Quickfire Challenge, as judged by Southwestern chef Tim Love: Create a dish using the Viewers' Choice ingredient, which is cactus. The winner gets $15K, but no one gets immunity. Many of the chefs are stumped by the cactus thing, and either try to hide it or make something really slimy. The top three are Laurine, Mike I., and Mattin, and the last two actually used the cactus as a main ingredient. The winner is Mike I., because Tim feels like he showcased the cactus. He's also just about the only one who had worked with cactus before, so it seems kind of unfair. Or maybe I just hate him.
Elimination Challenge: Prepare a high-end lunch for Chef Love and two dozen cowboys on a ranch. The cheftestants have to shop without knowing what equipment they'll have available. When they arrive to camp out, they find that they'll be sleeping in teepees and cooking on fire pits in the ground. Some of the cheftestants totally cop out and make ceviche so they don't even have to grill anything.
The judges decide that Ashley (!), Laurine (!!) and the brothers Volt made the best dishes. The winner is Bryan Volt for his dish:
The bottom three are Robin, Ron and Mattin. The shrimp in Robin's drunken shrimp Romaine salad wasn't cooked, and her salad was soggy. Mattin had chunks of uncooked cod in his ceviche three ways dish, and he made the judges sick. Ron's coconut mojito was really bad, even though his lime-coconut ceviche was okay. In the end, Mattin is told to pack his knives and go, because while Robin's dish was bad, too, she knew it was bad and acknowledges it, while Mattin didn't even realize he was serving raw fish.
It's morning in Vegas. The tourists are stumbling around on the Strip as the porn handbill purveyors shove papers in their hands. Eli, Mike I. and the Brothers Volt hang out by the pool. Eli asks if they change their dishes based on who the judge is, and Mike V. says he might change it based on the challenge. He goes on to interview that he thinks Hector left too early, and meanwhile Robin is still there. He thinks the cream of the crop of those that are left are Mike I. (ew, really?), Bryan, and himself. No Jen? I'm so disappointed in you! And what about Kevin?
Mattin interviews that he was on the bottom in the last elimination challenge, and it was embarrassing because he's French and it was a French challenge. Then again, he grew up in the Basque region, which is kind of more Spanish than French. He explains that he has his own restaurant, so he knows he can cook, but he just needs to show that to the judges.
Ashley's brother had a baby! Well, presumably the brother didn't have the baby, but you know what I mean. So Ashley wants to call. And just like every season when someone calls home, there are copious tears. But in more exciting news, Ashley took a shower! And her hair is wet, so presumably she washed it. Ashley explains that she always competed with her brothers growing up.
The cheftestants head to the kitchen for the Quickfire Challenge. Padma and Tim Love greet them. Man, recapping Masters is really helping me remember the various guest judges this time around. Anyway, Tim Love cooks traditional Southwestern food in a fine dining setting, and his restaurant is in Fort Worth. Then in a really obvious voice-over added later, Padma explains that the fans voted on what ingredient they wanted the chefs to use, and the dang viewers voted for cactus. Over kangaroo and rattlesnake! So they have forty-five minutes to "make something succulent with these succulents," and the winner gets $15,000 but not immunity.
Mike I. has, of course, worked with cactus before. He explains that cactus is gooey, and the best way to draw out the liquid is to cure it in salt before preparing your dish. He is, apparently, the only one who knows this trick, as the other cheftestants seem to be doing a lot of blotting and dicing and grilling. Mattin decides to pair cactus with tequila, since they seem to go well together. Robin totally wipes out running around a corner but the camera misses it. Boo. Invisible Laurine, who's not so invisible lately, has decided to stop comparing herself to everyone else and just cook her own food. Ash wants to make a sope, since he thinks cactus will pair well with Latin flavors. The only problem is there's no tortilla press, so the bread doesn't end up as thin as he wants. Ron interviews that cactus in Haiti is poisonous, so they don't cook it, but he's going to put the cactus in a sauce. Everyone starts plating, with lots of schmears of purees, as usual. And... time!