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"Our ultimate competition is with ourselves. That is what my uncle told me when I would visit him as a young boy... My uncle, the man the world knows as Kaga the Chairman, has decided that although America is a young country, we now possess the proper palate to host our own Iron Chef competition, an American celebration of the world's high art of cuisine."

Recaps by Chico Alexander, GSNN


Host ("The Chairman"):
Mark Dacascos
Culinary Commentator: Alton Brown
Iron Chefs: Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto
Kitchen Reporter: Kevin Brauch
Creator: Keiichi Tanaka (based upon "Ryori no Tetsujin/Iron Chef")
EP: Steve Kroopnick
Packager: Triage Entertainment, Fuji Television Network, Food Network
Airs: Sundays at 9p ET on Food Network

Copyright Statement

No infringement of copyright is intended by these fan pages; production companies of shows this site covers retain all rights to the sounds, images, and information contained herein. No challenge to copyright is implied. 

Web design by Jason Elliott. Logo by Chico Alexander. 

"Lo vs. Batali: Battle Mushroom" - April 3

Editor's Note: What follows is a televised-move-by-televised-move recap. Because a sixty-minute battle, intro, and judgment has to be edited into 45 minutes of airtime, not every move will be shown.

The Challenger: Voted one of the best new chefs of 2001, our first female challenger, Anita Lo, enters the fray. Lo studied in some of the finest French kitchens before opening Annisa, a restaurant specializing in contemporary American cuisine with an all-female staff. She is paired with Iron Chef Batali, who is just getting off his fourth career win as an Iron Chef.

The Crib Sheet:
Mark Ladner & Anne Burrell, sous-chefs
Jennifer Scism & Sawaka Okochi, sous-chefs
19 years EXPERIENCE 16 years
Italian COOKING STYLE Contemporary American
4-1 BATTLE RECORD Challenger

The Theme Ingredient: Mushrooms, several varieties including chanterelles, Honshimeijis, porcinis, lobsters, and white truffles.

The Rules: Each chef must create a five-course meal, with each course utilizing the theme ingredient, within 60 minutes. The judges will score the dishes on a 20-point scale: 10 points taste, 5 points plating and presentation, 5 points creativity and use of ingredient. The chef who best articulates the theme ingredient through his or her dishes wins.

And now, with an full heart and an empty stomach, the words of the Chairman's dear uncle.... "Allez cuisine!"

The Battle: A note of clarification for IC fans that Lo may be the first woman to do battle in KSA, but she is at least the fifth female challenger in IC history, dating back to 1993. Lo's team is, though, the first all-female team in any Kitchen Stadium anywhere. Batali's view: "She is probably the one on which I stand the most to lose. She's a tremendous, great chef." Lo's view: "I think I'm worried about not knowing the space. I'm worried that I might be running around, not knowing where my ingredients are."

Lots of action as Batali's side are grinding duck, while Lo's side is preparing lobster for the lobster 'shrooms. Lots of the fungi on Batali's pans as he's frying and grilling. Both teams are frenetic and flawless to start. Batali: "We are dancing at the feet of our fungal lord!"

Meanwhile Lo is working from the back of her counter, citing her height problems. She's straining corn puree for flan.

Back to the theme. Mushrooms aren't meats per se (in fact, it's one of the rare times when the theme isn't a meat), but meat is going down to act as a framework. Batali is working on a duck meatloaf, while Lo is skewering lobster. Sous-chef Anne is working on cheese wafers. For what, I'm not sure yet.

While sous-chef Jennifer is cleaning dirty mushrooms, Batali is adding duck comfit to a saute pan with onions and lobster 'shrooms. Anne's working on mushroom crepes. And to it, we add smoked paprika for a paella variant using uncooked spaghetti.

"Fifteen minutes have elapsed." While Lo prepares bread cubes for roasting, Batali opens pequillos, perhaps for a setup.

The Judges:
Dana Cowin (editor-in-chief, Food & Wine Magazine)
Peter Elliot (food writer/culinary critic)
Victoria Reccardi (author, "Untangling My Chopsticks")

Back to Battle: Batali is breaking out sausage for his paella. Meanwhile, Lo has guinea hen, pan roasted. Batali is cracking open duck eggs. Lots of duck, this guy has. The paella is going down in the pepper crocks. Meanwhile, Lo has water chestnuts for her bread salad while the paella is going into the convection oven. Lo is prepping konbu and bonito flakes for broth. They're making dashi. Batali's making a "duck meatloaf beef Wellington" with a dough crust.

