vs. Phan: Battle Almond
The challenger: Chef Charles Phan, a chef
born in South Vietnam and bred in San Francisco, where he discovered his love
for food. His passion for French Vietnamese food led him to open his own eatery,
the Slanted Door, in the City By the Bay, and to many awards, including the
James Beard Award for best chef in California. Today, he goes after Kitchen
Stadium's resident iron magnolia, Iron Chef Cat Cora.
Prepare for battle.
The Crib Sheet:
Ed Cotton & Matthew Hudak, sous-chefs
Justine Kelly & Lien Ho, sous-chefs
The Theme Ingredient:
several varieties of almond and almond fruit as well as
almond flour, almond milk, and almond oil
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 Almond has begun
Kitchen Stadium, as Cora has begun her assault on the
theme ingredient by putting it through a food pro. Phan
is using snow fungus, a form of mushroom that grows from
a tree. It's being rehydrated while Justine and Lien are
dicing plums. The Iron Chef has Spanish Marcona almonds
roasting, and Phan has a grouper. Cora looks like she's
making marzipa, while Phan's grouper is being broken
down. Ed is mixing his almond mixture while Matthew is
kneading dough. Chef Phan is steaming rice bowls, while
Lien is squeezing some liquid out. For what? "Ice cream,
"Fifteen minutes have
elapsed." Cora has an almond spice ice cream,
almond dough, and an almond/grape/garlic mixture. Over
with Phan, he has toasted almonds, grouper broken down,
and a plum puree chili. Cora also has bread twists,
peppers, and a mascarpone mixture. Phan has more almond
mixtures and chicken thighs.
- Actress Jeri Ryan ("Boston Legal" and "Star Trek: Voyager")
- A man who needs no introduction, Jeffrey Steingarten
- Food editor Kim Sunee ("Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for
Phan continues beating the tar out of gingko nuts
trying to get the things open. Ed is making flan out of almond milk, while Cora
is chilling his mascarpone mixture. The challenger has an almond milk gelatin
mixture. Meanwhile, the grouper is getting ready for its next application, while
Phan is mixing up with Orgeat.
"Thirty minutes have elapsed."
Challengers are making muffin, almond gelee, and ham-stuffed grouper. Iron Chef
has almond flan, almond candies, and scallops with almond milk in the immersion
circulator. Cora's almond twists are out of the oven, a raspberry puree is in
the works, and almonds are in the food pro. Meanwhile, Phan has chives, more
gingko nuts, and a mung bean puree waiting for their final applications. Cora's
team is also working on frog's legs and a lamb carpaccio. Cora also finishing up
her duck confit. Phan is working on bahn bao, while his custard is heading for
And now Cora is playing is LN2 and almond
mascarpone. That and an almond polenta have her busy. The bahn bao is plated on
Phan's side, while Cora's plating her almond polenta with duck confit. Phan adds
wolfberries to his mix of snow fungus and almond mixture.
"Fifteen minutes to go." Cora has
breaded scallops, fried fritters, and plated lamb carpaccio with almond vinegar.
Phan has a fish stew and a chive oil.
Cora has plated a lamb carpaccio with a caponata,
while Phan has started plating his souffles. Cora is sprinkling her LN2 almond
mascarpone on her polenta. That'll be two for her, while Matthew is plating the
almond ice cream and the fritter. Phan is stir-frying almonds. Ed is also
finishing his "almond gazpacho" as well as a green bean almondine with scallops
and romesco. Phan has his almond tofu and bahn bao plated. Water spinach is
down. And the souschefs start mixing Orgeat in a cocktail. On Cora's end, frog
legs with almond flan!
Phan's rundown has almond tofu, bahn bao, stir
fry, fish stew, and orgeat souffle with almond cream.
"One minute to go." Cora has an almond cappuccino
with her dessert, the polenta, the scallops, frog's legs with flan, lamb
carpaccio... that's five. And she's adding scallions with ten seconds...
"Five seconds... three... two... one..." Battle
Almond is done. Put it down, walk away.
Judgment (Phan): "I need to preserve the
almond essence, and to also showcase my native cuisine."
- Almond Tofu
- Bahn Bao with Crushed Almond
- Two Almond Chicken Stir-Fry
- Almond Milk Clay Pot
- Steamed Almond Cake
Judgment (Cora): "We kind of took a trip
around the Mediterranean with almond, and that was our inspiration for our
- Lamb Carpaccio with Almond Caponata
- Duo of Almonds (Almond Flan with Frog Legs and Almond Gazpacho)
- Almond Crusted Scallops
- Almond Polenta
- Almond Chocolate Fritter
Both sides played it safe, while the Iron
Chef has been inventive in her approach to the ingredient. Will that
help her? Whose cuisine reigns supreme?
... 45-41 in favor of
Iron Chef Cat Cora. Phan's dishes were tastier, but as
was predicted, it was her creativity and innovation that
sealed the win today.
Until next battle, we bid
you good eating.
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