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Season 6
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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: Mario Batali, Cat Cora, Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto, Michael Symon
Culinary Commentator: Alton Brown
Kitchen Reporter: Kevin Brauch
Creator: Keiichi Tanaka (based upon "Ryori no Tetsujin/Iron Chef")
EP: Eytan Keller, Stephen Kroopnick, Stu Schreiberg
Origin: Kitchen Stadium America, Food Network Studios, New York City
Packager: Triage Entertainment and Fuji TV for Food Network
Airs: Sundays at 10p ET on Food Network


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Batali vs. Oliver: Battle Cobia
January 6

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
Italian COOKING STYLE Homestyle Italian

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 little edge."

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.

Tonight's Judges
TV host Julie Chen ("The Early Show", "Big Brother")
Restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton (Bon Appetit magazine)
Executive chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli (Butter, New York City)

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 fish."

- 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 cooked state."

- 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...

Taste 26 24
Plating 13 12
Originality 11 11

... 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.