Quickfire Challenge: Identify that Ingredient. You've seen it before on Top Chef; the chefs have to taste a sauce and then identify its components. The final comes down to Rick and Susur, and Rick wins, which is kind of awesome after Susur spent all this time bragging about his incredible palate and the proper technique for tasting sauces.
Elimination Challenge: Cook a meal inspired by a deity. As with last week, Susur claims that he's at a disadvantage because he doesn't understand who Dionysus is, and it's not his culture. God, he bugs me. Read Wikipedia or something, for crying out loud. Here are the dishes:
Susur (Dionysus): roasted pork loin in Chinese wine, croquette with feta, Santorini olives. I don't think Susur really got the bacchanalia aspect of this deity. It should have been all fried in butter with bacon or something.
Marcus (Ares): cured beef and salmon with apple broth and oyster foam. Gael finds it wonderful and Jay says it's compelling, but Gail thinks it's muddy.
Susan (Aphrodite): toast with coconut jam and sweet butter, fried egg with white pepper and dark soy. Gail wanted the food to be hot, but she couldn't get enough of the coconut jam.
Rick (Hades): spice-crusted swordfish, crimson potatoes, daikon, radishes and parsnips. Gail likes the earthiness, and Gael finds the entire plate wonderful, although they all think the swordfish is a little dry.
Jonathan (Poseidon): seared scallops, Romesco sauce, cherry tomatoes, string beans, and celery puree. Jay finds it big, bold, and flavorful, but they all agree that the scallops are overseasoned.
They have a lot of fun at Critics Table, joking around about the various inspirations and execution. It's very different from last week, where the judges were crabby and the chefs were defensive. When the scores come in, Rick wins out over Marcus to take the top spot this week. Once again, there is a huge disconnect between the critics' scores and the diners' scores, and it comes down to Susan and Jonathan. Ultimately, Susan leaves, and it seems like it's because she basically made a sandwich instead of something more complicated, which is kind of bullshit, because at least hers fit the theme. Boo.
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Kelly welcomes the remaining five chefs to the kitchen as Jonathan interviews that he's relieved to have made it to the final five, but he knows that these are truly his fiercest competition. That was kind of a burn on the people already eliminated, no? Jonathan details each of his remaining competitor's strengths, and then Rick interviews that he was in the bottom two last week, and he never wants to be there again. So he's basically planning on winning everything from here on out? Interesting.
Quickfire Challenge: Identify that Ingredient. You've seen it before on Top Chef; the chefs have to taste a sauce and then identify its components. And the chefs have seen it, too, as they all grin and look around. Susur interviews that he's confident about this challenge, and compares tasting to listening to music and being able to identify a guitar or a trumpet. That actually makes sense to me; I don't think I could identify anything but the major components of a sauce without further training, but I could identify what instruments were playing in a song, only because I've had musical training. Thanks, Susur!
Kelly explains that they will go head-to-head, tournament-style. Susan interviews that she's freaked out because she hasn't worked with classic sauces in over 27 years. Since they have an odd number of chefs, one chef gets a bye through the first round. And it's random. That's odd. And hardly seems fair. They choose pots and discover that Jonathan gets the bye, Susur and Marcus will go head-to-head, and Susan and Rick will go head-to-head. Rick thinks that Jonathan got the bye becase "he is Obi-Wan" and "he's got the force."
Susur and Marcus head over to taste the first sauce, a blended chasseur. Marcus interviews that he has "an impeccable palate" and protects it by avoiding smoking and drinking. I get smoking, but does drinking really affect your palate? I guess Marcus would know better than I would. They both get to taste for 15 seconds before starting. Susur interviews that you should only taste a food twice so you don't overwhelm your taste buds. Marcus shoves the sauce in his mouth, so he obviously doesn't subscribe to Susur's theory. They bid on the number of ingredients they can name, and when Susur bids six, Marcus tells him to go for it. Susur lists off carrots, celery, onions, tomato, red wine vinegar, and pauses before saying oil. Kelly asks him to be more specific and he, says "vegetable." Susur wins and interviews that it was even harder than usual because the stock wasn't warm, so there was no smell, but he is "the sauce-tasting master." I think he was kind of joking with that, but given what I've seen of him this season, he might not have been.