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"Flay vs. Tourondel: Battle Goat Cheese" - May 14

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 Challengers: Laurent Tourondel, a classically trained French chef in love with American cuisine. He owns of New York's BLT Steak, BLT Prime, and BLT Fish. Today, he challenges the de facto leader of the ICs, Iron Chef Bobby Flay.

The Crib Sheet:
Brian Ray & Neil Manacle, sous-chefs
Marc Forgione, sous-chef
22 years EXPERIENCE 14 years
Southwestern/American COOKING STYLE American Regional
8-4-2, won last battle with Ralph Pagano BATTLE RECORD Challenger

The Theme Ingredient: Goat cheese, fresh, aged six months to a year, aged one to two months, and in curds.

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.

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!"

It looks like the challengers may have an edge today. The IC: "Laurent and I are friends and I love his food. I eat in his restaurants all the time. He's gonna be difficult to beat."

Tonight's Judges:
Culinary expert/author Ted Allen ("Queer Eye for the Straight Guy")
Author Maureen Petrofsky ("The Wine Club")
Culinary critic/author Jeffrey Steingarten ("The Man Who Ate Everything")

Semi-educational moment: Chévre, fresh goat cheese, is very creamy. This particular brand is taken from American goats. Chabichou de poitou, a French variant, is a little drier. It's just aged. The final, a caprino, is made in Italy. Very little is produced, because goats don't like cold weather like the kind in the Alps where it's produced.

And what's goat cheese without goat's milk, the Iron Chef suggests.

With 15 minutes left, Tourondel is ready to plate. So is Flay. The challenger has a Jerusalem artichoke sandwich, goat cheese risotto, panna cotta, and a lamb roll. The Iron Chef has almond-crusted cheese and a patty. Also on deck, a soufflé and some gnocchi. With a minute left to go, the Iron Chef is doing some final adjustments. And.... done!

Tourondel: "I think it was the best ingredient for me, actually." He finishes early. Flay, classically trained in French, thinks that it's versatile. He was happy to see... "except I saw him."

Judgment (Tourondel): "Try to use some seasonal product and, you know, tried to work the best with goat cheese." Dishes: Jerusalem Artichoke Veloute with Goat Cheese Croque Monsieur, Unripened Goat Cheese Ravioli, Goat Cheese Risotto, Lamb Stuffed with Goat Cheese, Unripened Goat Cheese Panna Cotta.

Judgment (Flay): "I tried to use the goat cheese in as many ways as possible, and tried to use all three of the different ages of goat cheese as well." Dishes: Panzanella with Goat Cheese Salad, Goat Cheese Soufflé, Almond Crusted Goat Cheese, Baked Goat Cheese Gnocchi, Blackberry Chocolate Goat Cheese Tart.

For the challenger, the sweet and the tart tastes of the dishes may have won him this battle, as may have the acidity factors. Jeffrey, of course, is quick to point out what's wrong with both the challenger's and the Iron Chef's dishes. However, the almond-crusted number may have lost it for the Iron Chef. The gnocchi wins raves, though. But whose dishes do the people favor? Whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict...

Taste 22 25
Plating 9 13
Originality 12 14

... 52-43 in favor of Challenger Laurent Tourondel. Looks like the challengers were very unhappy with the plating of the Iron Chef's dishes as Laurent Tourondel gives his friend a three-way spanking. "French... Cheese... Go figure."

Until next time, we bid you good eating.

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