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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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Cora vs. Phan: Battle Almond
November 8

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
Greek/Aegean COOKING STYLE French Vietnamese

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 here in 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, you scream."

"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.

Tonight's Judges:
- 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 Home")

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 the heat.

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 dishes today."

- 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?

Taste 19 21
Plating 11 11
Originality 15 9

... 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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