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November 23

"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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All-Star Holiday Battle Sugar
November 30

Editor's Note: What follows is a televised-move-by-televised-move recap. Because a sixty-minute battle, intro, and judgment has to be edited into 45 minutes of airtime, not every move will be shown.

Kitchen Stadium's walls are decked with holly, and 'tis the season for the Chairman to be jolly, as he commissions a special Holiday themed battle.

The Challengers: Food Network's own Tyler Florence ("Tyler's Ultimate") and Robert Irvine ("Dinner Impossible"). They think it's going to be fun. Well, Tyler thinks it's going to be fun. Robert is a little nervous. Tonight, these two are challenged by another Food Network all-star, a dynamo from Down South, Paula Deen ("Paula's Home Cooking"). But she will not be battling by herself, as she enlists the aid of a fellow Southern Girl, Iron Chef Cat Cora. These Iron Magnolias don't like to lose.

Prepare for battle.

The Crib Sheet:
Lorilynn Bauer, sous-chef
Anthony Hoy Fong, sous-chef
Aegean/Southern COOKING STYLE American
First battle as a team BATTLE RECORD Challengers

The Theme Ingredient: Confectioner's sugar, table sugar, light and dark brown sugar, turbinado sugar, sanding sugar. The Theme Ingredient: Thanksgiving... Potatoes, turkeys, cranberries, various gourds, and a whole slew of fall harvest items.

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 Sugar is on! And Paula's already starting with the junk.

About the ingredient: sugar has been made in crystalline form since about 500 BC, originally concocted by Indian subcontinentals who figured out how to crystallize solid sugar out of sugar cane.

Opening gambits include a lemon chiffon for a buche de Noel on the guys' side, while the girls are working chocolate. In between, Paula and Robert are busy talking the smack. And while Kevin is down giving us the five-minute report, Robert decides, you know what? I cook better without the chef's jacket. By the way, they're working on a pate-a-choux.

"Fifteen minutes have elapsed." The ladies are working on a cookie batter and a cupcake concoction. Paula's making fudge with processed cheese. The guys are working on a lemon chiffon cake, fruit pudding, and pate-a-choux.

Tonight's judges:
Cooking author Katie Lee Joel ("Extra")
Food and wine expert Ted Allen ("Top Chef")
Actress and comedienne Tina Fey ("30 Rock")

Lorilynn is making marshmallows, while Iron Cora is making a pastry cream. Florence is making a spiced ginger cake, while Irvine is making something with figs and eggs. The girls are working on a vanilla anglaise in the dreaded ice cream maker. They're working on that AND egg-nog. The pate-a-choux is out on the guy's side. Spice cake batter is heading to the oven. Lorilynn's star cookies are out of the oven and her marshmallow concoction is setting in the blast chiller as did a pastry-cream. The guys are cooking espresso and a custard.

Cora added ground peppermint starlights into a white chocolate mousse. Partner in crime Paula is spiking some cookies with some liquor, while Irvine is cooking her custard.

Alton has scientific proof that crystals rendered from sugarcane are the official holiday staple. Sugar is made up of two monosaccharides, the hexamer glucose and the pentamer fructose, joined by one oxygen bond to make sucrose. The hydrogen-oxygen bonds come together to spell ho-ho-ho, ho-ho-ho, ho-ho-ho... you get it by now, right?

Anthony has some definite not-ice-cream on his side. Cora breaks out the challah, or Jewish egg bread, while Paula has some truffles. "Fifteen minutes to go." Plating has begun with a chocolate budino on the IC side, and a toasted-almond buttercream on their buche du Noel. Paula has speared cheese fudge balls, and Cora has spread her pastry cream over a piece of challah. Paula has rolled magnolia lace cookies into trumpet shapes.

The guys have filled profiteroles with chocolate mousse, and their spiced ginger cake is done. Paula has dipped her balls into a caramel sauce while Cora is making a tarte tropezienne. Tyler is rolling his buche du Noel... asking for some divine advice... Sorry, buddy. That doesn't look like a Yule Log to me.

The ladies are done with three, the Tarte Tropezienne, the Red Hot marshmallows, and the Chocolate Budinos... which is three more dishes than the guys have right now. "Five minutes to go." Cora is getting her liquor on while Lorilynn is making drunken milk and cookies. The guys have their first dish, their profiterole croquembouche. The eggnog ice cream... didn't set. So we have to improvise. Lorilynn's eggnog ice cream. Done. Spiced ginger cake for the guys. Done. The clafouti... done. Paula's fudge balls... dipped again. Buche du Noel, or whatever it is... is done. That's four for the guys.

"One minute to go." Eggnog anglaise on figgy pudding is dish #5. Cora's finishing off with a candy cane cocktail. The ladies will lead out with seven: magnolia lace trumpets, candy cane cocktail, chocolate budino, eggnog ice cream, Red Hot marshmallows, chocolate cheese fudge balls, Tarte Tropezienne, and chocolate toffee cherry cookies with spiked milk. The guys... working up to the very last...

"Five seconds... three... two... one..." Put it down, walk away, Holiday Battle Sugar is history.

Judgment (Deen/Cora): Strategy? "To get through it. To win."

- Candy Cane Cocktail with Magnolia Lace Trumpets
- Chocolate Budino
- Eggnog Ice Cream
- Cinnamon Marshmallows
- Chocolate Cheese Fudge
- Tarte Tropezienne
- Spiked Milk and Cookies

Judgment (Irvine/Florence): "I thought it was very important to stick with the theme of the battle."

- Croquembouche with Chocolate
- Pomegranate Spice Cake
- Cranberry Clafouti
- Figgy Pudding
- Buche de Noel (Ted: "It's not so much a log as it is a plank.")

We have festive cocktails versus masculine desserts. Lots of reminiscing on both sides, and in the end, isn't that what the holidays are all about? But still, this is Kitchen Stadium, and even on the Holy Night, there has to be a winner. Whose cuisine reigns supreme?

Taste 24 24
Plating 13 12
Originality 12 11

... 49-47 in favor of Iron Chef Cat Cora and Paula Deen. Both brought out the flavor of the holidays, but the ladies one-upped the gents in the conveyance of the festive time, notching another win for the Iron Chef. Proof positive that when it comes to the holidays... NO ONE can outcook a grandmother.

And as the combatants revel in the theme ingredient and the good times of the day, we leave you until the next time that battle is on. Until then, we bid you a very happy season's eatings.