by Xani and Erin
Four weeks into the season and things are starting to heat up... a little. Well, maybe not. This week's episode was a little disappointing. For the quickfire challenge, the chefs are asked to make tacos. But not just any tacos, fancy tacos. Chef Rick Bayless judged and proclaimed Richard's jicama taco filled with avocado, papaya and cilantro stems the winner. (Anyone else think it was weird that he made one for himself as well as Rick and Padma? Or was that badass? Can't decide...) Andrew's duck was also a favorite, but most of the tacos just seemed like regular old street food, not haute cuisine. Richard was rewarded with immunity and the honor of having his dish featured on the menu at one of Bayless' Chicago restaurants. Then, field trip time! The chefs split up into teams and brought to a residential neighborhood in Chicago and told to raid the pantries of the residents to gather food and use it to cater a block party the following day. Cameras inside the homes of the residents shows us the chefs' arrival is not such a surprise after all! After cleaning out the refrigerators the chefs get to cookin'. The blue team, unofficially headed by Richard, decides to go for a more "upscale" block party menu, while the red team, featuring Spike and Andrew, are all about classic, down-home party fare. Team blue serves "paella", mac and cheese, some kind of fancy ("sexy") drink, and a fruit dessert with a crunchy cinnamon wonton. Team red goes with corn dogs, sliders (!!), waldorf salad, pasta salad, and s'mores on a stick (this might be the most genius thing we've seen all season-- and what is that saying about this season??). In the end, Team Blue prevails (to Team Red's shock and dismay) and Stephanie wins again with her fruit and wonton dessert. Team Red mouths off (both Andrew and Spike) and while it seemed Zoi might get the boot for her tasteless and oily pasta salad, in the end it's Erik's soggy corn dogs that get him sent home.
Xani's Take: First of all, since I'm in California, I got an email with my Fafarazzi score report BEFORE the episode even aired! It was killing me not to check it, but I resisted. I don't know how you West coasters can deal! I didn't get to change my team from last week so again I had Nikki, Andrew and Richard.
I was feeling pretty confident when both Andrew and Richard were in Bayless' top three for the quickfire! Personally I thought Andrew's looked like a tastier dish, but I was happy when Richard won (3 points!). The eliminations challenge underwhelmed me... I'm already sick of them doing catering challenges instead of chef-ing challenges! None of the dishes (except the individual s'mores and maybe the sliders, because I am sucker for tiny burgers) really looked great to me, and the pasta and waldorf salads looked disgusting. I ended up with 8 total points, Richard's 3 from the quickfire and the other 5 from Andrew (for cursing and arguing with the judges)
Dish I wished I were eating: Andrew's duck and plantain taco. C'mon, duck and plantains?? Yes, please.
Favorite Chef at the moment: After Andrew's crazy outburst at Judges' Table ("This is MY HOUSE!") he's still on my team (I need the points) but lost his place in my heart. Stephanie's won two out of four elimination challenges, so I'm sure I'm not alone when I declare her my new favorite!
Erin's Take: I agree with Xani that I wish there were less catering and more real, gourmet (or at least truly challenging) cooking. I'm tired of the teams - let's let the chefs be individuals! I was disappointed in Erik that he broke the cardinal rule of catering/party-throwing: don't serve fried foods unless you can serve them right out of the oil. When Xani and I plan parties, fried foods always come up, and we always decide to cut them from the menu because we know they won't be good if they sit out. WTF, Erik??
Anyway, I switched it up this week and picked Richard, Mark, and Jennifer. Unfortunately, while I earned three points for Richard's quickfire win, I only earned one more point for Jennifer's cursing at the end. Lame! I guess I played it too safe this week. I suppose I should be picking Stephanie because she can win with a fried wonton!
Dish I wished I were eating: I thought all of the desserts looked good - the inside-out oreo, the s'more on a stick, and the mixed fruit with cinnamon wonton.
Favorite Chef at the moment: Although they were annoying at the end in front of the judges, Spike and Andrew were quite entertaining for the majority of the episode, especially when Andrew told that little kid that "these little burgers are full of awesomeness." I still believe in Richard though - I have a sneaking suspicion he is extremely talented and will go far in the end.
Let's see what goes down next week!
X & EP