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Aug 19, 2007 07:11 PM

Iron Chef - Morimoto vs. Cantu. Who won?

My damned dvr switched over as they were announcing who won. Would anyone be so kind as to tell me who won the battle of the beet?

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  1. This was a rerun, and I think Cantu won, which was infuriating because it validated all his over the top geeky gimmickry!

    16 Replies
    1. re: jeanki

      It was indeed a rerun, and Cantu won by 1 point.

      Jeanki, if you find yourself infuriated by a cooking show, you would do well to never, EVER watch the evening news.

      1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

        Strangely I find the evening news soothing. It's so reliably negative.

      2. re: jeanki

        What is Morimoto's record? I'm not a regular IC:A watcher, but I adored the quirky and good natured Japanese version and I loved his restaurant in Philly. It seems like every time I randomly tune into IC:A and happen to see a Morimoto episode, he loses...

        1. re: Garris

          Morimoto's winning rate on ICA is the lowest of all the so-called American Iron Chefs (really, they're just a bunch of Food Network personalities, though Mario Batali is obviously a real chef). Morimoto tends to win about 50% of his matches on ICA. The Food Network fudges this curious state of affairs [1] by mixing Morimoto's stats from the original Iron Chef, which were far higher, with his stats on ICA.

          [1] Even Sakai, possibly the best of the original Iron Chefs, whose winning rate on IC was *way* above Morimoto's, fared badly on ICA. Why, he lost against Flay in a battle whose theme ingredient was trout! (Sakai never lost a single fish battle on Iron Chef.) Upon returning to Japan, Sakai wouldn't speak to anyone for several days.

          1. re: Kenji

            Really, Batali is the only real chef?

            Last I checked Emeril had a number of restaurants (and of those I've eaten at they are pretty darn good)

            I've been to Mesa Grill and it's far and away one of the better restaurants in the Vegas hotels.

            Cat Cora is the executive chef for Bon I figure that has to count for something.

            1. re: jpschust

              Emeril has never been on ICA.

              As for Bobby Flay, I don't dispute that people like that sort of food -- you can get it at TGI Friday's, or Chili's, or in Massachusetts we have a Tex-Mex chain called Sam Diego's, whose stuff is pure Flay -- but is Flay really a chef? Is he really an "Iron Chef"? If you were putting together an American version of Iron Chef, and you were trying to choose the American answer to the chefs featured on that show, would you say: "Hey, I know! Bobby Flay!" Granted, he's on Food Network all the time with his garbled speech and hamburgers.

              1. re: Kenji

                Have you ever eaten Flay's food? It seems that you haven't as Flay's stuff is very very good, borderline excellent. He excells at the type of food he puts out and before bashing him I think it would be prudent for you to try his cooking.

                1. re: jpschust

                  Flay hasn't personally served me, but I'm familiar with that general style of cooking. Further, Flay's on TV all the time. I've seen him cook and I've seen the results. Obviously, this isn't the same as eating what he's made. But I don't see anything special in Flay's cooking procedures - or in the finished product.

                  I think that, with the Japanese Iron Chef show, the idea was that these were chefs of distinction; and with ICA, the idea is more along the lines of, "Everybody's an Iron Chef." Or at least "Everybody with a Food Network show is an Iron Chef."

                  1. re: Kenji

                    If you're familiar with that general style of cooking you'd agree that if you know the general style of sushi that all sushi is the same right? Come on.

                    1. re: jpschust

                      Nowhere did I say that all Tex-Mex is the same. What I said is that Flay's version of it does not strike me -- in the processes by which it's made or in the look of the finished product -- as distinctive.

                      1. re: Kenji

                        I don't think this is a fair criticism of Bobby Flay. He is well-known for the bold and unique flavor combinations he puts together, and it seems quite trademark to me. I've never had his food myself yet but some of his dishes on ICA look quite mouthwatering and carefully conceived. His style is more rough and Southwestern than delicate and Frenchy, but it's still his own "chef" take on it. And as for the TV shows, they are designed for home cooks, not for his restaurants or Iron Chef. I don't necessarily like Bobby Flay's personality (he seems quite arrogant and rude at times like he did when he battled Morimoto on the original ICA), but I definitely give him props as a chef.

                  2. re: jpschust

                    I find it's very hard to compare the original Iron Chef (OIC?) to Iron Chef America (ICA) for a variety of reasons (including cultural differences, as has already been mentioned).

