OK, we're back with 12 cheftestants. Stew Room shows the cheftestants angsting about the previous EC and knowing that no one got a win.
The next morning, they show up in the TC Kitchen, and Padma is there with an older woman. Tesar wonders if she's Martha Stewart's mother. Nope, it's Marilyn Hagerty, the food reviewer for the Grand Forks Herald for over 30 years. Marilyn explained that she was the one who wrote a column about Olive Garden, and suddenly she was told she was "viral", which she didn't even know what that meant.
She got a chance to go to NYC and try some fine dining. Padma notes that Tony Bourdain is collaborating with her for a book deal using some of her writings. "It's just been a hoot, the whole thing." What a sweet woman!
For the Quickfire, Padma notes the holidays are here. Marilyn says she's of Danish descent, and she likes foods that are sweet and savory. One of her heritage's dishes is ebelskiver. The challenge is to make a sweet and savory dish based on the cheftestant's family heritage. Padma and Marilyn do a little pitch for Truvia Baking Blend with Sugar, which they'll use for the sweet part of the dish.
They draw knives - they all have the words "off limits" on them, except Lizzie pulls a blank knife. Padma tells them they can put their knife rolls away, because the ONLY knife available for ALL of them is the one that Lizzie is holding. Twelve cheftestants and one knife. This ought to be interesting.
They have 30 minutes to prep their dish, and the winner will be safe from elimination. They rush into the pantry to gather their ingredients, but Josh uses the knife first. Others use a grater, a food slicer, a spatula, a pizza cutter, scissors and a few other items as their working utensils.
They continue to cook - everyone is asking what each other is making; the camera continues to :::::WHOOSH! ZOOM!:::: in on various dishes, on the GE Monogram ovens, on the blender, etc. GEEZ LOUISE! Stop with the zooming camera shots!
Josh - Johnnycake with Bacon, Cheddar, Chili Compound Butter & Sous Vide Egg - Marilyn likes the bit of sweetness in the johnnycake.
Danyele - Bread Pudding with Ham, Raisins, & Pecans - Marilyn says "leftover ham never tasted this good!"
Lizzie - Bobotie with Ground Lamb, Egg Custard & Roasted Apricots - no comment about the dish, but Padma asked her about having the knife first. Lizzie said she tried to do all that she needed to do at one time so others could use the knife.
Sheldon - Banana Lumpia with Peanut Butter Mousse, Coconut & Pineapple - Padma said he created something sophisticated.
Micah - Pineapple & Pork Tamale with Charred Tomato & Tomatillo Salsa - Micah said in the confessional that when he was making the tamale, he wondered if Marilyn would even know what it was. Sure enough, she said she's not seen it before: "You've created something...rather unusual!" She liked the plantain and seemed to like the dish.
Bart - Waffles with Celery Three Ways, Apple Purée, Chicken & Prosciutto - Padma laughs and asked if chicken and waffles are traditional Belgian food. He says he knows people who do the dish with turkey.
Brooke - Apple Crostata with Cheddar Cheese, Candied Pine Nuts & Apple Salad - Padma says it's a very "homey dish", and Brooke said it never feels like a compliment when you're in a room of chefs and you've made the "homey dish." (However - that *could* be an extra point in her favor with Marilyn!)
Stefan - Smoked Salmon Tartare, Potato Latkes with Sour Cream & Chives - Stefan said he's half German, half Finnish, and married twice to the same Jewish woman. Marilyn says "Oh really? Well, that didn't show a lot of imagination!" and cracks Padma up. And me. :-D Marilyn tells him he did very well with his dish.
Josie - Tamale with Habanero Masa, Mangos & Papaya - Marilyn said it was a nice combination of flavors.
John - Bondino of Parmesan-Reggiano, Figs, & Apricots in Port Wine & Truvia Caramel - Marilyn said she's all for the port wine in the dish!
Eliza - Hush Puppies Two Ways: Shrimp & Sweet Potato / Sausage & Corn - Marilyn seemed to like the taste.
Marilyn said it was an amazing display of creativity and put her in the mood for the holidays.
Bottom group - Bart, Micah (she called his tamale a taco!)
Top group - Josh, Stefan, and Brooke
And the Quickfire Winner's dish is one that gave her a feeling of going home for the holidays - Brooke (TOLD YA, Brooke!)
For the Elimination Challenge, Padma tells them that a local family is throwing a big welcome home party, and the cheftestants get to cook for the guests of honor. Padma introduces Anna Faris and Chris Pratt. The party will be held at Chihuly Garden and Glass. They will each be responsible for serving one dish that satisfies Chris and Anna's cravings. The winner will get a Toyota Prius C.
They have 5 minutes to talk with Anna and Chris to find out what they like to eat. Wild salmon, Dungeness crab; Stefan asks their heritage (German & Norwegian), and they say they like big game and are adventurous eaters.
They check out the Prius and head back to the suite at Olive 8. Brooke shows a little plastic lizard given to her by her son. Josh brings up a small block of wood with Stefan's face drawn on it on one side, Josh's face on the other - they share it every day. Josh said he didn't like Stefan after watching him on his season - Stefan was douchy, and kind of an asshole. But they've become good friends. Like minds and all that, I guess. :-)
It's the next day - they're beginning prep of their dishes in the TC Kitchen. Stefan yells out "TWELVE MINUTES!" when there's more than 3 hours on the clock. Goober. Josh is trying to redeem himself with another pork dish. Danyele's making boar chops, and they're *very* thin, Kristen's making a filled pasta, John's making a chowder (noting that he worked for Rick Moonen, who taught him to make the best chowder).
They're done in the TC Kitchen, packed up and head over to Chihuly Garden and Glass. This place is gorgeous with the blown glass-decorated garden! They have 30 minutes until service, so they're scrambling to finish their plating.
Judges arrive - Padma, Tom, & Gail, along iwth the guest judge, Rick Moonen. John's freaking out...as he said, there's no room for error. Moonen will have to tell the blunt, hard truth.
Bart - Roasted Loin of Elk with Cherry Beer Sauce & Mushroom Couscous - Padma said the elk was beautifully done, Rich Moonen said other than a touch of salt, it was tender, delicious and well done. Chris Pratt said if the dish wasn't a frontrunner, this would be the best night of his life. (Still not sure what he meant by that, even after watching it 5 times. I *think* that's what he said!)
Brooke - Lamb-stuffed Squid on Black Rice with Coconut Milk - Chris was amazed at the flavor; Tom said Brooke did an amazing job and that it was a ballsy dish. Rick said she could have laid back, but the textures, the flavors were great. Tom said that the time to not lay back is *when* you have immunity.
Sheldon - Braised Okinawan Pork Belly with Seared Scallop and Rice Congee - Anna likes the sweetness of the pork belly and the savoryness of the sushi rice; every bite was a surprise.
Stefan - German Gulasch with Marjoram Bread Dumplings & Sour Cream - Anna said that the Gulasch is something that a pregnant woman craves - very rich and delicious.
Kristen - Délice de Bourgogne Tortelloni - Gail was doubtful of the apricots, but then she realized that dried apricots and a rich triple creme cheese go really well together. Rick said it was a perfect bite.
Micah - Braised Pork Ribs with Celery Root Purée, Grilled Apples & Celery Leaf Salad with Lemon-Mustard Vinaigrette - Immediately, Tom said there was too much cream in the celery root purée. (Earlier, Micah was shown adding more cream to the purée trying to make it creamy enough - did he go overboard?). Rick said dishes they'd tried up until then all had many components, but they all worked. In Micah's dish, that isn't the case. Some of the components didn't work.
Lizzie - Crusted King Salmon with Horseradish Cream and a Radish & Beet Salad - Gail wanted more of a sear on the salmon with some caramelization on it so it didn't taste like a filet of fish; and Anna wished it was better seasoned.
