vs. Curtin: Battle Tilapia
Chef Nick Curtin has put in
a stint at Noma in Copenhagen, an eatery that earned a
#1 ranking from the World's 50 Best Restaurants not
once, but twice. At age 23, he launched his first
restaurant Compose to rave reviews. Today, he chooses to
battle the newest of the Chairman's mantle (until next
week, when NIC crowns its newest champion), Iron Chef
Prepare for battle.
Kyle Ricks & Alex Redman, sous-chefs
Ben Burakoff & Christopher Zabita, sous-chefs
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 Tilapia is on in Kitchen
Stadium. And we start by doing a little bit of fishing. These fishies
are NOT going to go quietly onto that good plate. It's a mild fish that
a lot of chefs scoff at, but it takes in a lot of flavors and marries
well with other components.
Curtin begins with tomatoes,
strawberries, and kombu kelp to boil with tuna shavings for a dashi.
Forgione is starting with potatoes. Looks like both chefs will be
working from the "all of the above" cabinet. Challenger has strawberries
and a salsa with that tomatoes, while Forgione is flipping scallops and
mixing teriyaki sauce, mustard oil, and olive oil.
"Fifteen minutes have elapsed." Time to
- Actress Julie White ("Transformers: Dark of the Moon")
- Restauranteur John Curtas ("Eating Las Vegas")
- Cookbook author Candice Kumai ("Pretty Delicious")
Forgione is cooking scallops with
aromatics and vermouth. We also have black fermented garlic in the
blender. Curtin continues to dismantle tilapia and adds on piquillo
peppers, orange juice, and bananas. Forgione's scallop mixture continues
to cook while he is butchering fish.
"Thirty minutes have elapsed." Let's
catch up. Curtin is not going to have time for a planned croquette.
Forgione has cauliflower puree, clams steaming, and roasted hazelnuts.
Curtin is poaching tilapia with potatoes and almond and pinenuts are
toasting. Tilapia continues to be broken down on both sides. We know
Curtin will be working a smoke.
The IC is cooking cauliflower with golden
raisins. Challenger has a huge slab of bacon, and Alex just broke out
the XO sauce with tilapia and lime wrapped in a banana leaf.
Taking time out to recognize the efforts
of the sustainable fishing of the theme ingredient done by the students
of the Food and Finance High School in New York City. They worked with
Cornell University to raise these fish. For more information on their
efforts, visit the No Kid Hungry space at ShareOurStrength.org.
"Fifteen minutes to go." Curtin
is making a coconut-milk tilapia in the immersion circulator and... ICE
CREAM YOU SCREAM. It's a combination of lime and tequila for a sorbet
with 13 minutes left. They cold end up with a slush instead. No plating
as of yet. We may have a wild finish.
Plating starts with about five minutes
left. Curtin has coconut foam/strawberry dashi/sous vide tilapia, a
tilapia crudo, smoked tilapia, banana tilapia, and the croquette he
didn't have time to do before. Forgione will have a spread of pan-fried
fish, bread-crusted, black garlic & clam, fish stick and tartare. That's
five. Now it's all about the final touches with... "One minute to go."
Thank you, Timekeeper.
If it isn't on the plate, it's not going
to be judges. They have to hurry it up.
"Five seconds... three... two... one... "
That's time. Put it down and walk away, Battle Tilapia is OVER.
TASTING & JUDGMENT
wanted to express different textures and cooking styles of the tilapia"
- Cured Tilapia with Salsa Verde Water
- Tilapia Croqueta
- Roasted Tilapia with Charred Banana Puree
- Applewood Smoked Tilapia
- Poached Tilapia with Strawberry Dashi
- Tilapia Tartare and Sashimi
- Tilapia Fishstick with Ginger Ketchup
- Tilapia with Black Garlic Clam Jus
- Tilapia En Croute
- Tilapia with White Chocolate Veloute
Five different dishes for the challenger,
five different ways of preparing tilapia, each one balanced and nuanced.
Forgione also had five, but he continues with his reputation of bold
flavors and twisted creative vibes. Who did enough to take the victory
today? Whose cuisine reigns supreme?
... 52-49 in favor of
Iron Chef Marc Forgione. In aesthetics, both chefs drew
to a dead heat, but it is in the category of taste where
the Tetsujin earned his margin of victory. But Nick
Curtin is young, and hopefully we'll see him again
Until next battle, we bid
you good eating.
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