Oh my, Adam’s doing push-ups in his boxers. Gross. I certainly hope that means he’s going home, although many others should be up for that honor as well.
And guess what? Another pointless challenge this week…Cat Cora delivers the good news. (Shane is really taken by her and gawking at her hotness like a 19 year old. Oh wait, he IS 19 years old.)
Each contestant is given a picnic basket with ingredients from which they have to create and prepare a dish in 75 seconds!!! Just kidding, actually it’s not much better. They have 30 minutes to make it and then they have to describe it on camera.
Udon noodle salad with a ginger vinaigrette, lemon chicken and beet browned butter
Pork tenderloin with almonds and Swiss chard, prosciutto and mangos
Pan seared cod with saffron polenta and a blood orange beurre blanc
Flank steak with cumin, avocado, anchovies and roasted garlic with a habanero compound butter
Shitake Mushroom and Turkey Salad over Napa cabbage
Chocolate strawberry shortcake
Aaron admits he’s not “a camera person”. Ummm, Aaron, you seem like a lovely guy, BUT WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE THEN??!
Cat tells them time is up and she gives the challenge a twist. They have to taste SOMEONE ELSE’s dish and describe it on camera in 90 seconds, without any previous information about it. Yeah, that’s an everyday situation that they’ll find themselves in…NOT!
Kelsey isn’t that bad, but she said it was a citrus butter instead of a habanero butter. Then we see Shane kind of mocking her, “SHE SAID it was a citrus butter.” Pipe down Shane, let’s see how well you do. (That kid is starting to get on my nerves and I liked him before.)
Shane has to describe Kelsey’s dish. All the ingredients are clearly identifiable, so he doesn’t have as hard a time. He is comfortable and Cat likes his energy.
Adam has to taste Aaron’s dish. This one is easy, but, apparently, not easy enough. He calls it a Napoleon. Adam really knows nothing about cooking. He is slightly funny, except that he takes a huge bite, when he should have been wrapping up.
Aaron is even worse. He takes a bite of Adam’s food and keeps chewing and chewing. Then another bite and more chewing. He only gets a few sentences out before his time is up. If he had been doing a commercial for dentures, it would have been very effective. And are we supposed to excuse him because he’s not “a camera person”?
Lisa gets Jennifer’s pork tenderloin dish. She identifies a few ingredients accurately and isn’t a total mess in front of the camera. Cat thought Lisa was being a bit fake. Whatever…this is so inane.
Jennifer is last. She describes Lisa’s udon noodles as linguine. She chews and cuts and can’t identify the ingredients. She really struggles without having said anything. Cat comes right out and says, “You don’t really know your foods.”
Cat declares Shane to be the winner. I think he wishes he had won a date with Cat.
Cat comes back after the break with Barbara Fairchild. She’s much too distinguished a food professional to be wrapped up in this. But she didn’t ask me for my advice, so there she is next to Cat as she gives them the next challenge.
They have to take the following traditional dishes and reinvent them to be accessible to the home cook AND they have to be prepared in 45 minutes:
Coq au Vin
They’ll be working with partners and each one also has to prepare a side dish. They will be serving the judges and the editors and staff of Bon Appétit. Plus the winning recipe will be in the August issue of Bon Appétit, hence Barbara Fairchild’s participation. They keep reminding us that Cat Cora is Executive Chef of Bon Appétit. Does that mean that when they have important people to entertain, she breezes in and fixes a little sump’n sump’n?
As the winner, Shane gets to pick his dish first. He chooses Beef Wellington, which he’ll be doing with Kelsey. He gets to assign the other dishes. Adam and Aaron will do the Coq au Vin. Lisa and Jennifer get Turducken.
Adam completely mispronounces coq au VIN, which may or may not indicate that he can cook it. My guess is that it’s not a good sign. They have 30 minutes to shop.
Shane is happy with his partner. Lisa is not. Jennifer says Lisa is really bossy. Adam goes for bone-in chicken breasts. Aaron buys boneless. For heaven’s sake, why wouldn’t they use boneless thighs? There’s so much more flavor. They blew it.
They start the chicken. Adam is doing polenta. Aaron is doing a pasta dish. He remembers Adam serving undercooked eggs on the train episode and he gets nervous about the chicken. What a surprise, Adam’s chicken IS not cooking fast enough. They have 30 seconds to serve. The plates are disgusting. Aaron says a three year old could do better.
