Last night on Food Network’s “The Next Iron Chef,” the contestants were asked to re-create a few different Asian dishes that were the signatures of various hot spots in the Los Angeles area. The chairman hand-picked these restaurants and dishes, and since chef Mullen won the previous challenge, he was allowed to pick his teammate and the other teams, as well as choose which of the four cuisines/dishes they would be re-creating.

He chose chef Appleman as his teammate, and the two of them had to re-invent a Korean hot pot dish, which has all sorts of meat and vegetables over rice. Chefs Trevino and Farmerie were paired up and had to make two kinds of Chinese dumplings–pork, and vegetable. Garces and Crenn were assigned to remake Vietnamese pho soup. And Mehta and Freitag had to make Thai green curry with fish balls (heh heh, I said fish balls).

It looked easy to do this, yet not easy at all..because they had to make the dishes after looking at them and tasting them, and the person who came closest on each team would win. The winners were Appleman, Trevino, Crenn and Freitag.

Then came the main challenge, and for that these chefs were asked to take the dish they tried to re-create in the first challenge, and make an “Americanized” version of it. The winners of round 1 had a huge advantage, however…an extra 5 minutes of time. They had 60 minutes while their teammates had 55…not to mention the winners also had first dibs on ingredients.

Here is what they all made and the order in which they were sent back to safety:

Mullen–Korean reuben sandwich made with short ribs….judge Donatella Arpaia said it was the “best damn Reuben” she ever had. Wow.

Freitag–She made a fish cake in the vein of a Maryland crab cake, with Thai green curry sauce, and they loved it though Jeffrey Steingarten thought it lacked creativity overall.

Appleman–pot roast and kim chee. My mouth is watering.

Mehta–Sweet and spicy green curry that Steingarten said was “bad” but they loved his presentation.

Garces–American style French dip sandwich with pho

Trevino–Meatloaf dumpling made with pork, but the judges did not like the fact that he left the gristle in. Yuck.

So it was down to chefs Crenn and Farmerie. Crenn made a take on American breakfast, with pork sausage and egg, but it didn’t go over well. However, chef Farmerie made a take on pierogies with a dipping broth, but the judges did not like the overall flavor of the meat filling, and for that he was sent home.

We’re down now to seven and it’s becoming clear who the favorites might be–at least in my mind. Those are chefs Appleman and Freitag with chef Mullen close behind. And Garces has also shown flashes of brilliance but I don’t think he has enough.

What do you all think? If you saw the show feel free to comment below and thanks for reading!