Last night on Food Network’s “The Next Iron Chef,” the contestants were asked by the chairman to create two dishes using a secret Mexican-themed ingredient, tamarind. I’m not sure what it tastes like, but I think it’s tangy along the lines of miso paste. Anyway, they were asked to create two dishes–a savory and a sweet, with 90 minutes to both shop and cook. Chef Mullen began with a 5 minute advantage because he won the previous challenge.

After shopping, the chefs went to work, with chef Mehta once again trying to make ice cream. Host Alton Brown wandered over to Mehta and started giving him a hard time, but the chef was adamant he was making the right choice. Meanwhile, chef Appleman was using a pressure cooker to make his soup, and he wound up burning it but still saving what was not burnt. Then with a few minutes remaining, the chairman threw another twist at them–they had to make a drink as well, also with tamarind incorporated. Yikes.

Chef Crenn went first with the judges and made a chicken tortilla soup, screwdriver with blood orange juice and a tamarind churro. The judges thought the churro was raw inside, a big no-no.

Chef Appleman made his soup, which was a chicken meatball concoction, crepes with goat cheese and a horchata (rice drink). The judges loved his meatballs and no one even noticed any burnt flavor.

Chef Freitag made a chipotle shrimp and jicama salad, a bitter margarita and an eclair with tamarind flavored cream. And she received some bad comments based on the quality or lack thereof of the shrimp.

Chef Mehta made an apple tamarind pork, the ice cream and a chocolate tamarind shot. Everything he made went over pretty well, even the ice cream.

Chef Garces made a mole with poblano chicken, a tamarind martini, and a coconut flan that both Jeffrey Steingarten and Alton Brown commented was slightly curdled. Uh-oh.

Chef Mullen made a shrimp taco, some marinated mango and and “icy icy” with tequila. They liked the taco and drink but not the mango.

Chef Trevino went with a Mexican ceviche made with snapper, but served it with stale tortilla chips; a sake mojito and a chocolate gordita that did not go over well at all.

So then Brown started the elimination process. Chef Mehta was declared the winner and was praised for his ice cream that finally came out right. Next to safety was Appleman, followed by Garces, Mullen and Trevino.

Then it came down to Crenn and Freitag. Brown told chef Freitag that while the shrimp dish did not go over well, her dessert was barely good enough, and chef Crenn was sent home because of the fact that her dessert was slightly raw inside.

So we’re down to six now, and they mentioned in the previews for next week that it’s going to be a double elimination. This season is rolling by, and it still appears to me that chef Appleman is the front runner. Still, a lot can happen, especially with all of the difficult challenges and twists and turns.

Thanks for reading and see you guys next week…