Quickfire Challenge: Guest judge is my sweetheart Isaac Mizrahi? Have you seen Unzipped? You really, really must. Now, it's not only a great movie, but totally a time capsule. Anyway, the challenge is to make a plate that will be judged on presentation and aesthetics only. The judges won't even taste it. The judging is hilarious because the chefs clearly don't get Isaac and he just rips into them. I don't blame them, because it's not their goal to make beautiful plates, but it's funny to watch. The winner is Blais, who makes a really cool-looking frozen black and green and white…thing. I didn't like that the ingredients totally didn't matter. I think the dishes should have been required to be edible, at least. I just got the best idea. They should have made the CHEF take a bit of the finished product to prove it was edible. Or have the chefs taste one another's dishes. That way the judging wouldn't be influenced by the flavors, but we would know if they were edible. I am a genius. So anyway, Blais gets immunity.
Elimination Challenge: Cook an Italian feast for the Pellegrino family, which owns Rao's, the famed New York Italian restaurant. They are each assigned either antipasti (starter), primo (pasta), or secondi (meat). The guest judges are Lorraine Bracco, and various members of the Rao's staff and family.
Carla: minestrone soup with basil oil, tomatoes and homemade focaccia. The soup is great, but nothing outstanding.
Antonia: mussels with fennel, white wine, garlic and parsley ciabatta. The judges find that it brings up warm family memories, and they can't stop eating it.
Tiffany: polenta terrine with Italian sausage, roasted peppers and kale. It gets rave reviews from the diners.
Mike: spicy calamari, fresh rigatoni in tomato sauce. Mike's rigatoni are undercooked, which he knows but runs out of time.
Dale: fresh pasta, pancetta, Brussels sprouts, chanterelle mushrooms and pecorino romano. The judges don't like that there's no sauce and nothing to pull the components together.
Tre: grilled vegetable risotto, marinated tomatoes and fresh basil. The judges think that he didn't feature the risotto enough.
Fabio: pollo alla cacciatore polenta al pecorino. The judges have nothing but praise for him.
Angelo: sautéed pork chop, cherry peppers, green olives, tomatoes and pancetta. The judges think he had a little too much garnish, and it was too complicated.
Blais: fresh pancetta cutlet, broccolini and pickled cherry tomatoes. The judges liked how simple it was.
The top four are Antonia, Carla, Fabio and Tiffany, and the winner is Antonia for making a family-style dish. The bottom three are Mike, Dale and Tre. Mike knew his pasta was undercooked. Dale is told that his dish wasn't properly pulled together with a sauce. Colicchio gives Tre a lesson in how risotto is supposed to be creamy and spreads out. Ultimately, Tre is sent packing.
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After Marcel's elimination, the cheftestants sit around in that one bar they go to after eliminations and discuss how Marcel was well-trained, but he made one mistake and was sent home. Shit just got real! Not really. It got real when Jen was sent home so early. Anyway, Tre is the one that makes this observation. Foreshadowing or super foreshadowing? Mike is regaling everyone with how he settled Marcel's hash during Judges' Table, and to my shock and dismay, Mike is being loud and annoying! What? This isn't the Mike I know and love! (This is exactly the Mike I know and don't love.) Antonia is totally on my side; she is ready for Mike to go home. Me too, girl!
The cheftestants walk into the kitchen to find Padma and Isaac Mizrahi standing there. Angelo lets us know about his passion for fashion, as evidenced by his continued penchant for dressing like the Good Humor man with all the white pants all of the time. Fabio wondered if they would have to make a dish and then wear it. He gives a hilarious head shake as if to say, "I know that makes no sense, but Isaac Mizrahi being a judge also makes no sense." It only makes sense if you are a Bravo executive who realizes that no one ever talks about (or watches) The Fashion Show and so you need to put Isaac on a show that people actually watch to promote his own show.
Isaac (who I love dearly) talks about how his new collection was inspired by his Xerox machine. I know this sounds like nonsense, because it is, but have you seen Unzipped? Isaac is crazy and weird but adorable and endearing, and it's also a fantastic mid-'90s time capsule with tons of celebrity cameos. You should watch it. I will never say a bad word about Isaac because of it. Anyway, Isaac and Padma put a lot of work into convincing us that food and fashion are related, which is a stretch, and then Padma says that they won't be tasting the food today. Instead, they have to make a dish that will be judged purely on aesthetics. Okay, this challenge is kind of bullshit. I don't have a problem with a dish being judged purely on aesthetics, but I think it should have to be edible. In the recaplet, I suggested that the cheftestants should have to taste one another's food, just to prove that it's edible, and then the judges can decide based on aesthetics. It's like those cakes that look amazing and like works of art but taste like crap: not interested. Carla drops the bomb that she used to be a runway model in France, and that's what led to her getting into food. I actually knew that because I just watched a random old episode from her season -- I think it was the one where Jamie was eliminated -- and she mentioned that. I wish they would show a photo of her walking the runway. That would be awesome.