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"Batali vs. Gadsby: Battle Mango" - March 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.

Today, the Chairman has shaken things up as he dons his ceremonial garb for what promises to be a one-of-a-kind battle. The Chairman has installed all sorts of new equipment... glassware, shakers, muddlers and other tools of the cocktail trade. What could he have up his sleeve? We'll find out in a bit, but first...

The Challenger: Robert Gadsby was born in England and worked in restaurants in Japan, Italy, France, Singapore, and Thailand. Eventually, he settled in California, where he opened Gadsby's and Noe in Los Angeles. He challenges the Red Tetsujin, Mario Batali.

Prepare for battle...

The Crib Sheet:
Mark Ladner & Anne Burrell, sous-chefs
Plinio Sandalio & Michael Potowski, sous-chefs
22 years EXPERIENCE 30 years
Italian COOKING STYLE Progressive American
11-4, won last battle against Ian Chalermkittichai BATTLE RECORD Challenger

The Theme Ingredient: Mango.

The Rules: Each chef must create a five-course meal, with each course utilizing the theme ingredient, within 60 minutes. The chef that best articulates the theme ingredient through their dishes wins.

Oh, and there's one more thing... Each chef will have an extra set of hands today in the form of mixologists, Tony Abu-Ganim for Iron Chef Batali and Bridget Albert for Challengers Gadsby. Each mixologist will concoct drinks to complement each of the five dishes.

Because of this, the scoring procedure has changed slightly. The judges will score the dishes on a 30-point scale: 10 points taste, 5 points plating and presentation, 5 points creativity and use of ingredient, 6 points taste of drinks, 2 points presentation of drinks, 2 points originality of drinks.

So it's a four-on-four battle today. The Kia 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!" And Battle Mangifera indica is on!

We have a still on the Iron Chef's side, and mango is going inside of it. Gadsby is making some spice salt for chicken which has gone into the oven. The bartenders themselves... just making juice at the moment.

"Fifteen minutes have elapsed." Batali is processing dried mangoes and sugar. He's also got a ginger cream. Challenger has lobsters in a wok. Bridget has mixed a simple syrup with allspice. Batali has spiny lobster tails. Tony, meanwhile, is working on a mango campari and lime concoction.

Judges... .

Tonight's Judges:
Culinary author Ted Allen ("Queer Eye for the Straight Guy")
Cocktail stylist Julie Reiner
Editor of Bon Appetit Magazine Andrew Knowlton

Mark makes lobsters fly. Bridget, meanwhile, chills a custard base with cream and mango puree. Mark adds calamari and duck breasts on to his protein station, while Tony adds mango juice and vodka to the still.

Ice cream maker is on for mango campari lime sorbet for Tony. Batali slices hamachi and fluke for a sashimi. Gadsby counters with bluefin tuna. Liquid is coming out of the IC's still. He'll toss the first and the third beakers, because as you all know, you save the middle stuff for the mayor.

"Thirty minutes have elapsed." Langoustines in the deep fryer. Sorbet is out of the machine. IC has gherkins, capers, and mango puree on one side, char sui pork on the other. Challenger is sautéing butternut squash with mango and onion. Five-spice chicken is resting. Bridget plays with mint, pineapple, tequila and infused cognac. She also blends yogurt and mango into a frappe.

Mango salad in the works on the IC side. Anne strains a mango cream.  Gadsby counters with bacon, scallions, and bubu crackers. Anne looks like she's making a creme caramel. She hits it with mangoes and puff pastry, so not a creme caramel. Plinio is piping mango custard into an eggshell.

Challengers are making gnocchi-shaped meat.

Semi-educational Jeopardy!-prep moment: Mangoes have been cultivated in India for over 6000 years. It is the most consumed fruit in the world.

IC is getting his char sui pork. Michael is making an egg mold, while Tony is almost finished with his drinks. Meanwhile, we have card suits made out of mango. Challenger turns out egg molds. Plinio is making gel custards and frying them. They're out not. Mark is slicing duck breasts... "Ten minutes to go." Tony crushes ice.

Iron Chef is making a mango tarte tatin. Bridget, meanwhile, has poured her first drink. Gadsby has plated his sashimi. Batali is plated oysters and mango on mango salt. Bahn mi sandwich is also plated. Mango infused alcohol is out of the still, four ounces worth.

Gadsby is caramelizing the top of his custard. Bridget's Mango frappe is down. Tony is pouring his mango and bourbon mix. Mango-butternut-squash soup is down. Mango custard #2 is down with the brulee. Batali's calamari is down. "Five minutes to go." Bridget's mojito is down. She's got three drinks. Gadsby is pipeting everything with olive oil. Next, mango raviolis.

Batali's calamari is down, while Tony's tiki is down. Duck breast is down on lettuce, while on the other side of that, a mango sangria. Gadsby plates a pot-au-feu. That's five right there. Now it's all garnishes. Anne is down with the caramel mango and Tony's mango sorbet. All five of his dishes are down.

All five dishes, all five drinks. Both sides... Now to the count.  "Three... two... one...." Done. Put it down, walk away, Battle Mango is history. Now to judge.

Judgment (Gadsby/Albert): "We wanted to create a symphony of flavors at the same time, some textures and some flavors." Dishes: Mango Mimosa Salad with Mango Frappe, Mango and Butternut Squash Soup with Savory Mango Cocktail, Sashimi & Mango Crab Ravioli with Mango Sheik Cocktail, Mango Seafood Pot-au-Feu with Thai Mango Cocktail, Mango Dessert Flight with Mango Hotai Mojito.

Judgment (Batali/Abou-Ganim): "Mango for me brings one giant beautiful memory of Vietnam. So I made a food that is not really the food served in any restaurants, but mostly the street food of Vietnam." Dishes: Fried Calamari with Mango Salt with Mango Cordial; Shrimp, Mango & Salami Salad with Mango-Strawberry Sangria; Mango Oyster Trio with Mango, Campari & Lime Scorpino; Mango Marinated Duck Lettuce Wrap with Ramgo Rum Scorpion Bowl; Banh Mi with Lobster, Char Sui, Mango with Mango Bourbon; Mango Tarte Tatin with Eau de Vie of Mango.

The first challengers' dishes are a bit too sweet for Andrew. Julie believes the cocktails on the challengers' side are bit complex. Ted has just the opposite from what Andrew thought. They end proper, though. The Iron Chef begins strongly and finishes cleanly.

But whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict...

Taste - Dishes 28 22
Plating - Dishes 12 11
Originality - Dishes 13 11
Taste - Drinks 15 11
Plating - Drinks 6 3
Originality - Drinks 6 5

... 80-63 in favor of Iron Chef Mario Batali and his mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim. It was a complete sweep of all six categories, a decisive and unanimous victory for the team of the Tetsujin despite a pouring on of talent from the challenger...

Until next time, we bid you good eating... and even better drinking.

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