Zakarian vs. Sawyer: Battle Mint
Chef Jonathon Sawyer heads
the kitchen of the Greenhouse Tavent and Noodlecat in
Cleveland. He dropped out of engineering school to
enroll into culinary school. He not only specializes in
farm-to-plate tip-to-tail cooking, but he learned and
propagated the idea that the proximity to the soil from
the restaurant, the better quality of ingredient. He's
been souschef on ICA before, having worked under Iron
Chef Symon, but today, his quality cuisine will be up
against that of New York City bistro baron, the newest
Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian, who'll be located in
Stadium Right, while Sawyer will cook Stadium Left.
Alex Guarnaschelli & Paul Corsentino, sous-chefs
Brian Goodman & Jonathan Seeholzer, sous-chefs
Farm Fresh Local
chocolate, orange, apple, peppermint, spearmint, and other varieties of
Each chef 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 chef 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 Mint is on in KSA. Mint is
literally used by every major cuisine on planet earth. There are about
600 different varieties, the most commonly used of which is spearmint,
which goes in everything from gum to ice cream.
Zakarian is starting out with a bit of a
pesto, while Sawyer is grilling oxtail and marrow. Way too much
connective tissue there, he's probably going to get some color on that
before putting them in the pressure cooker. On a pot, some pinot noir
and a lot of spices. He's also making a stew, but how will the mint
fare? Looks like both sides will have a dessert. Sawyer's starting on a
semi-freddo on an anti-griddle. Meanwhile, he's also grinding a frozen
calamari. Zakarian's strategy today: avoid the obvious. He's thinking
very light, "cocktail hour in the south of France". Sawyer's calamari is
going into the immersion circulator for a sous vide. Sawyer is cutting
out a hamachi collar.
"Fifteen minutes have elapsed."
Time to meet...
- Cookbook author Sophie Michell ("Cook Yourself Thin")
- Cookbook author David Rocco ("David Rocco's Dolce Vita")
- Actress Cady Huffman
Sawyer is carving a goat leg, clams,
calamari, and some lardo from the mangalitsa pork. Could be a sausage.
Zakarian has duck breasts, langoustines, and... that's it in terms of
meat. Meanwhile, Brian is coagulating a milk/lemon verbena mixture into
a cheese, while Zakarian is making a gnudi, which is like a gnocchi
except without the potato and with more flour. It'll bring out the
aromatic qualities of the mint. And there's also a pot of creme de
menthe with sugar.
"Thirty minutes have elapsed." Let's
catch up. Sawyer has a lot of protein, and he's trying to balance it out
with a lot of mint. Zakarian has thin slices of mango, langoustine
cooked in mint sugar, and Sawyer's starting to build a cocktail... for
Kevin and Alton. It's a gin fizz with mint. Bottoms up.
"Fifteen minutes to go." And
the dirt that Sawyer made at the top of battle... is now gone. Knocked
over on the pan. Other than that, it's a race to start plating. Let's
catch up. More chocolate dirt is quickly created, a waffle is created
for a mint ice cream sandwich, and ravioli is finished in truffle & mint
sauce. They're also plating their fritter, corn, and salad appetizer
trio. Zakarian is making a crudite platter, a riff on a bagna cauda, and
the dessert that Alex was finishing on, a parfait.
Zakarian has an endive with grapes, gnudi,
and a green tea mixture with the parfait, that's three. Sawyer has the
ravioli, the oxtail, the stew, the pot pie, and the mint trio from
earlier. And of course, mint ice cream sandwich.
"One minute to go."
Langoustine, parfait, duck breast, gnudi, and crudite. Both chefs have
five dishes. Now it's all about the five for plating.
"Five seconds... Three... two... one... "
That's time. Put it down and walk away, Battle Mint is in the books.
TASTING & JUDGMENT
we like to is use the mint top-to-bottom, tip-to-tail."
- Mint Hors d'Oeuvre Trio
- Mint & Sweet Pea Raviolini
- Parisian Pot Pie
- Mint Braised Oxtail
- Stoner Sandwich
"I tried to use each mint for its floral capability in each course."
- Crudite with Mint Bagna Cauda
- Sweet Mint Langoustine
- Mint Gnudi
- Duck Breast with Mint Jelly
- Spearmint Parfait with Mint Tea
Sawyer's dishes were very fresh, very
colorful, but the mint could have used more presence. The mint explodes
in the pasta. The best dish for him: the oxtail. Zakarian's dishes were
natural, elemental, and greater than the overall sum of its parts. But
overall, the courses went from great to just good. Good doesn't win
battles on ICA. Whose cuisine reigns supreme?
... 49-40 in favor of
Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian. A hit of the sweet minty
aroma of success for the newest Iron Chef, as he sweeps
Until next battle, we bid
you good eating.
To see this episode in its entirety, go to