leave your inhibitions at the door
Let’s just get this out here now – I hated this episode. Last week’s was easily the best of the season and regular watchers of the show said it was one of the best all-time. A lot of that had to do with the chefs being given the freedom to let their creativity shine. Additionally, they only had to cook enough for the judges instead of a huge crowd. This all resulted in wildly imaginative, focused dishes. So how do they top that? They don’t – they went the exact opposite way in this week’s Elimination Challenge.
I wasn’t even going to mention the Sarah Grueneberg drinking game again, but… BAM! 2 minutes into the episode she freaks out when Charlize Theron comes into the kitchen to thank them.
Quickfire Challenge – Prepare a set of given ingredients and cook them quickly.
The contestants were split into three teams of two and were given 30 minutes for this challenge. They had to do basic prepwork on three ingredients prior to cooking – clean two pounds of shrimp, shuck a basket of corn, and make a pound of fettucine. The judges (Tom, Padma, Emeril, and Cat Cora) had to approve the prepwork before they were able to start cooking in whatever time was left. So if a team took twenty minutes to prep, they only had ten to cook. No immunity was given, but the winning team got to pocket $10k.
Winners – Grayson & Ugly Chris. He finally gets his first win of the entire competition. Damn, Sarah’s pissed.
Elimination Challenge – Cook against their teammates.
In this challenge, each chef had to cook against their Quickfire teammates. They were originally paired off with the person next to them but I have a feeling the pairings weren’t random but were done so they would be equally matched. I mean, putting Kundun or Sonny Chiba head-to-head with Grayson would’ve been a culinary bloodbath. Each team would choose a main and a side and each teammate had to make their version of it. The crowd gets to vote on which chef won each head-to-head battle and the judges chose the winner and loser from there. The winner pocketed $15K.
Why I hated this episode – Part 1. The setting was a block party/food drive hosted by Healthy Choice to benefit a San Antonio food bank. There were 200 people in attendance and each chef had to make enough for the whole crowd in 2.5 hours. The whole event is a nice gesture, but the contestants are back to making food in mass quantities. Look, any asshole can make enough food for an army. There’s no talent there. The problem is that there’s no way that quality and self-expression doesn’t suffer.
Each pair had to agree on what they were going to make and here’s what they chose:
See what I mean? Whatever you think about Ugly Chris as a chef, you have to admit there’s a lot of imagination going on in his head. And this challenge has him making some whitetrash chicken salad. What’s next – Frito Pie? (Although, he’d probably make that pretty cool.)
Why I hated this episode – Part 2. Because Healthy Choice is sponsoring this event, the contestants had to make healthier versions of their dish, defined as lower in fat content. There are actually two reasons why I hated this twist.
First, I’m not sold on depriving oneself of fat or carbs or any other macronutrient as being “healthy”. Certain amounts of fat, carbs, and cholesterol are absolutely necessary for survival. If your diet plan is to completely cut something out, your plan is probably doomed. It’s perfectly cool to eat carbs – just eat about 75% less of it. Fat ass.
The second reason I hated this “healthy” twist is that there’s an inevitable sacrifice of flavor. There are ways of compensating for it by using seasonings and other tricks and I suppose there are opportunities for creativity there. But this is still getting away from the chefs doing what they want to do and what they do best. There’s a reason why we are drawn to professional sports or the Olympics – these are athletes at the top of their game and we want to see them give optimal performances. Having the chefs make something “healthy” is like having 100 meter sprinters compete in Birkenstocks.
Here’s what they made:
Top 3 – Grayson, Kundun & Penishead – attendees voted them winners of head to head battles.
Winner – Paul. His dish was healthiest and executed perfectly. If he doesn’t win the overall competition, at least he’s raking in a ton of dough.
Bottom 3 – Sonny Chiba, Ugly Chris, Sarah
Booted – Ugly Chris. As was the case in several challeges this season, this was conceptually strong, but the reality was a little weak.
Sonny (right after Chris’ outburst– “Every time you make like you’re going home, someone else goes home…”
Chris pats Sonny on leg in essence saying “nice to know you”.