Last episode, the chefs went to the beach and Noelián went home. We’re down to nine contestants.
- María Luisa
After Aurelio and John butting heads last time, it looks like they’re trying to give Aurelio the Villain edit. Just how much editing that takes is anyone’s guess.
Traveling Mystery Box Challenge
Benito’s back. Lauren seems to have done Claudia’s bubble hairstyle to the side. I do not like Gaby’s dress–it looks like she’s got three foundation garments under it and all the straps are just falling all over the place.
Oh…are they still talking? The challenge has something to do with cooking food from all over the world? Everyone has the same (weird) ingredients: lotus root (Asia), crocodile (Americas), argan oil (Africa), kangaroo (Oceania), salsify (Europe).
Yeah, I would totally be out of there. This is a Top Chef challenge! You do this with experienced chefs, not n00bs! They have to use AT LEAST ONE ingredient. So I guess that’s not so bad. The best five get tasted and the #1 doesn’t have to cook again and can pick a balcony buddy.
Still, I’m thinking I wouldn’t want to taste someone’s first attempt at cooking an unfamiliar protein.
John’s going to cook everything in the box. Don’t do it, John! FOCUS! Claudia looks horrified that he’s planning to serve the crocodile raw.
Sara’s doing crocodile nuggets and salsify.
Claudia can’t resist. She goes over to John to ask if he’s really not cooking the crocodile. She checks in with Lauren who’s making…some stuff…with three or four of the ingredients?
OK, I absolutely hate John balancing the cutting board in his lap. This can’t be safe.
Dubraska’s making crocodile tajine.
Can everybody stop saying crocodile sashimi?! It’s freaking me out! Crocodile sashimi is the new boeuf bourguignon.
Time for the judges to pick their poison.
- Sara’s crocodile nuggets seem to go over well.
- Lauren made kangaroo steak (?) and a lentil salad that gets good reviews.
- John…I have the fear. Oh, good he did cooked kangaroo instead of raw crocodile. Claudia is thrilled. And she informs him you can’t eat raw crocodile. I love that Gaby’s right there asking why not, like she’s just soaking up all this knowledge! The answer is it’s like chicken. The show explains that it’s got pathogens that can cause salmonella if you eat it raw. (I just had the horrid thought that I hope there wasn’t any cross-contamination.)
- María Luisa’s up next. She did a kangaroo and lotus root teriyaki and the judges are pleased. It makes me want to taste her food!
- And finally Dubraska with her crocodile tajine. Claudia looks at Gaby and Gaby’s like “NO WAY!” but everyone insists she’s going to like it. She doesn’t spit it out or anything, but she vows revenge.
Benito takes Dubraska’s dish to the contestants who weren’t called up so they can taste it. Dennis and Aurelio were like “Whatever.”
Dubraska can chill for the rest of the episode. She’s all emotional because it’s the first anniversary of her dad’s death. And since she can’t decide between Sara and John, she flips a pendant with her dad’s face. Sara gets to hang out upstairs with her.
Master Class with Claudia
Roots are important so…she’s showing them how to cook root vegetables.
Betabeles are beets. She roasted them in the oven like you might do a baked potato–coated in oil with a little salt and wrapped in foil. But then after, she puts them in the food processor with orange zest, Greek yogurt, and mint leaves.
She took the green tops of heirloom carrots to make a vinaigrette with red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, honey, mustard for emulsification (it keeps things from separating), chives, carrot greens. I might have missed some stuff in there!
She slices up some watermelon radish and sticks it in ice water. The ice water takes it from spicy to sweet. It should take about five to ten minutes.
The carrots themselves are getting sautéed while Claudia puts the rest of the dish together. I’m not even gonna try to explain her plating but everything ends up on the plate and she’s calling it a beet and radish salad.
The contestants have to replicate the dish Claudia just showed them. She’ll be tasting all of their dishes and deciding who’s up for elimination…it could be two people or all of them. They’ve got all the ingredients they need.
