Quickfire Challenge: Create a unique fondue, and the cheftestants will vote for one another instead of having a guest judge. The winner gets a vacation in Napa Valley, but not immunity. I think they should have judged blind, although I'm not sure how that would be possible, since they saw each other prepping. But it's kind of a popularity contest instead of judging on the actual dish. Fabio (caviar blini), Tiffany (apple fritter in chocolate) and Mike (lamb in melted feta) are on the bottom. The top three were Antonia (smoked salmon), Dale (pho) and Angelo (endive with roasted beets). Blais is surprised that he wasn't in the top and he thinks he might intimidate his competition. The ultimate winner is Dale.
Elimination Challenge: Cook one of Jimmy Fallon's favorite dishes for his birthday lunch. The cheftestants are assigned dishes, and Antonia gets stuck with beef tongue. Meanwhile, Fabio has burger and fries, and he has never made a hamburger before. NEVER MADE A HAMBURGER! How can he have lived in this country for even a year and never have made a burger? I do not know. Also, the winner gets a cooking segment on Jimmy's show. Anyway, here's what they made:
Antonia: beef tongue, pumpernickel rye, caramelized onions and dill slaw. It get uniform praise and Jimmy's head writer says, "She licked it." So he's getting a raise.
Fabio: hamburger, melted cheddar cheese sauce and fries. The judges think it tastes more like meatloaf than a burger, and they think the sauce is horrible.
Blais: ramen noodles with seared pork belly, duck legs and duck egg. Jimmy is disappointed because, while the dish is good, he doesn't think it's Blais enough.
Tiffany: chicken, dumplings with poblano chilies, red peppers, cilantro and lime. Jimmy finds it to be too spicy.
Carla: chicken pot pie with carrots, celery, pea salt and herbs. Carla could NOT have been more excited to make this dish, and more freaked out about it in the kitchen, coming down to the wire. None of the judges have much to say about it because they are too busy eating it.
Dale: Philly cheesesteak on a pretzel roll, hot sauces, onions and cheddar cheese sauce. Everyone thinks it was too salty.
Angelo: pulled pork with a coffee, dill, allspice and chipotle rub, and coleslaw. The judges find the sauce "amazing."
Mike: sausage, peppers, onions, garlic, fennel and paprika. Gail points out that the peppers and onions really soaked up the flavors.
The top three are Carla, Antonia, and Angelo. Jimmy and Carla have a serious bonding session over putting crust on the bottom of the pot pie, and then the top three sing a song about beef tongue (no, they really do). And the winner is Carla! She gets to go on Jimmy's show (which I am totally watching Thursday night) and she wins a trip to Tokyo. Jimmy and Carla are a match made in heaven. Somehow two positives make even more positive energy in this case.
The bottom three are Dale, Tiffany and Fabio. They thought Tiffany's wasn't really chicken and dumplings they wanted to see. Fabio's burger was off in texture and his cheese sauce curdled. Dale's dish was just salt plus salt plus salt. And then Fabio goes home. Aw, Fabi. Glad to have you back and I'm sorry you had to leave before Mike and Tiffany (who I think are about even with Fabio talent-wise but way more boring television-wise).
In the "Previously On" that's not really a previously on segment, the cheftestants sit around in a bar that's not really a bar and toast Antonia's win in the previous episode. Where are they? Why does it look like the set of "A Night at the Improv" circa 1989? And some people have cups of coffee and others have mixed drinks? So confused. Anyway, Dale says that he made one of his worst dishes ever for the previous challenge and he was lucky to skate by. Fabio is still really bitter that Antonia beat him in the Italian challenge with a dish that he considers to be French. Okay, even if he's right, who cares? The judges thought it was Italian enough to win, and according to Colicchio's blog, the challenge was to make a dish inspired by Rao's menu, not make a dish that would be on Rao's menu. So Antonia's was homey and delicious, and it fit the bill, and was apparently better than Fabio's dish. Fabio needs to put on his sunglasses and deal with it. Antonia ribs Mike for being Italian and on the bottom, and he ribs her back for making a French dish. For once, I don't fault Mike for being a dick, because that was kind of a dick move by Antonia. And also, they are friends now, so whatever.
Let's go to the kitchen and get right into the Quickfire. Blais notices that there are a bunch of fondue pots sitting there and he admits that his parents were big hippies who probably attended nude fondue parties in the '70s. That sounds dangerous, what with the molten cheese and chocolate everywhere. I feel like parts could be burned, and then the party's over. Also, his parents sound awesome.
Padma says that the challenge is to make fondue, but this isn't the '70s, so they don't want bananas in chocolate; they want something unique. Fabio explains what fondue is for our Gen Y viewers; you make a boiling (or simmering) pot of something, and then you spear something else with a stick and dip it into the pot, and eat it. I don't think I've ever actually had fondue, unless you count those chocolate fountains they always have at buffets. Anyway, Padma also says that if they want to see the guest judges, they should look around. Everyone hilariously starts peering around the kitchen, like the judges are hiding in the walk-in or something. Fabio gazes at the ceiling, like someone is going to hang glide on in. Finally, Padma tells them that they are the judges, and they feel dumb. I have a small problem with this; I think it should be blind judging, because otherwise it's kind of a popularity contest. Right? I don't know how they could do it, because they all see one another cooking, and that's probably why they didn't, but it just doesn't seem fair that they get to vote for one another to win. Antonia shares my reservations. At least there's no immunity, but the winner does get a trip to Napa Valley.
