Ricky Moore Battles Newest Iron Chef

With a "perfect" pumpkin soup and a Southern cooking twang, DC chef Ricky Moore went head-to-head with newly crowned Iron Chef Michael Symon in Battle Thanksgiving this evening on Food Network's "Iron Chef America."

The native North Carolinian (like this writer) gave his menu a Southern point of view with deep-fried turkey and cornbread dressing. "Growing up, the food was very straightforward, so for me this was inspired by my family," he told the judges. (Moore, at left, was named head chef of IndeBleu just last week but was leading the kitchen at Agraria when the show was filmed.)

Throughout the battle, both chefs were relatively calm and silent — that is until the end when a few flubs cranked up the heat. With less than five minutes to go, Symon accidentally dumped a grappa cocktail in his stuffing, and Moore sliced open his bacon-wrapped venison to find it completely raw inside.

"We gotta go, we gotta go" became Moore's frantic, albeit quiet, mantra as he roused his team into action. He tossed the cut venison loin into a hot pan and managed to get everything plated on time.

Moore's Thanksgiving menu seemed to go over well with the judges — I say "seemed" because with tricky reality show editing, you never can be sure. His pumpkin soup with bacon and shiitake ragout was proclaimed "the most perfect pumpkin soup I've ever had," by judge Jeffrey Steingarten. The Vogue food columnist, however, wasn't so hot on Moore's fried turkey, saying it was "a little like shoe leather." A sweet potato streusel with maple-pecan ice cream and a side of apple cider finished the menu.

But in the end, the judges preferred Symon's offerings and handed the Cleveland chef his first victory. To win his permanent position in Kitchen Stadium, Symon beat out a talented group of competitors on "The Next Iron Chef America" that included Morou Ouattara of Farrah Olivia in Alexandria.

Congrats to Moore on a solid showing, and thanks for whetting my appetite for deep-fried turkey and cornbread stuffing on Thursday.