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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
Packager Triage Entertainment & Fuji TV for Food Network
Origins Kitchen Stadium America, Food Network Studios New York
Airs 10p Sun, Food
Available Streaming Online

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Flay vs. Excoffier: Battle Dorade
June 28

The challenger: Chef Phillippe Excoffier, executive chef of the residence of Craig Robert Stapleton, the US ambassador to France. During season 1 of "Next Iron Chef", the chef and ambassador made his kitchen available for the contestants. Now he returns the favor by doing battle here in Kitchen Stadium against Iron Chef Bobby Flay.

Gentlemen.... Prepare for battle.

The Crib Sheet:
JC Pavlovich & James Cummins, sous chefs
Lionel Veillet & Yannis Sallard, sous-chefs
American Southwest COOKING STYLE French

The Theme Ingredient: Freshly caught dorade from waters off the coast of Greece.

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 Dorade is on! The dorade, or the gilthead, is a fish that is roughly new to American shores, but is popular in French, Moroccan, and Mediterranean cuisine. It's a member of the bream family. It's relatively small. The flesh is white to light pink. It's becoming the darling of New York-based chefs, and it's the "it" fish of the moment.

Excoffier is basting his fish in white wine while his team is making potatoes, which are being sliced into a bowl with more wine in it. Meanwhile, JC is making a "piquillo paint". He'll also roll up the fish tamale style. Excoffier has made fish stock to counter. Meanwhile, most of the dorade is standing by on both side. Flay also has cauliflower cooking in stock, tomatoes in a skillet, and his signature oils. Excoffier has rounds and tarts of dough into the oven.

"Fifteen minutes have elapsed."

Tonight's Judges:
- Food author Michael Ruhlman ("The Elements of Cooking")
- Journalist Jenna Wolfe ("Sunday Today")
- Culinary editor Andrew Knowlton (Bon Appetit magazine)

Challenger is sauteeing some of the belly of the fish while making a pate-a-choux. The Iron Chef is countering by finalizing his fish count. JC's knifework is on display as he reduces a mango to a brunoise, while Excoffier is breaking out cockles. He'll be making a dorade/crabmeat tartare as well.

"Thirty minutes have elapsed."

The home team is making dorade in cornhusks and pounded out flat. The away team is making stock, searing, and pureeing fish. Excoffier is also making cucumber balls, watermelon orbs, and a tomato salad. Flay has sauce after sauce after sauce. Excoffier is cutting his fish fillets into diamond shapes, and Flay is making some cockles on his own. His lobster that he was parboiling since the beginning of the battle is now out and being cut into a salad. And Excoffier is using his grill to grill the fish whole, possibly the best way to enjoy the fish.

"Fifteen minutes to go." Iron Chef is pan-searing and butter-poaching his fish and the fish tamales are standing by. Challenger has grilled, pureed, and chopped his fish. It all has to hit plates soon. Over the break, all of Flay's sauces are done. Excoffier has blended his vegetables for perhaps a gazpacho. He's also made deep-fried mussels and a curry sauce. Flay has a batter for frying and his pounded out waiting for its final destination.

Remember Excoffier's diamond dorades? They've been spiced and encrusted and now they're being sauteed on a honey sauce with seven minutes to go. He's finally plating that with cockles. Flay is also sauteing the fish in soy vinaigrette. Excoffier is plating his scaled potato dorade. Dorade tartare with gazpacho is also down. Flay is plating his cioppino stew and carpaccio.

"Three minutes to go." Flay's skin-on fish is going on cucumber sauce. Excoffier is visibly shaking while plating whole fish. And the fish mousse with porcini and potato dorade is also down. Flay wants his paint for his fish.

"One minute to go." Excoffier has the tartare, diamond fish, whole fish, potato fish and deep-fried item... but where's the souffle? Flay has deep-fried fish... skin-on fish, butter-poached item, corn-husk tamale, and the carpaccio. And the clock is winding down with Excoffier finally plating his souffle.

"Five seconds... three... two.. one..." And Battle Dorade is OVER! Put it down, walk away.

Judgment (Excoffier): "My approach is to try to show you a different way of preparing the fish, and different sizes and different tastes."

- Dorade Tartare with Gazpacho
- Caramelized Honey Dorade
- Curried Dorade Souffle
- Dorade with Potato Scales served with Asparagus and Mushroom Mousse
- Grilled Dorade with Herbs

Judgment (Flay): "I thought the dorade was a beautiful ingredient, and I wanted to enhance the natural flavor and texture of the fish."

- Hot Dorade Ceviche
- Dorade Grilled in Corn Husks
- Butter-Poached Dorade with Cioppino
- Crispy Dorade Fillet with Sour Orange Vinaigrette
- Dorade with Cauliflower Sauce

Excoffier's food starts out a little difficult to eat. It might've been too much of one dish or too little of another. As for the Iron Chef... it's classic Bobby Flay. Brash, loud, bold... but essentially with few techniques, fish with three sauces.

But whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict...

Taste 27 21
Plating 11 13
Originality 10 12

... 48-46 in favor of Iron Chef Bobby Flay. The Frenchman may have had the better plates and the better ideas, but in the end, it is taste where the Black Tetsujin has made his margin of victory.

Until next time, we bid you good eating.

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