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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. 

"Murphy vs. Batali: Battle Crawfish" - October 16

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: Tamara Murphy, a New York native who moved to Seattle to head the kitchen at Campagne. Today, she is the maestro of Brasa in Seattle, where her Mediterranean Rim cuisine continues to draw crowds. Today, she draws just the opposite: a Seattle native who moved to New York... Iron Chef Mario Batali. Prepare for battle...

The Crib Sheet:
Mark Ladner & Anne Burrell, sous-chefs
Mary Lokar & Jake Crenshaw, sous-chefs
20 years EXPERIENCE 25 years
Italian COOKING STYLE Mediterranean Rim
5-3 BATTLE RECORD Challenger

The Theme Ingredient: live red swamp crawfish.

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: Batali dumps a huge huddle of crawfish into various pans to start, while Murphy grabs a plastic container to fill her stash.  Mary gives the challenger duck confit. How will that go into crawfish? Anyone's guess at this point. Both chefs with respect for the theme and for each other...

Murphy: "My biggest fear going into this competition is Mario Batali. I think he does amazing food." Batali: "Tamara Murphy was the chef in Seattle in a restaurant called Campagne, and I had some of my best meals on the whole west coast there. So she is certainly a force to be reckoned with."

The IC has polenta and aromatics. The challenger has roasting peppers. The Iron Sous-Chefs are slicing melon and halving crawfish. The real flavor of a crawfish is in the head, especially around the hepatopancreas. Meanwhile, the challengers are breaking down chorizo and adding that to mascarpone. Batali is making seasoned salt in his processor with bird chiles. And sugar, right. Murphy, meanwhile, is mashing crawfish and aromatics into... well, something.

Now for your semi-educational moment. Red swamp crawfish are the most common crawfish in the United States. They are in essence small lobsters. If you decide to go crawdad pickin', then you should remember to always pick them up right behind their legs and to keep them moist, preferably in a chamber with wet paper towels lining them. Most crawfish can live out of water for up to seven months, but need water in their gill chambers to do so.

Oh, and never ever put them in fresh water, lest you want to kill them.

We've got ramps and crawfish blanching. The ramps are being rooted, while the challenger is stuffing manicotti with that mascarpone/crawfish mixture on the challenger's side... and the mezzaluna is out. "Fifteen minutes have elapsed." Sounds like a good time to meet...

Tonight's Judges:
Actress Cady Huffman ("The Producers")
Restaurateur of Fresco by Scotto in NYC, Anthony Scotto
Senior editor, Bon Appetit Magazine Tanya Steel

Back to Battle: The IC is looking to make up some sauce with tomato and sambal. Murphy is mixing for a sauce of his own, while Anne, wearing a Live Strong bracelet, is slicing porcinis. The challenger is making a crawfish béchamel with the appropriate roux. While the manicottis are being slowcooked, we have currants and raisins. And orange juice.

Over on the IC side, Mark's mezzaluna crawfish is being flambéed with sake. On the challenger's side, duck confit and the crawfish are getting hammered while the béchamel is topping the manicotti as it heads into the convection oven. Jake now adds carified butter to chimichurri sauce. Meanwhile, Mark is pureeing a mixture for a filling. Murphy adds goat cheest to crawfish, while Jake skewers crawfish for frying.

Batali purees pine nuts into a ramp mixture of his own, but not before asking that all-important question... "Any nut allergies?" None? Good. Don't want anyone dying around here. "Thirty minutes have elapsed."

At the half, Batali is marinating onions in vinegar and crawfish tails are sauteeing. The challenger has her skewers in the chimichurri sauce while her crawfish stock is finishing. Mary is working with phyllo dough. Mark is pounding crawfish through a pasta strainer. Challenger has coconut red curry paste, while Anne has cucumber noodles for the melon carpaccio. The challenger is stuffing piquillo peppers with goat cheese. Mary is working on a pastry with duck confit and crawfish. Batali adds fennel seeds to his crawfish tail mix.

Murphy has Japanese eggplant. Why? No clue. Mark has razor clams, and meanwhile, the challenger's b'steeyas are burnt. Time to salvage and move on. A second go in the mix. "Twenty minutes to go." Batali has pearl barley into some oil. Jake has green plantains in the deep fryer, while Batali is making sweet sausage potstickers. Murphy is making a crawfish cappuccino from her stock. Of course. She's from Seattle. "Fifteen minutes to go."

Batali has plated his melon carpaccio with chili salt and chili sugar (also from Batali's recent sojourn to Vietnam), meanwhile Murphy's doing.... a whole lotta frying. Murphy's using tagines for presentation (those are Moroccan cooking vessels). Mary is piping a crawfish mousse. The raisin & currant mixture gets cous-cous, and the whole thing is going into tagines with crawfish in them. Batali is plating porcini and ramps, while Mark is frying razorclams.

Jake is taking the skewers out of his crawfish, while Mark is splitting peas into his barley. The manicottis are out on the challenger's side, and we are at the three-minute warning. The manicotti, chimichurri crawfish, the red curry, and b'steeyas (which had to be redone) are done. The IC has the melon carpaccio, porcini mushroom with crawfish, barley risotto, potstickers, and polenta are done, but we're at 30 seconds... If it doesn't happen soon, it won't happen. The razor clams are added to reduced stock and the potstickers. Looks like an appetizer. Morelles and crawfish are down in the polenta and the Iron Chef is done at 10 seconds... "Five seconds... Three... Two... One..." Put it down, walk away, Battle Crawfish is done. Murphy didn't know what to expect here. Batali notices some interesting things to do with crawfish, as he challenged himself to go out of his bounds. You don't use it that much in Italian cuisine.

Now to judge...

Judgment (Murphy): "The crayfish is somewhat of a humble animal, and what I tried to do is bring together the Mediterranean flavors and make crawfish the star." Dishes: Crawfish Trio (crawfish cappuccino, crawfish mousseline, stuffed piquillo pepper), Crawfish Manicotti, Chimichurri Whole Crawfish, Crawfish Moroccan Curry, Crawfish B'steeya

Judgment (Batali): "These magnificent aquatious bugs are actually very sweet. We tried to dance with the sweetness, around the sweetness, and against the sweetness." Dishes: Vietnamese-style Crawfish Salad, Crawfish Polenta, Crawfish Barlotto, Crawfish a la Plancha with Porcini Mushroom, Crawfish Potsticker

Batali's Crawfish a la Plancha was voted the weakest dish by Tanya, but will that factor into the judgment? Who'll get pinched by the verdict? defeat? Whose cuisine reigns supreme?
Taste 21 24
Plating 15 13
Originality 12 13

... 50-48 in favor of Iron Chef Mario Batali. Creativity was a dead heat, but the taste of the Iron Chef's dishes were enough to beat the perfect score on the challenger's plating. We leave Alton now with his new best friend Crusty, certainly given a pardon by the Chairman. Until next time, I bid you good eating.

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