A few things that didn't really fit into the previous post on Ruhlman's The Elements of Cooking and the demonstration he gave at Viking Cooking School last night...
Ruhlman didn't talk at length about his role as a Next Iron Chef judge, but several attendees asked him about the show and Iron Chef America. A few interesting things he revealed. (Sorry, no clues about the winner.)
One, he said that he and the other judges had a pretty good idea who the final two contestants would be after the first day.
Two, it turns out that the "surprise" ingredient on Iron Chef isn't quite a surprise. Half an hour before the battle begins, the chefs learn that the surprise will be one of two ingredients. They then have those 30 minutes to begin planning for either possibility.
Finally, chefs have told Ruhlman they believe that, more often than not, what determines the winner is who goes before the tasting panel last.
Take all that for what it's worth.
EDIT: I forgot the most important part: Thanks to Michael Ruhlman for stopping by Borders before his class to sign a few books and chat with a few of us about food in St. Louis. Sorry if we went on too long about just how awful Provel is.
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