Trabocchi: Battle Basil
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
The Theme Ingredient:
Genovese, opal, lemon, African blue, cinnamon, and Thai
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.
- 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
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
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
"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
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
"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
But whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict...
... 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.