Blais – Pork Belly with Bread and Butter Radishes, Mirin and Cheddar – Casey likes the crunch, Jen thinks no other dish came close to this one.
Angelo – Homemade Ramen with Sweet Glazed Pork Belly and Watermelon – Mike liked the solid flavors, Jen agreed. Tony thought it was one of his favorites.
ChiDale – Butterscotch Miso Scallops with Crispy Long Beans and Spicy Eggplant – Tom thinks the scallops are nicely cooked. Tony, who panned the dish back in Season 4, says that Dale “unf**ked it.” Nice.
DC Tiff – Pan-Seared Halibut, Coconut Curry, Steamed Rice Balls and Pea Tendrils – Carla thinks the fish was overcooked and Antonia thought the broth was one of her favorites, but the dish needed sugar.
Tre – Cured Wild King Salmon, Grapefruit Gelee, Salted Macadamia Cookie – Jen is not a huge fan, and the toast overpowers it.
SF Tiff – Crispy Branzino, Black Olive Papparelle and Spicy Fennel – Spike liked the Mediterranean flavors, but Mike was thrown off by them.
Stephen – Deconstructed Crab Soup Dumplings, Poached Egg and Togarashi – Miami Dale found it swamped and muddled, Jamie was also not impressed. Tony found lots of problems.
Fabio – Handmade Caserecci Crawfish and Crab Stew – Antonia didn’t get fired up and was confused by the paper Fabio served it on. Tom wanted to roll it up and smoke it. I would have loved to see him try. Tony hated the whole dish, and thought it was an inside out animal. HA! Fabio was NOT happy with the criticism.
Elia – Red Snapper Steamed in Ti Leaf with Snapper Jus – Jamie’s fish was raw, and Miami Dale’s was also pretty poor. Elia seemed to mail it in, and was the only chef not to improve on the earlier mistakes.
When the next group departs, the other nine join the judges in a really uncomfortable moment. SF Tiff hilariously called it “the most uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner ever.” And Fabio and Tony start going at it already, as Fabio counted the amount of times (11) that Tony said he hated the dish.
Antonia – Sausage with Cilantro, Pigeon Pea Puree and Roasted Cherry Blossoms – Rich thought it was fresh and tasty. Tre wanted to eat the whole thing. DC Tiff disagreed.
Spike – Pickled Mushrooms, Scallops, Lime Dressing and Hearts of Palm Salad – Tony thought it tasted good but couldn’t taste the scallops. SF Tiff reminded him that it was exactly Spike’s point to hide the frozen scallops. Tony laughed and called Spike “the craftiest MF who’s ever been on the show.”
Jamie – Pan Seared Black Bass, Celery, Green Pepper Corn Sauce, and Herb Salad – Tom said she made it her own (it was originally a Ripert recipe) and it was successful, and Blais agreed.
Mike – Melted Leeks, Carrot Puree and Salt-Crusted Potatoes – Tre thought it was good, and DC Tiff felt they melted in her mouth. Blais found it to have finesse and elegance and was the prettiest dish.
Miami Dale – Curry Poached Lobster Dumplings, Chaterelle, Corn and Bacon – ChiDale didn’t care for the dumpling, and Stephen agreed, but liked the flavors of the dish.
Carla – Grilled Strip Steak, Smashed Potatoes, Tarragon Butter and Red Wine Sauce – SF Tiff liked the flavors a lot, but Angelo’s bite had nerve endings.
Casey – Molasses Glazed Pork Belly, Pickled Peaches, Whipped Crème Fraiche – Gail really thought Casey redeemed the dish.
Marcel – Uni & Caviar & Meyer Lemon Gelee, Fennel Cream and Kalamata Olive Dust – Tre thought it was a bit off, and too much vanilla. Fabio thought it took balls to make the dish.
Jen – Duck, Squash, Foie Gras, Apple Cider Vinaigrette, Micro Arugula – Tony found the only thing wrong with the duck dish…the duck. SF Tiff was waiting for Jen to school them on technique, but there were technical errors. Ouch. Anyone see a Jen/SF Tiff smackdown coming?
Winners – Spike, Jamie, Blais and Angelo. Tom immediately dismissed Richard for the time penalty. His was clearly a top dish, but he can’t win for the violation. Jamie’s fish was beautiful, according to Gail with “super crispy skin” and the celery now worked. Tom asked if she would put this on the menu now (a comment she made in S5), and no, still not. Tom gives Angelo mad props for ditching the watermelon tea which ruined the dish in the DC Finale, and reworking it perfectly. Tony’s complement to Spike was taking the crappy main ingredient out of the equation in a smart way.
Angelo wins the first Elimination Challenge – although I think that without the penalty, Richard would have won. Anyway, Angelo’s ego manages to actually get bigger now.