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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. 

"Bernstein vs. Flay: Battle Sweet Onion" - September 11

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: Former dancer Michelle Bernstein, who grew up in Miami immersed in the kitchen and all things Latin, including her mother. A student of culinary skills in Washington, DC and New York, she currently mans the kitchen at MB in Cancun, Mexico, where she combines Latin flare with Asian and Caribbean twists. She will face the de facto leader of the Iron Chefs, Bobby Flay. Pretty much an "estrogen vs. testosterone" match. Prepare for battle...

The Crib Sheet:
Brian Ray & Dan Mihalko, sous-chefs
Hedy Goldsmith & Lindsay Autry, sous-chefs
22 years EXPERIENCE 12 years
Southwestern/American COOKING STYLE Comfort Food
6-2 BATTLE RECORD Challenger

The Theme Ingredient: Sweet onions, four varieties (Texas sweet, globe, cipolin, red pearl)

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 Iron Chef, ever the gentleman, loads his challenger's tray, while Alton explains that Texas sweets, which you may see at Chili's deep fried, are larger, softer, and with a greater moisture content. Winter onions like the globes, are just the opposite: dry and thick skinned. Both chefs are slicing and dicing away at the sweet onions, while Hedy goes to work on pineapples, Dan starts chicken breasts, and Kevin mispronounces "paprika" in Flay's BBQ sauce.

Flay's view: "Usually an onion takes a supporting role to a dish, but to make it a focal point, you really have to think about how you're going to do that."

Bernstein: "My biggest fear is not being able to finish five dishes in the time given. I want to be proud of my dishes." Cipolinis are going into hot water on her side, while Brian is hollowing out Texas sweets. Bernstein is working red wine and aromatic. Flay is working on crabs and croutons, not necessarily together. But how about French onion soup? Bernstein is sweating onions and bacons, while Lindsay pulls out puff pastry; looks like a dumpling. Flay is making onion medallions, while we have crabmeat mixed with panko.

The BBQ sauce from earlier is brushed on the hollowed-out Texas sweets. Flay is working on a similar mix of aromatics and onions with water. Bernstein is cooking heavy cream, onions and thyme. Over on the IC's side, crab meat and panko are being put on salmon. Bernstein also has fish, tuna to be exact. "Fifteen minutes have elapsed."

Tonight's Judges:
Actress Julie White ("War of the Worlds")
Culinary critic/writer and America's answer to Kishi-san (the Simon Cowell of the original Iron Chef) Jeffrey Steingarten ("It Must've Been Something I Ate")
Culinary critic/writer James Oliver Cury (Time Out New York)

Back to Battle: I believe there is an onion tart in our future, while the sous-chefs are slicing more Texas sweets. Brian is stuffing more sweets with a corn meal puree. Also we have sliced onions for a ... blooming onion? Maybe... Bernstein has sweet bread out (they're really the thymus glands of veal). Hedy is working with sugar, lemon, and vanilla beans, while Flay is working on rice flour with water.

Lindsay is shucking Kumamoto oysters, while sweetbread is soaking in buttermilk. Cilantro and garlic are mixed on the Iron Chef's side. He's got two stuffed onion dishes. The cream mix on Hedy's counter is going into the tart. We're adding crab meat to that as well. Beef consomme proves that we're going for a French Onion Soup on the IC side.

"Thirty minutes have elapsed," and phyllo dough is out on the challenger side. Flay is toasting croutons, while Dan is seasoning shrimp and boiling them with lemons. And pineapple slices? No idea.

Looks like we're having a horseradish sauce on the IC side, while the challenger is working on oyster liqueur and creme fraiche. Brian is slicing blue cheese for another dish. Flay is also piping ricotta cheese into squash blossoms. Bernstein is coating the sweetbread in fennel flour. Flay is dredging the blooming onion in rice flour. And it's in the fryolator.

The challenger's onion tarts are in the oven while the phyllo dough is sliced. The cipolins are out of the oven, and it looks like the Iron Chef is a little frazzled as his sous-chefs are making a chile puree. The shrimp is ready on the IC side, while Bernstein is ready with the fennel sweetbread. the phyllo dough slices are out of the oven, while Flay is back with the quail eggs... and so does the challenger! What are the chances?

The red pears are cooked with the quail egg yolks, while his corn meal onions are also out of the oven. Meanwhile, Bernstein is working conch clams into a slice. Onion tarts and the fennel sweetbread are out. Looks like we're having a Napoleon for dessert for the challenger. And we have piping the vanilla mix with goat cheese. Flay is just being a bit too delicate. Meanwhile, Bernstein is frying up her quail eggs. She's starting to plate her conch mixture into a seafood onion stew, while Hedy is piping her Napoleons. Flay is plating his first dish, tapas.

We have some picking going on the challenger's side. Also, the Napoleons are nearly done. Bernstein is plating the sweetbread, while Flay is plating the corn meal onions. Both are working quickly. The BBQ onions are being stuffed with the marinated tomatoes. A Cobb salad, maybe?

The challenger is finished plating. All that's left is the final touches. "One minute to go." Flay is in whirlwind mode. The salmon's done. The blooming onion's done. Bernstein's just watching and waiting. "Ten seconds to go." Flay is on a high scramble. Will he make it in time? "Five seconds... three... two... one... Time's up." And he's... done?! Impossible. Time to judge.

Judgment (Flay): "I thought that sweet onion was actually quite difficult. To bring it to the center is just a bit more challenging." Dishes: Three Onion Tapas, Roasted Onion Tamale, Sweet Onion Salmon, BBQ Onion Cobb Salad with Chicken Breast, Blooming Onion

Judgment (Bernstein): "I like to attack everying with a very simple approach. I don't want to throw too many ingredients into one plate. I like to define the palate with whatever it is I want the onion to be the center of." Dishes: Oyster and Onion, Tuna with Pickled Onions, Onion Tart, Sweetbread with Bacony Onion, Pineapple Onion Napoleon

Julie plays the role of "confused bimbo" this week. Flay's flavors are coming together nicely with the exception of his quail egg. The final blossom dish goes over well. Over with the challenger, we have a contrast of flavors that has Julie gushing. Can we discount her vote? No? Okay. Jeffrey's portions are too tough. It's called chewing, man. Look into it.

So which one of these chefs will be crying to the tune of a win? Whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict...

Taste 24 21
Plating 11 11
Originality 12 9

... 47-41 in favor of Challenger Michelle Bernstein. Plating was a dead heat, but otherwise, Bernstein swept the panel in taste and creativity, which creates a problem for the Iron Chefs, who are now 1-2-1 in the last four matches! Come on, Tetsujin? What's up with you? Well, if form matches, Morimoto should be called next, and he gets a little bit feisty after a loss or a tie, so until next time... we bid you good eating.

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