Iron Chef: Battle Tomato

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Theme Ingredient: Tomatoes, some red, some green
Iron Chef: Kobe
Challenger: Franco Canzoniere, owner/head chef, Il Fornello, Nakano, Tokyo
Remarks: The second attempt of 'Serie A' to take down an Iron Chef. This synopsis is based on the battle that aired on Food Network November 25, 2000.

The top Italian chefs in Tokyo have formed a group called 'Serie A' (after the name of Italy's highest-tier pro soccer league) which looks suspiciously like the Ohta Faction that has dedicated its professional life to taking down IC Japanese Masaharu Morimoto. Anyway, like the Ohta Faction, their first attempt on Kobe ended in failure: Constantine, who got broke open like a cheap shotgun in Battle Bell Pepper, 4-0 and 76-62(!).

A quick word about the judging. When looking at margin of victory, figure that each point difference represents a touchdown. If you beat a guy by one point, you beat him. If you beat him by two points, you beat him badly. If you beat him by three points, you beat him so bad his mama felt it (the exception to this is when Asako Kishi judges; she almost always uses a two-point spread). Constantine lost Battle Bell Pepper by an average of 3.5 points per judge!

Franco Canzoniere is Serie A's 'second man.' He is the owner and head chef at Il Fornello in the Nakano district of Tokyo. He is a Roman-style chef, which may explain the guy in his entourage carrying a "SPQR" banner. The theme ingredient was tomatoes, some red and some green (and still on the vine). In true IC fashion, we learn that they run USD2.50 each. Guest commentators were actress Chizuru Azuma and essayist Panzetta Girolamo. The other judges were Lower House member Shinichiro Kurimoto and fortune teller Kazuko Hosoki.

The smack and maneuvering started right away. Canzionere called Kobe's dishes 'feminine' and vowed to show the judges what real Roman food tasted like. He also took all the herbs. When Kobe crossed the DMZ to get some, he was soundly booed by the challenger's compatriots in the Royal Box. Kobe responded by tossing a couple of tomatoes at them. We were also introduced to orecchiette ('earlobe' in Italian), a small pasta from southern Italy named for its shape, and we learned that salsa di Pomodoro means 'tomato sauce' and is generally made with garlic and basil in Roman-style cooking. Big surprise there.

    Canzoniere presented five dishes:
  1. Tomato appetizer, Roman style. Three appetizers: artichoke stuffed with tomatoes, tomatoes stuffed with ricotta cheese, tomatoes stuffed with mozzarella cheese and grilled, and a tomato fritter.
  2. Scampi prawn fettuccine. Asparagus and white wine vinegar were added. Azuma thought the fresh tomatoes were overpowered by the prawns, while Hosoki thought it was great. Girolamo thought it was nothing special.
  3. Tomato sauce orecchiette. Kurimoto thought it was "just right," while Girolamo thought it reminded him of his mother. Whether that was good or bad was not made clear.
  4. Eel stewed in tomato sauce. A home cooking dish. Hosoki: "I can't find the words to describe it, it's so good."
  5. Fresh tomato and beef stew. Beef cheek meat was used here. Azuma didn't particularly like the use of fresh tomatoes in this dish, either.
    Kobe, clearly targeting the Japanese palate, also brought five dishes to the table:
  1. Tomato appetizer, Iron Chef style. Boiled and peeled tomatoes were stuffed with bonito, avocado, yam, and yogurt; green tomato served with rock salt on the side; fresh tomato stuffed with scampi prawns, anchovys, and 'an Italian vegetable' (whatever that means). Kurimoto wanted more basil flavor, but Girolamo liked it (although he was "a bit puzzled at first").
  2. Ravioli in cold soup. Cheese-stuffed ravioli was used.
  3. Bread and tomato stew. A traditional Toscana recipe garnished with peas. Hosoki pronounced it "perfect," while Azuma thought it had almost a Chinese flavor to it.
  4. Grilled tomatoes with white meat sauce. Each tomato had a grilled with a chili pepper stuck in it. The white sauce featured bacon and veal meat. Azuma thought the pepper was a nice accent, but Hosoki didn't like the texture.
  5. Tomato and orange mousse. Garnished, I think, with bacon!

The verdict was 2-2, with Kobe winning 75-72 on total points. Kurimoto 18-17 Canzoniere, Azuma 20-18 Kobe, Girolamo 20-19 Canzoniere, and Hosoki 19-16(!) Kobe.

This battle was also synopsized at


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This page contains a single entry by Chris published on April 28, 2006 4:31 PM.

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