Stupak: Battle Chocolate
The challenger: Alex Stupak, a
young chef with an impressive resume. While a student at the Culinary
Institute of America, he served an internship at Cleo in Boston. Today,
he now shares his culinary confections at WD50 in New York City.
Tonight, he challenges the grand dame of Kitchen Stadium, Iron Chef Cat
The Crib Sheet:
Ed Cotton & Lorilynn Bauer, sous-chefs
Kevin Heston & Rosio Sanchez, sous-chefs
The Theme Ingredient:
White, milk, & dark chocolate in bars, nibs, and cocoa
The Rules: Each chef must create a five-course
meal, 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 ingredient.
The chef that best articulates the theme ingredient
through his 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 Theobroma cacao is on! Stupak is more of
a science fan than anything else, as he starts out with
low methoxy pectin. What he'll do with that is anyone's
guess. Cora has... food. Carrots, celery and onion. And
Stupak is blending white chocolate with the pectin. And
that's only one of the blends that he's working on. One
of many. Stupak also has liquid nitrogen and other
chemicals. Lucky for him, we have a scale.
Opening words from the IC: "To me, taste is first and
absolutely first. You can have the most beautiful plate
in the world, and if it doesn't have a taste there,
forget it. You're done."
"fifteen minutes have elapsed." So far, we know the
challenger has a blend of strawberries, white chocolate
& cocoa powder and a white chocolate gel. The Iron Chef
has a mole, cocoa-poached lobster, and a chocolate
Opening words from the challenger: "I've only been
competitive in one thing in my life. I've never played
sports. I've never been all that interested in school.
But for some reason, cooking is the one thing I want to
win at." He's got celery root, various chemicals, and
pumpernickel... not together. The IC counters with yuzu
vinaigrette, butternut squash, and a chocolate curd.
Culinary author Ted Allen ("Top Chef")
Chef/author Domenica Catelli
Food author Jeffrey Steingarten ("The Man Who Ate
"Thirty minutes have elapsed." Cora is plating already
starting with the yuzu vinaigrette. So far, she's also
good for a cherry brittle, a chocolate-graham-cookie
batter, and a mole. As far as actual food, she has a
rabbit, seabass, and a lobster. Stupak has a soy-chicory
mix in the ice cream maker. Iron Chef is spreading
basmati rice and seltzer water with chocolate syrup.
Challenger's Chicory Ice Cream is out. Rum sauce is
simmering, and bananas are cooking.
"Fifteen minutes to go." Would you believe Iron Chef
Cora has cotton candy? She also has chocolate pasta as
well. Stupak has scallops & stuffed quail to go with
little cakes, chicory ice cream, and chocolate pudding.
"Ten minutes to go." Iron Chef has pureed her butternut
squash, made little peanut butter & banana sandwiches to
deep-fry, and will convert her chocolate pasta into
ravioli. Stupak has a lime vinaigrette in the works,
quail frying under the salamander, and a plate for his
peanut-butter-chocolate puree. What's going on it,
Rosio's chocolate tubes have to be frozen with liquid
nitro. Ed, though, is stuffing his rabbit with more
rabbit meat, eggs, herbs, and raisins while Lorilynn is
making what looks to be a fancy-pants s'more. Cora is
plating her lobster while Stupak is plating his quail.
He's not happy with his vinaigrette as he has only seven
minutes to get it right. Ed is filling his chocolate
pasta with the butternut squash puree. Lorilynn finishes
said pasta in record time.
Time for a rundown. Stupak has marinated bay scallops,
quail, white chocolate noodles with strawberries, ice
cream, and malted milk-chocolate pudding with some sort
of capsules. Cora has a s'more, rabbit with mole, sea
bass, pasta, and lobster.
"One minute to go." Now Cora has a sixth plate for
dessert. Both sides are racing to the finish! "Five
seconds... three... two..." Ouzo's out on Cora's side.
You know what that means... "One..." Put it down and
walk away, Battle Chocolate is history.
Judgment (Stupak): "We wanted to prepare five
dishes for you and one way or another, we hope that you
think about either a texture or a technique or a flavor
pairing that you wouldn't have thought of with
- Marinated Bay Scallops with Cocoa Lime Vinaigrette
- Chocolate Stuffed Quail
- Milk Chocolate Pudding
- Soft White Chocolate with Strawberries
- Chocolate Capsule with Chocolate Cake
Different textures are the highlights to Stupak's
dishes. Jeff thinks that his choices are daring. Ted
thinks the final dessert goes together well.
Judgment (Cora): "What I wanted to do was show
the versatility of savory food. Obviously I did some
sweets as well, but I really wanted to show what
chocolate could go with as far as fish and rabbit."
- Seabass Tartare with Caviar Chocolate Ganache
- Butternut Squash with Chocolate Anglotti
- Cocoa & Vanila Bean Poached Lobster
- Rabbit Mole
- Chocolate Passion Fruit S'more
- Chocolate Medley (cherry cotton candy, cherry brittle,
chocolate curd, egg cream, curried
Domenica thinks the sweet of chocolate goes well with
some savory flavors, adding depth. Ted thinks that the
pasta does justice to the ingredient.
But whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict...
... 49-46 in favor of
Challenger Alex Stupak. Both chefs were dead even in
taste and presentation, but the creative presentation of
the challenger's dishes is where he achieved his margin
of victory. Moral of the story: in the right hands,
science can taste pretty good.
Until next time, we bid you good eating.