"Flay vs. Burke: Battle
Lamb" - January 15
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
At 26 years of age, today's challenger is the first
American ever to win France's highest culinary honor.
Considered a pioneer, he is known for pushing culinary
boundaries. Head of the kitchen at David Burke and
Donatella in New York City, master chef David Burke. He
draws Mr. New York and the de facto leader of the Iron
Chefs, Bobby Flay. Gentlemen... Prepare for battle...
The Crib Sheet:
Brian Ray & Dan Mihalko, sous-chefs
Chris Shea &
Jason Tillman, sous-chefs
New Modern American
6-3-1, tied last battle
with the Two Hot Tamales
The Theme Ingredient:
several different sides of lamb.
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
with an full heart and an empty stomach, the words of
the Chairman's dear uncle.... "Allez cuisine!"
The Battle: A very
common ingredient for these chefs, but not for Americans
at large, who consume less than a pound a year. Burke
starts by pureeing.. shrimp? He's also getting spiky and
rocky. "We don't really play it safe at the restaurant.
I'm a little risky. I'm a little highwire."
Flay: "I think Iron Chef was
made for David Burke, because he thinks along a line
that no one else does. I'm a little intrigued to see
what he does." The IC is processing lemon juice and
chick peas, while he's smoking chips. The challenger has
out tapioca. Both chefs are breaking down their own
lamb, while we go back to that rock salt on the
Looks like Fly is preparing
a rack of lamb by frenching the ribs. Kumquats,
peppercorn, wine vinegar, and star anise are in a pot on
the challenger's side. The IC is smoking a loin, while
Brian is mixing his chickpea puree into some corn meal,
adding cumin to what looks to be a rack of lamb. "TIME!"
Forty-eight and change, Iron Chef. The challenger is
working on brik dough, it's like phyllo dough. The IC is
skewering lamb and lobster. Surf and turf? Of course!
Meanwhile, the challenger is also working on a lobster,
while the Iron Chef is adding a spice rub to a second
rack of lamb to sear.
"Fifteen minutes have
(C-Note: I've been typing "to go" for a while, and just
realized my mistake). Time to meet...
Editor-in-chief of Food & Wine Magazine Dana Cowin
TV anchor Lara Spencer ("The Insider")
Back to Battle: The
Iron Chef is making a "chipotle maple syrup" with sweet
potatoes for an au gratin. The challenger is adding wine
and chicken stock to his lobster mire pois. Meanwhile,
Burke has pastrami sheets, a sheet of plastic with all
the spices and cures for pastrami. Flay is making a
mole. Jason is using a ricer to make mashed
potatoes. Flay is breaking down his leg of lamb, while
the blackberries are stewing. Burke is grilling lemons.
Same with the Iron Chef.
Jason is now grinding lamb
while the Chairman begins to make watch. Burke is
flattening a loin of lamb. Possibly a lamb sashimi.
Burke is creating another mire pois with celery,
carrots, and onions. Flay is working on a sauce with
mustard, red wine, vinegar, and olive oil Meanwhile, the
challenger is making lamb meatballs. Meanwhile, the
pastrami racks are searing. The polenta chickpea mixture
is going into the blast chiller... "Thirty minutes have
Flay has taken his racks of
lamb off of the stove and into the oven to roast.
Meanwhile Burke is straining his lobster and raking out
his French fry rings. His meatballs are added to a soup
terrine. It's starting to look like a minestrone with 23
minutes to go...
coming: this one needs a graphic...
Toward the back is the leg
(sirloin), then the loin for steaks, the ribs for racks,
shoulders for long roasts, shanks for osso bucco, and
breasts. The tenderness lessens from loin to shoulder,
and that's mostly due to the amount of connective tissue
involved. The leg is only a little tough. "The wonderful
thing about lamb? There isn't ANYTHING that's too
Back to battle, the Iron
Chef has quail eggs and a blackberry/onion mixture with
horse radish. It looks like the challenger is working on
his lobster for a crust. Weird? Maybe. He's taken
tapioca and rolled them into balls for steaming. The
IC's hickory-smoked steaks are being grilled. The
challenger is laying his sashimi out on the giant rock.
Brian is straining mole sauce, while the quail eggs are
being fried. Back to the minestrone soup, the challenger
has encased it in dough and grated Parmesan cheese on
top before bringing it to the convection oven.
And Flay is plating loins
onto home fries. We've still have 18 minutes to go. The
challenger is stewing ground lamb and veggies, while the
Iron Chef is carving his rack of lamb. And the
challenger is working on langoustine, cooking off in oil
& butter. The Iron Chef's sous-chef Dan is working on a
hollandaise sauce. The brik wraps are being fried on the
"Fifteen minutes to go."
Horseradish/blackberry sauce is off, the polenta is
being deep-fried, and the challenger is skewering lemons
to plate. Flay's surf and turf is checked. The brik
wraps are being skewered on the challenger's side.
Burke, adding the lobster, needs "an angry sauce", or
arrabiata. Flay is plating his quail egg for "green eggs
and lamb". Well, eggs and lamb, at least. Oh wait,
there's the green. The challenger has plated his fry
rings, as he adds his mashed potatoes. Burke has taken
his pounded lamb and added his langoustine. "Three
minutes to go." Over on the challenger's side, we see
the minestrone is done. The sweet potato au gratin is
done on the IC's side, while the pastrami lamb is being
plated on the challenger's side.
Same with the Iron Chef,
who's also plating pomegranate/yogurt mixture and the
grilled lemon halves. All but the grilled lamb and mole
sauce are plated. Burke has his five done, with poured
consommé into a cognac glass. The Iron Chef has
taken a lamb of leg, skewered it with an asparagus
spear, and covered it in mole sauce. Fifth dish is done.
Now it's all a matter of the finishing touches.
And here's the angry sauce
on the lobster arrangement on the challenger. Take it,
"Three... two... one..." Put
it down.. walk away. Battle Lamb is history. And now,
Judgment (Flay): "lamb is actually an
ingredient that I love to work with. One of the things I
decided not to do was to mask the flavor of the lamb too
much. I'm just trying to enhance it a little bit."
Dishes: Green Eggs and Lamb, Lamb and Lobster Skewers,
Lamb with Peanut Mole Sauce, Cumin-Crusted Rack of Lamb,
Spice-Rubbed Rack of Lamb with fresh horseradish.
Judgment (Burke): "We did five courses, the first
being an appetizer course." Dishes: Lamb Sashimi,
Lamb Minestrone, Angry Lamb and Lobster, Minute Steak
Lamb, Pastrami-Spiced Rack of Lamb.
Flay: "I love this panel."
And the panel loves you today, giving him points for the
complexity of the flavors. Jewel loves Greek yogurt with
the cumin rack of lamb. Lara thinks differently. She
also is petrified by the lamb sashimi. Lara: "The angry
lobster steals the show." Jewel on the same dish: "The
lamb was almost an afterthought." But again, big marks
for the flavors. This may be a close one...
Oh, and Jewel's glad no
one did ice cream. Houston, we have a fangirl. Whose
cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict is...
... 51-48 in favor of
Iron Chef Bobby Flay. David Burke had the first perfect
score in Kitchen Stadium America with his plating
design, but the judges overwhelmingly approved of the
Iron Chef's flavors over those of the challenger. Taste
wins this one in a heart beat. Until next time, I bid
you good eating.