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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, Cat Cora, Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto
Kitchen Reporter: Kevin Brauch
Creator: Keiichi Tanaka (based upon "Ryori no Tetsujin/Iron Chef")
EP: Steve Kroopnick
Origin: Food Network Studios, New York City
Packager: Triage Entertainment and Fuji TV for 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. 

"Simon vs. Cora: Battle Hamburger" - July 17

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: Kerry Simon, world-renowned for being "The Rock'n'Roll Chef", having worked first as a cook in a Little Caesars to save up for a guitar. From there, he went on to his own restaurant in the Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Simon. He once challenged last week's challenger to a food fight, but this time, he draws the youngest Iron Chef, Cat Cora, the latest in a line of Greek Southerner restauranteurs. Chefs... Prepare for battle.

The Crib Sheet:
Elizabeth Falkner & David Shalleck, sous-chefs
Chris Vaughn & Kim Canteenwalla, sous-chefs
13 years EXPERIENCE 25 years
Greek/Aegean COOKING STYLE Modern American
1-0 BATTLE RECORD Challenger

The Theme Ingredient: 80/20 chuck/sirloin hamburger, ground and cubed.

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.

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

The Battle: The bovine battle has begun, and already have the comparisons been made. Cora's team in the traditional Gourmet Academy white, while Simon and Co. are the men in black. Simon starts to grind some burger, as does sous-chef David. Meatloaf? Salisbury steak? Cora starts with garlic and onion. Then we go to a pita base. Aromatics are cooking on the challenger's side.

Early semi-educational moment: hamburger comes from ground round. Not a lot of flavor and very easy to overcook. The best ground meat for our hamburger comes from chuck for texture and sirloin flavor.

Cora's opening thoughts: "I know Kerry. He's got a lot of great presentations. He does a lot of crazy stuff." Simon's opening thoughts: "What she does is her thing. Hopefully, I'll do everything I need to do to win."

Earlier, the ice cream machines were off, but Simon's working on vanilla beans, which means... yup. Ice cream in the making, friends. While he's doing that, sous-chef Kim is working bacon, while sous-chef Chris is boiling chicken stock, and prepping egg whites and veggies for a consomme. Gutsy.

Kevin is up in the "VIP box" (what we'll call for continuity sake "the royal box"), and in the royal box, cheering Simon on to victory... Bill Murray! Interesting fact, the two worked together at the aforementioned Chicago Little Caesars.

Meanwhile, Cora has meatballs and chorizo sausage, using hamburger. Simon's sauteing bacon and hamburger, meanwhile it's time for the voice: "Fifteen minutes have elapsed." David has added orange zest to his parsley. Let's meet judges...

Tonight's Judges:
Writer/chef Martin Yan ("Yan Can Cook")
Culinary journalist Akiko Katayama (Food Arts Magazine Japan)
Author John T. Edge ("Hamburgers & Fries: An American Story")

Back to Battle: Beer on the floor. Is it an ingredient or are Simon's sous-chefs just thirsty? We have raita on Cora's side with cucumbers and jalapenos. Meanwhile, Akiko is playing the role of "giggly woman" today, saying that she could really go for a hamburger right now. John likes the bacon, while Martin is awaiting the ice cream... and there it goes into the machine. It's just vanilla. Poblanos & tomatillos are being salamandered on the IC's side, while the beer on the challenger's side is going into a ground beef mixture. Looks like a tartare. Over on the IC's side... "Just like a Saturday night, baby. Few thousand people, no big deal." Corn is prepped, while Cora is shaking the dough. The challenger is skewering with sugar cane. The wrap on his side's consomme is coming together, while the chorizo on Cora's side is getting the corn and corn starch. She's making the pizza out of pitas, while Simon is making a pepper vinaigrette. Souschef Chris is prepping potatoes.

"Thirty minutes have elapsed." Cora has put her chorizo into tamales. Simon's meatballs are coming out of the salamanders. Meanwhile, beef, arugula, tomatoes, ricotta, and fontina is going into a filling. Cora's pitas are being grilled, while we're going to turnovers with souschef Elizabeth. As for the potatoes on the challenger's side? French fries. Those turnovers on the IC side? Samosas.

