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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, Mike 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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Flay vs. Tinsley: Battle Fresh Bean
January 4

The challenger: Sabrina Tinsley, a Seattle-based chef who met her culinary destiny (thanks to her mother) - not to mention her husband - in Italy. She believes in ingredients harvested fresh, and her creations are on display at Seattle's Osteria La Spiga. She specializes in the dishes of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. And today, she crosses cutting boards with the de facto leader of the Iron Chefs... Bobby Flay.

Prepare for battle.

The Crib Sheet:
Christine Sanchez & James Curtis, sous chefs
Jonathan Langley & Jeff, sous chefs
Southwestern COOKING STYLE Emilia-Romagna Italian

The Theme Ingredient: several varieties of freshly harvested pod and shell beans, including haricots verts, fava beans, wax beans, cranberry beans, edamame, and American green beans.

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 Fresh Bean begins with mushrooms on the IC side and various pork products on the challenger's side. Tinsley is also working some soft-boiled eggs while Flay is working hard to preserve the color of his vegetables (or fruit, since heirloom tomatoes are involves). Tinsley's eggs are still too soft, so she has to do it again. She's also going to make some bacon, ham, and jowl.

"Fifteen minutes have elapsed." Flay is breaking down fava beans, edamame is being cooked with frozen peas, and several beans have been blanched. Tinsley is taking a different approach by concentrating on the other parts of her menu first like pig parts, squid ink pasta, and a second round of soft-boiled eggs. Flay also has cucumber on his side. Tinsley also has wax beans, cranberry beans, and shallots (not necessarily in that order).

Tonight's Judges:
Restaurateur Joe Bastianich
Journalist Jenna Wolfe ("Today")
Culinary author Jeffrey Steingarten ("The Man Who Ate Everything")

Tinsley's second round of eggs... better than the first. Flay looks like he's making a salad, while Christine is making a pea/edamame mixture with the stick blender.

"Thirty minutes have elapsed." The Iron Chef has a haricot verts pesto, a cucumber-tomato-olive salad, and blended edamame and peas. The challenger has a lot of blanched beans awaiting their next application, be it for newly-formed squid-ink pasta or a white wine-shallot reduction. Flay also has grilled tomatoes, chipotle, and honey in a blender. In the food pro, a puree of edamame, Greek yogurt, and cucumbers. Tinsley counters with edamame, pancetta, and a spice-rubbed tenderloin.

Christine is making hummus with cranberry beans and tahini, while Flay is making fava bean pesto. Tinsley is searing her tenderloin and grilling haricots verts... Skinny little things, in fact one of them falls through the grate. James is slicing plantain. Flay is making his take on a tuna tartare AND deep fried bean fries.

"Fifteen minutes to go." Flay has a puree of yellow wax beans, arbol chili, and cumin. He also blends a cranberry bean sauce and a fava bean pesto. Tinsley has haricots verts and ham, steamed clams, and sauteed tomatoes. Flay adds fresh wasabi to his tuna tartare and bean sprouts to his blanched sea beans. Tinsley adds fava beans to her sauteeing pancetta and cranberry beans to her large skillet of diced tomatoes.

Flay is taking out lobster tails, while Tinsley is making a cheese sauce. Flay begins his plating with 10 to go. He starts with Bean Fries with Anchovy-Piquillo Sauce and Fava Bean Pesto. Tinsley starts with the haricots verts and ham number. So one dish each so far.

Second dishes come into play with tenderloin on Tinsley's side, Flay has smoked lobster. Tinsley also has a crostini, while Flay assembles a Greek sauce trio. Tinsley has an issue with the food pro, so she's going to have to make lemonade out of that lemon. She's making another croquette.

"One minute to go." Let's look at the dishes. Flay has a salad, his dips, his mushroom, his lobster, and his tartare. That's five. That'll work. Tinsley has her coleslaw, a farro-edamame polpette, crostini, tenderloin, and the pasta. Now it's all down to...

"Five seconds... three... two... one..." Put it down, walk away. Battle Fresh Bean is in the books.

Judgment (Tinsley): "I wanted to play off the various textures and versatility of the fresh beans."

- Crostini with Fava Bean Puree
- Soft-Boiled Egg Croquette with Haricots Verts and Truffle
- Farro and Edamame Polpette
- Strozzapretti with Cranberry Beans and Clams
- Carne Salada: Beef Tenderloins with Bean Salad

Judgment (Flay): "The most difficult thing is to get the starch out of the bean as possible. We combined the beans with other things to kinda balance it out."

- Tuna Tartare with Plantain and Edamame Sauce
- Crispy Haricots Verts
- Trio of Greek-Style Dips with Bean Salad
- Portobello Mushrooms with Fava Bean Pesto
- Smoked Lobsters and Haricots Verts Salad

But whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict...

Taste 24 19
Plating 12 9
Originality 10 9

... 46-37 in favor of Iron Chef Bobby Flay. Sabrina Tinsley got a hearty-helping of defeat as Iron Chef Flay wallops her in all three categories. Now it's time to clear the air, because in a few moments all those beans are going to come back.

Until next time... we bid you good eating.