"Perry-Lang vs. Flay: Battle
Chicken" - July 24
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
The Challenger: Adam
Perry-Lang, who started as a student at the Culinary
Institute of America, only to end up as a barbecue pit
boss in New Mexico. He draws the resident master of all
things BBQ, the head chef of Manhattan's Mesa Grill and
the de facto leader of the Iron Chefs, Bobby Flay.
Gentlemen... prepare for battle.
The Crib Sheet:
Brian Ray & Dan Mihalko, sous-chefs
Paul Eschbach & Joshua ?, sous-chefs
The Theme Ingredient:
a hell of a lot of chicken fryers.
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: Chicken
is pretty much a blank culinary slate, so it will come
down to the skill of the two chefs. Both chefs begin by
disassembling chickens, but Iron Chef Flay starts by
lighting the place on fire. Yeah, Kaga's gonna really
rip into him for that. Souschef Brian mixes mangoes and
habaneros. Souschef Paul is taking skin off.
Perry-Lang: "Sure I'm nervous, but I'm focused on doing
the best that I can." Flay: "We have some of the same
sensibilities about food. Big flavors, barbeque flavors,
smoky flavors. I think it should be a really interesting
battle." So both know that the other guy knows that
chicken counts. Flay is searing thighs, while Perry-Lang
has a cordless drill, a cordless knife, and a giant
ravioli mode. With the drill, Perry-Lang fastens some
pork belly. For what, probably roasting? His board is
split because of lack of a pilot board. And if you know
what I'm talking about, then you're a better chef than I
am. Sous chef Dan is working on serrano ham and manchego
cheese. Is it for ham & cheese? They're wrapped and
ready to stuff into chicken breast. Cordon bleu?
Meanwhile, the pork belly
goes into a pressure cooker on the challenger's side.
Brian breaks out the secret weapon: the 16-spice sauce.
Think of it as the American answer to Michiba's broth of
vigor. the challenger is working some ravioli in his
mold, while Iron Chef Flay is making his own BBQ sauce.
Perry Lang is preparing to smoke some chicken. Flay is
seasoning and poaching chicken in stock. "Fifteen
minutes have elapsed." That means it's time to meet the
judges as Joshua sautees collard greens. Yum if you're
from the South. Like Alton. The legs & thighs on Flay's
side are now in the oven. Now to the judges...
Writer/Oprah Winfrey's personal chef Art Smith ("Back to
Author Victoria Abbott Riccardi ("Untangling My
Chopsticks: A Culinary Sojourn in Kyoto")
Media gadfly Mo Rocca ("Today"/"Best Week Ever")
Back to Battle: the
organs of the chickens are being pureed on the
challenger's side, as the IC breaks out uni. The IC
can't open a can of coconut milk. He goes to a knife to
liberate the precious juice. Doesn't happen, going to
smaller cans. Meanwhile the challenger is working on
drummettes. The challenger is adding truffles, chicken
and collard greens into a cryovac. What's a cryovac?
Well, it's a sous vide, which means "under vacuum".
Let's go the judges.
Victoria thinks that it's interesting. Art loves Flay's
bold flavors. And Mo? "This is taking a while, can we
get some bread while we're waiting?" There's your
bread... crumbs. The drummettes are going to be
deep-fried. Brian, meanwhile, is making a saffron
vinaigrette, while Perry-Lang is continuing with his
ravioli with chicken livers. And whole egg yolks.
Chicken breasts, smoked and
seared, are out all over the place. Flay is using New
Jersey basil, which will make Iron Editor Gordon happy.
More serrano ham and basil are being deep-fried. Paul is
making a sauce out of pineapple. The breasts on Flay's
side are getting the 16-spice treatment, while the
raviolis are begin assembled. And here's the voice
again... "Thirty minutes have elapsed."
Fresh corn is cut on Flay's
side, while Perry Lang has blanched ravioli. Both fryers
are going on both sides. Perry-Lang, meanwhile has
foamed milk on. What role will that play? The IC's
biscuits are out. After all, what is a fried chicken
dish without biscuits? The challenger has seared breasts
while Joshua is working on blood oranges. They're going
with the sous-vide.
IC Flay is roasting lemons.
Challenger is whisking eggs, flour, honey, and creamed
corn for a batter. "Twenty minutes to go." The BBQ
chicken is out on Flay's side, while pecans and molasses
are coating Perry-Lang's breasts, while he makes his OWN
barbeque sauce. The smoked chicken go into the oven now.
The challenger is using
pastry rings for fritters of some sort. And IC Flay is
cracking coconuts with his head. "Fifteen minutes to
go." The sous-vide is now done. The ravioli is being
fried. The IC's coconuts are going to be used as
presentation. Looks like they're going with a red curry
sauce. The butter lettuce as a serving device.
Meanwhile, the screwed pork belly has survived the
pressure cooker, the salamander, the deep fryer, and the
oven, not in that order. And the challenger has a
syringe on the floor for flavor injection, not
phlebotomy. They're going into a chicken on a skewer.
Just over five left. Flay is plating. Perry-Lang is
plating. The IC looks like he's deconstructing a salad,
something he did in the Millennium Battle in Japan. The
challenger is getting frantic. The Iron Chef is plating
bit by bit, no stress there. The pork belly is getting
ready to be dismounted with... "One minute to go." Looks
like the challenger is in a bit of trouble, but the Iron
Chef is cruising to the finish. It looks like all of his
dishes are done. "Thirty seconds to go." Meanwhile, the
challenger's side is really hustling, will his dishes be
ready on time? Yes!
"Five second... three...
two.. one... Time's up!" The cooking's done, Battle
Chicken is over! Time to judge.
Judgment (Perry-Lang): "I wanted to come at it
from a lot of different angles. I wanted to start
subtle, then work toward more aggressive flavors."
Dishes: Sous-vide Cooked Chicken, Chicken Liver Raviolo,
Pecan Crusted Chicken Breast with Pork Belly, Chiang Mai
Chicken Wing & Thigh, Honey Chimayo Glazed Chicken.
Judgment (Flay): "I find chicken actually a
very tough secret ingredient, but it's actually a canvas
for a variety of flavors." Dishes: Pulled BBQ
Chicken, 16-Spice Grilled Chicken in Mango Sauce,
Stuffed Chicken Breast, Blue Corn Fried Chicken, Pan
Roasted Chicken with Red Curry.
Two different approaches,
two different levels of originality. Same barbeque. This
was a dead even match to call. Whose cuisine reigns
supreme? The verdict...
...Iron Chef Bobby Flay.
Final score: 49-48. Taste and originality were dead
heats. The presentation is where the Iron Chef achieves
his margin of victory. Will Adam Perry Lang be ready for
a rematch? Only time will tell. Until next time, I bid
you good eating.