Is Bobby Flay the Greatest Iron Chef?
Originally posted June 10, 2008.
Two weekends ago I warmed up for the new batch of Iron Chef America episodes by watching the ICA: Battle of the Masters mini-marathon on Food Network on Saturday. Those first ICA’s featured Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, and Wolfgang Puck. Flay competed in two of the three Masters episodes and won in both over the grand poobah of Iron Chefs, French master Hiroyuki Sakai. The first match was mano-e-mano with both chefs bringing their A games. Thinking back it occurs to me that both Flay and Sakai offered five dishes each that were absolute home runs. Honestly, all ten dishes were equally genius. In the second Flay/Sakai battle it was a mismatched tag team battle with Flay teaming with Morimoto and Sakai with Batali.
Having watched Flay school the dean of the Japanese IC, I prepared for the first new ICA episode, Flay versus Chef Bob Iacovone of restaurant Cuvée in New Orleans. The theme ingredient was languostine, a spectacular shellfish popular in Europe. Languostine are incredibly delicate and sweet. Flay remarked that the biggest challenge was in restraining himself from over pouring the languostine. Iacovone did not do as well at respecting the secret ingredient as the judges repeatedly remarked that they could not taste languostine in his otherwise inspired dishes. It was clear after hearing the judges’ comments to the challenger that Flay had won before his food was even tasted.
That ICA was followed by a special one-hour Throwdown in which Bobby rematched three former Throwdown competitors in Miami. This show was fascinating as you viewed the opulent hotel suite shared by the three competitors and the various twists that TFN threw at them like having them dress for a fancy dinner on a veranda and then showing up with raw steak and shrimp and a charcoal grill that they had to assemble before using. During this Throwdown something happened that many have been waiting for, Bobby got challenged to a Throwdown by yet another former challenger. The voting was close and had to go to a tie-breaker with Bobby just edging out the self-proclaimed Dream Team.