When Eric Greenspan of The Foundry on Melrose was eliminated in the first round of this season's The Next Iron Chef, the only Los Angeles chef in the contest left the building–or the kitchen. Since Greenspan's elimination, the ranks have been culled further: second to go was Holly Smith (Cafe Juanita, Poco Carretto Gelato) of Kirkland, Washington, and most recently, NYC's Brad Farmerie (Double Crown, Madam Geneva, PUBLIC, The Monday Room).
We asked Greenspan for his take on how the competition is going so far. Don't worry: no spoilers. Greenspan isn't allowed to spill the beans (your grasshopper joke here _____) on that one. (Wonder what The Food Network would do if you broke their contract: send Alton Brown after you with a Bob Kramer knife?) Our Q&A with Greenspan after the jump. And look for more from Greenspan as the remaining 7 chefs leave the kitchen island. (Got a question for the chef? Ask in the comments and we'll pass it along.)
Squid Ink: Did you agree with the judges' latest decision?
Eric Greenspan: I thought last week's choice [Holly Smith from Seattle] was rough because Holly's dish looked simple but tasty. That's just her style. This week, although Brad is a fantastic cook and perhaps the nicest man I've ever met in this business, I guess the pierogie was too similar to what he was to change. It didn't make sense to me, but I wasn't tasting.
SI: I know you can't give any forecasts, since you know the outcome of the show, but is there any advice you'd give for the rest of the contestants? Speaking hypothetically, of course.
EG: Jehangir should stop prodding Trevino because he can be a dangerous man. It also seems like Seamus is cooking out of his mind right now and is clearly the chef to beat.
SI: Is there any advice you'd give to future contestants?
EG: Always remember that this is not a contest about how you cook, but how you cook under specific circumstances. Don't try too much or too hard. Stay focused.
SI: Tell us about the kitchens on the set: is there anything that surprised you? An ingredient, a piece of equipment?
EG: I was shocked by how little room there was to work. But more shocking, as we move on, is how equipment failure keeps playing a part–from my blender burning out, Seamus not being able to use the fryer, and Jehangir and the ice cream machine.
SI: Is Alton Brown really that much of a science geek?
EG: I wouldn't call Alton a science geek, but the man knows his food. He's funnier than you would think too – a real hoot to be around!
SI: If you had to open a restaurant with one of the other contestants on the show, who would it be?
EG: It would probably be Jose Garces because he already owns like 10 and they all kill it. Trevino would be fun to work with too, but I think we'd be dangerous together.
SI: If Jeffrey Steingarten showed up at The Foundry tomorrow, what would you cook for him?
EG: I'd gladly cook him anything on the menu. As long as we stay away from insects. And I assure you, that's the plan.