So last night, the smoke was thick in the back room and I decided to pop on an absolutely CLASSIC Iron Chef America. Up there with the legendary Batali Parmesan Wheel & Morimoto Ice Smoker battles, this one is one of the all-time greatest:
Iron Chef Bobby Flay vs. Rick Bayless, Battle Buffalo.
This is the first episode in the “new” Kitchen Stadium set, now filmed in New York.
This is the first episode of the show after the “Battle of the Masters” miniseries.
This is the season where The Chairman has a sleek, bald head.
One of the judges was Jeffrey Steingarten. Yes, the curmudgeonly, slovenly, culinary wordsmith that does not withhold thoughts to spare feelings, even in the face of legends.
Worth noting: Flay was a relative neophyte with an (at the time) lifetime 3-1 record in Kitchen Stadium.
The ingredient, Buffalo (nee, Bison), represents the most significant mammal in North American history; appropriate for two chefs that are unabashedly NorteAmericano in style, presentation & usage ofingredients (chile peppers, anyone?).
The wacky professor Alton Brown‘s always informative narration was highlit by a sidebar on the differences between chile peppers (a chipotle is a smoked, dried jalapeno & an ancho is a smoked, dried Poblano, radically altering texture & flavor of both chiles).
Kevin Brauch was even notable, mostly for his gross mispronunciation of the names of the chile peppers (pasillo? rell-eno?), but his Canadian charm and shameless mid-chefery interviewing were in full bloom, and his role is minimized enough to keep his value high.
Mostly, though,what ensued was a culinary how-to on preparation of the most American of all ingredients, with the most excitingly authentic regional preparations. The chefs used nearly identical base ingredients (chile peppers, tons of ’em; heads upon heads of garlic; cilantro), but the differentiation was with Bayless’s use of the native-to-Mexico huitlacoche & epazote, while Flay focused on his forte; grilling & sauces. The end result was drastically differing dishes, but a high-level competitive battle that pleased all judges. . .including Steingarten
The result was a one point victory (the sole difference being in the Plating category), but you’ll have to pull it up to see who wins. Here’s Part I of the episode; watch and enjoy: