Quickfire Challenge: Make a sweet and savory holiday dish that shows off your heritage using product placed sugar replacement. And because those aren't enough tricks, the entire kitchen has to share one knife. The judge is that one Midwestern lady whose restaurant reviews went viral last year. Brooke wins with a sophisticated take on an apple pie.
Elimination Challenge: Chris Pratt and Anna Faris ask the cheftestants to cater their homecoming party, and the winner gets a car. Here's what they served:
Bart: loin of elk with cherry beer sauce and mushroom couscous. The judges think it's well-balanced but could use a pinch of salt.
Brooke: lamb stuffed squid on black rice with coconut milk. The judges think it has every flavor and texture in one bite.
Sheldon: Okinawan pork belly with seared scallop and rice congee. The judges think every bite is a surprise, in a good way.
Stefan: German gulasch with marjoram bread dumplings and sour cream. The judges find it rich and delicious.
Kristen: Delice de Bourgogne tortelloni. The judges think it's the perfect bite.
Micah: braised short ribs with celery root puree, grilled apples, and celery leaf salad. The judges think there's too much cream, and has too many components.
Lizzie: crusted King salmon with radish and beet salad. The judges didn't think the sear was good enough and not seasoned enough.
Eliza: elk ribeye with elk sausage polenta, spiced carrots and huckleberry port sauce. The judges think the meat is fine but the rest of the dish is bland.
Danyele: pan-roasted wild boar, hoppin' John, and tomato-bacon marmalade. The judges think it's sliced too thin and cooked unevenly.
Josh: roasted pork shoulder & grilled corn puree with succotash and fennel apple salad. The judges don't think the pork is seasoned.
Josie: Malbec braised short ribs, pork belly, polenta with cippolini onions and figs. The judges think there's not enough contrast.
John: seafood chowder with cockles, manila clams, crab, mussels, and sockeye salmon. Rick Moonen calls it "a hug from the ocean," and Padma thinks every component was cooked perfectly.
The top four are John, Kristen, Brooke, and Sheldon, and Brooke wins it! Wow, two wins in one episode. Good for her. The bottom four are Eliza, Danyele, Josh, and Micah. Ultimately, Eliza is sent home because her meat was poorly cooked and her vegetables were poorly cooked and underseasoned.
After last week's elimination and dressing down by Tom, Brooke cries in the Stew Room while Stefan says that this is the hardest thing he's ever done. John interviews that it was terrible to hear that their food was not up to snuff, and Josh is upset that his pork dish nearly got him eliminated, since he has made his living cooking pork. Josh's restaurant is called Divine Swine, and Stefan jokes that he will have to change the name to Divine Cow.
The next morning, the cheftestants enter the kitchen to find Padma and Internet viral sensation Marilyn Hagerty. You know, that lady who writes restaurant reviews for the Grand Forks Herald, and last year everyone had a field day making fun of her review for Olive Garden? I feel kind of uncomfortable with this for two reasons; first, it's pretty snobby to make fun of people who eat at Olive Garden, no matter if their food is kind of awful, and second, the other side, where people go, "Aw, isn't she cute?" is also snobby in a different way. I mean, if you grew up in a city where there are many fine dining opportunities, then Olive Garden probably isn't your first choice. But if you (like me) grew up suburban or rural, then there probably aren't many non-chain restaurants that server something other than pizza and wings within a thirty-minute drive. So guess what? Olive Garden becomes your "fancy" restaurant. Anyway, I think she's a nice lady who might not have the refined palate of a Hugh Acheson, but she doesn't deserve the internet's snark. Then again, she agreed to be on the show, so I'm torn.
Marilyn explains that she's been writing about food for more than thirty years, reviewing ordinary restaurants, and now she has a book deal with Anthony Bourdain, and she calls it a "hoot." I love her. Anyway, their challenge is to make a sweet and savory holiday dish based on their family's heritage. Plus, they have to use the product-placed artificial sweetener. Gross.
They all draw knives and everyone except Lizzie gets a knife that says "Off Limits." Padma explains that none of them can use their knives; instead, they will all have to share one knife. Jesus, could we add any more gimmicks to this challenge? I feel like JUST the heritage thing or JUST the artificial sweetener thing or JUST the one knife thing is enough. We don't need all three.
Time starts, and everyone rushes to get ingredients but smart Josh goes for the knife first. Other people are trying to grate onions or chops with spatulas. Someone is using a pizza cutter to peel an apple. Heh. It's like cooking with my children. Danyele interviews that she's adopted so she doesn't know her genetic heritage, but her parents are her parents, and she's making a dish that her mom makes every year. Lizzie grew up in South Africa, having Christmas around the pool, and she's making a traditional South African lamb dish with custard. Micah is making tamales because he's half Mexican, and Josie is also making tamales. Stefan grew up in Finland with smoked salmon and his Jewish ex-wife used to make latkes, so he's combining them. Brooke is making baked apples with cheddar cheese, and she's worried her dish is too safe, but she'd rather it be safe than bad. Josh is making johnnycakes, and it makes him miss home. Bart is Belgian, so he's obviously making a waffle. Why not play into the stereotype?