Here we are at the point of this show where it more closely resembles the original Top Chef. It was here that Season One got interesting, and this is no exception. The challenges were two of my favorites, the eight Masters are actually fairly interesting, and, however, the return of Bert to the Judges Panel once again drags down the quality of that portion of the show. Seriously, Bert is the problem. Attention show – no more Bert.
To refresh your memory, the Final Eight are – Tony and Susan, Marcus and Carmen, Jonathan and Rick, and Jody and Suser. For the record, I am totally rooting for Obi-Wan Jonathan and Ninja Suser. Those guys are awesome.
The eight are divided into two teams for the Quickfire and I instantly get excited – it is going to be one of my two favorite Final Eight Quickfires. Either the skills relay race or the blindfolded relay cook-off. It turns out to be the blindfold challenge from last season. Chefs go head to head in four legs in making a meal. While the first chef goes for 10 minutes, the next three wait silently and blindfolded. The next chef jumps in and must interpret what the previous one was doing, and so on, until the anchor chef must complete the meal and plate it. Jay is the judge and the winner gets an advantage, along with $10,000 to split among their charities. Awesome challenge.
The teams divide into Tony, Carmen, Suser and Marcus vs. Susan, Jody, Rick and Jonathan.
Leg 1 – Tony takes the set-up approach and brings out the basic ingredients for a fish stew, and provides his own flair with prosciutto. Susan begins making her own fish stew, based on Rick’s talents for seafood.
Leg 2 – Carmen plugs along in making the fish, while Jody proves herself to be a fan of the show by alluding to Jenn’s strategy last season of making the sauce during her leg. Jody follows that lead.
Leg 3 – Ninja Suser finds it lacking flavor so he spices things up. Rick is distracted by the messy work station, but eventually works on the seafood and whips it into a bouillabaisse.
Anchor Leg – Marcus finishes up theirs, dividing the dish into two components. Meanwhile, in the best part of the show, Obi-Wan Jonathan calmly surveys and tastes. Rick describes and mimics Obi-Wan’s process, and says he was just waiting for Obi-Wan’s facial expression. To describe it, Obi-Wan has a big grin that Rick mimics that is the facial expression version of the proverbial light bulb going off. The show awesomely provides us with a “ding” and a freeze-frame of that face. Obi-Wan adds some butter to it to “mellow the acid.”
Marcus team – Pan Seared Sea Bass and Prosciutto and Truffle-Spiced Shellfish Broth. Jay thinks the fish is well-cooked, calls the prosciutto “grey” and wonders why it was two dishes.
Obi-Wan’s team – Mussel and Scallop Stew with Orange and Fennel. He thinks the scallop is better cooked and the mussels are perfect. He finds bitterness to the sauce.
Jay gives four stars to Marcus’ team and four and a half to Obi-Wan’s, giving them the advantage in the Elimination Challenge, better known as Wedding Wars! Cool. Remember Season 4’s Wedding Wars? The Final Eight almost all collapsed from exhaustion, Steph made an amazing cake and Dale went on one of his classic cursing rages. Here, they cater to 150 guests and must make a cake. The bride and (not The Bride), Elizabeth, tells them she likes French and Asian food. The groom, Aaron, likes steak and potatoes. Based on that, Obi-Wan’s team picks the bride for their dishes. I think this was perfect strategy, as it kept French from Marcus and Asian from Ninja.
The bride expanded on her tastes, including an aversion to shellfish and lamb. Rick changed up the types of fish to make, and Jody boldly declared she would make a lamb that the bride would like. Also, when asked about dessert, she immediately requested Bananas Foster, which of course, is not a cake.
The groom sited being Kosher as a reason for no pork, immediately spooking Carmen and her Puerto Rican strengths. He also asked for a carrot cake, much to the chefs’ surprise.