Love to Interrupt
The DiGeorge Files
Our ultimate competition is with
ourselves. That is what my uncle told me when I would visit
him as a young boy. Now I prepare myself for my most savory
challenge. My uncle, the man the world knows as Kaga the
Chairman, has decided that although America is a young
country, we now possess the proper palate to host our own Iron
Chef competition, an American celebration of the world's high
art of cuisine.
Recaps by Chico Alexander, GSNN
Host ("The Chairman"):
Culinary Commentator: Alton Brown
Iron Chefs: Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, Wolfgang Puck
Creator: Keiichi Tanaka (based upon "Ryori no Tetsujin/Iron
EP: Steve Kroopnick
Packager: Triage Entertainment, Fuji Television
Network, Food Network
Aired: April 2004
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Batali vs. Morimoto - April
If memory serves me right, Chairman Takeshi Kaga has
sent two of his Iron Chefs - Hiroyuki Sakai and Masaharu
Morimoto - to do battle in Kitchen Stadium America
against his nephew's own army of Iron Chefs - Wolfgang
Puck, Mario Batali, and Bobby Flay. The first "Battle of
the Masters," Battle Trout between Sakai and Flay went
to Iron Chef Flay. Today, another battle, this time,
between the vanguard of Neo-Japanese Morimoto (65-7) and
the New York Italian master Batali (rookie).
The theme ingredient for this battle is SPINY LOBSTER.
Reminder: both chefs have one hour to come up with at
least five unique dishes that present spiny lobster. The
chef that does so the best as judged by the panel of
"With an open heart and an empty stomach, I say unto
you, America... ALLEZ CUISINE!"
And battle is on. Both chefs grab a load of spiny
lobsters, which are really more or less overgrown
crayfish prepared specifically for their tail.
Morimoto's side has already started their rice cooker,
meaning that we may have some sushi in the offing.
Morimoto also preps some rocks. As in the type you skip
on the river. Meanwhile, Batali and his sous-chefs have
a short talk before going into motion.
First live poll of the night shows that Batali and
Morimoto are dead even. And rightly so, as both chefs
are dead even when it comes to experience, Morimoto's 20
years against Batali's 18, and philosophies, both are
mavericks in their fields.
Tuna is being chopped on Batali's side, while Morimoto
is blanching his lobster tails with some more lobster in
the blender. Batali is breaking out the pancetta and
dropping potato slices in the fryer for a cannelloni,
while Morimoto is preparing a soup of sorts. Batali is
prepping onions with lobster and pancetta, a tomato
sauce, and some habanero chiles, all going in a soup.
"Fifteen minutes have elapsed." Let's go to Kevin Brauch
with the judges. Tonight, they're John O'Hurley from
"Seinfeld" (among other things), Melinda Clarke from
"The OC", and restaurateur Kerry Simon from... the last
battle. Morimoto is removing meat, while Batali is
simmering tomato paste. Morimoto is simmering himself,
as he's a little concerned over things (of what, we
Batali is making his cannelloni filling, and currently
has a slight upperhand in the live vote, 52-48.
Morimoto's side goes to the bonito flakes for a stock.
Along with dashi, it's as good as a chicken stock. Konbu
is wrapped into the skewered lobster tails. In this
fasion, it's used for its connective tissue properties,
like a fat netting only, well... not. Odds are that
Morimoto will also go for its flavor. The lobster itself
was more than likely dipped in ice water containing
cognac. That's our Morimoto, alright!
Iron Chef Flay (2-1) is on the sidelines, talking about
Morimoto's stealthiness. "It's always a surprise at the
last second. I think he plays head games with himself."
Meanwhile Batali's sous-chef Ann is cutting up urchin
for a soup, maybe a soup bowl. Meanwhile, she strains
out the eggs. To be truly edible, the urchins have to be
harvested in calm waters for three days.
On Morimoto's side, shrimp, lobster, and white mountain
potatoes are being blended for noodles. Melinda in the
judge's box is fascinated by the chefs' speed, while
Kerry tries to explain it, using the silent
Batali is almost finished with the cannelloni proper,
while Morimoto is pureeing lobster and pushing it
through a tammy (a fine sieve used to make mousses).
Kevin confirms that the urchins on Batali's side are
going to be used as bowls for his soup.
"Twenty minutes to go." Morimoto is piping his lobster
puree into a little foamer pump. I know this because of
the CO2 pipe in Morimoto's mouth. This will definitely
be a mousse, but how is he going to serve it? Batali
thinks that Morimoto is together, young, and a
formidable opponent. Morimoto likes Batali's theme song
and his jovial nature.
