Sorry, this is a terribly long review. Four pages, in fact. However, WordPress did not cooperate with my desire to link you directly to where I state the winner, so my best recommendation would simply to scroll quickly. It’s in bold, second-to-last paragraph. 

It’s been a long go of it. There were some bad decisions (How did Aaron make it that far? Why did Traci go so soon? ) and there were some good decisions (Besh and Symon are walking into the Stadium to face each other), but either way, here we are. The Kitchen Stadium, where it all began and where it will all end.

I am pleased with both Symon and Besh. Josh and I think that they are both worthy, and that really, if they had them fight two battles, it would be a tie.

Symon wants Iron Chef more now than he did before. Besh is excited to learn of the secret ingredient. Alton calls it a culinary deathmatch. Now, can we get to the ingredient? No, we have to listen to the accomplishments of Besh and Symon thus far. Impressive, yes, but I’ve seen those episodes already. Can we get on with it?

The Iron Chefs that are remaining, Cat, Bobby, and Morimoto, are also monitoring the battle. Catcalls, anyone?

The battle, this test, is called Attain Greatness. I like it.

The ingredient is swordfish! Alton states they must both have a gameplan in mind. Besh, not so much: I’ll roll up my sleeves! Symon: Don’t mess up in the first 10 minutes.

All of the former competitors are in the audience, watching. Josh and I think that must be awkward, but the competitors might appreciate the support.

Besh is headed back to Louisiana. Is anyone surprised? Word on the street is that there are surprise judges (perhaps the Iron Chefs?) and that might save him – Donatella would not let him live after yet another Weeziana showing.

OH MY GOSH CAT AND PAULA VS TYLER AND ROBERT, KITCHEN STADIUM, DESSERT!

Please excuse my screaming. It’s exciting, okay? Anyway, Josh and I are definitely noticing that this battle seems off to a very slow start – not a good thing for either chef. Thus far, they’ve been given 90 minutes, 3 hours, etc etc, but they’ve had other difficulties. Now that they have only 60 minutes, but the best equipment and all the food they could need, will they flounder?

Besh makes a Nage which sounds vile. Symon has a combo of beets and lamb tongue. Weirdo.

Word on the street is wrong. Dontella, Andrew, and Ruhlman are sitting at the judges table. Well, we can hope Donatella is feeling generous.

Symon is using the sous vide! That’s awesome. He took the other contests to heart. There will be points for that. Ruhlman is excited to see what is going on. Donatella is predictably excited to see the sous vide. Andrew is hoping for boundary breaking, as always.

Symon is already plating! Wow! Not even to the 30 minute mark and he’s already getting stuff down.

Besh is quiet, according to Symon, and Symon claims to be feeling like “a million bucks.” Besh is not agreeing. That spells even more doom for the Beloved Besh.

Symon trying to avoid being a “one-trick pony,” which is by all accounts a smart move. Our judges just hate one-trick ponies. Besh should take note.

There is a new Iron Chef coat coming out. Debbie Johnson and her daughter Tore won a competition for the design of the new coats. Interesting. Anyway. Off of that little interlude…

There’s some roasted pineapple and swordfish on a triangular plate down on Symon’s side. It’s really pretty, and looks really good.

I do hope he’s got something up his sleeve for those being stark freezing cold by the time he gets to judging….Bobby usually doesn’t plate until the dead end for that reason, even though they get 15 minutes or whatever once it’s all said and done to make up plates for the judges. All the things he’s made in the hour will need reheated. I hope they take it well.

Symon is so confident. Besh is so not. Come on, Besh!

Skordalia on Symon’s side. I had never heard of it before, but it sounds delicious. I must try this. Symon has also cut down on the bacon.

Flay things they are doing well, but they can’t get lax. Cora agrees. Morimoto wants dessert. Alton is glad that neither of them went for the ice cream machine.

Besh is going to go for dessert, since Morimoto asked for it. He’s got less than 7 minutes to pull off swordfish dessert. Dang. And it’ll be his SEVENTH dish. I was expecting six, because that’s Besh for you, but holy crap. I mean, the man pulled off catfish dessert. Surely swordfish, being less nasty, can’t be that hard.

Ack! Symon has some pretty amazing dishes, but Alton talks too fast for me to get good notes of what they are. Symon does have six as well, however, plate seven, swordfish dessert, is done on Besh’s side. You still can’t top him in dishes yet, Symon. Even if you do plan to tie.

Alton comments! OH! The iron chefs are going to switch chairs with the judges! As Josh said, there really is nothing more appropriate. The Iron Chefs should be the judges when it comes to entry into this tight little club.

