vs. Symon: Holiday Battle Fruitcake
Tonight is a special
one-on-one between two of the grand masters of Kitchen
Stadium, as Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto renews an old
rivalry with Iron Chef Mike Symon, dating back to season
two of the US series before he was appointed to replace
Honorary IC Batali (Morimoto won THAT one). And the
theme? A holiday wonderland, an instant edge to
Morimoto, who is undefeated in Christmas battles dating
back to the original "Ryori no Tetsujin" in Japan.
Prepare for battle.
Derek Clayton & Katie Pickens, sous-chefs
Jeffrey Lunak & Ariki Omae, sous-chefs
... I kid you not, AB's custom "free-range fruitcakes" from the "Good
Eats" episode, "It's A Wonderful Cake". The recipe is available at
foodnetwork.com OR in one of AB's "Good Eats" books.
The Rules: 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 Holiday Battle Fruitcake is on in Kitchen
Stadium. Already starting out strange, as both chefs are accustomed to
battling on Stadium Left. Symon ends up on Stadium Right. As friends,
they will draw passion and inspiration from each other. As allies,
they'll tackle what has to be a cloyingly sweet ingredient (C-Note:
sorry, Alton). As rivals, they know that only one can win.
Morimoto is starting to marinate the cake
in soy sauce and tamari. Symon's starting to work on a waffle, while
Morimoto is working on a duck ball with fruitcake as well as what looks
like a red snapper. Being stuffed with fruitcake. Symon counters with
heavily spices duck breasts and lardons.
"Fifteen minutes have elapsed." Time to
- Cookbook author Candice Kumai ("Pretty Delicious")
- Winemaker Karl Wente (Entwine)
- Restauranteur Donatella Arpaia Stewart
Symon has bacon, egg, fruitcake, and
other items for a dumpling. Morimoto is covering his akamutsu fish with
XO sauce and fruitcake. He ends up steaming that number. Symon grinds
fruitcake, orange zest, pork butt, and mint. That is for his own custom
"Thirty minutes have elapsed." Let's
catch up. First of all.. no ice cream maker in action. Morimoto is
making a soft tofu, while he's rolling AB's cake into rice rolls and
dumping it onto tuna. Symon's sausage is going into a poach. Basically
we have surf vs. turf. Morimoto could be making some beef carpaccio,
while Jeffrey is making a consomme and taking out Morimoto's washugyu
poached in duck fat. That's a cross between Wagyu beef and black Angus
"Fifteen minutes to go." We're
starting to see what the dishes are going to look like. Symon is searing
duck, tossing speck and and beans in a pan, and finishing his dumplings
and his quail on waffles. Morimoto is prepping eel, steak, akamutsu
snapper, chicken & waffles, and shaved ice. Symon also has a grilled
cheese number with taleggio. Katie is working on a caramel sauce and a
Morimoto's first dish is coming together,
eel on rice. And his second, tofu with sauce. Symon has his duck plate,
sausage, and dumplings.... and fruitcake bread pudding. It's components
all over the place, as they're going to somehow come up with five dishes
in the last minute.
Morimoto has a meringue flower
arrangement. That'll have to outdo Symon's quail with waffles,
dumplings, duck, sausage, and bread pudding. Morimoto has his dessert
with coffee, akamutsu, chicken & waffles, eel on rice, and his steak
course. That's five on both and...
"Five seconds... three... two... one... "
That's time. Put it down and walk away, Battle Fruitcake is in the
TASTING & JUDGMENT
eat fruitcake all year round."
- Trio of Beef and Sushi
- Duck Meatball Soup
- Seafood Fruitcake Duo
- Hot Rice Bowl with Eel and New York Strip
- Fruitcake Dessert Tasting - Shaved Ice, Fresh Tofu, Espresso Fruitcake, and
"[The fruitcake was] much like Alton... sweet and nutty."
- Quail with Fruitcake Waffle
- Fruitcake Bread Dumpling with Bacon
- Roasted Duck with Fruitcake Croutons
- Fruitcake Pork & Beans with Grilled Cheese
- Fruitcake Bread Pudding with Zabaglione
Morimoto did not use any sweetening agent
in his courses. All of the sweetness comes with the fruitcake. As per
usual, his creativity is on full display. Symon's main mission, balance
the sweet with the savory. He played it straight forward. But it's all
in the hands of the judges. Will Symon finally even up the score, or
will Morimoto's holiday battle record remain intact? Whose cuisine
... 56-51 in favor of
Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Certainly no shame in
losing to the master, says Symon, with a promise that
one day their rivalry will heat up the kitchen anew.
Until next battle, we bid
you a happy and hearty holiday eating.
To see this episode in its entirety, go to