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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
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
Airs 10p Sun, Food
Available In High-Definition Where AvailableStreaming Online

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Morimoto vs. Virant: Battle Pheasant
November 1

The challenger: Chef Paul Virant, a chef who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and went to cook in New York City. Today, he shows off his wares at Vie in Chicago. He challenges the samurai of Kitchen Stadium, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto.

Prepare for battle.

The Crib Sheet:
Takeshi Omae & Fumihiko Sakaguchi, sous-chefs
Nathan Sears & Craig Svozil, sous-chefs
Neo-Japanese COOKING STYLE Contemporary American

The Theme Ingredient: butchered and non-butchered pheasant, as well as pheasant eggs, livers, and hearts.

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 Pheasant is on in Kitchen Stadium, as both chefs reach for this fine game bird. Morimoto is just starting out with oyster meat, while Virant is going to start with a stock. Skinless breasts are going into a vacuum on the IC's side. Craig is doing a stir-fry in a Dutch oven. Virant is also grinding a boned-out chicken and pork for a sausage. Morimoto, not to be outdone, is doing the same thing. Virant is going to make a consomme raft with that grind, while the Iron Chef's garlic miso sauce is reducing, while he's working on leg meat.

"Fifteen minutes have elapsed." Challengers have boiled pheasant eggs, made a batter, and shoe-stringed potatoes. Iron Chef has a wasabi cream mixture, a pasta dough curdling, and a tomato sauce.

Tonight's Judges:
- Food reporter Steve Dolinsky (ABC Chicago's "Hungry Hound")
- Restauranteur Jean Nakayama (Maneki Seattle)
- A man who needs no introduction, Jeffrey Steingarten

Back on the floor, Morimoto is steaming some pheasant, while Virant is smoking some pheasant. Omae is working on pheasant pasta, while Saka is working on Japanese eggplant, deep frying it. Will Morimoto's pheasant tenderloins follow suit? Stay tuned...

"Thirty minutes have elapsed." Eggs in a pate-a-choux and a Scotch egg being made on the challengers' side. Morimoto has blanched daikon, celery, and carrots. So pheasants are out of the steamer, while pheasant liver and Tokyo scallion are being grilled. Cheese, almonds, and porcinis are the order of the day on Virant's side. The skins are out on the challenger's side, while Morimoto is deep frying pheasant tenderloins AND pheasant tempura. He's begun to plate his red miso bagna cauda with raw vegetables.

"Fifteen minutes to go." Caillette style pheasant and Scotch egg breading are on Virant's menu. And someone's having French fries. Morimoto is also plating his tempura oyster meat on an oyster shell. He has yet to plate his sous vide item or his steamed item. Same can be said for his pheasant braise and his consomme. Morimoto is making a pheasant egg crepe, while his opponent has a blackberry vinaigrette.

Morimoto has two dishes plated, the oyster meat tempura and the raw vegetable item. Virant has started to plate his smoked pheasant. Morimoto also plate his sous-vide pheasant, while Virant has his pate-a-choux gnocchi.

"Five minutes to go." Morimoto has sliced his grilled steamed pheasant, and he'll add that to a pot of rice. Virant's pheasant aioli will pair with the Scotch egg. He also has the caillette down.

"One minute to go." The pheasant shanton stew will be warming on charcoal. He also has the raw veggies, the sous-vide number, the mozzarella-lettuce wrap, gyoza and oyster meat, pheasant rice with egg crepe... that's six. Virant has consomme, smoked pheasant, gnocchi, Scotch egg, and caillette. And Morimoto finishes it up with parmesan... 

"Five seconds... three... two... one..." Battle Pheasant... DONE! Judgment... coming.

Judgment (Morimoto): "We eat pheasant in Japan. Well, royal families do. I'm not royalty, so this was very special. This was fun, and I tried new creations."

- Sous Vide Pheasant Breast with Cucumber
- Bagna Cauda with Crispy Pheasant Tenderloin Chips
- Pheasant Gyoza and Pheasant Oyster Tempura
- Pheasant Soup with Pheasant Meatballs
- Pheasant Rice with Grilled Pheasant Breast
- Ground Pheasant Lettuce Wraps

Judgment (Virant): "I would say our approach was versatility. We tried to utilize the entire bird in different forms."

- Smoked Pheasant Breasts
- Crispy Gnocchi with Braised Pheasant
- Pheasant Scotch Egg
- Pheasant Caillette with Pickled Fennel
- Pheasant Consomme

Virant had play with the textures, while Morimoto was creative. Both courses were very tasty, but only one can seal the deal. Whose cuisine reigns supreme? The verdict...

Taste 25 26
Plating 13 11
Originality 13 13

... 51-50 in favor of Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. It was a draw with taste and originality, but the presentation of the artist known as Morimoto carried him to victory this day.

Until next battle, we bid you good eating.

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