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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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Zakarian vs. Casanova: Battle Brook Trout
December 25

Today is a special day in Kitchen Stadium, as the newest Iron Chef - crowned in the fourth "Next Iron Chef" - earns his battle stripes for the first time. For this matchup, we need a suitable opponent...

The Challenger: Chef Victor Casanova, the executive chef of Culina at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills. Born and raised in the Bronx, NY, he offers Tinseltown diners a taste of his traditional Italian flair. His challenger, a chef of 30 years' culinary experience as the chef owner of Lambs' Club and the National in New York City. He is indeed the oldest of the Chairman's international society of culinary gladiators... Modern American magician IRON CHEF GEOFFREY ZAKARIAN.

Prepare for battle.

Alex Guarnaschelli & Paul Corsentino, sous-chefs
Sean Griffin & Federico Fernandez, sous-chefs
Modern American COOKING STYLE Italian

The Theme Ingredient: live brook trout.

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 Battle Salvelinus fontinalis is on in Kitchen Stadium. And like two weeks ago, we start by doing a little bit of fishing. These fishies are NOT going to go quietly onto that good plate. These are some crazy flippers.

Brook trout is native to eastern North America as opposed to the rainbow trout of the west. Both are members of the salmon family with a mild flavor that can stand up to heavy flavorful sauces.

Zakarian is starting with a lot of bacon and a lot of leeks. And a lot of corn cobs for a little bit of an application later. Casanova is working on a pasta, but how will that incorporate the fish? Meanwhile, Federico is juicing cucumber. The Iron Chef also has pasta going on, while the corn in the earthenware pot is getting strained.

And as for Casanova's pasta? Trout ravioli. And the cucumber juice is heading into the blast chiller to make a gelee.

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 meet...

Tonight's Judges...
- PR expert Karine Bakhoum (KB Network News)
- Chef & cookbook author Art Smith (Table 52)
- Author/TV personality Jill Zarin ("The Real Housewives of New York City")

In cutting cucumber on a mandolin bare knuckled, we notice that the new Iron Chef has a thing for Hello Kitty bandages (C-Note: I only point that out to please reader Dana N. So... there you go.)

"Thirty minutes have elapsed." Let's catch up. Alex's infamous trout soup has begun. But with half of the battle over, will Zakarian finish it? The challengers has juiced beets, while the Iron Chef has fried artichoke hearts and smoked trout. As for the soup? Mussel liquor is down. Challenger is going with a cold smoke using a smoking fan and a skin adaptation. Zakarian will counter with a filled ravioli and trout roe.

"Fifteen minutes to go." Trout confit on the IC's side. Casanova is starting to plate his first dish, a crudo platter. And Zakarian... has no plates down. Never in the almost two-decade history of Iron Chef has a new Tetsujin dropped his or her first battle.

Casanova has added cream to his saute of guanciale & onions while Zakarian has stuffed mussels with breadcrumbs and trout. He also has jello shots of trout, Chef Casanova, going into the blast chiller. Over 10 minutes to go, and Zakarian has not yet plated! Wait, here we go.

With 10 minutes to go, Casanova has a trout sous-vide. Zakarian has a brioche-stuffed fried fish and ravioli, Casanova is plating his crudo and dropping his pasta and plating fried fish. Iron Chef calling in for his mussels for a goof on clams casino. Back to the pasta on Casanova's side, and he's playing on a carbonara. Zakarian's saffron roe is going down on his controversial soup. That goes with the mussels casino.

"One minute to go." Casanova has a trout panna cotta on the cucumber gelee, That finishes their side. And Zakarian's putting finishing touches on his five... four...

"Three... two... one... " That's time. Put it down and walk away, Battle Brook Trout is in the books.


Casanova: "I wanted to showcase and riff off of some Italian classics throughout the menu"

- Trout Crudo
- Trout Panna Cotta
- Trout Carbonara
- Trout with Beluga Lentils & Shallots
- Crispy Pan-Fried Trout with Fennel

Zakarian: "Today's meal has to do with texture for me... It's a very natural neutral fish."

- Trout Tartare
- Trout Vichyssoise with Mussels Casino
- Bread and Butter Trout
- Trout Ravioli
- Trout Flan with Gooseberry Corn Salad

Casanova completely redefined Italian classics with his own unique touch. He said it himself in the tasting phase: "We're on a roll." the trout didn't start tender, but it was a home run through the dinner with a shared brilliance throughout the menu. Zakarian began his tenure as Iron Chef with a "triumph" with "no misses". But you have the new Iron Chef always with the shared stressor of winning his first battle. His moves were genius, especially with the ending course, but will they get him the win? Whose cuisine reigns supreme?

The verdict...

Taste 24 30
Plating 15 15
Originality 14 15

... A PERFECT 60 to 53 in favor of Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian, a stern warning to any challengers who dare to brave Kitchen Stadium in 2012... Bring your "A" game.

Until next battle, we bid you good eating.

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