"Des Jardins vs. Batali:
Battle Shrimp" - August 7
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
Traci Des Jardins, growing up in a diverse family, and
working in the kitchens of Paris and New York before
opening three restaurants - Fajita, Acme Chophouse, and
Jardinier - in San Francisco. Proving that he is indeed
the Chen Kenichi of the series, Iron Chef Batali will
take on the challenge. Prepare for battle...
The Crib Sheet:
Mark Ladner & Anne
Robbie Lewis & Peter Armellino, sous-chefs
The Theme Ingredient:
Shrimp... lots and lots of shrimp
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: Another
blank slate this week, as Des Jardins is preparing
shrimp for a handoff to sous-chef Robbie. Sous-chef Anne
is making a pasta dough, it looks like. Batali is making
jumbo shrimp, while Des Jardins is breaking down
aromatics onions and fennels, also some galangal. Batali
has Tiber, habanero, jalapeno, and serrano chiles with
Meanwhile, Peter & Robbie
are still shelling shrimp. Shells can be made into a
stock, but will the challenger do that? Batali is making
peas, while Anne is slicing black radishes. Mark is
attacking five or six shrimp with onions, ginger, and
lemongrass. Des Jardins is slicing chorizos. "There is
the fear of the unknown going into this battle. This is
the unknown." Anne has green mango and daikon being
sliced. Des Jardins is simmering aromatics for broths
(fennel, onion, & chorizo and galangal, coconut milk, &
lemon grass). Mark with the mezzaluna making little
bitty pretty chunks, but for what? "Fifteen minutes have
elapsed." Make that 23, as Batali has shrimp stock,
while the challenger has broths of their own.
TV host Soledad O'Brien ("American Morning")
Jeffrey Steingarten ("The Man Who Ate Everything")
Author Victoria Abbott Riccardi ("Untangling My Chopsticks: A Culinary Sojourn in Kyoto")
Back to Battle:
Flavor bases are being set in on the challenger's side,
but Batali is concerned with some oil on the food
processor. Can we see some filled items? Meanwhile, the
challenger snuck chicken into the deep fryer, while
shrimp goes into one of her stocks. And we're waiting
for a brulee! With shrimp? Why not? They have a cream
mixture for said purposes.
IC's working on a remoulade,
while he adds chopped mint to the wasabe. The brulees
are in the challenger's oven. Batali is thinking
Vietnamese cooking for some reason, while Anne is making
the pasta flatter. Des Jardins has a heck of a mushroom
on her side, while Batali has some paper going on. The
brulee has begun on the slow oven of the challenger.
Meanwhile jalapeno, coriander, and pumpkin seeds are
being pan fried with the challenger.
And did someone say shrimp
Maitake mushrooms being
sauteed on the challenger's side, while Batali confirms
a pasta raviolo. Meanwhile, we get a semi-educational
moment. Today's shrimps are of the following varieties:
tiger from Indonesia, Mayan from Guatemala, and adult
brown. Here's a hint: if you're buying shrimp, buy from
the pound count. U12s mean that fewer than 12 make up a
Artichokes are being
deep-fried, while Robbie is working on a Mexicali salad.
Batali is getting antsy while his shrimp are being
poached. But apparently he's not too antsy to lend his
challenger some cilantro. "Buenos tacos!" Very
gentlemanly, this man is. The spring rolls are getting
the roll up, while the uni on the challenger's side are
being chemically altered with vinegar and sugar. Coconut
broth is going on a deconstructed thom ka gai. Meanwhile
Peter is laying and pounding shrimp. Also, Peter takes
his chicken out of the fryer, while Des Jardins is
grilling her shrimp. "Fifteen minutes to go."
With less than 10 to go,
Batali is plating his spring roll. Des Jardins is
prepping her salad. Batarga again? On Batali's side,
yes, along with crushed peanuts. The carpaccio shrimp is
first on Des Jardins side. Raw. Indian rice is coating
another shrimp dish on the challenger's side. Meanwhile,
the IC is deepfrying chickpeas. The remoulade is plates,
while the raviolo is cooking with fried peas.
Robbie is frying clams with
olive oil. Ring molds are out as Des Jardins is making a
salad. "Three minutes to go." Batali's apple remoulade
is done with the creme fraiche. The challenger's brulees
are out, but they have to be finished. Someone has
called for a torch, which means that they'll be done
soon. "One minute to go." The rice-covered shrimp is
one. That's her fourth. Only the brulee left. Batali has
his raviolo down. Lardo shrimp is also done. That's
Batali's fifth. Five done on each side. That's how you
play the game.
"Five seconds... three...
two.. one... Time's up!" The cooking's done, Battle
Shrimp is over! Now... judgment day.
Judgment (Des Jardins): "We did shrimp around
the world. We're going to start with Provencal, France,
then to Mexico, then to Thailand, then to Spain, and
then back to France."
Dishes: Shrimp Carpaccio a la Nicoise, Grilled Shrimp
with Grapefruit, Deconstructed Thom Ka Gai, Shrimp
Paella, Shrimp Brulee.
Judgment (Batali): "One of my problems is when
they're big, they tend to be tough. We cooked them a
little under, then we cut them into smaller pieces. So
that was our theme, was avoiding that pratfall." Dishes:
Summer Rolls with Shrimp, Shrimp Raviolo with Onion-Pea
Butter, Grilled Shrimp Wrapped with Lardo, Steamed
Shrimp with Fried Beans, Parfait of Shrimp Remoulade.
Jeffrey hates the parfait.
This could be trouble. Shrimp all over the world on both
sides, but in the battle of California French and
Italian, whose cuisine will reign supreme? The
... 47-41 in favor of
challenger Traci Des Jardins. Both were creative in
their approach, but other than that, Des Jardins SWEPT.
Of course, a bubonic parfait didn't help.
If you count the tie from
last time, it would seem that the Iron Chefs, with the
expectation to win, are dropping left and right. Can the
next one of the Chairman's army possibly restore honor
to the Gourmet Academy? Until next time... we bid you