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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. 

"Bayless vs. Flay: Battle Buffalo" - January 16

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. Also, this series of recaps is dedicated to Stephanie Masumura, whose recaps were the best on the web... until she closed down the site and was never heard from again. IronSteph, wherever you are, this one's for you...

The Challenger: Rick Bayless, a Chicago kid from Oklahoma City (or the other way round) who brings new respect to Mexican cuisine, as he has spent a lot of time honing his skills in old Mexico. He's "completely ready" for this debut match. The traditionalist challenges Iron Chef Flay, a New York renegade who does whatever he wants. Gentlemen... prepare for battle.

The Crib Sheet:
Anthony Fusco and Brian Ray, sous-chefs
Tracey Vowell and Brian Enyart, sous-chefs
21 years EXPERIENCE 17 years
Southwestern COOKING STYLE Authentic Mexican
3-1 BATTLE RECORD Challenger

The Theme Ingredient: American-breed buffalo, two cuts - ribs and loins primal - for each chef.

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 dishes wins.

The words of the Chairman's dear uncle.... "Allez cuisine!"

The Battle: Rick Bayless starts with something wrapped in newspaper, as both chefs utilize garlic to some extent. Bayless: "I feel really lucky going up against Bobby, because we're going to take the judges down similar paths." Flay: "Rick is one of the great practitioners of authentic Mexican food in this country, and I cook contemporary Southwestern food. It's amazing how two people can cook with a lot of the same ingredients and they can be alike and different in such a huge way."

Kevin notes that both chefs may use the same pantry ingredients. The use of the buffalo, which is leaner than your usual beef, will determine this battle. Meanwhile, Bayless has pasilla and guajillo chiles being de-seeded, while tomatoes are being roasted in the salamander. He's going to be concerned with aroma. That can be seen in his prep of corn with lard.

Meanwhile, Flay will be cooking no less than three sauces. He is also roasting with a dry rub of brown sugar, white pepper, oregano, and chile powders. Also has molasses and honey, but is it for some rib-eyes? We'll see. Right now, they're working on tartare.

Bayless: "My food is about a place, a people, a history, and I like to weave that into every dish that I do. I hope that history will stand me in good step for this challenge, because I think people will taste this refinement that only comes with authentic dishes."

Fire on Flay's side with his bourbon. Sous chef Anthony has skewers going, as over on the challenger's side... we still don't have the contents of that newspaper.

The Judges: Ben Schmerler: senior editor, the Zagat survey/Zagat Wire.
Julie Chen: news presenter for CBS' "The Early Show"; host of "Big Brother"; recently married
Jeffrey Steingarten: author, "It Must Have Been Something I Ate"; culinary critic for Vogue magazine; the resident Asako Kishi

Back to Battle: "Rick is so calm, I'm hating this!" says Bobby. "I'm in my zen mode, okay?" retorts Rick. While Flay gets a mango chutney going, Bayless has a ceviche of sorts with the buffalo. Over on the Iron Chef's side, we're seeing peppers stuffed with Monterey jack, goat cheese, and chopped buffalo meat. Bayless is making some tortillas with some masa (or something with masa involved). Meanwhile, the sous-chefs are frying plantain.

Going to the judges' box, Julie is glad to see some fruit involved on both sides. Jeffrey thinks that buffalo is a different brand of critter from your usual beefsteak. Ben is pleased to see that there is no "timid flavoring" going on.

Bobby's got a stick blender (and quite a big one) going at the half-way mark with Anaheims, poblanos, tomatillos, and rellenos. Over on Bayless' sides, corn masa, peppercorn, meat stock, and huitlacoche (fungus that grows in the ears of corn, treated with the reverence of truffles) are being mixed, while over on Flay's side, we have a problem with the mango chutney. That's going to have to be tossed, but can they make another in 30 minutes?

Update on the chutney, we're going with another one. Over on the challenger's side, a stuffing of herbs and cheese is going into some empanadas, while we churn out some sweet potato to be assembled with the huitlacoche. Flay has a poached egg coming out of the stove.

Quick chile lesson: poblano chiles are very perishable, so they are stored as dried ancho chiles. As for heat, people tend to think that jalapenos are pretty up there, but they don't necessarily have the capsaicin to confirm that claim. Rule of thumb: the smaller the pod, the higher the heat.

Flay is barking orders as the clock winds down and the plating begins. We also see the skewers being brushed with hoisin sauce (Asian influence? Hmmm). Beer-battered chile rellenos and some corn masa are deep fried. On the challengers, ribeyes are being grilled and the banana sheets are out. Flay finished up the paillard with a roasted red pepper sauce. Ten minutes to go, and the challenger uses the banana leaf as a kabik.

Flay plates a filet with a pomegranate and mint-yogurt sauce. Bayless' tartare is finished with some queso. Two plates now finished. Five minutes to go and finishing touches are set. Bayless slows down, while we have yet to see Bobby's fifth dish. Wait, here are the sauces for the fifth dishes. And the mango chutney is... good. Simply put, both chefs have gone down similar paths, so this will be judged on presentation, both sides of which have been phenomenal.

"Five seconds... three... two... one..." And Battle Buffalo is over! Now to judge.

Judgment (Bayless): "When I looked at that bison, I knew that the flavor was going to be pretty intense, so I thought why don't we pull inspiration from all of these regional dishes that focus on game." Dishes: carne tartara marinated in lime juice, empanadas de tasajo, honey & fava bean crusted buffalo with dollops of goat cheese, buffalo kabik mixed with sour orange juice, buffalo in salsa huitlacoche with sweet potato garnish.

Julie likes the balance of the tomatoes with the succulent meat. Ben likes the non-greasiness of the fried item. Jeffrey doesn't enjoy the crusted buffalo as much, simply because he wouldn't know whether or not it was any good, not having buffalo before. Ben wanted more aggressiveness with the seasonings. Jeffrey disagrees, thinking that it was perfect.

Judgment (Flay): "I thought that Mr. Bayless was going to really hone in on Mexican ingredients, so I wanted to do something different." Dishes: grilled buffalo cowboy breakfast on a blue corn tostada, buffalo & goat cheese chile relleno, curry glazed buffalo steak, deconstructed buffalo salad, Native American buffalo plate.

Jeffrey likes the cowboy breakfast - except for the buffalo. Julie likes the presentation with the chile relleno, coupling with the crispiness of the texture. Ben likes the pomegranate in the presentation of the steak. The judges think the salad is creative and fun. Julie finally gets some heat going on in her mouth.

And now, whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict....
Taste 24 24
Plating 12 13
Originality 13 13

... 50-49 in favor of Iron Chef Bobby Flay. Until next time... I bid you good eating.

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