The remaining 14 contestants are told that this week’s challenge theme is wine pairing. “The only thing that can make food better is wine,” explains Nigella, and the contestants are introduced to the judges of the group taste test, Andre Mack, owner of Mouton Noir Wines and David Kinch, a Michelin star award-winning chef.
The chefs are given five secret ingredients each picked out by their mentors and are told they must create a dish that uses one of these ingredients. It has to pair well with the robust Argentinian wine, Alamos Malbec. Bourdain chooses 5 different types of meat for his team’s secret ingredients and tells his chefs to “Stay in Argentina” (not physically, I’m guessing) and warns, “If you don’t know anything about wine, you’re in trouble.”
Ludo, on the other hand, has more sound advice for his chefs, telling them, “I have no strategy. Just cook f*****g good food.” Ludo spends most of his time mentoring Sarah, who needs the most help, while two of his other chefs, Shawn and Gregg, go on to create a crusted lamb loin with mint and a smoked short rib.
Back on Bourdain’s team, our girl Uno is making a Thai beef salad. She vacuum seals the beef, chugs a glass of wine, and continues on in her “distinct way of cooking,” as described by Bourdain himself. “Anyone who goes against Uno has it coming,” he warns. Uno’s arch nemesis, New Yorker Diane, has Bourdain taste her chocolaty dish and then proceeds to tell him to shove it when he offers advice.
Over at Malarkey’s kitchen, a bromance is blossoming between him and his “star” Jeff. The two are “very, very close,” explains private chef Khristianne and, even though the two share a special bond, Malarkey and his team choose Adam’s squab with red wine reduction as the spoon to send to the judges.
Nigella and her now three woman team choose Erika’s lamb chop with goat cheese balls over Hudda’s lamb meatballs with mint, and Uno’s dish is chosen from Bourdain’s team. Despite Diane’s jealousy/warning that Uno’s dish doesn’t go well with the wine, Bourdain deems the dish unique and tells his team, “No one is doing anything like it.” Ludo chooses egomaniac Gregg’s bonito crusted short rib (mostly “so he would shut up his mouth”), and the guest judges proceed to drink and eat and judge.
Much to everyone’s horror, Gregg’s dish is chosen as the winner and his head/ego continues to fill with hot air. Gregg receives immunity for the solo taste test, which has the cheftestants pairing a dish with one of four types of wine: a German Riesling, a French Chardonnay, an Italian Burrata and one I don’t remember because no one used it.
Malarkey’s chef Adam prepares a bouillabaisse that he pairs with the Chardonnay. Nigella’s Hudda creates a lemon zabaione with the German Riesling. Sarah and Shawn ignore any advice given to them by the guest judges and continue with their dishes, poached salmon with beurre blanc and sea bass ravioli, as is. Bourdain’s girl Diane feels the pressure of last week and wants to measure up to her previous two gold star-winning dish.
The chefs complete their spoons and the blind taste test begins. The judges commend Gregg’s ability to make a deconstructed pasta with Bolognese from scratch in one hour. Ludo is furious that Diane didn’t make her own blood sausage to go with her potato gratin. Uno’s chicken and egg dish with chardonnay is “very intellectual” according to Ludo, who also says that the dish really “makes him think.” Khristianne’s Barolo braised duck is deemed “sexy” and Shawn’s fish, goat cheese and vanilla concoction is unanimously hated by the judges. Shawn calls one of the judges a leprechaun and threatens to go home before the judges have even made their final decision.
The judges’ best and worst choices of the night are unveiled and, alas, Shawn, Sarah, Erika and Hudda are at the bottom. Nigella and Ludo are angry that two of their team members had the worst dishes and Bourdain boasts, again, that no one from his team has been at the bottom yet. Both Khristianne (Malarkey’s team) and Ninamarie (from Bourdain’s team) receive two gold stars and win the week’s challenge.
Hudda is condemned for pairing her “too sweet dish” with the Riesling and Erika’s miso and orange glazed sea bass is deemed “one-dimensional.” Nigella, who has been pretty quiet all night, speaks up to tell Shawn that his dish was overpowered by vanilla and proceeds to call his sea bass “joke cooking.” (Ouch!)
The judges deliberate, and Malarkey reminds Ludo that he promised if Shawn was at the bottom again, he would have to send him home. Ultimately, Ludo is a man of his word and Shawn and Nigella’s Erika are sent packing.
Christina Colavecchia graduated from York University in Toronto, Canada in May 2012 with a degree in Professional Writing and Humanities. As a Canuck living the U.S. for the first time, she’s loving the Dallas lifestyle and all the city has to offer.