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"Flay vs. Morou: Battle Frozen Pea" - July 9

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: Morou, a Washington, DC chef who was the winner of "an Iron Chef-sponsored cooking competition" there. Call it the culinary equivalent of a poker super satellite. He combines French, African, and Middle Eastern flavors in his kitchen at Farrah Olivia. In winning, he has earned the right to challenge, and he exercises on Iron Chef Bobby Flay.

The Crib Sheet:
Brian Ray & Neil Manacle, sous-chefs
Eddie Marine & Leon Baker, sous-chefs
23 years EXPERIENCE 17 years
Southwestern COOKING STYLE Creative American
9-5-2, tied last battle against Susur Lee BATTLE RECORD Challenger

The Theme Ingredient: frozen garden peas.

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: Garden peas (pisum sativum) are actually a dwarf mutation of field peas that have been the staple food of many European diets even since the Ice Age. You're probably thinking "frozen peas"? Well, because the sugar in peas quickly converts into starch, these peas are picked and preserved at the height of their quality. In fact, peas were one of the first successes that Clarence Birdseye had in his experiments involving flash-freezing vegetables.

Tonight's Judges:
TV personality Hannah Storm (CBS's "The Early Show")
Culinary author Julie Powell ("Julie and Julia... 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen")
Culinary critic/author Jeffrey Steingarten ("The Man Who Ate Everything")

In attendance, the Honorable Anthony Williams, mayor of Washington.

The challenger's most interesting gambit: "Pea-sicles."

Judgment (Morou): "The idea here was to use the peas in as many ways as we can, infusing our culture into each dish." Dishes: Beef Tartare with Stuffed Pepperoncini, Lobster with Tapioca Risotto, Seared Waluu with Pea Couscous, Lamb with Pea Salad, Sweet Pea Cream Cheese Stick with Pea Beignets.

Judgment (Flay): "It has a lot of natural sweetness to it, which plays into the food I like to cook, which usually has a lot of spice." Dishes: Green Pea Soup with Crispy Serrano, Green Pea Salt Cod Croquette, Green Pea Ricotta Gemelli, Shrimp with Green Pea Curry with Rice, Seared Scallop with Wasabi Pea Crust.

The judges didn't really see the peas as the main player in the challenger's dishes, although some of the flavors really meshed well with each other. Dessert was a winner there. The Iron Chef's counterbalance of sweet and heat works here. The jasmine tea with the curry also works well with the package. But whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict...

Taste 28 21
Plating 14 11
Originality 12 15

... 53-40 in favor of Iron Chef Bobby Flay. A perfect score in originality was not enough to overcome the taste of the Iron Chef's dishes.

Until next time, we bid you good eating.

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