The Final Four. And as we learned from the preview for next week, there is a Final Two Finale coming soon. That means the three remaining chefs, plus Lorena, because for some reason they think she’s half a master, file in to see Stone for the Quickfire. I’m going to jump right in to the Quickfire because while the main challenge was an interesting visual, I was rather underwhelmed by these two challenges and the whole episode. None of the food really made me go wow – and the only real drama came from whether or not the all-of-a-sudden target of derision Lorena was going to be sent home, or if for the second week in a row, a mid-season favorite would bite the dust.
As it turns out – it was not Lorena. And it was the correct decision from what I could see.
Anyway, Stone has divided up the room with tape a la a classic I Love Lucy episode. He has also brought in a Vegas oddsmaker to judge the cooking competition. Aw hell. This is getting ridiculous. Look, we got lucky with Dita’s surprising culinary skills, but this stunt judging for the Quickfires is just getting embarrassing. Johnny the Greek, or whatever this guy’s name is, is just, well, forgettable. So, they divide into pairs where one has to stay on one end of the kitchen with the pantry, and the other on the side with the burners. Of course, CC and Yeo are randomly put together – as usual – and Kerry and Lorena are forced to work together. Lorena puts it well, or at least as well as she can, “They finish each other’s sentences, it’s like heaven…and I’m running around like a chicken with a head.” I am sure she means head cut off – or else she’s used to some really weird chickens.
The bottom line – Kerry and Lorena don’t work well together. She is making a dish which depends on rice, but was unable to cook it since Kerry had the burners. Just like the incident with Yeo a few episodes ago, Kerry is focused on doing his own dish and did not seem to make much time for anyone else’s. As a result, her rice was undercooked and had to go back on the fire. And then it failed to make the plate. Let’s remember that – one of the two dishes was unfinished.
Johnny Avello – the aforementioned oddsmaker – gets to taste the dishes.
CC – Berber-Style Duck with Dates and Pine Nuts – Johnny says the spice and sauce was good, but he and Stone didn’t like the fat on the top of the duck.
Yeo – Nori and Wasabi Crusted Tuna with Ginger and Scallion Vinaigrette – Stone likes the taste.
Kerry – Shrimp Farfalle with Herbs and Yellow Tomato Beurre Fondue – Stone thinks it is really creamy, and Johnny likes the “tang.” Hmmm…
Lorena – Seared Salmon Filet over Salsa Verde and Arugula Celery Salad – Johnny likes the salmon, but that’s all there is. Stone thinks it was the beginning of a good dish, but it missed the rice.
Remember, one pair had an uncompleted dish. Johnny said they were both magnificent, but the winner of the challenge was Kerry and Lorena. Really. Because, that’s what the oddsmaker said. Glad we have him judging a food competition. When does the grand prize slots winner from New York, New York get a chance to judge?
Elimination Challenge – There is apparently a group of people who do an underground dining, sort of flash mobby kind of thing, where they show up at a secret location and eat a gourmet meal. The Final Four are being assigned the task of cooking for this event – the Diner En Blanc – which is essentially a high end picnic. For 300 people at the Plaza of the Venetian. Oh, and for some reason, they are all dressed in white. It is a much less dangerous mob of hundreds of people dressed only in white than others. Each chef has to make three dishes which serve 75 people. CC calls it a giant art project.
Kerry believes the whole thing is won and lost in the prep time. Perhaps true. Lorena is once again making a Latin American dish. I love Lorena, but she is becoming another Ilan. Granted, Bayless was similar with Mexican food and I didn’t bitch. I guess it’s a fine line with the one note – and she is skirting way too close to Ilan rather than Bayless. She is also making a chicken salad – ask Grayson about chicken salad and Top Chef. CC looks at all of the individual bags for the picnic and thinks he’s making his kids’ lunch. CC must have a lot of kids.
Judging the competition are Bert, Ruth, Lam, and the two partners of the event, Aymerie Pasquier and Sandy Safi. Lorena leads off.
Lorena 1 – Huancaina Style Potato Salad with Aji Amarillo and Cilantro – Lam thinks the potato is smooth. Some guest thinks it is “stupid good.”
Lorena 2 – Jerk Chicken Salad with Mango and Caramelized Pine Nuts. – Ruth says it is too sweet, but Lam likes the mango part of it.
Lorena 2 – Jalapeno Chocolate Mousse with Berries and Whipped Cream – Aym thinks it was too sweet, but he’s French, what does he know about desserts? One guest wants to scrape it with their finger.