Philly chef Jose Garces defeated Bobby Flay on Sunday night's episode of the hit Food Network show Iron Chef America.

Melon was the secret ingredient that had to be used in each of the five dishes that the chefs prepared to impress the three judges. Each dish also had to use a frozen component. The show was taped last September.

The smug, showboating Flay, who specializes in Southwestern cuisine and has the second-best record among the five chefs who assume the role of Iron Chef, falls to 19 wins, 9 losses and 2 draws.

Flay's last defeat was televised in May 2006 and came at the spatula of New York chef Laurent Tourondel. The ingredient was goat cheese.

Iron Chef America is a one-hour cook-off held in a well-stocked kitchen known as Kitchen Stadium in the Food Network's New York City building.

Garces, 36, a Chicagoan whose parents are from Ecuador, came to Philadelphia in 2001 to open Alma de Cuba, a Latin restaurant on Walnut Street fronted by Garces' boss Douglas Rodriguez and owned by Stephen Starr.

Starr later also put him in charge of El Vez, the Center City Mexican cantina that opened in late 2003.

Garces left the Starr fold in 2005 to begin building his empire, starting with Old City's Amada (2005), followed by Rittenhouse Square's Tinto (2007), Mercat a la Planxa in Chicago (February 2008) and University City's Distrito (July 2008). Next year, Garces plans to open Chifa, encompassing a Chinese-Peruvian cuisine, at 707 Chestnut St. His cookbook, Latin Evolution, is about to be released.

Garces will offer selected dishes from last night's menu at his restaurants for the next week.

Contact staff writer Michael Klein at mklein@phillynews.com.