Quickfire Challenge. The cheftestants have to create a holiday meal in forty-five minutes using only one pot, and the guest judge is Martha Stewart. The bottom three dishes are Jeff's potato risotto, which is too heavy, Eugene's Korean pork stew, because he used cornstarch to thicken it, and Fabio's polenta and duck breast, due to the grayish color. The top three are Hosea's shrimp and chicken paella, Jamie's sea scallop with kale, and Ariane's filet mignon with cauliflower puree. The winner is Ariane, who gets a copy of Martha's new cookbook as well as immunity.
Elimination Challenge. They will be catering a fundraiser for AMFAR with 250 guests. The Harlem Gospel Choir comes in to help introduce the theme -- each chef pulls a number from one to twelve, and their dish needs to be inspired by the matching verse in "Twelve Days of Christmas." Natasha Richardson (celebrity co-host) and Michelle (professional chef) will be the guest judges. They only have three hours to prep after shopping and at the end of the day, put a bunch of hot and steamy food in the fridge. The next morning, they discover that one of the fridges was left open overnight, so all the contents have gone bad. Hosea and Radhika both had meat in there, so they're screwed. So the other cheftestants pitch in and help them to remake their dishes, and it's actually quite touching. Or maybe I'm just in the holiday spirit.
So here are the assignments and what they created:
Twelve drummers drumming: Stefan makes a creamy chicken pot pie
Eleven pipers piping: Hosea makes pork loin with chipotle mashed potatoes with apple brandy jus
Ten lords a leaping: Jeff makes seared Halloumi and Kassiere cheese with roasted beets and pears
Nine ladies dancing: Fabio makes sweet corn and roasted pepper crab cake
Eight maids a milking: Melissa makes gorgonzola and NY strip steak on sourdough crostini with cranberry vinaigrette
Seven swans a swimming: Jamie makes crudo of sea scallop in vichyssoise
Six geese a laying: Ariane makes deviled eggs six different ways
Five golden rings (people coming in from other rooms for that part): Eugene makes poisson cru with pineapple ring and Yukon Gold potato chip
Four calling birds: No one
Three French hens: Leah makes braised guinea hen with butternut squash on brioche
Two turtledoves: Carla makes braised chicken with duxelles and mushroom cap
A partridge in a pear tree: Radhika makes braised duck leg on brioche with pear chutney
Judges' Table: Hosea, Jeff, Stefan, and Radhika are the top four. The winner is Hosea, who got the most votes from the crowd as well as the judges. The bottom three are Eugene, Melissa, and Jamie. Jamie is criticized for her lukewarm scallops, Melissa is told she had too much cheese, and Eugene is told his fish dish was too sweet and you couldn't taste the fish. All of the judges agree that none of the dishes were outstanding, and there were many who could be in the bottom three. Colicchio goes back to the Stew Room and scolds the cheftestants for cooking not to lose instead of cooking to win, and tells them that since they all pulled together to help Hosea and Radhika, no one is going home. Aw, Christmas.
The morning after the last elimination, Ariane wakes up without an alarm, and feels great because she's won the last two challenges. She thinks the key is to keep it simple. Eugene, on the other hand, feels like he's "dodged a bullet" because he's been on the bottom a few times now, but he knows he can do better. He thinks he needs to cook what he knows, which is Pacific Rim cooking, and cook from the heart. We'll see how that works out for him.
The plucky strings of humor let us know that it's time for another round of "Those Wacky Euros, Starring Fabio and Stefan!" Stefan thinks they are "the dynamic duo" but Fabio doesn't know what that means. Then Stefan jokes that he woke up and found a shoe in his ass, after the ass kicking the judges gave him. He finishes his breakfast task, which is carving a frowny face in a watermelon, and says it represents how he felt yesterday. Fabio thinks the watermelon looks like Stefan, because it doesn't have hair. And this has been another installment of "Those Wacky Euros Starring Fabio and Stefan". See you next week.
Hosea uses the product-placed cell phone to call home and check in on his father, who was recently diagnosed with cancer. Hosea's sister answers and doesn't really say much, probably because she's on speakerphone, but also because what can you say? Hopefully, this is not the only opportunity Hosea has had to get news on his father's condition; this is just the only one he allowed to be filmed for the cameras. Hosea explains that his father didn't want him to miss this opportunity, so he came to New York, but after the show has ended, he hopes to go home and be with his family. Does his family live in Colorado? Or are they elsewhere? Hosea wants to do well because the competition is a positive force in his life right now, and probably sort of distracts him from something he can't do anything about right now anyway.
Quickfire Challenge. The cheftestants walk into the kitchen, which has been decorated for the holidays. Padma explains that their challenge is to create a holiday dish in forty-five minutes using only one pot. Radhika is freaked out, because she says that she usually uses like ten pots. Padma brings in the guest judge: Martha Stewart. The cheftestants are impressed and surprised. Ariane is especially psyched, because Martha does it all, AND she's from Jersey like Ariane. I feel like Martha would like to forget that she's from Jersey. Not that there's anything wrong with Jersey, but it doesn't really fit with Martha's creation myth, you know? Leah also likes Martha Stewart, because she's "bad-ass." Is it just me, or does Leah looks stoned most of the time? ["It's not just you." -- Angel] Martha tells the cheftestants to "make it simple, but not too simple." What does that even mean? That's one of those things that sounds profound but if you asked Martha to give a specific example of a dish that fits the mantra, she probably couldn't. And since when has Martha ever kept it simple? Martha claims to be a fan of one-pot cooking, like she has to do her own dishes. If I didn't have to do my own dishes, I'd be making elaborate meals every night.