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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. 

"Trevino vs. Batali: Battle Catfish" - January 23

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: Roberto Trevino, a three-venue chef/restauranteur and vanguard of Nuevo Latino cuisine who has given San Juan, Puerto Rico new prominence on the food map. He challenges the Italian Iron Chef, Mario Batali. So we have two inroads with one common destination, and both chefs are evenly matched. Gentlemen, prepare for battle.

The Crib Sheet:
Mark Ladner & Anne Burrell, sous-chefs
Ken Ballogdajan & Hector Crespo, sous-chefs
19 years EXPERIENCE 19 years
Italian COOKING STYLE Modern Latin/Asian
1-1 BATTLE RECORD Challenger

The Theme Ingredient: whole live channel catfish.

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: We start with the net fishing and the net killing. Trevino stews catfish head for maybe flavor or texture. Batali is toasting currants and pine nuts. Honey also in the pan right now. Over on the challenger's side: catfish steaks and a mix of water, sazon, and Israeli couscous. Batali adds dried shrimp to his briny mixture meanwhile, while fennel is being caramelized, couscous goes into the mix, and peppers get the julienne treatment. Batali percusses with his catfish, in effect dicing them and frying them.

On the challenger's side, sous-chef Ken is peeling catfish skin off of the meat (catfish don't have scales). Replay shows Batali flambéing catfish in rum. "It's going in the involtino inside the cartoccio."

Culantro gets chopped on Trevino's side. Sous-chef Ken is saving catfish tails for later... "Fifteen minutes have elapsed." Looks like they're going for a bisque of some sort.

The Judges: Nina Zagat: co-founder and co-chair, Zagat Survey, LLC (trivia: twice judged episodes of the original Iron Chef). "I'm looking forward to having a taste of everything."
Karine Bakhoum: culinary consultant, KB Network News. "I thought you could only fry catfish."
Jeffrey Steingarten: author, "It Must Have Been Something I Ate"; culinary critic for Vogue magazine; the resident Asako Kishi. "They have very good catfish in Texas."

Back to Battle: Heirloom tomatoes join Batali's thinly-sliced fish, while Trevino counters with plantains, clams, and other shellfish. Anne helps Batali out with butternut squash. Fennel broth is strained, while Trevino prepares two ceviches. Batali is giving catfish fillets the roll up for their in cartoccio. "In a garbage bag, tossed in the oven!" Mark is putting eggs, catfish, spices, scallions and such in the ring mould. That'll be nice.

Is Trevino working on a paella? All signs point to yes. Is he also working on a "love potion" with ancho and Mexican chocolate? You bet. Is Batali countering with a bernaise-esque tomato sauce? Oh yeah. Back to the culantro, as Trevino also mixes up some limes, honey, and miso paste.

And Batali corrects Alton and Kevin again with his tortelloni, while Mark pipes a catfish/herb concoction into zucchini blossoms. "Thirty minutes have elapsed."

Semi-educational moment: the channel catfish gets its name from the two protuberances on its face, which it uses to gather food from the bottom of freshwater environments. We here in North Carolina call them "mud cats".

And remember that in cartoccio? Mario's JUST getting the paper for that. Remember the cattails? Trevino is wrapping them in bacon. Remember the tortelloni? It's going to have potatoes in it. Remember the squash blossoms? Fried. Remember Trevino's hominy for grits? Of course you don't. I just told you about them.

Batali begins plating with an infusion of leaves onto his catfish rolls. "Twenty minutes to go." Ken skewers catfish, deep fries, and serves with the chocolate love potion. And what is Trevino planning on doing with that spare fish? "All show." Apparently nothing.

The couscous goes into Trevino's paella, while mushrooms and sesame oil are sauteed. "Fifteen minutes to go." The steaks are cooking on Trevino's side, while Mario is topping his catfish off with a truffle shaver... That isn't truffles... Among the flares: prosciutto wrapped in mozzarella and deep fried. Trevino meanwhile has plantains, all in a PVC fitting. Ceviches and chiles colorados are going into shot glasses. Plating continues with cat tails. "Five minutes to go."

Batali finished with with... eggs benedict?  Tortelloni is plated with caviar. And with less than five ticks on the clock, Trevino is done with his five. Batali has four, he needs to pull another dish out of his ass. They're making a vinaigrette very quickly. And the cartoccio... DONE! "Thirty seconds to go!" Hurry up and plate!

"Five seconds... three... two... one... Time's up" And Battle Catfish is over! That was close. Batali: "Not only am I challenged with myself, I'm challenged BY myself." Trevino: "I was just trying to smoke it out." Now to judge.

Judgment (Trevino): "I think we needed to represent the Latin kitchen. I have a real passion for Asian cooking. I wanted to combine the two and create something fantastic." Dishes: trio of catfish ceviches with fresh tostones, miso honey catfish, Israeli couscous catfish paella, catfish "chop" with risotto-style posole, catfish fritters with Aztec chocolate love potion.

Nina thought that he had ceviches on his mind. She also likes the miso honey catfish taste and presentation. Jeffrey doesn't equate class with topping every dish with a potato chips, and thinks the paella is overcooked.  He does like the chop, though. As for the fritters, they "get high marks for originality."

Judgment (Batali): "Catfish is an unusual fish, but we worked with it, we worked around it." Dishes: catfish squash blossom and roasted catfish in saor, catfish Yankee breakfast, catfish & potato tortelloni, catfish acqua pazzo, catfish in cartoccio.

Jeffrey reconstructs his first dish wrong. "Can I have another plate." Nina likes the presentation. The breakfast... not so much. Karine is overpowered by the butter in the tortelloni. Jeffrey likes the tortelloni enough to pay for it. While everyone praises the soup, the Chairman is still putting the thing together.

And now, whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict....
Taste 19 26
Plating 11 13
Originality 13 13

... 52-43 in favor of Iron Chef Mario Batali. Until next time... I bid you good eating.

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