Symon is up first. The first one is a marinated swordfish with sesame yuzu. He did a coktail with sake and yuzu. Bobby Flay thinks it’s a refreshing way to start. Next up, olive oil poached swordfish – this is the one that went into the immersion ciruclator; cora is excited about the plating, but not the spices. Bobby loves the taste.

Dish number three for Symon is a swordfish ravioli. Cora doesn’t like the mousse, calling it gritty, but the broth is nice. Morimoto is waiting for the “punch.” Moving on to spice roasted swordfish! Bobby says it is “just tasty.” Cat says it rocks. Good words for Symon!

Crispy Swordfish up next, with micro beets. Morimoto is impressed with the super tender beets. Cat things the skordalia was bland, and she would know. His last presentation is braised swordfish, in a soup thing. Again, Cat thinks that it’s perfectly iron chef material, and Morimoto loved it. Flay is now a swordfish collar convert. It’s looking good for Symon.

Besh is on the block! He starts up with cold smoked swordfish, served with Louisiana wine, and paddlefish roe over mascarpone. (why is mascaraed recognized by the spell checker, but mascarpone not?) Flay will be stealing the dish. Cora thought it was exceptional.

Second, Swordfish Crunchy roll, which sounds like my kind of time – Lobster wrapped in swordfish. Flay says the focus was not on the swordfish. Morimoto agrees. Up comes Swordfish Brandade Anigoli, it’s a pasta with basil foam and quick tomato sauce. Cora really likes the foam. Morimoto approves of the tender mousse.

Breaded swordfish next! He ran bread through a pasta press for this, served with hollandaise. Sounds amazing. Bobby loves it, but he and Cora agree it needs something – heat or acid, but it’s missing.

Blackened swordfish and shrimp for the what, 5th course already? Cora thinks the shrimp is unnecessary. Flay agrees – swordfish was great, leave it be! Sixth course, Swordfish Picatta with chanterelle and bacon. Bobby thinks treating the fish like meat is good. Morimoto is glad he got to the swordfish steak, but finds the bacon and mushrooms too strong.

Swordfish dessert! Swordfish cream and Brik pastry. Bobby applauds the effort, but he can’t taste the swordfish. Morimoto likes his challenging spirit, and thanks him for making dessert. I agree with Morimoto. This dish was obviously unplanned, and it’s really quite spectacular that he tried it at all.

It looks like it is Symon’s win. Normally I would be excited about this, I love the judging of iron chef battles (they are less dramatic than most, with judging happening behind the scenes) but here I’m more nostalgic. Why did this battle have to come? Why can’t they both be Iron Chefs? They both deserve it.

But here it…oh, how am I not surprised. There is a full panel — all six judges are there, even though Donatella and Co didn’t eat. Weird.

They are here to provide history, since the Iron Chefs haven’t been watching the series, as it hasn’t yet been edited and taped, as of the taping of the Iron Chef battle. Ruhlman says that Symon started poorly, and then truly excelled. Besh startred strong and kept it up. Andrew thinks Besh is cocky. Donatella says that Besh had fewer wows, but he never dissappointed. I would say that, despite the fact that these judges have been repeatedly delusional, that this a good representation of the truth as we were shown it.

Now, the Iron Chefs get a moment to say what being an Iron Chef means to them. Flay says you have to think on your feet. Cora says being a visualist is important. Morimoto things that Bobby and Cora said enough. He “100% agree, Yes.”

Ruhlman was pleased with their fundamentals (having apparently forgotten the consomme incident), Donatella got pushed to the edge (catfish truffles will do that to you), and Andrew felt that he saw the warrior spirit he was looking for (once the chairman beat it out of them!)

….Apparently Morimoto drew all the dishes. That’s awesome! Cora felt that they were both warriors. She also felt that the Iron Chef spirit came out when Besh made the dessert, even if it wasn’t that great. Bobby thought the dessert was a Very Bad Idea and that he should have kept his risks elsewhere.

Now, Alton asks – have they pushed the envelope enough? Everyone knows who they have decided for – they aren’t doing the typical voting, with points for plating and whatnot. No, they are voting for who they think should win.

My guess, now, is that it’s going to be really close, but I still think Symon won.

A commercial break, and then the jury verdict! Of course, there is an obnoxious amount of rhetoric on the part of the chairman, there just to tick the viewer off, I’m sure. JUST TELL US ALREADY!

SYMON! Mike Symon won. Wow. The chairman didn’t flourish toward Symon, he actually turned back to the Wall o’ Chef, and then there was Symon’s picture where Mario’s used to be. Symon kind of stopped, and then he was all, oh look! It’s me! and then they let him step up on his brand-new platform.

Besh is a really good loser, though. He was quite gracious. I hope he comes back to the Stadium. I hope that, when he does, he picks Symon, and kicks his butt.

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