Eliza - Elk Ribeye with Elk Sausage Polenta, Spiced Carrots and Huckleberry Port Sauce - Tom said the meat isn't bad but the rest of the dish he just doesn't get. It was very bland. "What happened here?" Gail said that the huckleberry sauce added a hit of acid that the dish needed. Chris said "You guys took a hit of acid too? This Chihuly glass is freakin' me out now, man!" :-)
Danyele - Pan-Roasted Wild Boar, Hoppin' John & Tomato-Bacon Marmalade - Tom noticed how thinly it was sliced and that you can't chew it; it loses all the texture. Gail said it was bland and cooked unevenly. Chris did seem to like the tomato-bacon jam.
Josh - Roasted Pork Shoulder & Grilled Corn Purée with Succotash & Fennel Apple Salad - Gail said it was insane what Josh put on the plate (the amount of pork shoulder). Both Anna and Tom said it needed seasoning. Chris's brother comes up to their table, and Chris asks how it compared to squirrel. His brother replies "infinitely better than rodent." The two of them once ate raw squirrel heart as a blood brother thing. Chris said "To get the soul, you've got to eat the heart. I saw it in a movie once." Tom tosses out "Dances With Squirrel?" and cracks everyone up.
Josie - Malbec Braised Short Ribs, Crispy Pork Belly, Polenta with Cippolini Onions & Figs - Rick said her dish *sounded* great, but there wasn't enough contrast.
John - Seafood Chowder with Cockles, Manila Clams, Crab, Mussels & Sockeye Salmon - Anna said his chowder was everything she craves when she's not in Seattle. Rick said it's a "hug from the ocean, and it's money." Padma said everything in the dish was cooked perfectly and the salmon skin was divine.
Tom notes that the cheftestants did a great job - clearly head and shoulders above the previous challenge. They note that the least successful dishes are Micah's pork ribs, Eliza's elk, Josie's short ribs, Josh's pork shoulder, and Danyele's boar dish.
The cheftestants are back in the Stew Room, saying they had a lot of motivation not to humiliate themselves after Marché. Padma walks in and asks to see John, Kristen, Brooke and Sheldon. And yup - they ARE the top dishes.
Tom told them they should be proud of themselves after the last challenge, that they cooked something to show who they really are with great technique. Padma asks Brooke if she felt she was taking a risk because she had immunity, and Brooke said she did, because she'd been afraid in the past of being yelled at. Tom said if Brooke continues to cook that way, no one would yell at her. Rick told John that the respect and integrity of each ingredient shone in his chowder. Rick called it celebratory soul food. John was pleased to hear that from someone he worked for.
Gail asked Kristen about dried apricots, and asked if she had made it before. Kristen said she knew cheese and dried fruit go together. Tom told her it showed she put thought into her dish and it made perfect sense when you hear it. Padma said Sheldon's dish told her so much about him. Rick said Sheldon's dish was a melting pot of ingredients.
Rick Moonen announces the winner - this chef showed more creativity, a balance of flavors - and they all unanimously agreed the winner is Brooke - and she gets the Toyota Prius! Padma asks them to send in Eliza, Danyele, Josh and Micah. They are the bottom group.
More ::::Whooshing ZOOM!:::: camera pans on the cheftestants and judges. Bleah on those camera moves! Micah's celery root purée was grainy. Padma says to Josh "You keep saying you're known for pork, man!" and he replies "Yeah, I think I'm going to stop cooking it!" Padma throws back at him "No, just stop saying it!" The ratio of pork to everything else on the dish was out whack. Rick tells him it also could have used more seasoning. Eliza's elk was unevenly cooked and too thinly sliced and the carrots were not cooked enough and dried out with little flavor. Danyele's relish was great, the hoppin' john was ok, but the boar was unevenly cooked. Gail noted that her fear is holding her back, and Danyele said the competition is holding her back when she knows she can do what she's making in her own kitchen. Tom tells her to make her own food and stop psyching herself out by what everyone else is making.
A repeat of the :::Whooshing:::: camera pans before Padma tells Eliza to PYKAG.
Previews have Stephanie Izard as a guest judge! Yay! And they'll be cooking in head-to-head battles. And John seems to throw Stefan under the bus? Looks like conflict time next week.
And we're done. And I'm off to go to sleep. :-)