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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
Marc Forgione
Jose Garces
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 & Fujisankei Communications Inc. for Food Network
Origins Kitchen Stadium America, Food Network Studios New York
Web foodnetwork.com/ica
Airs 10p ET Sun, Food
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Cora vs. Carter: Battle Okra
September 4

The Challenger: Chef Robert Carter, who earned his culinary stripes at Johnson & Wales in Charleston, SC. While going to school, he earned his pay as a personal chef. He ended up opening a business called Rent-a-Chef. When he's not doing that, he heads the kitchen at the Peninsula Grill in Charleston. Today, he draws the ire of fellow Southerner Iron Chef Cat Cora in her return to glorious battle after maternity leave.

Prepare for battle.

The Crib Sheet:
CORA
Matthew Hudak & Scott Drozd, sous-chefs
VS CARTER
Chelsea Wright & Graham Dailey, sous-chefs
Greek/Aegean COOKING STYLE Contemporary Southern

The Theme Ingredient: Several varieties of okra, including but not limited to red and green types. Difference in flavor? Not a one.

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 their 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!"

And Battle Hibiscus esculentus is ON in Kitchen Stadium! Okra is a close cousin of the hibiscus and to the mallow family, where we used to get the oozy gooey stuff for marshmallows. This is called the mucilage, and it is also the slimy stuff inside the okra.

Carter wants to use a squab stock, while Cora wants to use it like a gumbo and a jalapeno popper. She also wants short ribs.

Tonight's Judges...
- Sustainable food expert Anya Fernald ("The Next Iron Chef")
- Farmer Lee Jones (The Chef's Garden)
- PR specialist Karine Bakhoum (KB Network News)

"Five seconds... three... two... one... " And Battle Okra is history. Put it down and walk away.

TASTING & JUDGMENT

Carter: "It was like being at home."

- Beef Carpaccio with Fried Okra
- Oysters & Okra Three Ways
- Okra & Country Ham Spoonbread
- Squab on Okra Griddlecake
- Okra & Fig Cobbler with Tomato Ice Cream

Cora: "I really wanted to stretch the imagination of okra. It gets a bad rap sometimes, and I really wanted to show it's a really versatile vegetable and it can be used in many different applications."

- Okra Popper
- Chicken Liver Mousse with Okra Marmalade
- Deconstructed Gumbo
- Korean-Style BBQ Short Ribs with Okra Kimchi
- Okra Churro with Okra Sorbet

Carter was very creative with a versatile use of a not-so-versatile ingredient. He used the language of Southern food without treating it as a cliché. Cora uses the skill of an Iron Chef to take the vegetable on a trip around the world. Both chefs celebrated okra to the fullest, but whose cuisine reigns supreme?

IRON CHEF CHALLENGER
Taste 23 21
Plating 13 10
Originality 15 13

... 51-44 in favor of Iron Chef Cat Cora. Inside her comfort zone beats a heart of iron that bests the challenger in all three key categories.

Until next battle, we bid you good eating.

To see this episode in its entirety, go to www.foodnetwork.com/ica.