Lo's peeling edamame and prepping honshimeiji.  "Thirty minutes have elapsed." Anne's giving the meatloaf an eggwash. Lo has a problem with wood and fire. She needs a smolder, but she doesn't have the BTUs. "I need firepower. Firepower!"

While Lo attempts her firepower, we go to the semi-educational moment. Chanterelles grow wild in America. Porcini stems are bigger than the heads, and they grow in Italy. Lobster mushrooms grow red due to a fungal parasite growing outside. And finally, we have white truffles. Very expensive.

Dashi's ready on Lo's side, while Batali is whisking with both hands for a sabayon (a foam with egg yolks) for the crepes. Lo's bread pudding is going into the oven now. And the wood chips are on fire. Great. Mark is working on rice balls with mushrooms. Lo is grilling porcinis, while Batali breaks out the truffles. The first of the season, lighter in flavor. With 21:39 left, Sawaka is just getting around to frying as Jen is borrowing one of Batali's burners. "He said 'okay.'"

The chanterelles are now smoking. Mark is frying his rice balls, while the cheese crisps are out. Batali's breaking out ragout of lobster, while Sawaka's pans aren't hot enough!

"Twenty minutes to go." Lo is going to have to hurry to get that Mailliard factor going. Rice balls are out on Batali's side. Batali has plates and the advantage with 15 minutes to go. Dish #1... done. Lo's corn flan... done. No time to pan fry the guinea hen, Sawaka fries it. The bread dish is done as well.

"Ten minutes to go." "Ten minutes to go!" Batali mocks. "I am not mocking your time clock, sir." Whatever, boss. The spaghetti dish is out. Batali is shaving truffles over a hot pot of some sort. It's the duck egg and porcini. Lo has sunchokes and mushrooms down. Jennifer sauces. And Batali is announcing an extra course! We're going to have a sixth course, and it involves Mark's rice balls. The meatloaf's done. Buckwheat noodles down on Lo's side. Less than five to go. The chestnut crepe is done. The guinea hen is down. "One minute to go!" Tempura is frying, but you know the deal. At 60 minutes, cooking must cease. "Thirty seconds to go." Batali is just garnishing at this point, while Lo has plated her five.

"Five seconds.. Three... two... One... Time's up." Battle Mushroom is history! The combatants rejoice. Now to judge.

Judgment (Batali): "Mushrooms are very much a part of Italy's culture. We decided to try to make a meal that would include an appetizer, a basic antipasto, a breakfast course, a pasta dish inspired by Spain, a main course inspired by France, and a dessert inspired by Bologna." Dishes: Chanterelle Arancina, Porcini & Duck Egg Antipasto, Frico with Lobster Mushroom Ragout; Duck, Honshimeiji & Lobster Mushroom Fideau; Saucisson en Croute with Oyster & Honshimeji Mushrooms, Porcini & Chestnut Crepe

The appetizer was appealing, save for the absence of the mushroom. The breakfast goes over well, as Batali notes that at least $1000 of truffles are shaved on top. Victoria calls the frico "a play on each bite." The fideau was "sticking a spoon into the taste of Spain". The duck meatloaf is very simple. The bonus dish (the crepe) goes over well.

Judgment (Lo): "I did want to treat individual mushroom as an individual mushroom. They all have different qualities." Dishes: Honshimeji Mushrooms with Buckwheat Noodles in Broth, Smoked Chanterelle Mushroom with Sweet Corn Flan, Grilled Porcini with Porcini Bread Pudding, Lobster and Braised Lobster Mushrooms with Sunchokes, Crispy Guinea Hen with White Truffles.

Victoria calls the noodles very delicate, while Peter likes it cold. The flan is a winner, although some would say that the mushroom was smoked too much. "Naked porcini.. is the ultimate." Victoria noticed that her lobster was "Sashimi-ed". The hen that was supposed to be seared garners props in its 2.0 form.

And now, whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict....
Taste 27 24
Plating 13 10
Originality 14 11

... 54-45 in favor of Challenger Anita Lo. She was struggling early on, but we see that it was not for naught as Lo sweeps Batali in all aspects of judging. For the first time in KSA, we have a female victor over the Iron Chef, no less...

But lo, revenge is a dish best served in Kitchen Stadium...


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