Round Two – Arctic Char. Leah struggles mightily with this one and gives up. Jamie and Carla are laughing at her quite a bit. Ripert judges and asks her what happened. She says she was nervious and kind of gave up. While Hosea gives a voice over, we see Ripert explaining to Leah what she did wrong. I would actually like to know what he said. Hosea thinks that Leah didn’t make a good first impression with Ripert. Finn seems to have left some flesh on the bone and some bone in the flesh. Ripert tells Fabio that he must have cut the head off in a rush – the French know about cutting off heads – as he left about 3-4 ounces of meat on the head. That’s basically a lost steak. Hosea’s fillet was done perfectly.
Leah is clearly out and Fabio joins her. Hosea says that one Euro is down, one to go.
Round Three – Fresh Water Eel. Finn ooohs as he sees the eels. We learn something about eels – even though they are dead, they still move around because they have a resilient nervous system. Hosea knows he is in trouble – “there are no eels in Colorado. “ He rightly observes that Finn has a “glint in his eye.” Finn confirms this – “this is what we do in Germany. Skinning an eel is like riding a bike, you just have to know how it works. Hosea will probably have a little bit of a hard time.”
This part is somewhat gross. The two men start pulling the skin off the eels with their bare hands. Finn NAILS THE HEAD TO A BOARD! This keeps it in place and lets him strip off the skin. Hosea copies him and is embarrassed that he didn’t think about it. Leah and Jamie continually are shown flinching. Finn has cut perfect eel filets and cleaned up his station. Ripert says that he looks like he has done this before. He also compliments his cleanliness. Hosea says that he clearly has never touched an eel before. Ripert thinks he did ok, but “butchered the flesh a bit,” and was rather messy and struggled with the skinning.
Finn clearly wins the challenge and thanks Ripert in French. I have said this before – I am embarrassed and ashamed that people in Europe and elsewhere speak multiple languages, while our country seems to look down on the study of foreign languages. Regardless, Finn gets an advantage in the elemination challenge. He jokes that he didn’t do too well with the last one. Hosea laments that this is another win for Finn and the greatness of Europe.
Ripert invites the chefs to lunch in his restaurant. I am sure it is just a leisurely lunch, right? Top Chef always lets their contestants have fun without surprises.
Commercials – We get the extra scene early. They are having their own quickfire and Finn jokes that his is yummy. Leah wants to know if she should eat the peel. Finn laughs. Hosea wanted a doilie there for presentation and starts to lick the cookies off the bottom of the bowl.
The apartment. Fabio wakes up and jokes that it is “such a pleasure to wake up next to you (Hosea) instead of my wife.” Hosea is excited for the private feast that certainly in no way will ever be connected to the challenge. Just ask the Season Two finalists about their Hawaiian luau. Or the Season Three folks who were going clubbing. Shall I go on? Finn can’t find his socks – I hear you, man.
Now the giant Ripert commercial begins. I will not be transcribing too much of the Eric Ripert Is Cheftastic dialogue. I will just call it ERIC whenever it happens. Hosea ERICs. Fabio likes the style of ERIC. Finn ERICs some more.
The food comes out and the waiter goes into great detail on each one – I wonder if there is a reason for that:
2 – Baked Mahi-Mahi with Miso and Matsutake Mushroom Sauce. Fabio loves mushrooms and ERICs about how he likes things simple. In his restaurant, they don’t do any “foo foo and components” on the plate.
3 – Baked Lobster with Asparagus and Hollandaise Sauce. – Mmmmm. That sounds really good. Oh know, I just ERICed. Leah ERICs so much that she wants to give him a “big ol’ hug.” Stop touching other men, Leah! Have you learned nothing? Jamie is the anti-ERIC as she says she is bored with this kind of food.
4 – Oil Poached Escolar with Potato Crisps in a Red Wine Bearnaise Sauce. – Don’t get saucy with me, Bearnaise. Heh – I haven’t made a Mel Brooks joke in a while. Carla ERICs. She bonds with Ripert about being from DC – his first job was here in the District. Carla was a theater major in college – shocked? – but now wants to grow up to be a Ripert dish. The ultimate ERIC.
5 – Za’atar Spiced Monkfish with Black Garlic. I had to look it up – it is a Middle Eastern spice used in meats and vegetables. Finn thinks it tastes a bit like licorice.
6 – Sauteed Black Bass and Braised Celery with Serrano Ham Peppercorn Sauce. Hosea almost has an orgasm at the table. Jamie balances him out by saying that she didn’t care for it – “the sauce was a little weird” and she is not a “fan of celery.” She doesn’t care for braising celery at all.