Meanwhile, Simon is touting "the ultimate burger". Elsewhere, Simon is prepping Japanese sauces and soy sauce for a dipping sauce. And Chris is blanching potato chips in the deep-fryer. "Twenty minutes to go." And Cora begins to plate.

Back to the judges. Martin notes that it smells good. Akiko is curious about the briosh. John T.: "Burgers usually get short shrimped in the bun department." Over to the royal box, here's Bill again. "The Iron Chef has the imagination of a pixie and the will of an emperor's daughter."

And .. oh crap, Cora's pitas are burned. "Just slightly." The challenger's consomme is being drained. "Fifteen minutes to go." Cora is wrapping her tamales in newspaper and putting them in a paper bag. Sounds like drive thru. Meanwhile, Simon has yet to plate any of his dishes. COra has salvaged her pitas and has topped them with hamburger/fennel mixtures and Monterey jack cheese (C-Note: My favorite). Simon is making potato ravioli with the chips from earlier.

We have ten on the clocks and Cora has plated two dishes, plating her third, the tartare, with a mixture of mustard and creme fraiche. Sous-chef David is going to sear it before plating... Fire! Meanwhile, the woman of the house wants ketchup, damn it. The poblanos and tomatillos from earlier are blended up, while Simon's ultimate burger gets a nice slice of cheese.

Simon has begun to plate his meatsicle and ultimate burger. Cora is frying a quail egg for the steak tartare. She uses the salamander for tightening up the membrane. Simon is frying his ravioli. His souschef is working on soba noodles. And the ravioli is out, while Cora's samosas are plating. Simon's working on a milkshake with his ice cream. So we have burgers, fries, and shakes in shot glasses. The consomme is being poured off for a beef carpaccio. Meanwhile, Cora's tomatillo sauce is going into a squeeze bottle. "One minute to go." And Cora is just about done, what about Simon? The ravioli is down, while the IC is prepping a brown/sugar/tamarind/honey sauce at the last second! Simon is done... Cora is done... The final countdown...

"Five second... three... two.. one... Time's up!" The cooking's done, Battle Hamburger is over! Time to judge.

Judgment (Cora): "It represented the unsung heroes of the culinary world. The men and women who cook street food." Dishes: Ground Beef Samosas and Raita, Beef Tamales in Newspaper, Steak Tartare Burger with Egg, Pizzetta with Hamburger, Sizzling Asian Meatball.

Martin notes the texture contrast of the samosas. Akiko calls it perfect. John says to the tamale, "You're playing to the crowd." Apparently both the IC and the judge are from Mississippi. Akiko calls it "a little oily." Martin calls the tartare a work of art. Akiko thought the dough was a little dry, but Martin like "Mama Cora's pizza" with the beer. He thinks the meatball is tasty, but could be a bit more moist. Obviously, she had fun doing it.

Judgment (Simon): "Hamburger is American. You have to accept it and be proud of it." Dishes: Beef on Sugarcane Skewer, Tartare with Horseradish, Asian-stule Consomme with Soba Noodles, Potato Ravioli, Ultimate Burger

Akiko thinks of the presentation as "zen". Martin likes the consomme and the shabu-shabu beef. John calls the ravioli "an ethereal potato chip". All three judges love the ultimate burger. And Akiko calls a dish "a little oily" for the sixth time. Martin calls her on that with the burger.

Slight edge to the Iron Chef, but what do Martin, Akiko, and John have to say? Whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict...

Taste 25.5 22.75
Plating 10.85 13.75
Originality 12.75 12.5

... it's a close one, but this one goes to Challenger Kerry Simon. Final score: 49.1-49. Cora outdid Simon in the plating department, but it seems like originality is where the challenger made his mark of victory. But if you ask Alton, the winner today... cows everywhere, as such a humdrum ingredient gets the Iron Chef treatment that it rightly deserves. Unfortunately for Cora, though, she's now 1 and 1. Until next time, I bid you good eating.

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