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"Batali vs. Chalermkittichai: Battle Lentil" - January 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 be shown.

The Challenger: Ian Chalermkittichai, who as a child sold food from a push-cart in Bangkok. These days, his beat is Soho, where he heads the kitchen at Kittichai. Today, he challenges Iron Chef Mario Batali.

Prepare for battle...

The Crib Sheet:
Mark Ladner & Anne Burrell, sous-chefs
Anne Pavita Sae-Chao & Peter Pitakwong, sous-chefs
21 years EXPERIENCE 22 years
Italian COOKING STYLE Modern Thai
10-4, won last battle with Rick Tramonto & Gale Gand BATTLE RECORD Challenger

The Theme Ingredient: Green, Egyptian, red, pink, yellow, and black Lentil beans,

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 that best articulates the theme ingredient through their dishes wins.

The battle clock is set at 60 minutes, which will start when the Chairman, with full heart and empty stomach, utters the words of his dear uncle.... "Allez cuisine!"

Both chefs have a duck and an Anne today. The Iron Chef also has some caviar lentils, which are black and slimy once cooked.

Semi-educational Jeopardy!-prep moment: Lentils (lens culinaris) have been cultivated as early as 6000 BC. They have a wide range of cooking times, mainly due to its lens-like shape.

Tonight's Judges:
Culinary journalist Karine Bakhoum (KB Network News)
Comedian/Host Joel McHale ("The Soup")
Author Monisha Bharadwaj ("Indian in 6")

Halfway into the battle and the challengers are way too secretive to discern what is being prepared. Meanwhile Peter is prepping some hamachi to go into a pan. Mark meanwhile is splitting langoustines and for those of you who are playing the ICA drinking game, Chef Ian just turned on the ice cream machine!

Oh, and the Iron Chef is making pasta made of lentils. Nice.

In the VIP box today, the most VIP of all VIPs... Alton's mom.

Ice cream coming out! Meanwhile the IC is making a romesco sauce.

The Iron Chef showing a rare moment of complete duress as he says something to his sous-chef Mark that for all intents and purposes you shouldn't really say on TV. The home team is WAY behind with three minutes left to go. He's prepping his cotechini tower while Mark is giving his lentil fettuccine a toss with yellow and brown lentils. Chef Ian's side... all looking confused. Meanwhile, we have sous-vide duck, soup, and a thrown-out dumpling number.

Sixty seconds left. Batali is doing some final prep on his five. Ian is topping his ice cream with some coconut cream sauce.

And Mark needs parsley. It's strictly a garnish and...  three... two... one... "Time's up." Battle Lentil is over! Put it down... Walk away.

We find out from the challenger that the coconut cups were to be served with the ice cream, but they were stuck. Batali notes that it would be nice if we just tied.

Judgment (Chalermkittichai): "We have five courses. We used each lentil in a different way, including a Thai salad from the northeast. Also moved down to south, the use of Thai spice. That was the concept for challenging today." Dishes: Limestone Lentil Tartlet with Hamachi, Spicy & Sour Soup with Lentil Crusted Scallops, Thai Beef & Lentil Salad, Duck with Lentil Turmeric Rice, Lentil Ice Cream.

Judgment (Batali): "Lentils are the food of the people. We looked to capture some peasant dishes and bring them up in a different way, using lentils as the entire main ingredient." Dishes: Scampi alla Plancha with Red Lentil Vinaigrette, Cuttlefish "In Zimino" with Green Lentils, Yellow Lentil Fettuccine Alfredo, Yellow Lentil Puree with Duck Confit and Cabbage, Cotechino and Lentil Tower with Fried Lentil Tortellini.

Chef Ian opens up with a winner no matter what Joel says. But soon the lentils become much of an afterthought. he goes back to featuring the Lentil front and center, though. Starch-upon-starch doesn't do much for Karine, though. The Iron Chef has no problem showing off the diversity of the lentil, although Monisha and Joel all want their lentil pasta a mite smoother. But whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict...

Taste 27 24
Plating 12 13
Originality 14 11

... 53-48 in favor of Iron Chef Mario Batali. The challenger had the edge in plating, but the flavors of the food of the people and the originality in which they were prepared gave the Iron Chef his margin of victory here in Kitchen Stadium.

Until next time, we bid you good eating.

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