the final battle, I ask myself: which of these two chefs would I prefer watching on a regular basis? Iron Chef America could use a female Iron Chef to replace Cat Cora, so I could see Falkner there; Zakarian would be just one more Old Boy Chef. On the other hand, compared to the existing Iron Chefs, Zakarian would be the best exemplar of French technique. Oddly enough, French technique has been under-served in Kitchen Stadium. Plus, I've come to really like Zakarian as a person. He interests me.
Well, we'll see.