And the winner is . . .
We've been following The Next Iron Chef
with avidity. My pre-show evaluation was that Michael Symon was a bigger personality than John Besh, but he's had a problem with producing a whole spread of great dishes. Besh is more mature, more experienced, a consistent cook -- but his food is much showier than his affect. So, Symon would be more fun to watch but Besh would probably score better on all five dishes in a match.
All this meant that if Symon could pull off an entire meal at his best, he could probably smoke Besh. And that seems to be what he did.
Both chefs outdid themselves. Symon made six dishes, rather than five, and five of the six were out of the park with the judges (the established Iron Chefs). Besh did seven
dishes (throwing together a dessert at the VERY last minute just to please Morimoto. All were up to his standard, though I noticed that he tended to pair the secret ingredient (Swordfish) with other proteins (shrimp, lobster . . .), while Symon did a better job of featuring Swordfish prepared in different ways.
In the end, Symon won, though we never saw a score. Three Iron Chefs voted, as did the three judges who've been along for the whole series. Presumably, the Chairman would break a tie, though I'm guessing that the Food Network VIPs were probably ready to steer the vote the way they thought it should go.
Mario Batali was not part of the Iron Chefs panel, fueling speculation that he means to retire from the show. We'll see. It would be a shame to lose him; he's my favorite to watch.