It’s finale time! The final four contestants – home cook Sarah, personal chef Khristianne, chef consultant Diane and culinary instructor Gregg – face off in the stadium for guest judge (and Khristianne’s idol) Jose Andres.
Because it’s the finale, things are being done a little different this time. Each chef must prepare three spoons with three mentor-chosen ingredients: mozzarella cheese, spot prawns and Iberico ham. The spoons are presented to guest judge Andres in a blind taste test and he must choose which chef presented the worst dish and, ultimately, who will be sent home.
Bourdain coaches Diane and says it’s a mistake to “out-molecular the guy” like Khris and Malarkey are planning. “We’re hitting him right in his happy zone,” says Bourdain of Diane’s menu of spot prawns with basil puree, Iberico ham with quail egg and mozzarella with mint and walnut accents.
Khris plans a menu of mozzarella with balsamic grapes, Iberico ham with caviar and spot prawns with a chimichurri. She uses her skills in molecular gastronomy to create an olive oil powder to accompany her dishes and Malarkey couldn’t be prouder. “I idolize [Andres]” Khris says.1 Comment »
It’s the semi-finals and the theme is “seduction.” Get ready for another Tuesday night filled with lewd humor, bizarre gestures and some very questionable phrases from Tony Bourdain.
The remaining seven contestants are given one hour to create a dish out of five seductive ingredients chosen by the mentors. TV personality/chef Ingrid Hoffman is the guest judge and she is “ready to be seduced.”
Lauren, the only remaining chef on Nigella’s team, explains that she’s not exactly the “queen of seduction.” She’s a virgin, and feels the need to share it with the country. Nigella offers Lauren ingredients like figs, pancetta, sea salt and Sambuca and, while Lauren rambles on about her vow of purity, the duo drops Sambuca-flavored batter into oil and calls it “Italian kisses.”
Bourdain and his lone chef Diane decide on prawns with truffles. The sexy part: the prawns are still alive! “Now that’s sexy,” says Bourdain and he explains that Diane deserves to be in the finals and it would mean a lot for her to go all the way.
I should warn you: this week’s episode is absolutely disgusting. The judges warn their chefs they may be entering into “unfamiliar territories,” and that was putting it politely.
This week’s theme: offal (also known as organ meats.) Yum.
Guest judges Frederic Morin and Dave McMillan of Montreal’s Joe Beef enter The Taste with a very pink, very dead pig on a stick. The cheftestants are told they must create a spoon made with some sort of offal for the team taste test. The winner gets immunity and the help of the guest judges on their team for the looming solo test.
Malarkey provides his team with items like yellowtail collar and lamb belly, while Bourdain gives his some tripe and a very curly pigtail. Ludo, being French and all, chases the other judges around the arena with pig blood all over his hands and hands Gregg a pig head.
Bourdain helps Diane jigsaw some sort of bone in half and she adds collard greens and pig skin to her dish. Our Girl Uno uses tripe, pigtail and beef tongue in a soup and warns, “Elimination could be on the horizon for me.”
The 12 remaining chefs are told that this week’s theme is “back to basics with the humble, yet much-loved sandwich.” Teams are allowed to serve their sandwiches on small plates instead of spoons (thank God) and must prepare one of the following classics: a club, PB&J, or a salad – tuna, chicken, or egg.
Nigella’s two-person team lacks confidence, she explains, but Huda is adamant that the duo is small, but powerful. Lauren prepares “my big fat chicken sandwich” with olive tapenade and Huda gets creative with fried chicken with tarragon and garlic mayo.
Over at Malarkey’s station, Khristianne explains, “If you can’t make a sandwich, what the hell kinda chef are you.” She assembles a chicken curry treat with apricot jam. Malarkey takes time out of his busy schedule of yelling/chirping at Gregg to help his boy Jeff with his roasted pork and arugula pesto dish.2 Comments »
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.
After two audition episodes, the four mentors (Ludo Lefebvre, Nigella Lawson, Anthony Bourdain and Brian Malarkey) are finally ready to compete after choosing four lucky chefs to be a part of their teams. The mentors are ready to lead them, guns a’ blazin’.
The show’s first competition, a group competition, pits each cheftestant against each other, but in a group. It’s confusing. Gabrielle Hamilton (of Blood, Bones, and Butter fame) is supposed to judge an individual spoon (a.k.a. dish) made by an individual chef that is chosen by the members of their team. What really happens is this: the “mentors” (and believe me, this term is used loosely) yell, scream, kick, and push their chefs into choosing the dish the mentor believes is the best. The result: chefs that don’t like/respect their teams’ decision.
Here’s an example. As time ticks down, Ludo absolutely panics and shoves Sarah’s mac n’ cheese to the front of the table for the half-naked waitress to deliver to Gabrielle. As Gabrielle tastes and critiques the teams’ spoon, Ludo is upset at his choice and wishes he had gone with Shawn. Gabrielle hates the mac ‘n’ cheese.
It pays to be kind, though. Nigella, who decided to lead her team instead of bully them, wins. Her chef, Lauren, creates a delicious chicken stew that wowed Gabrielle, mostly due to Nigella’s help with the deep-fried chicken skin garnish. Lauren (the show’s youngest contestant) wins immunity and the help of Gabrielle on her team for the looming individual challenge.3 Comments »