Quickfire Challenge: The cheftestants have to make room service breakfast for Padma and Nigella Lawson. The least favorite dishes belonged to Bryan, who made an egg and corn polenta with a vanilla sauce, with too much vanilla, and also Robin, who made bland blintzes. The top dishes belonged to Kevin, who did a play on steak and eggs, and Eli, who made a breakfast version of a Reuben. The winner is… Eli, of all people.
Elimination Challenge: Create a dish for 175 people inspired by one of the casinos on the Strip. They draw knives to choose casinos. Each cheftestant goes to visit their assigned casino to get inspired. Here's what each cheftestant made:
Jennifer had Excalibur and made New York strip with a red wine reduction, beets, truffles and herbs. She styled it to look like a sword in a stone.
Kevin had Mirage and made wild Alaskan sockeye salmon with Napa cabbage and cucumber.
Michael had New York, New York and made a boneless chicken wing confit with curry and a blue cheese disc.
Robin had the Bellagio and made a panna cotta. It was supposed to have a stained glass-like garnish, sort of like the Dale Chihuly sculpture in the casino, but it didn't work out due to the humidity, so she didn't put it on the plate.
Bryan had Mandalay Bay and made an escabeche of halibut with bouillabaisse consommé, parsley coulis and garlic chips. I had to look up escabeche, and it turns out it refers to fish that is either poached or fried and marinated in something acidic.
Eli had Circus, Circus and made a caramel apple peanut soup with popcorn and raspberry froth.
The top three are Kevin, Michael and Bryan, and the winner is Michael. I'm kind of annoyed by that, because he was so vocal last week about how the dish that won was too simple, and then he basically makes a creative dish in terms of preparation, perhaps, but the flavors were hot sauce and blue cheese. Maybe it's because I grew up in Western NY, but those flavors don't seem very inventive to me.
Robin, Jen and Eli are the bottom three. The judges think that Jen's dish is underseasoned and that her steak was too tough. No part of Robin's dish really worked out, and while her idea might have been good, the execution wasn't. Eli's soup was too grainy, and some of the judges didn't like the flavors either, Padma in particular. Finally, FINALLY, Robin is asked to pack her knives and go. I was especially nervous because there were rumors that one of the frontrunners would be going home this week, so once I saw the bottom three, I was sure that Jen was going. Jen was my early favorite and I really hope she pulls her shit together next week and through the end. Because do I really want Michael to win? I could take Kevin or Bryan, I guess, but I'd love it if it were Jen.
It's morning in the casa, and Bryan is calling home to talk to his wife and young son. Oh no! Whenever someone calls home, it's such a bad sign. Now I'm all worried about Bryan. Anyway, he misses his family, although I'm sure that's not shocking to anyone.
Jennifer is on refrain number four hundred and seven about how she needs to stop worrying about everyone else and start cooking the kind of food that she knows that she can cook. This is getting a little old. She's been coasting for a few weeks now, and it's getting past the time when coasting is going to work out. What is her deal? And will she snap out of it before the finals?
Quickfire Challenge. The cheftestants head to the Venetian (another hotel on the strip) instead of their normal HQ and are directed to the kitchen. The phone rings, and it's Padma. They put her on speaker and she tells them that they're going to be making room service for her and her friend Nigella Lawson. Eli has to explain to us who Nigella Lawson is. Doesn't everyone know (or at least everyone that watched this show)? He compares her to Julia Child, which I don't think is quite right. For one thing, she's about a million times sexier (sorry, Julia). Anyway, Padma and Nigella are having breakfast in bed together, and thank God Mike I. is gone because you know he would have some sort of gross comment. Although obviously, that's what the producers want, or they wouldn't have the ladies in matching bathrobes, lying in two queen beds under the covers.
Anyway, the cheftestants have thirty minutes to prepare meals, and they're going to be staggered so that they cook and serve in pairs. Eli and Robin are going first. Eli is super focused, and seems to know exactly what he wants to make. Robin is, shocker, scattered and behind, and barely gets her dishes done in time. As she wheels her cart out, Mike takes over Robin's station and he's totally disgusted by how gross and messy that she left it, and he spends five of his precious thirty minutes cleaning. I'm not sure why he couldn't just knock all the food scraps on the floor and start cooking, and make Robin clean it up later, but then he wouldn't have anything to bitch about later, and you know how Michael loves to bitch about things.
Robin explains how far she had to push her cart, so on top of being frazzled by the cooking time, she's also sweaty and tired from pushing the cart. I know I love a sweaty, frazzled room server coming into my hotel room. Robin serves her dish to both ladies, and admits in an interview that she got stage fright in front of Nigella and Padma. Anyway, Robin made a blintz with goat cheese, caramelized pineapple, and blueberries. There's bacon in there also. The plate is kind of a mess with the food just heaped on top.
Eli pops in to serve his dish, and he explains that he's not a breakfast guy, so he made a fried egg Reuben Benedict with Thousand Island Hollandaise sauce. And while I am not a fan of some of those ingredients, it is a pretty brilliant idea, and it looks good. But man, do I hate Thousand Island dressing. It's so...orange. Nigella comments that it would be a great "hangover breakfast" and Eli agrees.