John starts off well, getting the beets ready for the oven while everyone else Is rushing to get their cookware.
The mandolins are giving people some problems. Claudia and Ennio come over to tell Nancy to calm down and focus on the details. Her radish is too thick and not even.
Aurelio seems resistant to advice on how to use the mandolin. Claudia takes offense.
Nancy cuts her finger.
The purée is giving people problems. The beets are supposed to be cold when they add the Greek yogurt. When Claudia is telling everyone they should be plating, John has already finished.
Claudia tells Ennio and Benito the purée seems to be the dividing line between those who understood the plate and those who didn’t. Several of them started off with the beets, then added the yogurt, and THEN realized they didn’t have enough yogurt for the amount of beets they put in.
- John’s texture wasn’t right. He’s going to elimination.
- Lauren’s texture was a little off too, but Claudia says the taste was perfect. And she gets an apron.
- Dennis’ dish was way bigger than what Claudia made. The texture of the puree was good, but the flavor wasn’t there. Annnnnd he gets an apron. Damn, he’s pissed.
Claudia passes by Lauren’s station on the way out and takes her apron away. *snort*
- Javier makes a big deal out of telling Claudia that he gets so motivated by her pep talks. John smirks. Claudia’s not sure he should still need that from her at this point. She’s debating whether he gets an apron because there’s something missing from his plate and he doesn’t know what it is.
- Nancy’s missing some stuff, but she knows it. It’s not a replica. And therefore she gets an apron.
- Aurelio had beet issues. And his presentation is even less like hers than Javier’s. So for sure, he’s going on to the elimination challenge.
- María Luisa knows she didn’t get the vinaigrette on the plate and she’s going to have to go to the elimination challenge. Claudia can’t send her upstairs, but out of all the purées, hers is the best.
She eventually sends Javier up, but I kind of wish she hadn’t. Dennis gripes.
They do like their giant boxes, don’t they? They’re going to cook with an ingredient that’s native to South America.
There are 7500 varieties.
It’s used around the world. They use it in the theater. People think it’s Italian, but the Aztecs were eating it earlier than that.
Yep, it’s tomatoes. And they’re expecting a dish that “elevates” the tomato. So they can’t just make a salsa. (But what if it’s a really, really good salsa?)
Benito feels the need to remind the contestants that the TOMATO is supposed to be the star. Tomato, tomato, and more tomato.
The balcony crew keep telling John to do another tomato, but he’s not listening. Lauren tells Aurelio to put more flour in his tomato waffle batter.
Nobody’s making a gazpacho or a hot tomato soup? I miss Abuela Miriam.
The tomato John was planning to stuff has a hole in the bottom. He’s freaking out. He puts more tomato in the tomato and some cheese on top…and then he plates it in a soup bowl.
- Benito’s not thrilled with John’s plating. Ennio agrees. Claudia complains that John’s not consistent.
- Aurelio…it’s not a waffle it’s a bite of waffle. But it’s a tomato tasting bite of waffle, so it’s all good.
- Nancy also made a stuffed tomato with tomato sauce. Ennio has nothing to say. Benito says it looks better than it tastes. Claudia’s missing salt in the dish. And she whispers to Benito that it was bitter.
- Dennis is feeling confident about his dish, but Benito isn’t pleased with the plating. The flavor’s there, but they’re still expecting more. Claudia agrees, they’re expecting more. Ennio says nothing.
- María Luisa’s up last. She made bruschetta. Claudia knows this isn’t what she was planning earlier, but it’s good and the touch of chili worked. Ennio wishes the bread had been cut a little thinner, but other than that it’s perfect. John’s jealous. Damn, I really want to taste her food!
Aurelio, John, and María Luisa are safe. That leaves Dennis and Nancy. Ohhh dear.
Nancy’s going home. Dennis is sad. Ennio tells her he thinks her talents lie more in pastries.
Bye, Nancy. I’ll miss your fabulous earrings.