I don’t know. Was is just me, or was the Quickfire Challenge something like: here’s some ingredients. Go ahead and make something? Oh yeah, and demonstrate technique. Well, Padma, what sort of technique? Knife skills, flavor, product preparation, presentation? And nice of Daniel Boulud to suggest meditating for a few moments before diving into cooking. Has he never watched the show? Half the fun is watching the participants (I’m not going to call them cheftestants. Say what you will, but these people do work hard and have put in a lot of time in front of the stove) scatter when P. says, “Your time starts now!” Another victory for the Rooster, but, hey, didn’t he work for Daniel before? Should we worry about favoritism?
The movie tie-in to the Elimination Challenge was interesting, but what about these movies they chose. A Christmas Story? Good Morning, Vietnam? I was amazed Kiwi and Ryan pulled off the Christmas Story, but what were Spike and Manuel going to re-imagine? K-rations? Overall, most of the gang really pulled off the challenge and elicited a lot of positive feedback from the judges. They loved the Willy Wonka-inspired salmon which started off the meal, the meat course Stephanie and Lisa put together (Stephanie couldn’t possibly win another challenge, could she?) and sparred a bit when the guest celebrity, a critic himself, objected to their harsh judgement. I think Richard Roeper reminded the audience sometimes taste can overcome technique even in the face of Ted’s snarky comeback.
In the end the winners were obvious, and the ultimate losing team, too. But I want to give a little love to Zoi and Antonia even though they found themselves on the chopping block. Their big crime seemed to be setting an expectation about there dish when they presented it, which didn’t match up to the diners’ experience. Tom even said it tasted good, but he kept coming back to it not having the passion and bold colors Zoi and Antonia said it embodied. Their dish was ordinary, not a disaster, but you need at least two teams on the chopping block or else there’s no suspense.
In the end Manuel packs up his knives because he wasn’t assertive enough, which is like blaming the passenger in a car accident when the driver veers into oncoming traffic. The Rooster picks up another win (I bet he’d like Boulud to judge every episode), which must have cheesed off Dale just a little. And there’s my dark horse Andrew hanging around with the winners looking like he may be the villian who makes it to the final Judges Table.