Quickfire – Make a kick ass fruit platter. This was won by Stephen back in Season One. Gail and Food Photographer Stephen Hamilton will do the judging. As a High Stakes Quickfire, the winner moves on to the next round.
Jody – Fig and Walnut Tart with Pomegranate Syrup and Zabaglione (a type of egg sauce). She had many issues with her crust, which was frozen, and had to be heated. In addition, the sauce … pretty complicated. Stephen thought it was beautiful, Gail noticed the crust issue. Stephen thought it added another layer. Jody rightfully said, “Duh.”
Debbie – Pecan Tempura Stuffed Fig with Persimmon and Tangerine. Stephen didn’t care for the taste and managed to confuse walnuts and pecans. Gail liked the technique.
Suser – East Meets West Fruit Plate with Blackberry “ravioli” and Thai Basil. His dish looks awesome and he is super confident going into it. Gail thought it was too busy, and Stephen found no focus and called it a three-ring circus. Suser – who is totally a ninja who likes cooking – is really, really pissed.
Maria – Northwest Trio – Apple Soup, Grilled Fig, and Berries with Berry Mousse. I think this looks delicious, I must say. Stephen likes the look of the fig, and Gail finds it a bit simple.
Rick – Herb and Fruit Shooters. He adds a Versace cup (where the heck did he get that?) and a couple of inspirational cards. I am trying not to hold Rick’s somewhat aggressive faith against him – reading between the lines, it seems to have gotten his act together and off drugs – but my atheist reflexes started kicking in. Gail found it to be pretty, and Stephen found it playful.
I totally thought Rick was going to win, but Jody pulled the only four star rating, with Debbie and Rick a half-star behind. Maria and Suser trailed. Suser’s reaction to his last place finish – “WTF is that?” Maria tells her she is buying drinks that night.
Elimination Challenge – Modernize a Family Dinner for the cast and crew of Modern Family. Rarely have I been more jealous of reality show contestants (the Lost challenge last year on Top Chef, the Padma/Nigella breakfast in bed challenge, and the dude that got flashed by Heidi Klum this year come to mind), but I would love to hang with this cast. Not just because of the goddesses Julie Bowen and Sophia Vergera, but because all of them – child and adult – look like they are hysterical in real life too.
Maria – Sockeye Salmon, Paprika Potatoes, Almond Slivers and Almond Milk. Her version of Salmon Almandine is given a delicious verdict from Julie. Jay loved the almond milk, and Gail found it to be quite modern. Gael found a whole lotta flavor.
Suser – Roast Chicken and Farce Curry, Polenta and Grits, Tomato Jam and Chili Mint Chutney. Kudos to him for making a veggie dish with his meat dish. Julie gives a big OMG. Sophia finds it fantastic. Gael thinks the chutney is a bit spicy for families. The crew found it a bit exotic. Jay thought the busy plate could have been a “massive cacophony” but it was not. Gail questioned the spiciness with children involved. Won’t somebody please think of the children?!?! Gail also thought it was simple looking, but clearly was a complex dish.
Rick – Truffled White Beans with Escarole and Grilled Sausage. Rico Rodriguez (the awesome kid, Manny) is carrying two full plates! Exec Producer Steven Levitan digs it. Eric Stonestreet (future Emmy-winner Cameron) says it reminded him of things from his childhood. Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Cam’s partner Mitchell) is also a fan. Ty Burrell (the amazing Phil Dunphy) doesn’t think it is very modern. The judges think the truffle flavor was a bit lost; Rick did that on purpose. Jay thought it was strong, but Gail wanted more truffles.
Jody – Braised Chicken Thighs with mushrooms, semolina gnocchi and herb salad. Jesse says he is a sucker for cheesy things. He should read my commentaries. Ty thinks it is really rich. Julie says she would make this at home if she could actually cook. Love. Her. Sophia can only eat a small amount because it is so rich. The crew wants seconds. Jody over-salted it and knew it. Gail liked the green splash, and Jay found it to be greasy.
Debbie – Glazed Pork Loin with Apple Butter and winter squash slaw. Her take on pork chops and applesauce. Julie finds it too sweet. Jesse can’t even taste the pork. Ariel Winter (who plays the under-appreciated Alex Dunphy) likes it, but Sophia thinks it was undercooked. Gail though it was too sweet, but a nice twist on a classic. Gael couldn’t cut her pork. Gail said the components of the dish were exquisite, but combined, they were cloying. Nice SAT word usage, Gail!
Jody was already in thanks to the High Stakes Quickfire, but got to compete in the other challenge for the prize money for her charity. She got 3 ½ stars from each judge and four from the show. She got a total of 14 ½ stars and would have advanced even without the Quickfire twist.
Debbie got three stars from Gail, but only 2 ½ from the rest for a total of 10 ½ stars. Maria got three and a half from everyone other than Jay, who gave three stars, for a total of 13 ½ and the elimination of Debbie. Rick got four from Gail, but only three stars from the rest for 13 total stars. He is out. Suser got a perfect five star score from the judges, and fell just a half-star short of a total perfect score with the diners. His 19 ½ stars is the most ever in two seasons and – despite the spoiling from the promo – he gets the final slot.