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Jose Garces crowned 'The Next Iron Chef's second-season champion

By Christopher Rocchio, 11/23/2009 

Jose Garces was crowned The Next Iron Chef's second-season winner during last night's finale broadcast of the Food Network reality competition series.

"It's amazing to be an Iron Chef," said Garces after his victory was revealed.

"This means everything. It puts me at a different level than most other chefs -- to be an Iron Chef. They're idols. They're gods. People really look up to the Iron Chefs, and I'm looking forward to taking my place along side of them."

As The Next Iron Chef's second-season winner, Garces, an executive chef and owner of Amada, Tinto, Distrito and Chifa from Philadelphia, PA, will now appear on Food Network's Iron Chef America cooking competition.

Garces defeated Jehangir Mehta, the executive chef and owner of Graffiti from New York, NY who finished as the runner-up.

"It's a little disappointing," said Mehta. "Life is about a staircase -- you go up, you go down -- but you must never think that the staircase only takes you down. You must always think that a staircase only takes you up."

The Next Iron Chef's second-season finale began with Garces and Mehta receiving their final challenge, which was focused on "Imagination" and took place in Kitchen Stadium.

It was a traditional head-to-head Iron Chef challenge that featured the two finalists preparing a dish with ribs and racks as the secret ingredient and also included beef, pork and buffalo meat.

Both chefs had an hour to prepare their dishes before presenting them to the finale's judging panel -- which included regular second-season judges restaurateur Donatella Arpaia, food critic Jeffrey Steingarten and food consultant Anya Fernald, as well as guest judges "Chairman" Mark Dacascos, Iron Chefs Masaharu Morimoto and Bobby Flay, and The Next Iron Chef first-season winner Michael Symon.

The judging panel then tasted and commented on the dishes before Garces was revealed as the winner.

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