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"Flay vs. MacMillan: Battle American Kobe Beef" - March 5

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: starting at age 15 as a cook, our challenger has cooked in kitchens from Boca Raton to Santa Monica. He currently heads the kitchen at Elements at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain in Paradise Valley, AZ. Today's challenger: Chef Beau MacMillan.

He draws the de facto leader of the ICs, Iron Chef Bobby Flay.

The Crib Sheet:
Brian Ray & Neil Manacle, sous-chefs
Tony Hehman & Katie Lorenzen, sous-chefs
22 years EXPERIENCE 19 years
Southwestern/American COOKING STYLE American Fare
7-3-1, won last battle against David Burke BATTLE RECORD Challenger

The Theme Ingredient: domestically raised Kobe beef, the most expensive ingredient brought into KSA..

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: this is a different critter than Japanese Kobe beef, because it's illegal to bring in said animal since 2002. Before then, some of these cows were crossbred with American Angus to bring us this special meat. Both chefs start breaking down their critters, while the challenger starts preparing for ravioli and tartare. The Iron Chef, meanwhile, will be using the strip.

MacMillan on the IC: "I do admire Bobby Flay, his achievements that he's earned in the business. I'm interested in what he's going to do. He's going to be on his game plan, and I'm going to be on mine."

Meanwhile, the IC is working on mushroom for the first time in a while, while sous-chef KAtie is making a rub for the beef while Flay is working on frying jalapenos and breaking down shallots. MacMillian is grilling some ribeyes. Flay is breaking out the milk, while Neil is grating cheese, all while the shallots and mushrooms are roasting. Brian is making a red chile oil, while Flay is making a roux with provolone.

Meanwhile Katie is sauteeing something... maybe the tenderloin. A third-dish is out on the challenge: rosemary crusted tenderloin. MacMillan is making some paillards, while souschefs are making cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes with brown sugar.

More cheese on the IC side with jack and goat cheese. "Fifteen minutes have elapsed." Flay is toasting rounds and halves of white bread, while MacMillan is peeling some lotus root. Time to meet...

Tonight's Judges:
Food critic/author Ted Allen ("Queer Eye for the Straight Guy")
Editor-in-chief Barbara Fairchild (Bon Appetit Magazine)
Wine connoisseur Andrew Firestone ("The Bachelor")

Back to Battle: The challenger's grilled Kobe is awaiting roasting, while abalone mushrooms and Napa cabbage are out. Flay is working a rioja reduction. Flay has got quail eggs, while he's also stuffing his fried jalapenos with the jack-goat cheese mix. They'll be fried again. Meanwhile, MacMillan is slicing up some daikon, while Flay is parblanching some french fries.

Raspcherries are being reduced for something on the challenger's side. The shallots on the IC side are being reduced in wine for a béarnaise. Now comes a spice rub for the IC's beef. And the challenger has salsify out, while he's making carpaccio with a chili-soy marinade.

MacMillan is breaking down microgreens, while Katie's sweet potatoes are into the food processor... "Thirty minutes have elapsed." ... while enoki mushrooms are being roasted on the IC's side. The raviolis are being made with wonton skin on the challenger's side.

The IC has made some thin tenderloins, while the ribeyes on MacMillan are coated with chili mustard.

Semi-educational moment coming: the flavor and tenderness of American Kobe beef comes from lots of pockets of intramuscular fat, which comes from raising the cow very very slowly, about four times as long as it would take you to raise American steer. Fattening? Only to the cow, which genetically grows more monounsaturated fat than any other of its kind. Good, and good for you.

Back to battle, as the challenger has deep-fried some cassava root. Flay is grilling the steaks spice-side down, and we have lobster tails coming out. A little surf and turf? Maybe.

The sweet-potato slices on the challenger's side are going to be fried, while the IC is making a constructing station of some sort. Perhaps a sandwich is in the offing, while the ravioli on the challenger's side.

Flay is frying a quail egg. And the ravioli is done. And on the IC side... little mini-rellenos. Steak tartare is getting ready for MacMillan's first plate. Oh, sorry, it's the carpaccio.

"Fifteen minutes to go."

The crawfish tails are done and are ready to be plated, as is the challenger's cranberry relish. First plate for the Iron Chef is a breakfast stack. Looks like American Kobe steak and eggs. The Chinese mustard is being browned on the challenger's tartare. He's also plating his salsify fondue with raspcherry sauce. And on it... the rosemary-crusted tenderloin.

On the IC's side, we have cabrales with rioja, while the twice-fried French fries. With... "Five minutes to go."

The ravioli is down on the challenger's plate. Flay is making a cheesesteak sandwich. And here comes the mushrooms, while the béarnaise sauce is getting ready. The challenger is leading in dishes so far, four to three. Flay ties it with a surf and turf,

"One minute to go." All five are down on the challenger's... "Thirty seconds to go." Flay is plating his strip steak, that's going to be it for the challenger and the Iron Chef with 10 left on the clock. The jalapenos are down, and now we're checking...  "Five seconds... three... two... one... Time's up."

Put it down and walk away, and Battle American Kobe Beef is history!

Judgment (MacMillan): "Getting that Kobe beef is so versatile, I wanted to showcase that and change it up a little, do some different things with it." Dishes: Kobe Steak Tartare, Kobe Beef Ravioli, Carpaccio Style Kobe Beef Salad, Rosemary Pepper Crusted Tenderloin, Chile Rubbed Ribeye with Sweet Potato Puree.

Judgment (Flay): "Instead of trying to pair ingredients that went with beef, I tried to transport you to a different place." Dishes: Breakfast Stack of Kobe Steak and Quail Egg, Surf & Turf Kobe Beef and Crawfish Tails, Philly Cheesesteak, Spiced Rubbed Steak in Red Chile Sauce, Spice Rubbed Spanish Style Steak Frites.

Both chefs accentuated the versatility of Kobe beef, and while Flay went all over with it, MacMillan just stuck to a basic game plan. Whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict is...
Taste 23 24
Plating 11 13
Originality 12 12

... 49-46 in favor of Challenger Beau MacMillan. He had a game plan, stuck with it, and ended up in the win column for unique plating.

Until next time, we bid you good eating.

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