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Previous Episodes
January 4

"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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Symon vs. Trabocchi: Battle Basil
February 15

The challenger: Fabio Trabocchi, from the Marche region of Italy. He grew up around family and food. At the age of 18, he was responsible for the kitchen at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Moena, Italy. After stints in London, Moscow, and Spain, he headed to New York City, where he currently heads the kitchen at Fiamma. Today, he challenges the newest Tetsujin, Michael Symon...

Gentlemen... Prepare for battle.

The Crib Sheet:
Derek Clayton & Cory Barrett, sous-chefs
Sung Jung & Jason Hua, sous chefs
Mediterranean COOKING STYLE Regional Italian

The Theme Ingredient: Genovese, opal, lemon, African blue, cinnamon, and Thai basil.

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 Ocimum basilicum is ON! We start with protein, bass for Trabocchi and Wagyu, or Kobe, beef for Symon. The IC is using the basil to smoke that beef. At the 15-minute mark, the Iron Chef has Wagyu beef rump roast smoked with cinnamon basil in the pressure cooker, African blue basil has been added to a food pro with ricotta and egg, and a cake of basil and olive oil is going into the oven. Meanwhile, the challenger is cooking sweetbreads with basil, and he's planning on some basil ice cream.

Over the break, Symon blended lime, water, and Thai basil. A simple sugar syrop wtih lemon juice and egg is reducing on the heat. Trabocchi has pine nuts and parmesan in the blender, pistachio paste added to the ice cream, and ginger sliced in a wine reduction.

Tonight's Judges
- Bon Appetit editor-in-chief Andrew Knowlton
- Cottage Living food editor Kim Sunee ("Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love and the Search for Home")
- Culinary author Jeffrey Steingarten ("The Man Who Ate Everything")

The challenger is making some langoustines while the Iron Chef is making a Thai-basil gelee while breaking down cauliflower and mixing some opal basil sorbet. Challenger counters with bass/lemon basil rolls and basil and buffalo mozzarella encased in a log of Wagyu beef.

"Thirty minutes have elapsed."

At the halfway mark, we have dueling ice creams, while the challenger has a basil pesto, cucumbers through a mandolin, and both fresh & jarred cherries with a little lemon in it for tartness. Symon counters with the marrow of a veal, a cauliflower puree with basil pesto, and a crab-basil salad.

"Twenty minutes to go."

And we have a plate out on the IC side, we have the lemon curd with basil & corn syrup. Trabocchi plates his bass rolls with ginger strips. Symon has ricotta dumplings and chicken stock.

"Fifteen minutes to go."

And Trabocchi is poaching quail eggs, To remind you, IC has Thai-Basil-Crab salad, African-infused basil dumplings, and basil-cauliflower custards. Challenger has a sauce of cheese and basil, a roll of bass and basil, and a Wagyu beef carpaccio. Symon has moved his dumplings into tomato sauce. The bacon is standing by, and the marrow has been rolled in flour. Trabocchi has his Wagyu roll, cucumber slices are down, and basil has been dunked into tempura batter and fried. And Symon is doing old-school pesto with a mortar and pestle.

Symon has plated his dumplings with his old-school pesto, while Trabocchi is plating his langoustine. That's one dish each.

"Five minutes to go."

Symon begins plating crab salad on the basil gelee, while Trabocchi's plating his sushi with a quail egg and carpaccio. Symon also plaing polenta and Wagyu beef rump roast with sautéed bone marrow. The sweetbreads are going down on the eggplant on the challenger's side. Symon is also plating the basil custard with bacon and parmesan cheese cracker. What's next? How about a basil mojito?

Remember, we have the basil ice cream with cherry soup, langoustine, two Kobe beef presentations, sweetbreads, rolls, and fried eggplant.

"One minute to go." 

Symon counters with smoked Wagyu, dumpling, crab salad, basil sorbet with curd, and basil custard.

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

Judgment (Trabocchi): "Ii wanted to try and have the basil stand out and not overwork it with too many things around it."

- Wild Striped Bass with Lemon Basil Rolls
- Scottish Langoustines and Basil
- Wagyu Beef Carpaccio with Tartare and Basil
- Sauteed Eggplant with Pesto and Sweetbreads
- Thai Basil Ice Cream with Morello Cherry Soup

Judgment (Symon): "I wanted to use different basils in each course and make a complement dishes without crushing it."

- Basil Gelee with Thai Basil Crab Salad
- Basil Custard with Soft Poached Egg
- Basil Ricotta Dumplings
- Basil-Smoked Kobe Beef Rump Roast
- Basil Lemon Curd with Olive Oil Basil Cake & Opal Basil Sorbet

But whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict...

Taste 23 21
Plating 11 12
Originality 12 12

... 46-37 in favor of Iron Chef Michael Symon. Fabio Trabocchi was just short of the amore that he came to receive, as this one was as tight as it can get. Both sides had some pretty looking plates, but it was taste that ultimately decided this one for the Man in Black.

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