In the house before heading over to the TC kitchen, it looks like most people are avoiding Alex. Interesting - a lot of confessional chatter from Kevin and Alex. And Alex is realizing that he's not getting along with anyone in the competition (DUH!) but he doesn't care.
The title of this episode is "Covert Cuisine"...how apropos with a "mystery box" Quickfire Challenge and later serving the EC challenge at the CIA headquarters with Director Leon Panetta and Wylie Dufresne doing the judging. (Added halfway through the episode - AND Eric Ripert is there as a judge! Woot!)
For the Quickfire, Wylie's there to guest judge. They start out with one mystery box, but during the course of the challenge, another Mystery Box will show up at each station, and they MUST utilize all of the ingredients in the Mystery Box. And it's a high-stakes QF - $10K to the winner.
Fish (assorted choices in the various Mystery Boxes), fava beans, and a blank can, which is hominy. Angelo seems completely ferklempt with the ingredients. The next Mystery Box arrives, and there is squid and black garlic. And then a 3rd Mystery Box comes in! It's ramps and passion fruit...Ed says "What the f***? I don't want that!" LOL
And holy crow - Mystery Box #4! They were jicama - Amanda said "I julienned it and threw it in there!" (Thanks for the correction, lisavf!)
They look EXHAUSTED...all of them - Amanda, Angelo, Ed most of all. Having all of those additional ingredients added all within 20 minutes of starting out with the first box's ingredients had to be tough.
Least successful - Alex and Amanda
Most successful - Tiffany and Kevin
The winner? Tiffany - YAY!!! :-)
On to the Elimination Challenge, they must transform famous dishes into different culinary fare. Padma has to go all super-secret agent man talk on the cheftestants. Oy.
They draw knives, and they have to re-imagine the following dishes:
Tiffany - Gyro
Amanda - French Onion Soup
Angelo - Beef Wellington
Alex - Veal Parmesan
Kelly - Kung Pao Shrimp
Ed - Chicken Cordon Bleu
Kevin - Cobb Salad
The winner gets a trip for two to Paris. And Angelo bought puff pastry at Whole Foods instead of making his own - rut-roh!
How amazing would it be walking into the CIA Headquarters! They have 1-1/2 hours to cook; Ed notices that the corner of the kitchen there are speakers and cameras. (I wouldn't be surprised if you're watched in the bathrooms as well!)
So is Kelly making regular Kung Pao Shrimp when she's supposed to change it up? And whoops - Kelly was using her 8000 feet above sea level usual manner of timing things and cooked her rice in the rice cooker for 1 hour. Rut-roh! Tiffany helped her out and said make more the old school way!
And Tiffany helps Kelly a LOT to get her dish plated - good for her! She wants to compete on an even playing field.
And ROFL! Amanda said "I don't think I disguised my dish enough - even Helen Keller would be able to tell what it was!"
Leon Panetta said they would have captured this guy immediately in reference to Angelo's Beef Wellington. :-) Not a good disguise.
And Wylie said to Panetta "I know what it is" in reference to Kelly's Kung Pao Shrimp and then said "For once, I know something you don't!" :-)
Tiffany's up - she has the Gyro. And Panetta figures it out. No real comment on how it tastes. Kevin's Cobb Salad is figured out as well, but Chef Colicchio really liked it.
And then out of the blue, Director Panetta is called out of the dinner when an employee hands him a folded note.
Amanda's and Alex's dishes are up next. And Amanda is talking about liking Alex; that he's like the wise old Jewish uncle she never had, and she doesn't want to see him fail.
Amanda's French Onion Soup disguise was a good idea, but didn't get good reviews on flavor. Alex's Veal Parmesan was universally panned as very poor on execution. (Maybe he goes home?)
Ed's Chicken Cordon Bleu is the last up - Chef Ripert figured it out immediately, but it seems like the flavor was well received.
How much is the disguising of the dish going to weight the decision as to who wins/who goes home? This isn't going to be an easy one to figure out - but in the preview before commercial, it looks like Angelo is in the bottom group.
LOL!! In the in-betweener, they're talking in the house about what Leon Panetta knows - Alex says "he knows who killed JFK" and Kelly said "He knows where the aliens are living!" Angelo responds to her saying "There's one in L.A." and then shoots a thumb at Alex sitting next to him. :-)
Now they're in the Stew Room...Padma asks to see Tiffany, Kelly, and Ed. Kelly REALLY owes a lot to Tiffany helping her with the rice, especially after Chef Ripert complimented her on it.
Tiffany and Ed both get very good reviews as well. Wylie says the winner is TIFFANY! Another double-win for her! She gets to visit the Hilton Arc d'Triomphe in Paris.
The bottom group is Alex, Amanda, and Angelo - the Three A's. Amanda knew her dish wasn't disguised as much as it could have been. But the marmalade was too sweet in her dish as well.
Angelo gets called out on the frozen pastry, and knew he hadn't disguised it well either. Ouch - Chef Ripert said "You ended up with something sad."
Alex and his big pocket spoon get called out on using sous-vide by Wylie when he hadn't ever used it before, and Chef Colicchio said "I've had better frozen tortellini" in reference to his main dish.
OK - Judge's Table - all three aren't doing well on either execution, disguise, or flavor. This is a toss-up - but I think it's going to be Alex and his beyond-tough Veal Parmesan or Amanda and her dishwatery French Onion Soup.
AND it's Alex! Finally. Will be interesting to see how he's greeted in the Stew Room - not well. Kevin looks like he doesn't get up, and only Kelly is shown hugging him.
LOL! They're serving food at National's Stadium next week....and THERE might be a great tee-shirt line from Rick Moonen: "Raw fish at a stadium - that takes real (base) balls." :-)