Remember I told you a few weeks ago to catch the very special episode of Iron Chef America airing on Jan. 3? Guess what? I missed it! Did you get the chance to watch White House Chef Cristeta Comerford and Bobby Flay win against Mario Batali and Emerile Lagasse? Did anyone think Comerford’s team wasn’t going to win?

If you saw the show, then you saw the four chefs digging through the White House garden for the “secret ingredient.” The chefs were to use vegetables from the White House garden to create their dishes. It turns out, they filmed the White House portion a week before the competition. The vegetables picked that day weren’t used in the show. Stunt vegetables were used! Obamafoodorama has the scoop.

Due to a time-lag between garden harvesting and shooting the competition in the Kitchen Stadium, "stand-in" vegetables were used for the actual filming of the competition part of the show, which wasn't mentioned on air, in the interest of "fictive continuity." The chefs' garden harvest at the White House was about a week before the Kitchen Stadium shoot, but the varieties of replica vegetables used for the dishes actually did grow in the Kitchen Garden. 
According to the New York Times, show host Alton Brown frequently reminded the audience that the vegetables were fresh, organic and local. He never revealed that they weren’t specifically the vegetables the viewing audience saw harvested at the White House. In fact, here's a clip of Michelle Obama informing the chefs that their secret ingredient will by anything in the White House Garden.

I’m bummed. I was bummed I missed the show. Now I’m bummed about the stunt vegetables. I’m not outraged. I’m not crying foul. I’m just a little bummed. Iron Chef, ultimately, is reality television, and after a decade or so of reality TV shows, we all know to assume that not everything is as it seems.

I understand that filming the chefs at the White House couldn’t happen the day of the competition. But when did Cristeta Comerford and some of the rest of the White House kitchen staff, including Sam Kass, go to New York for the competition? Couldn’t they have had the same vegetables picked and brought up on the plane with them? That would have satisfied “fictive continuity” without being so fictive.

I won’t let this affect my love of Michelle Obama and her White House kitchen garden. I’ll happily keep you up to date on what the first lady is doing to promote good, healthy, local foods. But you know what, I probably won’t bother trying to catch up this episode of Iron Chef that I missed ‘cause I’m still a little bummed. 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Stunt veggies stand in for White House kitchen garden veggies
The vegetables used on the very special <i>Iron Chef America</i> episode didn’t come from Michelle Obama’s kitchen garden.