They have thirty minutes to cook, so everyone takes off running. Mike, who I was just starting to feel for a little bit, says that he's never been to "one of these gay fondue parties." Ugh. He is the worst. THE WORST. Blais explains that he's planning to do a twist on chocolate fondue with bananas, since Padma said not to do that. Seems like none of the chefs have really been to a fondue party. Fabio remembers having fondue in a ski chalet somewhere with oysters and caviar. Here's a shocker: Dale is making something Asian-inspired. He's doing a play on pho, which he calls pho-ooooondue. Even he knows how lame that was.
Angelo is trying to make a salad fondue. That sounds... kind of terrible. I don't think he understand what fondue means. Mike has already decided who he's going to vote for as the worst. Of course he has. Because he is, as mentioned previously, THE WORST. And he's making lamb. That's nearly as shocking as Dale making something Asian and Blais using dry ice. As time runs out, Angelo says that he took on too much, and he's just going to throw his dish out. Really? It took him more than thirty minutes to make an endive salad. What was he doing, growing the endive?
Blais's dish is first: bananas with amaretto, ras el hanout, and chili chocolate, in liquid nitrogen. That is the Blais-iest dish of all time. So instead of a molten dish of something, it's frozen, and Padma's tongue gets stuck like the kid in A Christmas Story. Blais thinks that eating should be dangerous. It sounds pretty good, although it might have been better hot instead of frozen.
Tiffany is up next and she made apple ricotta fritter with hazelnut chocolate. It looks good, but when Padma takes a bite you can see that the fritter is too big; it's more than one bite, unless you are Steven Tyler or something. It should be the size of a donut hole, and it's twice that. Blais calls it "pedestrian" and he's kind of right. If it tasted amazing, that might be enough, but if it's just average, there's not a ton of creativity involved.
Angelo apparently didn't throw his dish away, and I'm not even sure what's unfinished about it. He made walnuts and endive with goat cheese fondue and a beet juice shooter. Goat cheese fondue sounds gross. And then you dip an endive leaf into it? And do a shot of beet juice? I will put that in my no thank you bowl. That's the bowl I give my babies and if they don't want something, instead of throwing it on the floor, they are supposed to put it in the bowl. Theoretically. It hasn't exactly worked yet. Except now they just throw the no thank you bowl on the floor. NO THANK YOU! Anyway, Dale thinks it's weird and overly complicated, which is also a pretty good description of Angelo, now that I think about it.
Carla has made beef tenderloin and shrimp with coconut lime curry sauce. That sounds pretty awesome, actually. I like all of those things and I think I would like them together. The only comment from the peanut gallery is when Blais says that the beef is really tender.
Dale introduces his pho with beef, bread, charred ginger, lime, sriracha, and broth. I would like that also. The only thing that hasn't sounded good so far was Angelo's stupid dish. I think I need to find a fondue restaurant. Anyway, someone says that it smells good (was that Lorraine Bracco, returning for more food? It totally sounded like her) and Blais gets a hunk that is clearly burning his mouth, although he's polite enough to avoid spitting it out.
Mike made spiced lamb kabobs with mint and chili, and a feta cheese fondue. I don't think I would like hot feta cheese. It would smell like feet. Antonia calls Mike out for only making lamb dishes with Moroccan spices. Yeah, unlike everyone else, who went way out of their comfort zones on this one. Except they didn't.
Antonia actually did go out of her comfort zone, and made smoked salmon on toast, fromage blanc and crème fraiche fondue. That sounds amazing. Carla thinks it was a clever take on deli food and Padma can't stuff it in her piehole fast enough.
Fabio made blini (I'm pretty sure although the chyron calls it billini) with caviar, crème fraiche, fromage blanc, and bourdain wine. Seems like the caviar would fall off into the fondue, no? It's sitting on top of the blini like a turd on a pancake. That one goes in the NO THANK YOU bowl. Fabio apologizes that he went last so his blini aren't as hot as they should be. Shouldn't the fondue warm them? I don't know.
Everyone gets a ballot and starts voting. Blais thinks that everyone is intimidated by him and won't vote for him as a result. This is known as the "just jealous" defense, and it sucks. Come on, Blais. Don't become a prick now. Let Mike do that. Dale promises to be honest, and Angelo is really nervous. Why? He admitted his dish was unfinished and almost didn't serve it, so what does he care?
Padma has the tabulated results, and she says that Fabio, Tiffany, and Mike were the bottom three. And then she totally calls Dale out for putting Mike on the bottom. What? She's going to say who voted for whom? That's just wrong! Dale laughs and says he didn't care for the spice or the feta cheese. Mike interviews that Dale is a "fucking monkey." To quote Drew Magary