vs. Thiam: Battle Papaya
Chef Pierre Thiam. Based in Brooklyn, he moved to
America from his native Senegal. He heads the kitchen at
Le Grand Dakar, where he hopes to introduce African
cuisine to the American palate. Tonight, he calls out
Iron Chef Bobby Flay.
Gentlemen... Prepare for battle.
The Crib Sheet:
Matthew O'Brien & Peter Hansen, sous-chefs
Herve Malivet & Hamidou Dabre, sous-chefs
The Theme Ingredient: Several
varieties of papaya, including Mexican, Solo, Strawberry & Green.
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 and empty stomach,
utters the words of his dear uncle.... "Allez cuisine!"
And Battle Carica papaya is on! And the
papayas are flying already! Flay is starting with pork shoulder and the
three sweet kinds of papaya. Thiam is opting for the green one, not
sweet at all, and the cleanest blackeyed peas in America right about
now. Is it possible that he's using papaya to tenderize the meat?
Several commercial tenderizers use the enzyme therein. The black seeds
inside of the papaya are completely edible and in fact, a lot of times
they're the best part. Matt, in his first time in KSA, is blending those
seeds, mirin, and sweet onion, while Flay looks to be making a rum cake.
The challenger's blackeyed peas are getting pureed, while Hamidou
finally works on something other than a green papaya.
"Fifteen minutes have elapsed." Over the
break, Flay starts his pork shoulder with honey and papaya, his lobster,
and his papaya-seed dressing. Thiam has... no proteins, but he's been
building some flavor combinations with green papaya.
- PR news lady Karine Bakhoum (KB Network News)
- Former challenger Chef Art Smith ("Back to the Family")
- Food reporter and master sommelier Alpana Singh ("Check, Please")
Flay has at least one dessert, papaya
upside down cakes. And another.... with simple syrup and papaya... in
the ICE CREAM MACHINE! Thiam is going Asian with cellophane noodles and
tuna. Flay is in a sudden panic with his cakes... but they look fine.
"Thirty minutes have elapsed." Herve is
using the vacuum chamber as an anti-vacuum for a speed pickle. Flay is
cooling his cakes and working lobster, Serrano ham, and pork shoulder.
Thiam has a lot of green papaya, some coconut soup, and not much else.
And Iron Chef Flay has... halibut. Hamidou is rolling spring rolls,
while Thiam is frying blackeyed pea fritters. Flay squeezes a whole
papaya on a steamed halibut.
"Fifteen minutes to go." Flay is making
carnitas, stuffed blossoms, and... an uneven simple syrup. Thiam
layering papaya for a Napoleon or a lasagna. Hamidou is slicing tuna
thinly. Those two are coming together for another roll. And the pressure
cooker is blown on Flay's side at long last. Thiam's fritters... burned.
And the pressure cooker... is not coming off easy.
"Ten minutes to go." Flay has halibut and
lobster, but no idea how to present it. Thiam is starting to bring it
together with new fritters and spring rolls, but no one is ready to
plate as of yet.
... spoke too soon. Flay is plating his
halibut, his squash blossoms, and his cake. Thiam is plating sushi and a
soup. So far, it's four plates on the Iron Chef side to the challenger's
"Five minutes to go." Thiam is serving
fritters in a cone. Flay's cake is being dressed. Thiam's getting
pickled and a strawberry salad. He also has a sushi, soup, and spring
rolls. Flay has... "Three minutes to go." Thank you. We have lobster,
carnitas, cake, blossoms, and the halibut. Looks like both chefs are
done, but Flay is going to end the battle by serving up his ice cream.
Right into the donut hole on the cake.
"Five seconds... Three ... two... one...
" Like it or love it, Battle Papaya is history.
Judgment (Thiam): "Most of the dishes
you'll be having will have a Senegalese origin to it."
- Accara (Fritters) and Papaya Sauce
- Papaya and Tuna "Sushi"
- Papaya and Coconut Soup
- Green Papaya Spring Rolls
- Papaya Confit Salad
Judgment (Flay): "I tried to bring out the
natural essence of the flavors of the fruit and at the same time pair it with
things that would enhance it."
- Papaya-Filled Squash Blossom
- Lobster with Papaya Mango Butter
- Steamed Halibut with Crushed Papaya
- Papaya Red Chile Carnitas
- Papaya Upside Down Rum Cake with Papaya Sorbet and Papaya Strawberry Salad
So we have simplicity versus complexity...
Proteins versus not... Sweet versus savory. Which will win out in the end? Whose
cuisine reigns supreme?
... 59-49 in favor of
Iron Chef Bobby Flay. One point shy of perfection!
Until next battle, we bid
you good eating.
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