Oliver: Battle Cobia
The Challenger: one of Britain's
top TV chefs, Jamie Oliver has a following on both sides of the
Atlantic. Abandoning a rock'n'roll dream at 16 for culinary aspirations,
he has since earned the nickname of "the Naked Chef" for his use of
simple ingredients to make world-class cuisine. He's also a writer with
nine cookbooks and three follow-up series (one of which airs after this
battle) as well as a nutrition activist. Today, he challenges his good
friend, Iron Chef Mario Batali.
The Crib Sheet:
Mark Ladner & Anne Burrell, sous-chefs
Gennaro Contaldo & Andrew Parkinson, sous-chefs
The Theme Ingredient:
five still-very-much-alive cobia.
And battle Rachycentron canadum is on! The dorsal fins
are very sharp and the first few minutes are spent at
the altar trying to avoid said fins.
Opening words from the Iron Chef: "Jamie Oliver is the
Rolling Stones of Italian cooking. In England, people
just don't buy books, they line up to scream, so it'll
be interesting to see what he comes up with compared to
whatever I can come up with."
Opening words from the Challenger: "People know Mario's
food. Everyone that loves food has been to one of his
restaurants. I think it's going to be close, and I'm
hoping that being a foreigner might just give me a
And sure enough, Anne is making some pasta, the deep
yellow kind, as Batali is assembling his aromatics while
Oliver begins to filet. Anne... is making a second
dough. Challenger is using capers in olive oil, while
Andrew is making some sweet potato concoction. Iron Chef
is pouring blood orange juice into a pot. Oliver just
found out that his fish had scales.
"Fifteen minutes have elapsed." The Iron Chef's cobia
has been sliced into various shapes and sizes. He also
has cannolli and saffron dough. Oliver has fillets and
some huge chunks of cobia in a saute, along with some
aromatics. Iron Chef looks like he's making hummus with
chickpeas, lemon zest, and chickpea flour.
TV host Julie Chen ("The Early Show", "Big Brother")
Restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton (Bon Appetit magazine)
Executive chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli (Butter, New York
And like any good Englishman would do, Jamie is pouring
the Guinness. There's also a veritable mushroom
smorgasbord on the side while he's encrusting cobia in
herbs. "Thirty minutes have elapsed." Gennaro is
cracking open an ostrich egg... and decides he doesn't
like it. He goes for another. Iron Chef has stewing some
cobia with fennel and bell peppers. Sauteed escarole and
ricotta blended and diced with cobia and red hot
chilies. Cobia carpaccio is being plated. Challenger is
working fish and chips, and a whole lot of vegetables.
Andrew is dumping his sliced potatoes into mushrooms
while Gennaro is working on his ostrich-egg pasta dough.
Oliver's working on salsa verde. Batali's filling his
cannolis with escarole & ricotta. And a lot of seafood
is going on the heat at the Challenger's side, along
with tomato sauce and puree. Anne is cutting up some
tagiolines. Oliver looks like he's going to go with a
filled pasta variety.
"Fifteen minutes to go." Iron Chef has his solitary
blackened cobia cube on a plate, while toasted almonds
and celery hearts are mixed. And there's a wine tempura
batter. Oliver has pasta boiling, and seafood stew is in
the works. Plates are now out as well as copies of the
Sun, mimicking Morimoto's first EVER battle back in
Japan. Batali is plating a tomato salsa, while Anne is
frying chickpea mash. Both sides of the kitchen have
carpaccio. Batali finishes his cannoli plating, while
... "Five minutes to go." Saffron tagliarini is down.
We've yet to see the fish on Oliver's fish-and-chips.
That may be it going down now. He's done with his fish
stew. Involtini is down on the IC side. So let's take a
look at both sides now...
IC has involtini, blackened cobia salad, carpaccio,
pasta, and the cannoli. "One minute to go." Oliver has
fish & chips with mashed peas, stuffed pasta, carpaccio,
cobia stew, and... one more, the cobia with potatoes and
mushrooms with five seconds... "Three... two... one... "
Put it down and walk away, Battle Cobia is history!
Judgment (Oliver): "I had to be a little
telepathic, because I've never cooked with this fish. I
went to Italy, because I felt it was a good way for me
to show you the different disparate ways of using the
- Cobia Carpaccio
- Cobia Capellaci
- Cobia a la Tony Blair with mushrooms and potatoes
- Classic Fish & Chips
- Cobia Stew
The dishes reflect Jamie as strong, yet subtle. Julie
and Alex love the different textures at play.
Judgment (Batali): "My approach was twofold. I
decided to celebrate the cooking of Sicily. And I
decided to take it from completely raw to a completely
- Carpaccio with Arugula
- Cobia Crudo and Cannolo
- Cobia Pasta con Le Sarde
- Cobia Involtino with Chickpea Fritter
- Seared Cobia with Pesto Pantasco and Celery Salad.
The lightness of the dishes match the lightness of the
fish, but the fish is a little bit lost.
So whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict...
... 50-47 in favor of
Iron Chef Mario Batali. This was a coin-toss, as the
Iron Chef bested the challenger in two of the three
categories, as flavor sealed the day in Kitchen Stadium,
as Jamie Oliver couldn't outgun the finely tuned team of
the Iron Chef.
Until next time, we bid you good eating.... 52-46 in
favor of Iron Chef Michael Symon. Chefs tied in
originality, Rubino had the edge in his arrangement, but
it was the flavor of the Tetsujin's dishes that gives
him his second notch in the win column.
Two in a row for the new Iron Chef. Can he make it a hat
trick? Stay tuned. Meanwhile, a new battle awaits around
the bend. Until then, I bid you good eating.