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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, 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 9p ET on Food Network
Streaming Online

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Morimoto vs. Mason: Battle Skirt Steak
May 31

The challenger: Chef Sam Mason, who made a huge splash in the New York culinary scene with his jaw-dropping confections at WD50. Nowadays, he has his own kitchen at Tailor in SoHo. Today, he challenges the OG of the ICs, the silver Tetsujin Masaharu Morimoto.

Gentlemen.... Prepare for battle.

The Crib Sheet:
Takeshi Omae & Fumihiko Sakaguchi, sous chefs
Ryan Bartlowe & Amador Acosta, sous-chefs
Neo-Japanese COOKING STYLE Dessert

The Theme Ingredient: Outside skirt steak.

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!"

Morimoto starts by taking one of the two entire cows available to the chefs today. Mason starts by collecting marrow. This meat is more of a leveling of the playing field for both chefs, as the challenger gets to showcase his creativity versus the Iron Chef's intimidating knifework. Mason has a very hot marinade on the works while making a new piece of meat using transglutaminase. Sous-chef Saka is making ground meat with yams, while Morimoto is prepping cabbage, stuffing it with ground meat. It's being dropped into an aromatic broth.

"Fifteen minutes have elapsed."

Skirt steak has been added to Morimoto's pressure cooker and to a bacon-onion mixture. Mason has skirt steak in the oven and julienned potatoes on the side.

Tonight's Judges:
- Culinary author Michael Ruhlman ("The Elements of Cooking")
- Actress Kate Flannery ("The Office")
- Culinary critic Jeffrey Steingarten ("The Man Who Ate Everything")

Mason is making some high-quality French fries by blanching his potatoes. Omae is cubing several fruits for a later application. The IC side has several marinades, as does the challenger. And the egg yolks that have been steamed on Mason's side... egg noodles..

"Thirty minutes have elapsed." Morimoto is steaming skirt steak, slicing sugarcane, and cubing tropical fruit. Mason counters with potato rolls, marinades, and egg noodles. The Iron Chef is marinating steak in teriyaki sauce and breaking down tomato and tofu. The challenger is making a marjoram emulsion and pumpernickel croutons. Mason has cream and skirt steak.

Semi-educational moment: the ingredient on display today should actually be called "fajita", which means little belt and refers to its location on the cows' body, around what we would call the waist between the flank and the plate. Because it is constantly working, it has a lot of connective tissue, and that means a lot of flavor.

And the ice cream machine is on in the challengers' kitchen. Today, it's time for skirt steak ice cream.

Morimoto has started plating his skirt-steak tartare, while both sides are grilling skirt-steak. Omae is making beef and egg-drop soup. That's getting plated now. Mason has his own tartare in the works.

"Fifteen minutes to go."

And Sam Mason decides to take a break, or so he says. Iron Chef has tartare, teriyaki, and steak in a sake broth. Challenger has tartare, ice cream, and... did we mention ice cream? Broccoli strips are sauteeing and cauliflower puree is on the heat. Morimoto has seared skirt steak topped with that sake broth and caviar and mascarpone over his tartare.

And the glued meat terrine is out on the challenger's side. Morimoto is working on wasabi for a garnish. And Mason is working on some chocolate. Challenger also has some cocoa-crusted meat.

Both sides are now plating, Morimoto his cabbage number and Mason his bone-marrow custard. Challenger also has the cocoa beef with chocolate-pea demi-glace. Morimoto has a seared skirt-steak duo, ginger-rice steak, grilled and steamed steak, ground beef and cabbage, and tartare. Mason has a tartare, broccoli dish, cocoa beef, grilled steak, and skirt-steak ice cream with strawberries.

"Five seconds... Three... Two ... One..." And put it down, walk away, Battle Skirt Steak is in the books.

Judgment (Mason): "I wanted to highlight different techniques with dealing with skirt steak."

- Skirt Tartare with Marjoram Emulsion
- Beef & Broccoli with Egg Sheets
- Grilled Skirt Steak, with Bone Marrow Creme Brulee
- Cocoa Fried Skirt Steak
- Skirt Steak Ice Cream

Judgment (Morimoto): "Today I approached the secret ingredient five different ways. I wanted to create different textures. You'll see most of the dishes will have an Asian influence."

- Skirt Steak Tartare with Sugarcane
- Skirt Steak Duo (Milk-Marinated Skirt Steak and Seared Skirt Steak)
- Ginger Rice with Sake Skirt Steak
- Ground Skirt Steak in Cabbage
- Teriyaki Skirt Steak and Marinated Skirt Steak

We had the Iron Chef serving up very tender steak, while the challenger decided to be bold and daring with his steak. But whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict...

Taste 28 24
Plating 13 10
Originality 12 12

... 53-46 in favor of Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Both chefs were equally as creative, but it's how the dishes were arranged AND the flavor that carried the day for the Iron Chef. But Mason, with his batch of creativity and meat glue, is given a ticket into a fraternity of chefs who are waiting for another chance to prove their mettle here in KSA.

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

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