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Season 10
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"Our ultimate competition is with ourselves. That is what my uncle told me when I would visit him as a young boy... 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") Mark Dacascos
Iron Chefs Bobby Flay
Marc Forgione
Jose Garces
Masaharu Morimoto
Michael Symon
Geoffrey Zakarian
Culinary Commentator Alton Brown
Floor Reporter Kevin Brauch
Creator Keiichi Tanaka (based upon "Ryori no Tetsujin/Iron Chef")
EP Eytan Keller
Stephen Kroopnick
Stu Schreiberg
Packager Triage Entertainment & Fuji TV for Food Network
Origins Kitchen Stadium America, Food Network Studios New York
Web foodnetwork.com/ica
Airs 10p ET Sun, Food
@Iron Chef America

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Flay/Valladolid vs. Morimoto/Zimmern: Super Battle Sea Whistle Salmon
January 1

It's a brand new year in Kitchen Stadium, and as is custom, we bring in the new with a very special Super Battle. Two esteemed foodie guests will battle alongside two of the Chairman's best, as an old rivalry is once again in the showcase.

The Guests: On one hand, you have acclaimed cookbook author and chef Marcela Valladolid, host of Food Network's "Mexican Made Easy". On the other, James Beard award-winning food adventurer and chef Andrew Zimmern, host of Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods". Today, Valladolid will share a kitchen with the de facto leader, Iron Chef Bobby Flay, while Zimmern will join knives with a man who has knives in spades, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto.

Prepare for battle.

Renee Forsberg, sous-chef
Jeffrey Lunak, sous-chef
Southwestern/Mexican COOKING STYLE Japanese/"Exotic"

The Theme Ingredient: fresh sea whistle salmon.

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

The 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 Salmo salar is on in Kitchen Stadium. This is the only truly sustainable farmed or aquaculture-raised Atlantic salmon. This looks to be a one-sided battle, with Morimoto unmatched in fish battles and Zimmern "a Jewish boy from Brooklyn", but that's why we play the game.

Flay starts by fileting and deboning his fish, while Valladolid is working on a cuitlacoche. Morimoto is making a traditional Japanese gyotaku, an ink print on a napkin of the fish head and tail, filling in the rest himself. Zimmern is working on shaving bonito for a dashi later. He is also chopping heads for the salamander.

(Fun fact: Morimoto & Zimmern met on the latter's "Bizarre Foods" series. They've been friends ever since).

Flay is working on crepes, soups, and a salad. Morimoto & Zimmern have a strategy: you heard of "snout-to-tail"? This is "gill-to-tail".

"Fifteen minutes have elapsed." Flay/Valladolid have some stuffed salmon, smoked salmon, and reduced pinot noir. Morimoto/Zimmern is smoking salmon and harvesting cheeks.

Time to meet...

Tonight's Judges...
- Magician/comedian Penn Jillette ("Penn & Teller: Bull....!")
- Restauranteur Donatella Arpaia Stewart (Donatella Pizzeria, Kefi)
- Food writer Simon Majumdar ("The Next Iron Chef", "Eat My Globe", "Eating for Britain")

Flay/Valladolid is working on a mint/chili/honey/lime juice chutney, while Morimoto is taking some of his cheeks into a pressure cooker with burdock and daikon. They're also getting ready for a sous-vide and a seafood stew. Valladolid is applying crema mexicana into a stew of her own. Morimoto is quick-curing some fish in konbu kelp when we hear...

"Thirty minutes have elapsed." Let's catch up. Flay has a Dutch oven with a mirepoix, jalapeno, flour, and crab stock. Valladolid is mixing her Mexican crema and charred poblano in a blender. Morimoto has sashimi salmon and salmon dashi in a pot of onion, bacon, and flour. And Jeffrey is making... bagels. And lox coming? Hope so.

"Fifteen minutes to go." Morimoto's side is working on a salmon mousse, while Valladolid is stuffing peppers. Zimmern is taking out some artichoke. Flay is plating caramelized peaches and Valladolid's peppers. Zimmern & Morimoto are grilling salmon with the dashi mixture. Flay/Valladolid is plating up early, while Morimoto/Zimmern... not so much.

Flay's side has a chowder and an Indian-spiced salmon with the chutney. That's three. The huitlacoche crepes is #4. Morimoto has grilled salmon belly with rice, salmon chowder, and the salmon gyotaku. With "One minute to go", Flay & Valladolid are calling for drinks. Morimoto & Zimmern are plating their salmon mousse with bagels, the udon noodle, and the salmon steak. That's going to be it for both sides except for the finishing touches...

"Five seconds... Three... two... one... " That's time. Put it down and walk away, Battle Sea Whistle Salmon is DONE!


Flay/Valladolid: "We're totally partners in this 100 percent."

- Slow-Cooked Salmon with Sour Peach Sauce
- Guero Chile Stuffed with Salmon Tartare
- Indian Spiced Salmon Belly
- Salmon Filled Huitlacoche Crepes
- Hot Smoked Salmon Chowder

Morimoto/Zimmern: "We decided to do a gill-to-tail, so you'll taste the whole fish today."

- Head to Tail Whole Salmon
- Bagel & Smoked Salmon
- Salmon & Seafood Broth
- Grilled Salmon with Salmon Chowder
- Salmon Rice

The first fish dish on the Flay/Valladolid side needed a little less sweet, a little more heat. But the blend of fish and fruit surprisingly works. But the salmon is front and center in all of their dishes, and earthy homey flavors prevail over the lack of aesthetics. The team of Morimoto & Zimmern have taken the panel on a whirlwind journey through their shared vision and technique. We truly had the best of both worlds working. Two teams of chefs, two great collaborations, but alas, they can only be one winner. Whose cuisine reigns supreme?

The verdict...

Taste 27 25
Plating 11 14
Originality 13 11

... 51-51 in favor of Iron Chef Bobby Flay & Chef Marcela Valladolid. The Chairman noted that it was a very narrow margin, with the heavily-favored team of Morimoto & Zimmern upset on taste and originality. Flay said the victory came from a different range. Who are we to argue.

Until next battle, we bid you good eating.

To see this episode in its entirety, go to www.foodnetwork.com/ica.