This week's chefs are Jody Adams, Maria Hines, Rick Tramonto, Debbie Gold and Susur Lee.
Quickfire Challenge: Create a perfectly-styled fruit plate. The judges are Gail Simmons and Stephen Hamilton (food photographer). The winner of the challenge automatically moves on to the Champions Round. Damn. I would be pissed if I hadn't been in this round to begin with. I would be really pissed if I were in that first episode, where they had to work as a team. Anyway, the winner is Jody Adams, with her fig and walnut tart, even though just about everything that could go wrong for her does during prep. She immediately moves on to the next round but still competes in the Elimination Challenge to try for the money for her charity.
Elimination Challenge: Modernize the family dinner and serve it to the cast and crew of Modern Family. During prep, there is little to no drama, so thank God for the cast of Modern Family, or this episode would have been a total snoozer. This isn't helped by the fact that Bravo shows a commercial for next week's Champions Round before Critics Table, and totally reveals this week's winner before the end of the episode. WTF, dudes? Here's what the chefs served and their scores:
Maria serves sockeye salmon, paprika potatoes, almond slivers and almond milk. The critics think that her use of almond milk was smart and modern. She earns 13.5 stars.
Susur serves roast chicken and farce curry, polenta and grits, tomato jam and chili mint chutney. The judges think that he combined various cultures well, but it was extremely hot. He earns (what a surprise after the commercial gave it away!) 19.5 stars (holy CRAP), the highest score in the show's history and joins Jody in the Champions Round.
Rick serves truffled white beans with escarole and grilled sausage. The critics worry that there wasn't enough truffle, and that it wasn't modern enough. He earns 13 stars.
Jody serves braised chicken thighs with mushrooms, semolina gnocchi and herb salad. She agrees with the critics that it was a bit oversalted. She earns a total of 14.5 stars.
Debbie serves glazed pork loin with apple butter and winter squash slaw. The critics point out that her dish was a little too sweet. She earns a total of 10.5 stars (ouch).
Well, that was a boring episode made even more boring because the commercial gave away the winner before it was revealed. But next week, the Champions Round begins! And if I remember last season well, that's when things got really interesting.
This week's chefs are:
Jody Adams, chef and owner of Rialto in Cambridge, MA. She tells us that she never went to culinary school, and has a degree in Anthropology from Brown. Impressive! And kind of useless! So it's understandable why she went into cooking. Jody kind of looks like your mom or maybe your mom's well-kept friend who can pan sear a mean chicken breast. She's known for combining New England ingredients with Italian cooking.
Maria Hines, an "organic guru" from Seattle. She's young and upcoming in her field, and her restaurant looks like it belongs in Ann Arbor. I lived there for a few years and I've never seen so many restaurants in converted houses. What's that about, hippies?
Rick Tramonto is from Chicago, and apparently well-known, though I've never heard of him. Then again, I'm kind of a cultural wasteland.
Debbie Gold is Executive Chef at the American in Kansas City. Man, they went way outside the usual cities to find chefs for this season, huh? I dig it. It shows that you don't have to move to New York and pay exorbitant prices to open your own restaurant and be recognized in the culinary community.
Susur Lee cooks in Toronto and New York. He's Asian and looks really fierce, like he might be carrying a sword inside his chef's coat.
Kelly gathers the chefs and asks Rick if he's nervous. Rick reminds us that he was a judge back in Season 4 and he was harsh on the cheftestants. He expects to be made uncomfortable in this challenge (like they'll be cooking in the back of a Volkswagen?) and see who comes out on top.
Quickfire Challenge: Present a creative fruit plate. Susur is excited because he knows that he has great knife skills. Maybe he will use the sword in his chef's jacket to chop up some pineapple. The judges for this challenge are Gail Simmons and Stephen Hamilton, a renowned food photographer. Debbie is nervous knowing that Stephen Hamilton will be looking at her plate, since he's such a visual person. Kelly pauses and then announces that this is "a high stakes Quickfire." Wait, wasn't that just a Vegas thing? Because of the casinos and all? It seems kind of weird to transfer it to other seasons. Anyway, the stakes are that the winner of this Quickfire gets an automatic bid in the finals. Wow. Wow! That's huge, right? Seriously, if I had been in the first episode with the bullshit couples challenge, I would be pissed. They had to work with a stranger and try to win, and meanwhile these guys get to compete on their own and potentially go right to the finals? Doesn't quite seem fair. Anyway, the various chefs interview about how the stakes, they are high, and the nerves, they are shot.