Bowles Robbed, Flayed on "Iron Chef"

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 12, 2007 11:03PM

2007_02_graham_elliot.jpgSurfing between the Police reunion on the Grammys last night and an all-new evening of animation on Fox (and if Family Guy's "My Drunken Irish Dad" song isn't being sung en masse this St. Patrick's Day, we'll be sorely disappointed), Avenues' chef Graham Elliot Bowles took on Bobby Flay on "Iron Chef America." Knowing that the Tribune had Bowles' appearance featured in yesterday's Sunday magazine, we didn't buy the Sunday paper yesterday and stayed away from any online spoiler sites, preferring to watch the episode with no knowledge of secret ingredients (chocolate, by the way) and/or courses prepared.

Bowles and his staff put together an ambitious, beautiful meal consisting of lobster carpaccio on white chocolate panna cotta, savory Mexican chocolate soup, tuna with cocoa nibs and chocolate aroma, bison with a red wine-chocolate reduction, and milk chocolate ice cream and chocolate soda pop. Flay countered with chocolate pumpkin soup served in tiny, hollowed-out pumpkins, duck served with a spicy chocolate barbecue sauce, blue corn-chocolate Johnny cakes, chocolate-raspberry-cranberry parfait, and a chocolate souffle. While Bowles' dishes looked like something out of a copy of Gourmet, Flay's looked like they contained more chocolate in their color scheme, but the dishes themselves had no semblance of working together as a meal.

When the votes were tallied, Flay beat Bowles 49-47. The home court advantage definitely swung in Flay's favor this time, with one slight ace in the hole. Among the judges (including Vogue food columnist Jeffrey Steingarten and "Queer Eye" star/author Ted Allen) was one Karine Bakhoum, a New York-based food publicist who, during the judging/presentation portion of last night's episode, went out of her way to metaphorically fellate Flay. Bakhoum also owns a public relations firm that used to list Flay as a client. While we know that secret ingredients, chefs, et al are chosen in advance, this isn't the first time Bakhoum has had to defend herself from charges of conflicts of interest.