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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. 

"Sanchez vs. Morimoto: Battle Black Bass" - July 31

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: Aaron Sanchez, a former apprentice of master chef Paul Prudhomme. He used to work in San Francisco before he opened his own place, Paladar, in 2001. He draws the OG of the ICs, Masaharu Morimoto.  Gentlemen... prepare for battle.

The Crib Sheet:
Ariki Omae & Makoto Okuwa, sous-chefs
Michael Cressotti & Colin ?, sous-chefs
22 years EXPERIENCE 12 years
Neo-Japanese COOKING STYLE Latin
67-10 BATTLE RECORD Challenger

The Theme Ingredient: one dozen black bass.

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: Both chefs probably would've been happier if they got a chance to snatch the fish live before it ultimately met its fate. But oh well. Sous-chef Michael is prepping plantains, while Sanchez is working on porcini. Morimoto's sous-chefs are slicing shiitake, ramps, and wasabe. Sanchez is slicing bacon. Morimoto is saving heads for some reason. Lots of flavor there if they want a broth. Sanchez is fileting fish while squeezing sour oranges and blending achiote paste.

Omae is prepping eggplants and taro root, while veal stock & soy are being prepped into a teriyaki sauce. Will Sanchez poach his fish? He's working frozen banana leaves. Morimoto has blue fin tuna, meanwhile, as he also salts bones. Omae is also heating up olive oil. "Fifteen minutes have elapsed." Which means that it's time to meet, as Aaron knocks open come coconuts....

Tonight's Judges:
Author Victoria Abbott Riccardi ("Untangling My Chopsticks: A Culinary Sojourn in Kyoto")
Musician Paquito D'Rivera
Culinary journalist Akiko Katayama (Food Arts Magazine Japan)

Back to Battle: Plantains are coming to a boil on Sanchez's side, while he blends chipotle sauce. Morimoto's sous-chef with veggies dicing. He's got yuzu, sake, soy, rice wine, and baby chives... together. Very unique. Konbu's coming out of the wrapper and cheeks are coming out. Very sweet. Sanchez is cutting taquitos with 39 minutes left. Judge Victoria sees both chefs pulling a yin-yang approach. Paquito likes sofrito, the soul of the old food. Akiko likes the contrasts between the delicate fish and the ingredients being used. 

If you're a fan of IC, you know that Morimoto loves playing with fire. That's what he does in the form of a blowtorch. The oil itself is preparing for a sweat. Will it be a joining of the two? Alton says no. Morimoto has some daikon out. He'll probably slow-roast that. Sanchez takes the plantain mash and rolls it into the frozen banana leaves for grilling/steaming. Chives and oil in the blender on the IC's side. The IC torches the fish because he's into crispy texture. He's also cutting sashimi from that same fish. Meanwhile, the fresh seaweed is smeared over the bass over the ramps. How will he finish?

On the challenger's side, he's measuring oil temp. "One of my sous-chefs is really gadget oriented. He has these little probes that he brought that he relies very heavily on. He hasn't made me a believer yet, but you know..." The perfect temp for bass: 140. Morimoto, meanwhile, is making nice with tuna. Meanwhile Colin is brushing ramp with bacon fat and butter. And he wraps the bass as... "thirty minutes have elapsed."

Challenger has coconut, coconut juice, mango, and other ingredients in a pot, while Makoto has rice flour beaten into a fish. As for poaching the bass, Sanchez is right on. We have deep frying going on on both sides, and Morimoto is making noodles from his bass. Bass is also being pan-fried, while Colin is going for deep-fried bass. Sanchez is skewering Peruvian corn.

Will Sanchez make a ceviche? We'll see as he squeezes mild lemons onto red onions. It's going to be the finish for the tacos. On the IC side, we have frying jalapenos, and Morimoto is indeed making noodles to flavor the salted bone broth. The tuna was seared and simmering in soy sauce. Plantain and sweet potato sliced on the challenger's side. The plantains are being deep-fried. "Fifteen minutes to go." Okay, time to start plating. But on netiher side yet.

Morimoto is pouring cooking broth onto the chiles. Omae's bass noodles are going into the deep-fryer. The sashimi's almost done there. Only to plate on ice. Slow cooking bass is being plated. The deep-fried taco dish on Sanchez's side is almost ready as well. Griddle-top tortillas are being made as well. Morimoto is mixing bamboo skins, raw bass cubes, and spinach oil. He has two dishes done. Sanchez has no bass ready, but lots of plates ready. Sanchez's sauce is ready, too... "Five minutes to go." Better hurry. Morimoto's noodles are done, that's three. The teriyaki bass, that's four. Aaron has plated his first, the ramp-wrapped dish. He's also plated the ceviche and the taco with pickled onion and mayonnaise. He's got three down. "Thirty seconds to go." Morimoto needs to get his fifth. He's got it. Aaron looks like he's done.

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

Judgment (Sanchez): "I just wanted to apply a variety of different Latin methods that were appropriate to the ingredient." Dishes: Black Bass Ceviche with Mango, Tacos de Pescado Frito, Olive Oil Poached Black Bass, Black Bass in Ramp Leaves, Banana Leaf Wrapped Black Bass.

It should be noted that Akiko uses the term "oily" no less than three times during his judgment.

Judgment (Morimoto): "Black bass was the star today, but I concentrated the theme of springtime. In spring, everything is really fresh, but the buds and sprouts can be bitter, so I tried to incorporate that idea into all five dishes." Dishes: Black Bass Sashimi, Slow-Cooked Black Bass, Pan-sauteed Black Bass, Steamed Bass with Hot Peanut Oil, Noodle Soup with Black Bass

Quote of the night. "I know Chef Sanchez. I can't do ceviche. I have to do this," Morimoto says, referring to his sashimi. Akiko, saying "oily" at least once, likes the dishes. Victoria needs a taste transplant.

You had some simpatico, but there can only be one winner. Whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict...

Taste 24 21
Plating 11 12
Originality 10 12 Iron Chef America first.... a TIE at 45 even. Sanchez bested Morimoto on taste, but the presentation goes to Morimoto. "For there to be a tie with such a great maestro is an achievement for Aaron," says D'Rivera. "It's extremely hard to judge two chefs coming from extremely different backgrounds," Riccardi says. "I'd like to see a rematch."

Well, if this was the original, then there would be a 30-minute overtime battle, but we're just going to have to wait and see on this one. Until next time... we bid you good eating.

And no, Senor D'Rivera, the secret ingredient will not be black beans and rice. Although that sounds mighty tasty right now.

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