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"Morimoto vs. Eme: Battle Lobster" - June 18

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: Christophe Eme, a French-style chef who heads the kitchen of Ortolan in Los Angeles. His culinary journey started in France, led himself through Europe, and ended in LA, where he owns his restaurant alongside his girlfriend, actress Jeri Ryan. He challenges the OG of the ICs, Masaharu Morimoto.

The Crib Sheet:
MORIMOTO
Ariki Omae & Makoto Okuwa, sous-chefs
VS EME
Jean-Claude Mons, sous-chef
22 years EXPERIENCE 21 years
Neo-Japanese COOKING STYLE Classical French
68-12-1, lost last battle against Roberto Donna BATTLE RECORD Challenger

The Theme Ingredient: fresh (and still alive) lobster.

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!"

Tonight's Judges:
Chef/restaurant consultant Barry Wine
Culinary journalist Karine Bakhoum (KB Network News)
Culinary critic/author Jeffrey Steingarten ("The Man Who Ate Everything")

For the record, it looks like both sides of the kitchen will have some sort of ice cream concoction.

Semi-educational moment: both sides chose different sexes of lobster. On the ventral side of a lobster, if you have swimmerettes and a pair of fins used for reproductive purposes, and the fins are a little feathery, then you have a female lobster. Males have larger, harder swimmerettes with no fur on them whatsoever.

End of the battle, we go to the chefs. Eme wasn't that confident that he would make his dishes on time, while Morimoto, having fought with lobster in the past, thought that a person who only brings one sous-chef to battle "must be good."

Judgment (Morimoto): "I've done two lobster battles before, so this was quite hard for me. I wanted some small tail for this first dish, but I got some claw meat instead to get the right texture and flavor. I did my best." Dishes: Poached Lobster with Potato Chips, Lobster Ball with Lobster Sauce, Lobster with Chili Sauce and Lobster Hot Dog, Sea Cucumber Marinated Grilled Lobster, Lobster Soup with Lobster Rice, Vanilla Ice Cream with Lobster Sauce.

Judgment (Eme): "Because we only had two people in the kitchen, we just tried to make most simple dish I could do, like everyone could do at home. We didn't choose 20 lobster. We chose 5 and we made 5 different courses." Dishes: Lobster Spring Roll, Lobster Ceviche with Olive Oil Ice Cream, Lobster Sauce with Verbena Milk, Lobster Fricassee, Lobster Gratin with Mango Risotto.

Morimoto drew raves for his creativity and experience with the theme ingredient, as the soup and rice combination won the judges over. Eme also drew raves with flavor and presentation. Jeffrey had a hard time separating his lobster from his shell, but will that figure into the judging? Whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict...

  IRON CHEF CHALLENGER
Taste 26 20
Plating 14 11
Originality 13 9

... 53-40 in favor of Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. It was a three-tiered walloping from the Iron Chef. Obviously Eme could have stood to benefit from a second sous-chef, but that's another discussion for another day.

Until next time, we bid you good eating.

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