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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
Available In High-Definition Where AvailableStreaming Online

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Symon vs. Okuwa: Battle Uni
July 4

The Challenger: Chef Makoto Okuwa, no stranger to Kitchen Stadium, as he has battled as one of Morimoto's sous-chefs many a time. He did not go to culinary school, rather he was trained on the job starting at age 15 in his native Japan. Having moved from Morimoto's in Philly, he now heads the kitchen at Sashi in Manhattan Beach, CA. This time, he's facing up AGAINST one of the Chairman's divas, namely Iron Chef Michael Symon.

Gentlemen... Prepare for battle.

The Crib Sheet:
Nikolai Trigueros & Jeffrey Lunak, sous-chefs
Cory Barrett & Derek Clayton, sous-chefs
Traditional Japanese COOKING STYLE Mediterranean

The Theme Ingredient: Uni sea urchin, both fresh and harvested.

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 Uni is on! Uni is actually an organ found inside the sea urchin. It's not meat, technically it's... a gonad. It's best served fresh.

Both chefs have their fair share of both fresh and harvested. Okuwa is making a custard of uni, eggs, and crab guts. Symon has some bones for marrow and lobsters for... well, lobster. Will he make a chowder? Cory is making a mix of uni, Greek yogurt, and honey. And Jeff is putting some uni in the blast chiller. For what, we don't know.

"Fifteen minutes have elapsed." Over the break, Okuwa has been taking advantage of the ingredient, having torched and blended some of it. Also, he has some abalone trimmed, and a corn-peekytoed crab mix is in the blast chiller. Symon counters with the boxed variety for risotto, bone marrow, a watermelon sorbet, and a corn chowder. The only uni? In yogurt.

And Chef Okuwa cuts his abalone into ribbons while Symon subs out frying oil for duck fat... Duck fat fries. Mmmm...

Tonight's Judges
- Food critic Nina Griscom
- Author Sam Haskell
- Actress/singer Tia Carrere ("Ikena")

Okuwa has his own version of surf & turf with toro and wagyu beef, while Symon has an uni-mayonnaise and uni-yogurt.

"Thirty minutes have elapsed." The student knows how it feels to be the master now. Symon has lobster, pancetta, and uni mixes of mayo, yogurt, and bone marrow mousse. Okuwa has yet to infuse anything into his uni aside from a custard. Meanwhile he has toro, wagyu beef, and abalone.

Okuwa is going to fry up a shiso-nori tempura with uni, while Symon is making uni brulee. Symon also looks like he's making his mise en place on his side as well as a risotto and uni butter. Okuwa is ricing potatoes, while he's also grabbing some more uni. Okuwa is making a croquette tempura, but he's wrapping it in shredded phyllo dough. So when it comes out, it'll look like... a sea urchin.

"Fifteen minutes to go." Okuwa has the croquette, tempura ravioli, and a bit of trouble with the wagyu in the vacuum machine. Symon has a corn chowder, lobster with uni butter, and wagyu with horseradish. And he's starting to plate the tartare...

"Five minutes to go." Makoto got the vacuum to work. But will he has enough time to cook it? Okuwa is also plating marsh crabs, abalone, and chimichurri, not together, but the frozen uni... still a mystery. Symon has five dishes: surf & turf, risotto, chowder with scallop & shrimp, watermelon sorbet, and a wrap-up. So we have an idea what he's doing, but what will the challenger do? Uni with grapefruit foam, surf & turf... "Three minutes to go." Uni custard with fried rice with frozen uni, tempura two ways, and the potato/daikon/uni number.

Both chefs still tweaking with "Five seconds.... three... two... one..." Put it down, walk away. Battle Uni is history.

Judgment (Symon): "Uni is an ingredient that is sometimes very intimidating. We're showing it in a completely new light, completely un-Japanese, maybe not so normal way of looking at it."

- Uni Surf & Turf
- Uni Risotto with Clams
- Lobster Roll with Uni Mayonnaise and duck fat fries.
- Uni Chowder
- Prosciutto and Melon with Uni Brulee

Judgment (Okuwa): "I try to create a way you've never seen before, sea urchin dish."

- Uni Tempura Two Ways (sea urchin stuffed shiso leaves and tempura with nori) and California Abalone Noodles
- Sugar Cured Uni Gelee
- Uni Croquette
- Uni Surf & Turf
- Frozen Uni Fried Rice

Having served under the master has given Chef Okuwa an advantage against the Iron Chef, but how much of an advantage is completely up to the judges? So who takes it? Whose cuisine reigns supreme this day?

Taste 30 19
Plating 13 12
Originality 13 12

... 56-43 in favor of Iron Chef Michael Symon. Taste rules the day as the incorporation of uni into non-Japanese dishes gives the Iron Chef the victory. Which just goes to show you that even the wisest man has something to learn yet.

Until next battle, we bid you good eating.

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