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Iron Chef America
Season 11
10p ET Sundays

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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
Alex Guarnaschelli
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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Guarnaschelli vs. Joo: Battle Mortadella
December 30

Ten chefs from across the nation went to battle against each other for the right to join the Chairman's mantle of Iron Chefs - the worldwide fraternity of invincible culinary overlords. The newest Tetsujin to rise from that competition is about to take on a challenger from across the sea.

The Challenger: Chef Judy Joo, a judge on "The Next Iron Chef" and one of the resident house cooks on the British version of the series, "Iron Chef UK". She is a self-described French-trained Korean-American Londoner based at their Playboy Club. It's a trans-Atlantic showdown for the ages.

Prepare for battle.

Andrew Hales & Jaime Garbutt, sous-chefs
Ashley Merriman & Wirt Cook, sous-chefs
French COOKING STYLE French Italian

The Theme Ingredient: two rolls of mortadella.

The Rules: Each chef must create a five-course dinner, with each course utilizing the theme ingredient, 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 theme ingredient. The chef that best articulates the theme through her dishes wins.

But there is a new twist in the 11th season in Kitchen Stadium America. Your first dish using mortadella must be delivered to the judges within 20 minutes of the opening gong. There is another curveball in the offing, but we'll get to that in a moment.

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 Mortadella is ON! Each chef has 80 pounds of sausage to work with. It's really bologna, very subtle flavor, but at the same time, a very versatile meat. It's considered an emulsion with a mixture of meat, pork fat, and pistachios.

Tonight's Judges...
- Culinary critic Jeffrey Steingarten
- PR specialist Karine Bakhoum
- Filmmaker Tory Belleci ("Mythbusters")

FIRST DISH (5 points per judge)

JOO: Mortadella Tacos
GUARNASCHELLI: Dirty Martini with Mortadella Stuffed Olives, Mortadella Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms


But that's only one dish, and that's only the beginning. The Chairman now has up his sleeve...

CULINARY CURVEBALL (5 points per judge)

The Chairman will present either an additional ingredient or an additional piece of hardware that must be incorporated into the spread. Today, it is... EBELSKIVER PANS. Usually used for making little Danish pancakes of the same name, they must be used in a creative way. Joo is using hers to cook scallops. Guarnaschelli is making... a mortadella puff.

TASTING & JUDGMENT (20 points per judge)

Joo: "Today's secret ingredient actually threw me off a little bit. Basically mortadella is bologna. But I grew up eating bologna!"

- Mortadella Tempura with Scallops & Mortadella Sauce
- Mortadella Fried Chicken
- Mortadella Mac & Cheese
- Mortadella-Candied Doughnut with Milk Punch

Guarnaschelli: "Today's secret ingredient actually threw me off a little bit. Basically mortadella is bologna. But I grew up eating bologna!"

- Mortadella Tortellini
- Mortadella-Wrapped Cod
- Mortadella-Crusted Pork Shanks, Treviso & Ebelskivers
- Mortadella Toffee with Strawberry Sorbet

You can taste the mortadella in Joo's starters, but it's too subtle for Jeffrey's liking. Joo freely admits to treating the mortadella like bacon. Guarnaschelli's tip of the hat to Bologna wins over the judges. Tory calls the culinary curveball was a game-changer.

In the first battle for the new Iron Chef, whose cuisine reigns supreme?

The verdict...

Taste 27 27
Plating 14 13
Originality 13 15

... 80-75 in favor of Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli. The two point advantage from earlier went a long way.

Until next battle, we bid you good eating.

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