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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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Morimoto vs. Zakarian: Battle Sardines
May 2

The Challenger: Chef Geoffrey Zakarian, a frequenter on the panel of the sister series "Chopped". His skills were sharpened in many a kitchen in New York including the 21 Club and the 44 Restaurant. Today, he heads the kitchen at the Lamb's Club. Today, he decides to go for the perfect 60 against... Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto.

Ladies... Prepare for battle.

The Crib Sheet:
Jamison Blankenship & Ariki Omae, sous-chefs
Paul Corsentino & Ryan Grant, sous-chefs
Neo-Japanese COOKING STYLE Modern American

The Theme Ingredient: Fresh-farmed Pacific sardines as well as canned from Portugal

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 Sardines is on! Sardines represent herring, sprat, and a lot of other different fish that have small bodies, oily flesh, and a high fat content. the oiliness can vary from each fish.

Morimoto is starting with a quick cure from a sardine from sea salt. They don't want to do too much with the ingredient. You don't really have to. We may not see a lot of fish cooking until the tail end of the battle. Zakarian is blending tomatoes and other vegetables for something, while both chefs are removing the pin bones of the fish. Jamison's concasse tomatoes are in a Dutch oven, while Ryan is straining olives. Looks like Zakarian is gravitating toward that end of the spectrum. Morimoto is breaking out shirasu, baby sardines, and some sticky yam.

"Fifteen minutes have elapsed." Over the break, the breakdown continues. Morimoto has mountain yams as a binder and Mexican peppers for another application. Zakarian has coconut water, country bread, and a lemongrass mixture.

Tonight's Judges
- Restaurateur Donatella Arpaia ("The Next Iron Chef")
- Food critic Danyelle Freeman
- Sustainable food expert Anya Fernald ("The Next Iron Chef")

Omae has golden chives, while Jamison is mixing red yuzu kosho into olive oil. Morimoto has filets into vacuum bag with the yuzu kosho and sudachi, a Japanese citrus. Lots of acidity there. And he's doing a cold marinade on a fish with lime juice and kombu kelp. Two different methods. Zakarian has a lot of cucumber. He's also playing an inverted escabeche. Which is really just a marinade in tomato. Silly Geoffrey.

The challenger is cooking up some Veal Tonnato. Also we have a saberage on a prosecco... and an oops... with the bread from earlier. Dueling food pros with Omae's sardine/mountain yam/eggwhite mix versus Zakarian's canned sardines and creme fraiche.

"Thirty minutes have elapsed." At the half, the Iron Chef has poached sardines and rice noodles. Challenger has an escabeche, a tapenade, and a veal cooking. Morimoto is working on a pine-smoked sardine. Paul now has a brioche for a wrapper of sorts. Back to the gazpacho mixture, Zakarian is going to work on that, while Morimoto is finishing his smoke and another dish with the Mexican peppers. AND iwashi tatami, dried sheets of baby sardines.

"Twenty minutes to go." Beignet versus iwashi tatami... Chanterelle versus shiitake. Brioche versus Japanese white bread. Both chefs know that overcooking is going to kill them. Morimoto is well controlled in that aspect. The iwashi tatami is out of the fryer and shaped.

"Fifteen minutes to go." Morimoto has gruyere cheese on his sardine sandwich, a hot-and-sour broth is coming together, and more sashimi slices. Gazpacho is plated, veal is sliced, and cherry veal is in the works on the Challenger Kitchen.

Morimoto is playing with presentation. He's known for that, while Zakarian is toasting the bread and fish at the same time. The tatami is being made into a "ta-taco". Zakarian is plating his vitello tonnato. The fish/bread goes on top of succotash. That's two for them.

"Five minutes to go." Morimoto's sardine pizza, sardine sushi, and tatami taco. Jamison plates fried peppers. And we may have an issue in the Iron Chef kitchen... never mind, we found Jamison's lost fish. At two minutes, Zakarian has the grill, the sardine and veal. Morimoto has fishballs and broth, sushi and tatami taco, poached sardine, a shabu-shabu, and the pizza. Challenger is a little overwhelmed. The lecithin foam is going on his grill... and this is going to come to the end...

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

Judgment (Zakarian): "I tried to take you a little journey of crispiness, and as the menu progresses, you'll get a little lighter and lighter and a bit more savory."

- Sardine Beignet with Almond Gazpacho
- Sardine Tartine
- Pain de Mie of Sardines with succotash
- Grilled Sardines and Asparagus in Coconut Water Broth
- Sardine Veal Nicoise

Judgment (Morimoto): "My first idea was to remove any possible fishy taste to the sardines. My approach was to then present various international styles."

- Tatami Iwashi Taco with Sardine Nigiri Sushi
- "Canned" Sardine Salad
- Sardine Fish Ball with Hot & Sour Soup
- Grilled Sardine Pizza with Deep Fried Pepper on a Remoulade
- Sardine Shabu Shabu

Zakarian seemed to fire all blanks today for some reason. The dishes were good, but no one wanted seconds. Morimoto, on the other hand, was throwing heat all day. Who gets the home run? Whose cuisine reigns supreme?

Taste 28 23
Plating 14 10
Originality 15 10

... 57-43 in favor of Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. The home team didn't just beat the challenger. He killed him.

Until next battle, we bid you good eating.

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