By Mary Alice Fallon Yeskey
6:28 AM EDT, August 9, 2012
Happy Wednesday! Here we go with episode three:
Chefs enter the kitchen still reeling over the wedding mayhem of last week. Quickfire presents a giant ice bar laced with every seafood imaginable. The catch of the day (har har) -- the chefs cannot use heat.
Raw seafood is Chef Takashi's speciality, so everyone throws him surly looks. Note: seafood in raw form is pretty much my most favorite food on the planet, so everything the chefs prepare looks like it came from culinary heaven.
I heave a wanton sigh and watch on. Brian Boitano is the guest judge. He does critique the dishes thoughtfully and carefully.
Quote No. 1 of the episode: Curtis says, "It's like a potty in my mouth!" or maybe that was his Aussie accent acting up again.
The Quickfire gold medal goes to Takashi's sashimi aji with daikon and apple -- to no one's surprise -- and he gains immunity for the next elimination challenge and 5K for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief for Japan.
Commercial note: the Ragu "parents in bed" commercial is one of the greatest and most horrifying 30 seconds of television I have ever witnessed. He's been through enough.
Curtis introduces the elimination challenge: the Teppanyaki. This is the tableside griddle cooking us Americans know as "Benihana" style. Chris makes a sound like he's coughing up a hairball.
The chefs will be cooking for the usual critics and three former Top Chef Masters. Teams are divided by drawing knives. Curtis asks if anyone has cooked Teppanyaki before, no one says yes. Then he asks Takashi specifically. "Why me?!?" Takashi declares. Good call, Chef. Hey Curtis, has anyone here had a blooming onion before? How about YOU?
Thirty minutes in Whole Foods. Chris decides he's making Clam Chowder. On a grill. I think I speak for everyone when I say, "Okaaaaaay ..."
Chris tells Thierry to save his place in the checkout line, and Theirry decides to head on over to the chair massage station and get a rub down. Funny, they don't have chair massage stations at any Whole Foods I'VE ever been to. But I digress.
The Chefs are prepping and presenting at Shibuya at the MGM. I am surprised there wasn't even the slightest bit of Teppanyaki education or at least a primer on what temperature those grill table grills cook at. They are really going into this blind.
Each team of three has 30 minutes total, so each chef has 10 minutes to cook their dish on the griddle and narrate the entire time to the judges and be entertaining to the best of their ability.
During team one, Curtis points out that none of the Chefs are tasting their food. Good point, but I agree with Lorena who points out that tasting the food while you're preparing it tableside might be construed as rude. How would they have done that tactfully?
Clark points out how the grill is only very hot in a small central area. Team two (Patricia, Clark and Takashi) seem confident and assist each other out during their presentations.
Team three gets ready for their service. Quote No. 2 of the episode, from Art Smith regarding Chris' bossiness: "Chris is being el Toro. It's like having a bull behind you with the horns poking you in your butt."
Theirry brings the white team together and they get ready for service. As a proud BayTriot I must give Art Smith props for marinating his shrimp in Old Bay. He then sets his shrimp on fire with a flambe of Jack Daniels. Let it be known: Art Smith is my kind of chef.
True to form, Chris is barking at Art like Art is his sous chef. It's more than a little condescending. He then explains his convoluted but high-tech way of preparing clam chowder on the grill. Judges seem impressed.
Theirry commences making crepes like his Mama made back in France. I really love how this team has completely ignored the fact that this is a Japanese style of cooking and just stuck with their own backgrounds and strengths. Meanwhile, crepes are burning.
The critics all take into account that this challenge was about showmanship as well as the dish itself. Quote No. 3 of the episode, from Rick Bayliss about Chris' chowder: "I mean, I was vibrating with excitement. but when it finally came to tasting, it was a little thin." That's what she said!
Commercial note: "OurTime.com" is an older people's dating site I guess. But I can't help but think that "Our Time dot com" is really a website about the Goonies. Down here, it's OUR TIME!
On with the critics' table! Curtis calls back the White team (Theirry, Chris and Art). They had the favorite dishes. Curtis points out how Chris was being a bit of a meanie during his service but that it resulted in an amazing dish.
The editors show several shots of Art looking despondent and beaten. Not for long though, as he is then announced as the winner. Coming from "cake-gate" (as he dubbed it) to winning, he is truly shocked. He breaks down speaking to the judges about his charity, Common Threads, and it's genuinely moving.
Mark, Kerry and Lorena are the bottom team. They all take their critique gracefully and agree that they should have tasted their dishes prior to service. Mark gets das boot for his too-simple dish of sauteed scallops and bok choy. He smiles and declares that he respects the critics' decision. This is such a heartbreak because now Clark will be all by his lonesome without his partner. Nelson is breaking up. He tells Clark to kick ass. Roll credits.
Coming up next week: The B52s! And cooking in the grand canyon! In the rain! Tin Roof. Rusted.
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