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"Flay vs. Lee: Battle Bacon" - June 4

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: Susur Lee of Toronto. He started as an apprentice in Hong Kong, then moved to Toronto and opened the Lotus there. He now serves as the executive chef of Susur, where he is the master of "Nouvelle Chinois". Today, he challenges the de facto leader of the Iron Chefs, Bobby Flay.

The Crib Sheet:
Brian Ray & Neil Manacle, sous-chefs
Bart Murawiecki & Dustin Gallagher, sous-chefs
23 years EXPERIENCE 35 years
Southwestern COOKING STYLE Asian French
7-4-1, won last battle against Ralph Pagano BATTLE RECORD Challenger

The Theme Ingredient: bacon; pancetta, American-style, Irish-style, Canadian-style.

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!"

Semi-educational moment: bacon can be harvested in two different areas, from the belly (American-style and pancetta), or from the back (Irish style). If Irish style was cured more and dried out, it would become Canadian bacon.

Tonight's Judges:
Comedian/media gadfly Mo Rocca ("Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me..." and VH1's "I Love The...")
Culinary journalist Akiko Katayama (Food Arts Magazine - Japan)
Culinary critic/author Jeffrey Steingarten ("The Man Who Ate Everything")

Judgment (Lee): No comments, just straight to the dinner... Dishes: Irish Bacon-wrapped Pork Tenderloin, Lionhead with Potato and Spinach Sauce; Shanghai-style Pork with Cabbage, Polenta and Apples; Green Onion Package, Quail Egg and Caviar; Irish and American Bacon Scallop with Roasted Pineapple, Pork Tart with Quail.

Judgment (Flay): "I think it's safe to say most people like bacon. I think the challenge today was to bring the ingredient to the forefront, so it's not much of a second-class citizen to the rest of the dishes." Dishes: Shellfish & Bacon Tapas, Bacon Risotto with Quail Egg and Green Onion, Jerk-Rubbed Whole Slab Bacon with Mango Piece, Deconstructed Pancetta Carbonara, Irish Bacon with Pineapple and Jalapeno Broth.

Seems like Lee drew both on Asian and Canadian culture to see him through.  Akiko and Jeffrey, though, play incredibly hard to please. Meanwhile, Iron Chef Flay played on his strengths. Whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict...

Taste 23 23
Plating 12 10
Originality 11 13

... a 46-46 tie. A battle to the end ends with flavors so bold that the judge could not decide who was the victor. Could we see a grudge match between the two? Stay tuned...

Until next time, we bid you more bacon.

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