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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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Symon vs. Kaysen: Battle Octopus
June 7

The challenger: Chef Gavin Kaysen, a gifted chef who began his career working at a sandwich shop. He's cooked at restaurants in Switzerland, London, and California before returning to New York to open Cafe Boulud, where his seasonal French fare is on display. Kaysen was also one of eight chefs to participate in season 1 of "The Next Iron Chef". Today, he returns to KSA to take on the eventual winner of that challenge, Iron Chef Mike Symon.

Motive... REVENGE. Gentlemen.... Prepare for battle.

The Crib Sheet:
Derek Clayton & Matthew Harlan, sous chefs
Brandon Rodgers & Gregory Stawowy, sous-chefs
Mediterranean COOKING STYLE Seasonal French

The Theme Ingredient: Octopus

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 octopus vulgaris is on! Kaysen is already starting to segment his cephalopods. The bigger octopi are going to have to go under pressure if they are to cook within an hour, hence, the pressure cookers. Symon also has lemon, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, red onion... very zesty. Derek is slicing daikon. Back to Symon's pressure cooker, he's also adding bromelain and papaya extracts in vitamin form.

Greg is making black pasta, while Kaysen is chilling octopus. Symon is locking up his PC, while Brandon is making tempura. Symon's filling another pressure cooker. Challenger is also cutting bacon while Kaysen is smoking octopus. We're looking at squid ink pasta on both sides as well. Kaysen is mixing lime juice, honey, and gelatin into the blast chiller.

"Fifteen minutes have elapsed."

Tonight's Judges:
- Culinary author Alec Lobrano ("Hungry for Paris")
- NASCAR reporter Jamie Little (ESPN/ABC)
- Culinary editor Andrew Knowlton (Bon Appetit magazine)

Lots of pressure cookers giving off lots of steam from lots of octopi, leading to lots of sweat. Symon has a papaya salad, octopi braising in a tomato sauce, and a fish sauce is being whisked up. Kaysen has a lot of sautes himself in the works, one with chorizo, onion & bell pepper, one with red wine, mushrooms, and tomato, and one with potato, shallots & saffron.

"Thirty minutes have elapsed."

Iron Chef has salami rounds frying in a skillet, baby octopus in a deep fryer, and a mix of jalapeno, garlic, parsley, and lime juice in a bowl. The Challenger has rock shrimp, octopus legs, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest, mussels have been added to a pot of fennel, and white wine added to chorizo, bell peppers, and tomato in the Dutch oven. And Symon has already begun plating on his skordalia, while pernod, fennel and chickenstock have been blended on Kaysen's side. The challenger has also started plating.

Kaysen is working on an octopus sushi, while Symon is making squid-ink fettuccine.

"Fifteen minutes to go." Kaysen is plating his sushi, while Symon is grilling an octopus leg... and the skin pops off! Smoked octopus is braising in a tomato sauce, Deep fried octopus is plated on a fish sauce. Kaysen counters with grilled octopus, frozen octopus slices, and cut-up pressure cooked octopus slicked and standing by. Iron Chef has a ceviche, octopus head on a plate, and legs are being skinned. The Challenger is working on his squid-ink pasta, The octopus-tomato-potato mix is loaded into small cups. Lime gelee is added to his thin octopus rounds,

Kaysen has started to plate his octopus-chorizo braise with octopus, while Greg is making an octopus pot pie. Kaysen is plating his pasta and a civet. Meanwhile, Symon is plating his octopus ceviche, his fettuccine, and salami rounds. Looks like he's got smoked octopus, skinless legs, deconstructed soup, trio, and of course the pasta. That's five.

"One minute to go." Challenger has a pot pie, the thin round, the pressure cooked octopus, the grilled number, and the civet. All there's next is the hugging, the drinking, and the patting down of each other.

"Five seconds... three... two.. one..." And Battle Octopus is in the books. Now it's all about the judges.

Judgment (Kaysen): "Octopus is one of thsoe ingredients where you can taste it all over the world, so we really wanted to take octopus to the level of not only exploring 'le voyage' of world cuisine, but also to take it to the next element, and also put our inspiration of plating into it."

- Octopus Ceviche
- Squid Ink Layered Pasta with Octopus and Fennel
- Rustic Braised Octopus
- Octopus Pot Pie
- Civet of Octopus

Judgment (Symon): "This is one of the most beaituful underutilized creatures of the earth. You can do so many things with it, so many different ways to cook it, and I really wanted to showcase all those."

- Octopus Trio
- Octopus Soup
- Squid Ink Fettuccine with Octopus
- Octopus "Sausage" with Papaya
- Duo of Smoked and Braised Octopus

Symon called this the most difficult battle that he has ever had to fight. But will revenge be sweet for Kaysen, or will the Iron Chef prove that his appointment was no accident? Whose cuisine reigns supreme?

The verdict...

Taste 25 28
Plating 13 13
Originality 12 14

... 55-50 in favor of Challenger Gavin Kaysen. The challenger said he was out for revenge and for today, revenge is his, as this high-scoring bout ends in a victory for Symon's former rival. Enjoy this victory, because the next challenger is going to feel the sting that the Iron Chef is feeling today. I guess revenge is indeed a dish that is best served cold.

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

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