leave your inhibitions at the door
There are five chefs left, not counting who wins Last Chance Kitchen. All stages the competition should be about rising to the top and beating everyone else, but I think that’s naïve. I think the real strategy is to coast along in the middle of the pack and avoid being the worst. If you mess up badly, chances are there’s going to be someone else that messed up just as badly or worse. You may not win some of the prizes, but you’ll live to see another day while saving all your super-creative dishes for later. Besides – and I haven’t compared this season versus previous ones yet – it seems there hasn’t been as many big prizes for winning the Elimination Challenges.
When the contestant pool dwindles down, then you start pulling out the big guns you’ve been saving all season. With fewer competitors, you can’t count on someone else making a bigger mistake. So as long as you aren’t the worst, you’re still going to make it. Very rarely is there a challenge where every single dish is a home run.
I’m surprised that Melissa and George are still in the competition because they’re really unimpressive. Melissa can make great side vegetables and salads, but has only delivered on one main course all season. George, on the other hand, has made very solid dishes but lacks any kind of originality or inspiration. He only recently returned to the competition, so perhaps he hasn’t had the opportunity yet to really mess up.
Andy Cohen is there along with his college roommate and Cohen admits to a) being gay and b) smoking a lot of pot. But who wasn’t a little gay and smoked pot in college? (Don’t answer that.)
The challenge this week was, in an homage to college culinary skills, to put a spin on ramen. They were given the instant noodles but didn’t have access to the usual pantry. Instead, they had to use what five students from Emerson College were able to salvage in their dorms. No immunity at stake, but the winner gets $5K.
Gregory (bacon, pizza, Doritos): Ramen with bacon & pizza broth, string cheese, edamame, & dorito crunch
Mei (miso soup, V8, nori, shrimp): Ramen with spicy tomato miso sauce, sushi shrimp & nori
Melissa – (cheese, roast chicken, fritos): Mac & cheese carbonara with roast chicken & frito crumb topping
George ( Hot dogs, chili, canned corn, American cheese): Ramen chili with hot dogs, chicken wing, and crispy spam.
Dougie (chef salad, tofu ,pineapple): Ramen with coconut pineapple water broth, ham, egg, & grilled tofu
Least favorite: Mei, Dougie,
Favorites: George, Gregory, Melissa
Winner: Melissa. Probably because it was the only one that was remotely edible.
Jacques Fucking Pepin is back! In a previous season the contestants had to replicate a simple dish that Jacques demonstrated. He was such a master that the youngsters’ heads were spinning. As a frequent collaborator with Julia Child, he was brought back in this Julia Child-inspired challenge. The chefs had to create a dish that pays tribute to Julia Child.
Gregory – Coq au vin with glazed carrots, fava beans & snap peas
Mei – Duck a l’orange with turnip puree, orange puree, & glazed vegetables.
George – Braised veal with pomme puree, morels, glazed carrots & Asparagus
Melissa: Red wine-braised short rb with brown butter polenta & jardiniere
Dougie: Roasted whole lobes of foie gras tih roasted peaches, sweet & sour onions & hazelnuts
Top: Gregory, Mei
Winner: Mei, her adding a little twist and updating pushed it over the top
Bottom: Dougie, George, Melissa
Gone: Dougie. George and Melissa messed up their meats, but his foie was almost raw.
– No real surprises here. Mei’s dish was clearly a winner and Dougie clearly messed up. Sometimes even the best editors can’t make the magic of suspense and intrigue happen.
– Oh wait, there was a surprise. Tom actually had hair at one point.
– I don’t know what to think about the Quickfire. Ramen’s a really hot restaurant trend and they had a chance to knock it out of the park. But it was kinda fun.
– Nah, I think I’d still rather see that Jacques Pepin challenge again.
– Whoever would’ve gotten my dormroom ramen bag would’ve been hosed. It would’ve two ingredients. Beer and ramen. They probably would’ve just served a double-batch and had a beer. And they would’ve won for authenticity.
– I call BS moment of the night: No way in hell did Dougie get the whole lobes of foie gras at Whole Foods.
– This just in: a judge has struck down California’s ban on foie gras. All over California, chefs and foodies are celebrating! Meanwhile, ducks and geese just shit their imaginary pants.
– I had whole lobe foie gras at Chez Denise in Paris. I could seriously eat that every night.
– They had a brief clip of the contestants trying to imitate her. I know they’re only chefs, but they got nowhere near the definitive imitation done by Dan Akroyd.
– Mei has only talked about working for Michael Voltaggio. In this episode she casually mentions in passing that she staged at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon? Ummmm, that’s like wayyy bigger than working for some former Top Chef winner.
– If I were in the challenge, I would’ve made my go-to dish Braised short ribs. And I wouldn’t have burned it like Melissa. Here’s the recipe.