vs. Culinary Students: Battle Balsamic
Over 100 challengers have entered Kitchen Stadium
America to do culinary battle with the Chairman and his army of supercooks, the
Iron Chefs. To open the field for season 8, the first season to be shot in high
definition, he has invited very special guests to take on the newest of his
mantle... Submitted for the approval of Tetsujin fans the world over..
The challengers: A group of culinary
students from the International Culinary Schools of the Art Institutes, Student
Chef Katelyn Remick and her two sous-chefs Tyler Burke & Julie Fiedler. They are
the super chefs of tomorrow, or maybe the Iron Chefs of the future. But today,
they'll face the harsh reality of trial by fire as the Chairman summons Iron
Chef Michael Symon to do battle with them. And to make things even more
interesting, Symon will level the playing field by taking on two of his own
Prepare for battle.
The Crib Sheet:
Emily Tillman & Jacob Micale, apprentices
The Theme Ingredient:
Balsamic vinegar, aged in bottles and barrels.
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!"
Battle Balsamico is on in
Kitchen Stadium. A very unique battle with a very unique
ingredient. Today, we're working with four varieties, a
three-year commercial grade vinegar, eight-year must
with the grape skins left on, 25-year bottles, and
50-year bottles. Real vinegar is aged and bottled in two
areas in northern-central Italy. It's aged in different
types of wood. By the end of the 12 year process, it's
rich, thick, and amazingly complex.
The challengers start by reducing the stuff, and
there's also a balsamico-fig mixture and a roux for a parmesan souffle, and...
ICE CREAM MACHINE! Symon forgets about the meat he's supposed to be braising in
the pressure sugar. He's also simmering star anise, balsamico, and orange juice.
Balsamic is also in a pasta dough, while the challengers are stewing figs,
apricots, and quail in separate pots.
"Fifteen minutes have elapsed." Both
sides have combined cherries, but while the challengers work on a
homemade ricotta, Symon has chilies, parmesan polenta, and eggplant.
- Culinary journalist Karine Bakhoum (KB Network News)
- Actor Anthony Anderson ("Law & Order")
- Sustainable food expert Anya Fernwald ("The Next Iron Chef" judge)
The challengers have difiiculty with their phyllo
dough as their Chef/instructor Eric Watson can only stand on the sidelines and
watch. He can only count on their idea of teamwork.
The Iron Chef has chocolate cake out of the oven
and balsamic sorbet in the ICE CREAM MACHINE! Challengers also have
balsamic-cherry pork chops and their souffle in the oven.
"Thirty minutes have elapsed."
Symon has prosciutto heading to the oven. cherries are simmering, and
pasta balsamico has been rolled and cut. Challengers are countering with
a strawberry-rhubarb mixture and phyllo rounds are out. They look
burned, but according to Katelyn, they're perfect. And porkchops are on
the grill. Symon counters with balsamic-coffee pork bellies.
Challengers have watermelons juiced
for... a cocktail? Symon, on the other hand, is breaking out the good
stuff, the 50-year bottle is mixed with ricotta. Coming up on the 15
minute mark, nothing's plated yet. That changes as Katelyn starts
plating her phyllo rounds.
And Jorge... fried green plantains. JC
counters with sauced bananas, Flay is working on a banana curry... and
we have a problem on the challenger's side, as overcooked pork goes in
the bin. Flay continues to work on his curry, while Vicki adds
caramelized hazelnuts onto her ice cream.
"Fifteen minutes to go." Both sides are
plating in reverse. Life is short, plate dessert first. Symon's polenta
looks like it's heading for the fryer. His pasta is almost done. The
challengers are rolling mozzarella and balsamic figs into a sausage of
sorts. The three-years are going into basic usage like stewing fruits
and vegetables. The 50-years are going into Symon's cheese and Katelyn's
dessert dish. Also, Julie is dropping shoestring onion fries, and Tyler
has created a smoking rig. Symon's chilling his sorbet and finishing his
Symon's ricotta balsamico is going onto
that deep fried polenta, while the challengers' is going on an apricot
for a quartet of sorts. Julie's working on a watermelon soup, while the
Iron Chef is plating his pork belly. So two dishes done on both sides.
Katelyn has to clean and cook shrimp in six minutes, while the rest of
the students are doing a quick stir fry. "Five minutes to go." Shrimp
are getting smoked. Symon's short ribs are done.
To review, the student have a cheese
quartet, a quail, a gazpacho, a pork loin, and the black-pepper-phyllo
napoleon. The Iron Chef has a short rib with carrots, polenta, pork
belly, chicken-liver spaghetti, and the cake & sorbet dessert duo. So
now it's all fine tuning as the shrimp that was speed cooked on the
challengers' side is going into the gazpacho. And Symon wants his ice
cream with... "One minute to go." Same on the students' side. But it's a
little less than frozen. As in... not. They're going to bin it with ten
"Five seconds.... Three... two... one..."
Put it down, walk away, Battle Balsamic is in the books. Now to the
Judgment (Students): "Our strategy
was to cook not only with the balsamic, but for the balsamic."
- Balsamic-Glazed Crispy Quail
- Smoked Balsamic Melon Soup with Smoked Shrimp
- BBQ Balsamic Glazed Pork Chop
- Cheese Plate with 50-Year Balsamic
- Phyllo Napoleonic with Balsamic
Judgment (Symon): "The trick about
balsamic vinegar is it could overpower things. It sometimes tends to be
cloyingly sweet. I tried to find a balance with a little bit of acidity and salt
and things to cut through the richness, but still really show off the balsamic."
- Crispy Polenta with Balsamic Ricotta
- Balsamic Spaghetti
- Balsamic & Coffee Pork Belly Confit
- Balsamic & Orange Braised Shortribs
- Chocolate Cake with Chocolate & Balsamic Sorbet.
The students are preparing for judgment
as Symon comes to them with an offer of apprenticeship at his restaurant
at Lola, so whatever the outcome, both sides are going home winners.
But whose cuisine reigns supreme tonight? The verdict...
... 54-44 in favor of
Iron Chef Michael Symon & his apprentices. Goes to show
you that sometimes the underdog triumphs, and sometimes
the overwhelming odds are just that. But that's just
today. Sometime down the line, perhaps one of them will
return to Kitchen Stadium America, and the result may be
very different indeed.
Until next time, we bid
you good eating.
To see this episode in its entirety, go to