"Cora vs. Falkner:
Battle Honey" - October 29
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
Elizabeth Falkner, who returns to Kitchen Stadium
America not as a sous-chef to an Iron Chef, but as a
challenger. A pastry maestro who specializes in sugar
art and one of the 10 best pastry chefs in America
according to Bon Appetit Magazine, she owns the San
Francisco patisserie Citizen Cake. Today, she challenges
her former master, Iron Chef Cat Cora.
The Crib Sheet:
Brian Reimer & Pichet Ong sous-chefs
Sean Forsha & William Pilz sous-chef
Edgy California Cuisine
5-3, won last battle
with Water Scheib
The Theme Ingredient:
Wildflower, clover, and buckwheat honey, fresh and
in combs. And no swords, but the Chairman does have
lethal honey spinners.
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
As the Chairman passes his
two gladiatrices their respective spinners, the Ruby
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!"
First, a recap, courtesy of
the Iron Chef... "She was my sous-chef on two
battles (Battle Hamburger and Battle Clam, both in
season 2). I know her secrets and her style. I'm going
to be doing dishes that she never seen me do before,
something that she may not know that I have in my back
pocket. It's kind of a cat-and-mouse kind of situation."
Rebuttal, challenger? "I
know Cat's highly competitive and so am I. Watch out,
Cat Cora, because you don't know who you're going up
Looks like the challenger is
starting with mead, a Buddha's hand, and some popcorn.
Not necessarily together.
And the Chairman takes a bit
of a snack straight from the comb at the altar. Pichet
on the IC side is making cheese from milk and lemon
Comedian/media gadfly Mo Rocca (NPR's "Wait Wait...
Don't Tell Me")
Grammy-winning Jazz musician Paquito D'Rivera
Culinary critic/author Jeffrey Steingarten ("The Man Who
We have three honeys with us today. The darkest is
buckwheat. Then there're clover and wildflower honeys.
Naturally honey is thick and syrupy. How is it made?
Well, the honeybee, apis mellifera, as
demonstrated by the tattoo on Alton's arm. Bee accesses
the nectary from a flower... Nectar goes into the honey
stomach... Meanwhile, the hairs around them gather
pollen... The pollen feeds baby bees... The honey is
expelled from the stomach... The liquid goes inside the
comb until it's exactly the right viscosity, then it's
capped with beeswax. An apiary slices the comb and
accesses the honey. And now you know... the REST of the
Challenger is making
tempura, while the IC is making soba noodles and
Cora has begun her plating
early. Both have buckwheat noodles, cocktails, and duck.
We're down to the final minute, and the challenger has
not yet plated all five of her dishes. The Iron Chef,
meanwhile, has six down! She's calling for the ouzo
toast, while Falkner still needs a fifth dish with 15
seconds to go! If it doesn't happen in that time, it's
not going to happen! And... she gets her honey ice cream
down on the plate... but AFTER THE BUZZER! The ice cream
will not be judged.
Put it down, walk away,
Battle Honey is over!
The ruling on the ice
cream... The Chairman will allow it. Going with NBA
rules, if the ball is in the air at the buzzer, it
counts. So Falkner has five for judging. "I think we're
just not used to the kitchen. All in all, we have some
tasty dishes, so let's just go from there." Cora: "We're
good friends, we have a history, it was fun."
Judgment (Cora): "I really wanted to utilize
all of today's secret ingredient that was presented, the
buckwheat, the wildflower, the clover and the honeycomb.
I think we accomplished that today." Dishes: Honey
Chelsea Manhattan, Loukoumades (Honeycomb Fritter),
Honey Bruleed Scallop with Honey Buckwheat Noodles,
Honeycomb Sicilian Pistachio Duck Breast, Milk & Honey
Soup, Honey Cake with Homemade Cheese and Honey Rose
Judgment (Falkner): "We had a lot of fun just
playing around with what really tastes good with honey
and how to push boundaries of it a little bit." Dishes:
Mead Honey Drop with Honey Caramel Corn, Hamachi
Carpaccio with Honey Granita, Prawn Cocktail with Honey
Dipping Sauces, Duck with Buckwheat Noodles and
Tangerine-Honey Sauce, Blue Cheese Ice Cream, Black
Tea-Honey Gel and Indian Milk.
Seems like Mo and Paquito
have a heart-to-heart over the Iron Chef's dishes. Her
dishes are "revelatory" once you get past a few
functional obstacles... Jeff is, as usual, very blunt
with his critique of both dishes. The desserts go over
well with the judges. But whose cuisine reigns supreme?
... 39-38 in favor of
Iron Chef Cat Cora. Taste is offset by plating on both
sides with the math favoring the Tetsujin, who, if we're
being honest, did not expect to win today. Victory is
sweet for the Iron Chef but one could help but wonder
what the outcome would've been had Elizabeth Falkner had
sufficient time to plate the remainder of her fifth
Until next time, we bid you