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"Cora vs. Royal: Battle Ostrich" - December 10

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: Walter Royal. Having cooked Southern cuisine since he was a teenager, he was the first African-American to receive the Five-Star Chef of the Year Award from the International Restaurant Guild. Today, he heads the kitchen at the Angus Barn not too far off from where I live, in Raleigh. Today, he challenges another product of the South, Iron Chef Cat Cora.

Prepare for battle...

The Crib Sheet:
CORA
Lori Lynn Bauer & Philip Clark, sous-chefs
VS ROYAL
Julia Strickland, Alan McSwain & Chris, sous-chefs
14 years EXPERIENCE 24 years
Greek/Aegean COOKING STYLE Southern Regional
6-3, won last battle with Joey Campanaro BATTLE RECORD Challenger

The Theme Ingredient: Ostrich, legs, thighs, and eggs.

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 that best articulates the theme ingredient through their dishes wins.

The Ruby Tuesday 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!"

The challenger looks like he's brought three sous-chefs to battle with him instead of the traditional two, but in actuality, the third sous-chef is Chris, a product of Royal's mentoring program.

Semi-educational Jeopardy!-prep moment: Ninety percent of the meat of the ostrich (Struthio camelus) comes from the legs and thighs. Both chefs also get eggs which are harder to crack than advanced calculus. They have to be, because they drop a great distance to the ground. If you've ever seen that one episode of "The Amazing Race", you also know that they're huge. In fact, one ostrich egg is equal to about two dozen chicken eggs.

Opening thought from Royal: "I think you'll see lots of southern things, things from my childhood. Things I'm comfortable using, because you always go back to that comfort zone."

Rebuttal from the Iron Chef: "Walter Royal will be coming to win, and that's the main thing. Because he's Southern, I won't be doing Southern. That's gonna be my strategy."

After about five minutes, Chris, all of 12 years old the youngest sous-chef to do battle at Kitchen Stadium, heads up to the VIP box.

Tonight's Judges:
Comedian/Host Joel McHale ("The Soup")
Editor-in-chief of Bon Appetit Magazine Barbara Fairchild
Culinary critic/author Jeffrey Steingarten ("The Man Who Ate Everything")

Critter chart!

The thigh contains something like 17 different muscles. The back contains the tenderloin, much like a cow's tenderloin. Up in the breast... look at the picture... Nothing of any culinary value. Since an ostrich doesn't fly, it doesn't have development able for breast meat.

Oh, and ostriches don't stick their heads into the sand when they're scared. They lie flat on the ground.

After Cora makes an imminent threat on Alton's life by throwing him a slab of chocolate, we're down to five minutes. Time for the chefs to Voltron here.

Three minutes and the first of the Iron Chef's dishes is done. She has meatballs, risotto, and carpaccio. Royal has pot pie, satay, ostrich burgers, and a souffle. Ostrich fillet. That's five. He's done with the final minute approaching.

For the first time, Cora is working up until the last second, with final garnishes plated with three... two... one... "Time's up." Battle Ostrich is over! Put it down... Walk away. Whiskey on the challenger's side. Ouzo on the Iron Chef's side... wouldn't have it any other way.

Judgment (Cora): "I really wanted to show a good versatility and global usage of ostrich. We really just wanted to show some of the different flavors of different countries, and that's what we tries to showcase here today." Dishes: Ostrich Carpaccio, Ostrich Stracciatella, Sweet & Sour Ostrich, Ostrich Porcetta, Fallen Ostrich Egg Napoleon.

Judgment (Royal): "Simply taking ostrich, which is so great for you, and keeping it simple. Nice fresh herbs and just simple ingredients." Dishes: Ostrich Burgers with Homemade Potato Chips, Ostrich Satay, Ostrich Pot Pie, Ostrich Fillet, Chocolate Ostrich Egg Souffle.

Ostrich doesn't really have flavor. At least Cora's ostrich doesn't have flavor. It's not really her fault, but at the same time, it's hard to flavor ostrich in the time allotted. So this battle will come down to what the chefs manage to do with the ingredient. It looks as if the challenger may have the judges in his pocket. But whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict...

  IRON CHEF CHALLENGER
Taste 21 27
Plating 11 12
Originality 11 12

... 51-48 in favor of Challenger Walter Royal. KISS wins it for the man from North Carolina, as does bringing out the flavor of the ostrich, which can be done by boiling a LOT of it into a stock and... yeah.

Until next time, we bid you good eating.

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