Morimoto vs. Virant: Battle Pheasant
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
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
- 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
"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
"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
- 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...
... 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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