Batali has begun work on a saltimbocca. Morimoto is
locked and loaded on his foamer. He's also locked and
loaded on his piping bag for his potato/lobster/shrimp
noodle. Live vote still a dead heat as the noodles come
out of the kelp broth as soon as they go in. Hearts of
palm are sliced on Batali's side, while Ann dices
lobster and adds it to a dough mixing, to be deep fried
into a fritter.
Over on the burners, Batali adds on marsala wine to his
saltimbocca, creating a little bit of a blaze. Morimoto
loves his noodles, as he is all smiles on his side. One
of his sous-chefs is pan-frying lobster. One of Batali's
sous-chefs is going to serve up some sweetbreads with
hearts of palm and black truffle. Morimoto has a lot of
herbs, while Ann has a foam action going on with her
espresso machine (I tell you, if this goes to series,
she would make a formidable challenger).
Morimoto has begun plating on his noodles and lobster
sashimi, it looks like. Batali's pea soup gets chives as
Morimoto's chefs prepare tempura. Ann's fritters go into
the heat as well.
"Ten minutes to go." Kevin reports that both chefs are
pleased with their results, as Morimoto gets his rice
out of the cooker and into a soup in an enameled vessel,
very common in Japanese cooking. Tempura is just coming
out of the oil with a few minutes left in the battle.
Mark, one of Batali's sous-chef, is thinking carpaccio,
while the Chairman makes his way to the judges. And
remember that piping pump from earlier? Morimoto is
serving its contents in shot glasses with caviar. "Would
you slam that back as a shooter?" Kevin asks Alton? Only
if it had sake in it. It all goes into a bed of ice.
Soup is going into the urchins in Batali's side as well
as the frothed milk, while Morimoto has spears of
bamboo. Lobster roe goes to work on Batali's side, as he
pulls out his cannelloni. Morimoto gets his wasabe ready
as final plating has begun, five done on Batali's side,
three on Morimoto. We get two more later, so it looks
like five on five. The rocks from earlier are out and
into an enameled vessel with the wrapped lobster tails,
with tea leaves and sake going in as well.
"One minute to go." Big fun on both sides. Big plating.
Morimoto scrambling, Ann needs to refroth her milk.
Chefs are almost done plating. "Five seconds... three...
two... one... Time is now up." Battle Spiny Lobster is
now in the books. Batali was abnormally quiet, while
Morimoto is happy with his dishes. Morimoto gets six
dishes to Batali's five. Remember, each judge is
allocated up to 20 points for each chef. Of those 20,
ten will be awarded for taste, five for presentation and
plating, and five for originality and theme.
Morimoto was going for a changeup in texture and flavor,
with a few surprises in store. After all, he is the guy
with the surprises. His dishes: Lobster sashimi with
fresh wasabe; chopped lobster mousse; fresh lobster
noodles; lobster tempura - three flavors; konbu wrapped
lobster tail with sauce America; lobster, egg, and
Japanese rice soup; and Middle Eastern spiced lobster.
Melinda has never had dishes like these before (she says
that about all of his dishes). Kerry and John like the
balances in the dishes. After tasting the konbu wrapped
item, John makes this determination: "I'm going to find
every river stone in the San Fernando Valley." Favorable
marks for Iron Japanese. "Very adventurous," Kerry says.
Batali was going to treat lobster in a creative way
while respecting the integrity of Italian cuisine. His
dishes: Lobster tonnato; sea urchin, shrimp, and lobster
cappuccino; potato and lobster cannelloni, lobster
saltimbocca with a salad, and roasted corn and lobster
Kerry tastes the freshness in the tonnato. John likes
the presentation of the cappuccino and the cannelloni.
"When faced with an absolutely impossible ingredient, I
can guarantee you that the best thing you can do is wrap
it up in something and fry it," Batali says of his
zeppole, while the judges appreciate the subtle
sweetness of the lobster.
We've scored the chefs, now it's time to reveal... Whose
cuisine reigns supreme? Here's the Chairman.
"Today's winning master is... Chef Mario Batali!" Well
fought, well met, as Batali's taste bested Morimoto's.
That's where he won the battle.
BATALI: Taste - 28, Plating - 14. Originality -
15, Total - 57
MORIMOTO: Taste - 23, Plating - 14, Orginality -
14, Total - 51
Batali was at home with lobster, and 48 percent of the
fans were at home with the verdict, as tonight, Mario
Batali's cuisine reigns supreme. Next time, a two-fer,
as Morimoto will try to avenge his loss battling Iron
Chef Puck, while the second battle is a tag-team affair
with a twist. How I LOVE that T-word.
April 23 - The Making Of...
April 23 - Flay vs. Sakai: Battle Trout