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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. 

"Armstrong vs. Flay: Battle Squash" - February 27

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: Govind Armstrong, a former apprentice to retired Iron Chef Wolfgang Puck who brings his world view and warmth to Californian Mediterranean cuisine. Today, fighting for his deposed master, he challenges the de facto leader of the ICs, Bobby Flay. Gentlemen... prepare for battle.

The Crib Sheet:
Wayne Harley Brachman & Brian Ray, sous-chefs
Christian Caiazzo, sous-chef
21 years EXPERIENCE 22 years
Southwestern COOKING STYLE Seasonal Californian
4-2 BATTLE RECORD Challenger

The Theme Ingredient: pumpkins, Hubbards, ton gua gourds, butternuts and other variations of winter squash.

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: Flay gets his sous-chefs to work on pumpkins while Armstrong plays pitch-and-toss with his team. Armstrong is dicing his squash, as Kevin notes that he started working with Puck at age 13. He's known for going for straightforward flavors ("As long as we can stay organized and focused and not feel any pressure, we'll do fine."), while Flay has techniques in mixing and contrasting flavors ("This is going to be a tough battle."). And contrary to what I said in the last recap, Flay ALSO uses the left kitchen. Bobby is splitting and seeding the butternut squash, which comes from the Algonquin word for eating something green. Flay now roasts the butternuts for its sweetness.

Meanwhile, sous-chef Wayne, a pastry chef in his own rite, is getting out cinnamon, while opposing sous-chef Christian is boiling squash. Flay has OJ along with a chicken broth/chile/star anise concoction, while Brian has some fruit meal thing here.  Govind is slicing tuna. Flay counters with squab, very young pigeon. Wayne has problem with slow burners, while Govind is slicing sausages. Lobsters come out of the pan on Flay's side as he arrests the cooking with ice water. As he slices blanched scallions, it seems that he isn't on his A-game. Could hurt him. Meanwhile Goving is expertly cutting into some foie gras.

Flay almost gets injured again (we all remember the Webster Hall battle on the original series with him being electrocuted).

The Judges: John McDonald (NYC entrepreneur; owner, Lever House Restaurant and City Magazine): "I'm curious to see how they incorporate the sweetness and textures."
Cady Huffman (Tony-winning actress for "The Producers"): "I'm a big fan of men in the kitchen."
Jeffrey Steingarten (author, "It Must Have Been Something I Ate"; culinary critic for Vogue magazine; the resident Asako Kishi): "I wonder what Govind is going to do with his foie gras."

Back to Battle: Armstrong is working on a squash panna cotta, while his sous-chefs are working with duck breasts and chorizo. The Iron Chef is mixing chicken stock with onions, broth, and pumpkin puree. The corn meal is going into a tamale, while Flay is scooping up the roasted butternut for a dessert, maybe? It's sweet enough.

Govind deglazes his dish with a little wine while working on a roux. Flay is working on a risotto, as his sous-chef is going for honey into his butternut. Butternuts are usually used for pumpkin because they're easy to get year round. Lobster stock is added to risotto, while Wayne gets the ice cream machine ready.

Govind is using huckleberries for a relish. Maybe a dessert or a compliment to a meat. Flay takes his squabs out of the oven while Govind is prepping his pumpkin/chorizo for the oven. He's making some sauces with sugar and apple cider vinegar. The ramekins are being docked with docked puff pastry rounds. Also some spaetzles going over on Armstrong's side.

Wayne is scoring a giant pumpkin, while Flay is putting the squab back into the oven. Pumpkin seed oil is out on Armstrong's side. Papaya is being sliced for a salad. Wayne meanwhile is making a meringue for his ice cream. And Flay begins to plate with a brioche and foie gras. Speaking of which, Armstrong is countering with foie gras and a pancake. "Fifteen minutes to go."

Flay is cutting the squab with cranberry relish in a dig on the Thanksgiving dinner. Armstrong has started to plate with cabbage and duck. He's integrated squash into a duck dish. Now we have seared tuna and the apple vinegar. On top of the foie gras brioche, allspice butter. In a saucier: balsamic vinegar with figs, maybe for a syrup. We also have roasted pumpkins for pumpkin soup bowls. "Ten minutes to go..." ... and Armstrong needs more pumpkin. And the burners on Flay's side aren't any faster!

... but everything's okay. Govind's going with spaghetti squash, and we have the smaller pancakes as the side. Or maybe the other way round. The tamale is out on Flay's side with under seven minutes.

Flay is pleased with his vinaigrette puree, but what's it for? The tuen is going into Govind's salad, and shiitake is going to saute. Truffles going into Flay's risotto, and that's done. The panna cotta is coming out... and down. They plated perfectly. "Five minutes to go." "Too much time." Armstrong is plating his final dish, while caramel is smashed with Flay. And soup's on. And so is ice cream. We're almost done on both sides. Topping the soup with Flay's trademark, blue corn tortilla. We have two minutes left... and Govind Armstong is done! Flay is still plating with 30 seconds left. We have four dishes on the side, and fifteen seconds to go... There's the fifth!

"Five seconds... three... two... one... Time's up" And Battle Squash is history! Now to judge.

Judgment (Armstrong): "When I saw the squash, I knew that we were going to stick to the game plan. What we do in the restaurants." Dishes: spaghetti squash salad with seared ahi and vinaigrette, pumpkin griddle cake with seared foie gras, pumpkin pot pie, Hubbard squash spaetzle with seared duck, butternut squash panna cotta.

Cady is not crazy about the mushrooms, Jeffrey doesn't like the squash, and John likes both. John likes the cake, but doesn't get the pumpkin in it. They all like the pot pie and the panna cotta. 

Judgment (Flay): "I like to do things that people recognize, and then twist it up. My opinion, when life gives you pumpkins, you make pumpkin soup." Dishes: roasted sugar pumpkin soup, roasted butternut squash risotto with lobster and white truffles, pumpkin French toast with foie gras, acorn squash tamale and squab with cranberry relish, giant pumpkin sundae fantasy

Cady likes the soup, but thinks that it's a little bit rich. She also isn't a big risotto fan, but likes it. Jeffrey thought it was a bit overpowering. Good notes all around on the breakfast, the tamale, and the ice cream. Of course, it helps that Bobby's first job was at the Baskin-Robbins. The chairman praises the Iron Chef while Cady and Jeffrey play Paula and Simon. It looked like it could've gone to Govind, but now, it's even pegging...

And now, whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict....
Taste 19 24
Plating 9 12
Originality 8 12

... 48-36 in favor of Iron Chef Bobby Flay. No contest as Flay is now 5-2. Will Armstrong return to even the score? Only time will tell. Until next time... I bid you good eating.

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