leave your inhibitions at the door
This week’s episode had a little twist – no Quickfire. They just went straight to the elimination challenge. I liked that because it gave the viewer more time to appreciate the background behind the challenge and more time to see the preparation of the food. Not to mention it’s one less thing I need to write up…
Speaking of time needed to write up things, I actually found the time to once again prepare something inspired from the previous week’s episode. One of the top dishes in last week’s Quickfire was Nina’s potato and leek puree with Scotch quail egg. I’ve always wanted to try making Scotch eggs and this was a great excuse to do it.
Unfortunately, I used regular chicken eggs as all the quail nests I raided were empty. Just kidding, I didn’t actually do that as I have no freaking clue what a quail nest looks like. Anyway, if you missed it, here’s the post.
The contestants split up into three teams of five and were given a whirlwind tour of NOLA’s Vietnamese food scene. Back in the 70s a lot of the Vietnamese refugees (aka “The Boat People”) settled in New Orleans and built-up their own shrimping industries. The same thing happened in Houston, where Boom Boom’s parents live. They are close to Kemah, which is on Galveston Bay and we used to love going down the docks and getting really simple, prepared on the spot, cheap seafood. Like all areas that show it can make money, Kemah now is overrun by crappy chains and cheesy touristy stuff.
Joining Emeril on the tour was minor-celeb chef Eddie Huang, who also joined Tom and Emeril at the judges table. The teams had to create a Vietnamese menu with one dish featuring shrimp.
Red Team – Shirley, Carrie, Nina, Justin, Patty
Vietnamese BBQ Shrimp
Beef Pho with Rice Noodles & Lettuce
Raw Beef Salad with Pickled Vegetables
Lemon Custard with Caramelized Banh Mi
Green Team – Janine, Bene, Travis, Sarah, Stephanie
Fresh Gulf Shrimp in spicy tomato sauce
Grilled pork sausage wraps
Dim sum “Duo” Pork & shrimp
Coconut Coffee Macaroon
Orange Team – Nicholas, Michael, Carlos, Louis, Brian
Black Pepper Squid with Cabbage
Fish Head Soup with Pineapple & tamarind
Pork belly spring rolls & dipping sauce
Winning Team: Red Team
Winner: Shirley’s BBQ shrimp. It wasn’t completely traditional, but wowed the judges.
Losing Team: Green Team. Mistakes abounds from top to bottom.
Gone: Janine. She took the hit for soggy shrimp and really badly-prepared rice.
– Eddie Huang is a chef of Chinese-Taiwanese descent with a restaurant in NYC. Because that’s the kind of NOLA Vietnamese food scene expert you need.
– This is one of those moments that highlight the importance of good teamwork and management. Travis, who they named “Captain Vietnam,” is dating a Vietnamese guy, has lived there and cooks the food took on the role as leader for the challenge. Janine has also lived in the region and Sarah was very familiar with Asian food. By all accounts, they were a dream team. But a bunch of bickering and shit made it that they didn’t work together well as a team and the food suffered.
– Contrast that with the winning Red Team. They had one Asian expert, but generally worked well together. It also helps that, with the exception of Patty, they have the strongest chefs in the competition.
– I think that Janine got unfairly booted. It wasn’t her idea to put the fried shrimp – which started out great – into the messed-up is-it-or-isn’t-it-truly-Vietnamese tomato sauce. Sarah took blame for the rice as well. Sure, she could’ve protested and is responsible for the product, but Travis and Sarah were probably MORE responsible.
– Obviously, I’m really disappointed in seeing Janine go:
– Ok, not so seriously.
– I’m surprised that Louis, Bene, Nicholas, and Patty are still in the competition. They are consistently at the bottom, but they somehow manage to eke it out. I’m wondering if there will be future challenges that they are going to completely annihilate everyone. Nah, probably not.
– I have to agree with the judges on Stephanie’s Macaroon. It was good, but it had virtually no connection to Vietnamese cuisine.
– And I’m really tired of Sarah’s hipster theater looks.
But I guess if you’re not blessed with Janine’s (or my) good looks, you gotta do everything you can.