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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 Cat Cora
Bobby Flay
Jose Garces
Masaharu Morimoto
Michael Symon
Culinary Commentator Alton Brown
Floor 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
Web foodnetwork.com/ica
Airs 10p Sun, Food
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Cora vs. Smith: Battle Grape
April 11

The Challenger: Chef Holly Smith of Monkton, MD. A graduate of the Baltimore International Culinary College, she now heads the kitchen at Cafe Juanita in Kirkland, WA. She was one of the ten finalists in the second series of "The Next Iron Chef", ultimately losing out to Iron Chef Jose Garces. But rather than challenge him for vindication, she's going after someone her own size... Iron Chef Cat Cora.

Ladies... Prepare for battle.

The Crib Sheet:
Richard Blais & Ed Cotton, sous-chefs
David Solis & Stuart Lane, sous-chefs
Greek/Aegean COOKING STYLE Northern Italian

The Theme Ingredient: Old World Cabernet, Merlot & Zinfandel, New World Concord, Thompson, Red & Black Seedless grapes.

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 dishes wins.

The battle clock is set at 60 minutes, which will start when the Chairman, with full heart, empty stomach, and apparently his dancing shoes on, utters the words of his dear uncle.... "Allez cuisine!"

And Battle Grape begins! Old world grapes are picked young, as they are used typically in wine making, whereas new world table grapes come to full maturity and are thus very very sweet. Cora begins with juicing seeded and seedless grapes. Smith starts with butternut squash and wine grapes. Cora and her team of sous chefs are breaking down quail and venison, both gamey proteins to match with the sweet grapes. Smith is mixing her grapes with squash and Anjou pears. Both sides are using juice. Cora is juicing, saucing, and marinating with the theme ingredient. Smith is roasting grapes, perhaps for a really bold dish. She is also deglazing her squash/grape mix with some booze. Smith... is making a sorbet by analyzing the sugar content in her mixture and...

BOTH ice cream makers are active. Smith, meanwhile, is adding mostarda to her squash mix.

"Fifteen minutes have elapsed." Over the break, Cora is roasting Thompson grapes, prepping Swiss chard, and mixing pistachio. Smith counters with brioche, a grape sorbet, and a risotto.

Tonight's Judges
- Restaurateur Donatella Arpaia ("The Next Iron Chef")
- Actress Eva LaRue ("CSI: Miami")
- Sustainable food expert Anya Fernald ("The Next Iron Chef")

The IC is going to toast some French bread, while Richard is going to be foaming... angel food cake in the microwave, while Smith is stewing grapes in rabbit stock. Stuart is stuffing rabbit with that squash mixture. Cora is stuffing grape leaves with goat cheese. Both sides of the kitchen now have grape leaves.

"Thirty minutes have elapsed." And there's a situation in the Smith kitchen with the pressure cooker. "Stu, I burned the pressure cooker." This from Chef Smith. That takes time... Time that they don't have. Meanwhile, Cora is unleashing the grapes she vacu-sealed earlier. Meanwhile, David is working on a peanut butter powder... Peanut butter... Could jelly be far behind?

And Team Smith has to redo another dish. The roasted grapes.. no, they're burnt.

"Twenty minutes to go." Cora's souschefs are making up some quail, while Smith's are making grapes out of gelato. No, that isn't backwards. They're also making French toast. Smith starts to plate her fennel with yellowtail, while Cora has taken out her deep-fried grapes.

"Fifteen minutes to go." A few plates down, but nothing on them as of yet. Cora is grilling her stuffed grape leaves, slicing more grapes, and waiting for something on which to put venison. Meanwhile, Smith has frozen grapes, foamy grapes, and French toast.

Cora has plated her venison with mushroom and zinfandel sauce. She's also plating her roasted Thompson grapes, while Smith is plating her risotto with her la Tur cheese and hazelnuts. Cora is plating that stuffed grape leaf on a salad. Smith's yellowtail is going down on a pickled grape salad. David has got agar agar grape jelly... Smith has.... a grappa cocktail. Ed now garnishing his gazpacho with grapes. Smith has crab on her sorbet. Cora is making more grape juice. Smith just got her rabbit out of the pressure cooker.

"Five minutes to go." To review... fried, pickled, frozen, gelatinized, handmade, with nuts, with fish, with rabbit, with risotto, with venison. And now torched! Cora is now plating her angel food cake with grape fennel milk and the homemade grape. Smith finishes her pain perdu with peanut butter and jelly. She has roasted risotto, sorbet with crab, opening with the yellowtail crudo, and the stuffed rabbit and grape cream sauce. That's five. Cora has quail with Swiss chard, venison smoked, gazpacho, grape trio, and ... the sponge cake. Now it's all a matter of the five for presentation.

"Five seconds... Three ... two... one... " Battle Grape is history.

Judgment (Cora): "What I wanted to show was obviously the versatility of grapes and all the things you can do with grapes."

- Chilled White Grape Gazpacho
- Stuffed Grape Leaf and Grape Trio (Fried Grape Cluster, Grape Olives, and Grape Raisin)
- Grape-Marinated Quail with Grape Swiss Chard Rolls
- Veni-Zin with Chestnuts
- PB & J with Cracked Grapes (that's pistachio butter)

Judgment (Smith): "What  want you to show you is all the way from the seed to the leaf to the fruit."

- Yellowtail Crudo with Pickled Grapes and a Grappa Cocktail
- Roasted Grape Risotto
- Green Grape Sorbet with King Crab
- Stuffed Rabbit with Grape Salad
- Pain Perdu with Grape Gelatina

Both chefs with their shares of hits and misses. But for whom will the verdict deliver sour grapes? Whose cuisine reigns supreme?

Taste 24 25
Plating 14 12
Originality 11 13

... 50-49 in favor of Challenger Holly Smith. This wasn't a matter of the challenger winning it, but the Iron Chef losing it, by taking risks with flavor and originality that didn't quite measure up to par, we have the razor thin margin of one and the sweet taste of vindication for Holly Smith, who lost to an Iron Chef, only to come back and beat one.

Until next battle, we bid you good eating.

To see this episode in its entirety, go to www.foodnetwork.com/ica.