Episode Report Card
Mr. Sobell: C | Grade It Now!
The Soufflé Also Rises

Let's go back to Sharone, who's apparently going to serve the liver of fish on his plate. Joe thinks it's a big risk -- "you can really win somebody with that or really throw them off." Sharone thinks it's going to be the former: "I knew in that defining moment, I could really be the next MasterChef." I think the food critics might have a thing or two to say about that, lad.

Time ticks down as the judges shout encouragement -- "Don't embarrass us," is Graham's idea of encouragement, apparently -- and after some argle bargle where the contestants once again marvel over how far they've come and what a tremendous challenge they face, the clock runs out. Time to face the culinary music, Steingarten-style. The judges can give a dish up to four stars; if you know your multiplication tables, you've figured out that the highest score a contestant can get from these three judges is 12. The cooks with the two lowest scores have that Pressure Test we spoke of earlier to contend with.

Whitney's up first. She's got a pan-seared sculpin with Italian roasted vegetables. All that's in a tomato sauce reduced by roasting the fish's head and bones. Steingarten would like to know where Whitney found fresh tomatoes. In a can at your local supermarket, Jeffrey. The food critics exchange worried looks, as Whitney heads back to the kitchen. Steingarten thinks the vegetables are drenched with salt. Tanya finds the garlic overpowering to the point where she can't taste the fish. Back in the kitchen, Gordon wants to know how things went. "It went good," Whitney said. Perceptive, this one isn't.

David brings the food critics a saffron butter sculpin with Israeli couscous and roasted peppers. Have you ever worked with couscous before, the judges would like to know. David has not. So why make it now, the judges demand. David stands there grinning in an apparent hope that someone -- either him or the critics -- will be felled by a fatal heart attack during the ridiculously long pause. "That's a good question," he finally says, before gibbering on about challenging himself and how Moroccan couscous is boring. There went this show's lucrative couscous sponsorship. Very well, David -- you may go now so that the judges may take about you behind your back. While they find his statements about Moroccan couscous to be laughable, they do think the Israeli couscous was a bold choice and they like how he cooked the fish. They do not care for David's peppers, however, roasted or not.

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