Aaron does a terrible job at the presentation. Adam is funny. They get asked if the pasta was supposed to be draped over the bowl. Stupidly they say no. Barbara liked Adam’s presentation. Kristine Kidd hated the polenta. Bobby said the red wine and chicken are supposed to be as one.
Jennifer is doing acorn squash as a side dish. Really dumb, that takes longer than the short time they have. She also breaks an entire glass jar over the acorn squash as it’s cooking, as well as one duck leg that Lisa was counting on to give some flavor to the stuffing.
Lisa was unequivocal that all of it had to be thrown out because of the broken glass. Now, tell me the truth, have you EVER served something that was potentially, while maybe not lethal, just a little dicey? I certainly don’t anymore, but I’m positive that in my earlier, thriftier years, there may have times when I fudged an expiration date (NEVER on poultry or meat) or two. But I’m also sure the only person I would ever have done that to is H. And he probably deserved it.
Jennifer not only destroys her side dish and Lisa’s duck leg, she also ruins the sauce. Lisa tries to fix it, but has other things to do, so Jenn keeps playing with it. Time runs out and Jenn says they can’t serve it. Lisa says fine and then says she’ll probably regret it.
Their presentation is fine until Jennifer starts apologizing and explains everything that went wrong in the kitchen. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all my years in the kitchen, it’s that YOU NEVER APOLOGIZE.
I promise you it’s true when I tell you that people won’t notice much of anything. They’re just grateful not to be dragging the Lean Cuisine out of the freezer. The only exception to this is incredibly spoiled husbands, who have been fed way too well for way too long and comment on every little misstep in the kitchen. (Better watch out for that ground glass.)
Barbara says the dish is a little dry and needs a sauce. Susie says they copped out because they should have had one thing inside the other.
Shane and Kelsey have a lot to do. Kelsey is rushing around, burning herself. Shane’s also having a hard time. Kelsey says that because the two of them are the youngest, the judges are looking to see a high level of expertise. I’m just looking for them not be nitwits.
Shane wishes the plates looked better. He introduces the dish well…as a No-Nightmare Beef Wellington. Kelsey says she used fresh vegetables instead of roasted.
The Bon Appétit photographer says the presentation is poor. Cat Cora said the filet is cooked well. The restaurant person didn’t like the dish. He said the flavors didn’t come together. And Bob said he wished Kelsey would stop saying she cooked this and that in culinary school, sounding as if she has no real world experience, which of course, she doesn’t.
I’ve just decide that Shane is going to win, not just this week, but the whole thing. Not because he’s good, but because he’s the least bad.
Back in the judging room, Bobby starts with Shane and Kelsey. Her descriptions on camera of absolutely delicious and beautiful mean absolutely nothing. Bob says to stop mentioning culinary school. It doesn’t inspire confidence. Susie says their dish wasn’t attractive. Cat says the flavor was good.
On to Jennifer and Lisa, Bob says it was hard to watch Jennifer’s tape. They blast her for saying it was udon noodles. She really is a complete mess. The Turducken is blasted for a lack of flavor. Jen admits all her errors. They say her presentation is good, though. For some reason, the judges don’t mention the apologizing this time. Lisa does ok.
Susie says Aaron spent his whole time tasting Adam’s dish. Cat says he didn’t own it. Didn’t own it? He didn’t even rent it for an hour. Bob says the flavor was good, but had nothing to do with coq au vin. Cat says the same thing.
Bob says that Adam’s food is not good and that he’s only there because of his personality. That’s slightly frightening when the head of programming admits that one of the six finalists on TNFNS can’t cook.
At this point I wouldn’t watch any of them. Well, I actually might watch Kelsey to see how annoying she was.
The winner of the Bon Appétit challenge is Shane and Kelsey’s 45 minute Beef Wellington. And they’re both safe. They can leave the room. Then Bob does the Heidi trick of saying the names of the others in a serious doomsday way. Lisa…Aaron…dumdumdumdum duuuummmmm…Adam and Jennifer.
Lisa is safe. For some reason Aaron is too. It’s just Jennifer and Adam. Adam and Jennifer. Jennifer and…oh, you get the idea. They both stink. “From a culinary standpoint, you’re on thin ice,” says Bobby about Adam. We can only hope that he falls through sooner than later.
Susie says Jennifer doesn’t demonstrate a high level of expertise. That’s the understatement of the century, well, at least of the hour. They’re getting rid of Jennifer…as they should have. “I gave up a lot to be here”, she whines. “I’m still going to continue to be great mother and chef.” Who cares, just leave. Oh, sorry, did I say that out loud?