                    I really do miss the breakdown of the OIC's cooking personalities into IC Japanese, Chinese, Italian, French, etc... I really learned quite a bit about those cuisines by watching the OIC shows. In ICA, with the possible exception of Balali, the rest (Cora, Flay, and even Morimoto to a degree) are doing fusion cuisines, which I don't find as interesting.

                    I think also making the show harder to follow is that the dishes on ICA are *so* much more complicated than what was being done on in the days of the OIC. Some of this is, I'm sure, that restaurant cooking today is more complicated than it was, say, 15 or 20 years ago, but when you have, for example, Cat Cora doing 6 different dishes with the challenger doing the same amount with a huge pantry of ingredients, it can be tough to follow the progress. The OIC hour, with its 3-4 simpler dishes per chef, felt like more of a narrative to me, while ICA feels much more like a frenetic hour of a zillions clips of mixing, baking, etc, etc that somehow results in dishes at the end.

                    Some other factors, in my opinion:

                    - I find the camera work a bit too helter-skelter. I wish they'd jump around a bit less and give us a bit more time to focus on what they're talking about...

                    - One of the reasons why the OIC worked so brilliantly was that they replicated the traditional live sports broadcast of a play-by-play guy (who also represents the "common man" who isn't a culinary guru and asked all kinds of good questions) and a guy doing commentary (the "expert," Hatori). Having Alton Brown, compelling as he is, doing both in my opinion just isn't as effective, and completely changes the dynamic of the show. As many have said many times, I wish they'd have Brown doing commentary, and someone else (they could even gets a sports play by play person, as the OIC did) in another chair...

                    - It's SOOO painfully obvious how "not a surprise" the surprise ingredient is to the chefs (I know the preparation formula is the same as the OIC, but the OIC had other challenges even though they knew the ingredient... Limited pantry, assistants from the Hatori school they didn't know, etc). I wish they'd drop the surprise pretense and just "go public" with the fact the chefs know, and add some additional drama and depth in giving us a glimpse of the chef's preparation and planning process.

                    Ack, longer post than I wanted... That's it, really. I, as I mentioned, only watch ICA randomly. I was awaiting its arrival enormously, but just haven't been hooked :(.

                    - Garris

                    1. re: Garris

                      Yeah, I agree with a lot of that. Another problem, for me -- it might seem a bit superficial -- concerns Mark Dacascos as chairman. He's unbelievably stiff (he invariably says, "Excellent choice" no matter which ICA is selected; if each chef is really equally excellent then what's the point of his comment?), obsequious, lacking in gravitas, and unbelievable as a successor to Kaga. Of course, Takeshi Kaga was really an actor too; but he pulled it off -- and then some; he was spontaneous and eager to comment on the dishes and mix it up with the chefs and the guests. E.g., on one occasion, the actress Fujitani tasted a dishe of Sakai's and asked, "Can I move in with him [Sakai]?" Kaga thundered, "Enough!" It was a funny, unscripted moment. Dacascos hunches over during tasting like he's trying to hide. In fact, a challenger on ICA recently made note of this; she asked, "Isn't the chairman allowed to comment?" Dacascos, looking nervous, shrugged his head "No." The poor guy seems more like a slave the overseer/creator of the whole thing.

                      Also there's Kevin Brauch, who adds nothing to ICA. Sure, he *names* the judges -- but it's Alton Brown who interects with them. Sure, Brauch recites the rules; but it's utterly redundant, since the rules (of judgement) appear on a diagram. His presence adds nothing.

                      1. re: Kenji

                        Mark Dacascos does seem a bit lightweight compared to his uncle, but I still like the idea that he is the original chairman's nephew, (and a martial arts expert to boot) as an homage to the original series.

                        The new series of course doesn't have the unique chemistry of the original, but it does as well as it could, I guess. The judges are usually interesting personalities (like the bizarre Steingarten) which helps.

                        Morimoto and Sakai probably lose more often here because catering to Japanese palates is different than Western ones. I've seen some Morimoto ICA battles where I feel irritated by the squeamishness and unadventurousness of the judges (Katie Joel anyone?) and he seems to fare better with more heavyweights like Steingarten et al. I guess they also try to balance things by giving him often one Asian judge (although 1 can't outweigh 2 others.)

                        1. re: jeanki

                          ...and then that Japanese lady judge goes on to exclaim how EVERYTHING's too oily.

                          1. re: Blueicus

                            LOL, she is definitely obsessed with that oily factor. She's sort of the Japanese reverse equivalent of the finicky lady judges who don't get Morimoto. (She doesn't get Western, or for that matter even Eastern, "oiliness.")