Excoffier: Battle Dorade
The challenger: Chef Sue Torres, whose
passion for Mexican food led her to open her own authentic Mexican eatery in New
York City, Suenos. Today, she'll put her dreams on the line against like-minded
master, Iron Chef Bobby Flay.
Prepare for battle.
The Crib Sheet:
Vicki Wells &
JC Pavlovich, sous chefs
Jeff Baruch & Jorge Torres, sous-chefs
The Theme Ingredient:
Yellow, baby yellow fingerling & baby red bananas and
green, yellow, sweet & black plantains
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 or her 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 Banana is on!
Torres starts by boiling black plantains, while Flay is
adding molasses to a bunch of plantains. Both chefs are
working with peppers, while Torres is heating hers to
intensify the flavors. And since it's Bobby Flay, we
have red and green oils already being blended. Torres is
breaking down yellowfin tuna, sushi grade, and some
halibut. The sweet-plantain-molasses mix is in Flay's
food pro. Meanwhile, Jeff is cleaning some prawn and
slicing plantain for chips... actually, they're going to
be tortillas. Vicki said the three magic words: banana
ice cream. And we have bananas, why not banana leaves?
The plantain-molasses is going into there for a tamale.
"Fifteen minutes have elapsed."
Flay has grilled pineapple, while Torres has prepped chili powder.
Torres is also cooking Mexican chorizo, while working on grapefruit.
Flay is chopping chilies and straining herb oil.
- Food author Mark Bittman ("How To Cook Everything")
- Food author Isabel Gonzalez ("Entertaining Chic")
- TV host/fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi ("The Fashion Show")
Flay's banana ice cream is going into the
chiller, while both kitchens are working on pineapples and prawns. Lots
of similarities coming into play. Torres has cinnamon, corn, and
plantain tortillas. Very interesting indeed.
"Thirty minutes have elapsed." Flay has
baby bananas cooking, a spice mixture flambeing, and a banana pineapple
salsa standing by. Banana puree on the challengers' side is chilling,
while avocado and grapefruit are standing by. Her tortilla machine is
working overtime, while pork is being marinated in chili and bananas,
and cheese is grated. Flay counters with a banana-coconut tapioca
pudding, banana on phyllo dough, and couscous with five-spice is
And Jorge... fried green plantains. JC
counters with sauced bananas, Flay is working on a banana curry... and
we have a problem on the challenger's side, as overcooked pork goes in
the bin. Flay continues to work on his curry, while Vicki adds
caramelized hazelnuts onto her ice cream.
"Fifteen minutes to go." Some cubed
pineapple with onions and cilantro makes for a nice salsa on Torres'
side. She also chops some more for a saute. She's also making a roll-up
with some of that boiled platano with cheese and chorizo. Flay has
banana-coconut-caramel wraps, a banana curry, and an ice cream. Torres
has a mixed-berry sauce and a banana dumpling. Flay's black-bean puree
is finish, while Torres' chili sauce is finishing up. No plates,
Flay's tamales are almost done, while
Torres is chopping pork and cooling her passionfruit puree, though time
is folding upon itself.
"Ten minutes to go." Plates are starting
to come down. Torres has caramelized bananas on one, shrimp and dumpling
on another. Flay has down a tamale with duck confit and rum banana
sauce. Torres plates her pork, her plantain taco, chayote. Flay has his
curry down with couscous and a prawn and snapper with pineapple relish.
The ice cream and the tapioca pudding will round his presentation out.
As for Torres, she's still having problems with the passionfruit sauce.
She plates it on her taco. We also has a dumpling, a halibut, the
dessert, and... she's still plating at 30 seconds... 15.... 10...
"Five seconds... three... two...
one.. " Battle Banana is history. Now to the judging.
Judgment (Flay): "The conventional
bananas needed to be treated very much with respect. The plantains are very
versatile. They can be soft and mashed."
- Plantain Crusted Snapper
- Banana Curry
- Plantain Tamale
- Banana Dessert Duo
- Banana Sundae
Judgment (Torres): "Bananas are such
a fun fruit for me anyway. You have to have the best, ripest bananas you can
possibly use, and the green ones have to have the right amount of starch."
- Plantain Taco with Tuna
- Tacos al Pastor
- Plantain Gordita with Shrimp
- Plantain Crusted Halibut
- Caramelized Banana
Flay showed his versatility in flavors
and textures. His mastery of flavor textures on display. Torres, on the
other hand, was very creative in the use of the theme ingredient.
But who's the top banana? Whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict...
... 52-48 in favor of
Iron Chef Bobby Flay. Sue Torres put up an amazing
fight, but in the end, it wasn't enough to match the
well-calculated moves of the black Tetsujin. Just shows
you, time flies like a dream... fruit flies like a
Until next time, we bid
you good eating.
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