The next morning is the first day of the challenge. The cheftestants get ready. Walking into the kitchen, the cheftestants are greeted by Colicchio, Gail, and Bot. Hubert Keller is back as a judge and this time he seems less stuffy, which is kind of cool. Today's Quickfire is actually going to be an Elimination challenge. They will have to cater to very specific customers in a very short space of time. They will be cooking for room-service customers. They will each fill the same three room-service orders and when the orders are in, they have thirty minutes to get their food on color-coded carts. Dave is black, Tiffani is burgundy, and Harold is teal. A judge will accompany the order as it is brought to the room, sit with the guests, and report back on what the guests thought. They have ten minutes to familiarize themselves with the kitchen. Oh, man, it's a beautifully designed kitchen. All the food is set up to look like a grocery store. Fruit and vegetables are in wooden tubs, fresh herbs are hanging from the ceiling, fish and meat have little signs saying what they are, and there's an entire pull-out cheese shelf. Drool. Harold is torn about how he feels. On the one hand, they have access to a lot of great stuff, but on the other, it's too abundant. There's a brief return of Cranky Chef as he says, "Cooking for room service -- this is so not my style." The cheftestants line up as Colicchio reads out their order: "This is three VIPs in the High-Roller Suite, they want seafood. You have to do one hot course and one cold course." Food flurry.
Colicchio reports the results of his abbreviated Sniff 'n' Sneer: "The one thing that has really surprised me is that nobody grabbed the caviar. There's also this really beautiful Kobe beef and I'm surprised someone hasn't put together a Surf 'n' Turf." If I heard an order for seafood, I wouldn't think, "Seafood... AND BEEF!" I'd think, the customers want seafood, I'm giving them seafood. Also, Colicchio? Get your bald head out of craftsteak every once in awhile.
Food flurry. Tiffani explains her lobster dish -- it will stay hot on the way up, she's decided -- and a Campeche carpaccio. Dave yanks at some lemongrass. Time ticks away. With twenty seconds to go, the cheftestants quickly plate. Unlike in other challenges, the judges stayed in the kitchen the entire time to observe them. Time's up. Tiffani's cart displays her cold Campeche Carpaccio Crudo (it looks like it might be garnished with scallions and a single blood orange segment), and her hot Roasted Lobster and Fennel. Dave's cart is loaded with his cold Lemongrass Crab Stack & Prawns (tails on) with Court Bouillon (I don't see the court bouillon; maybe it's on the side as a broth?) and his hot Cinnamon and Nutmeg Rubbed Opa. Sounds like a Christmas cookie. Harold's offerings are a cold Snapper Crudo with fanned avocado and cucumbers, and a hot Mussel and Smoked Paprika Soup. Yum. It's clearly cream-based and looks like it's been garnished with bright green snipped chives. The carts arrive at their destination, and the high rollers are Stephen, Miguel, and Lee Anne. Awesome! Hubert Keller, the judge sent up with the dishes, welcomes them, and they all clink a Champagne toast. Keller says, "SantÃ©." He's so cute. Lee Anne tells us, "Yeah, we're high rollers and we want caviar." Yeah, but really, you can get just so much from the good things and you can linger too long in your dreams, so I don't know. I mean, although I've eaten it on various occasions and served it on others, when it comes right down to it, I'm not a fan of caviar. I think I like the idea of it more than anything else.