They go to Emeril’s Miami restaurant and the guy himself strolls out. He tells them about his great friend Julia and then starts talking about Julie and Julia . I’m dying to see it too. (How did those million people already get to see previews? I’m NOT dialing a radio station for 5 hours.) But what does this have to do with the price of eggs?
Emeril compares the three of them following their passion to Julia (and Julie). That’s a bit of a stretch, but anyway, they get to see a preview of the movie, which is cool. Then they have to cook a three course meal for 20 people and they have $1000 to shop AND they’ll be helped by sous-chefs to be revealed later. Gee, I wonder who they’ll be. They also have to do a dem about part of their menu. That’s a weird combo – to have a cook a huge meal AND demonstrate part of it. Is that at the same time?
They go shopping. Melissa exclaims when she finds a Morbier cheese. Her third course is “a cheese trio” with a salad and a sweet “pochette” Huh? Is that French for Hot Pocket?
Debby says she’s not taking a lot of risks with her menu and she’s just going to show them what Soul-to-Soul is all about?* What the hay is that?!! That sounds like a Tim Meadows/ Saturday Night Life skit.
She says when Julie makes boeuf bourguignon in the movie it reminds her of a Korean short rib dish.
If I had doubts about Jeffrey before (I mean about how much I dislike him and what a faker he is), I have a million times more now. He has just told us that he’s making a meal for “some of the most important people in the culinary world”. Jeffrey utters one little question which, if Bobby at least heard it, he would know for sure he’s not their man.
Before I say what that is, let me just review:
1) He has ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS with which to shop.
2) He is FEEDING IMPORTANT PEOPLE.
This is what he asks the employee at the supermarket:
“DO YOU HAVE ANY FISH STOCK?”
Remember, he didn’t say beef stock. He definitely doesn’t have time to make that. He doesn’t have time to brown the bones, brown the veggies, add the water and boil, boil, boil and THEN clarify (through a crust of beaten whites, if he’s doing it right). He CERTAINLY doesn’t have time to make a demi-glace.
BUT do you know how much time it takes to make a fish stock? TWENTY MINUTES. In fact, you MUST NOT cook it for longer or it gets bitter.
If he’s making the most important meal of his life and depending on supermarket fish stock, it will definitely make its way into the final taste of the dish…which is not a good thing.
I am sooo fed up with Jeffrey. THEN he says “The bar is really high.” Not if YOU'RE still in the competition. He gets all worried in the checkout line that he’ll go over the thousand dollars. THEN we find out his total is $317.14. Putz.
The arrive at the venue and see a long table set up with all the name tags of the people who will be tasting their menus: François Payard , Marcus Samuelsson, the Neelys, Rick Bayless, John Besh, Emeril, Bobby, Morimoto, Tyler, Anne Burrell and Alex Guarnaschelli.
Debbie gets Michael, Melissa gets Jamika and Jeffrey gets Katie. (Good.)
Ratatouille & Potato Torte
Brick Herb Chicken With Orzo
Cheese Trio, Salad & Chocolate
Melissa looks as if she doesn’t know how to handle a rolling pin and she’s rolling out pastry that looks like it’s 2 inches thick. She says she’s taking a risk doing two things with pastry, but if she’s going to go down, she wants to go down big. It sounds more like a badly conceived menu to me. Melissa tells us she connects with Julia (aka Meryl Streep), telling her viewers “Don’t be afraid.” She says she’s become fearless.
Debbie says her menu is “Debbie on a plate times ten.” Eww.
Kreen (Okay, Korean) Short Ribs & Crispy Grit Cake
Asian Pear Eggroll With Rum Butterscotch
Seared Scallop & Green
Chocolate Mousse With Biscotti
Do any of these folks understand about menu planning? If THIS is your one time to impress a bunch of foodies, are you really going to serve 2 seafood dishes, Jeffrey? Plus making risotto for 20 people in a high pressure situation (unless you’re a chef with lots of help) is not a good idea anyway. Let’s see if I eat my words.
Katie asks Jeffrey what his budget was and how much he spent. He says he’ll either be a hero or an idiot. (Guess which one I vote for?)
Michael is concerned that Debbie’s short ribs won’t be tender enough. She assures us that they will be, but when she says Kreens like to GNAW ON THEIR MEAT, I’m not sure that bodes well for her dish.
Jeffrey says about his risotto, “It’s fragile, it’s risky, but I’m going to go for it.” YOU don’t know what you’re doing, and I’M going to go with that. Katie and Debbie are worried about the risotto too. Debbie, you’ve got your own almost-certain-to-fail dish to worry about…
Melissa, with a definite orange-y looking fake tan (on her face), says this is the most important meal she has ever cooked. Well, putting 3 blobs of cheese on a plate with hot pockets probably might not have been the way to go.
Jamika (apparently) oversalts Melissa’s orzo. The potato torte is not browned. Mel decides to switch the starches and serve the orzo first and give the potato thing a little more time to sit.
Ooh, Sunny is there too. Melissa strides out and starts her presentation with a VERY confusing statement. “We shouldn’t fear failure, we should fear success at the wrong thing.” She wants “this job” (TNFNS), because it fits who she is and she says something about her mom and her two little girls and I’m wondering if she’s going to get the Spanish household thing in. If only she could change it to Swedish to appeal to Marcus.
She’s kind of blathering on as she talks about a holiday mother-daughter tea party they used to have and they would cook for MONTHS…and that’s where she learned to bring joy to people or something like that. And THEN, OMG, listen to this: “When I was in college, my mom committed suicide.”
I don’t even know what to say. To be honest, I can’t remember if we knew that already, but the folks at the table certainly didn’t. On a purely practical level, that statement completely negates all that talk about the sweet holiday parties.
Obviously, her mother was cooking herself into a total frenzy and…Wait, Melissa is STILL talking. "My mom killed herself and so I got good with getting a meal on the table, I went to business school", she says, "And climbed my way up the corporate ladder." Huh? We’re still trying to absorb that shocking statement and she’s going on and on with more information.
I actually think it was rather brave of Melissa to come out with that, especially since it obviously was a big part of making her who she is. And, boy, am I going to feel dumb if I wrote about it weeks ago and just forgot! I’m not sure, however, that the sudden and surprising way she brought it up will work to her advantage. But maybe…
The thing I DO object to is that she’s been selling herself as a mom and housewife and NOW she’s using the (really hackneyed) phrase “climbing the corporate ladder”, so she can add THAT group to her fan base. PLUS she’s talking really slowly AND loudly. She’s already lost me and I’m sure she’s losing those folks.
Well, I got it completely wrong…at least what the culinary folks think. Bobby says she’s thoughtful and poetic. Emeril is looking at her with a smile. Sunny is touched by her story. I guess I’m just a scrooge, but I know what she’s about to serve them and they don’t.
Then she says she has a mother-in-law from Nice (goodie, now the French can join her devotees), who taught her how to make a proper ratatouille. Pat Neely says the texture is good. Rick Bayless says the flavors are delicious.
Melissa gives a demo right there and then during the second course. She’s talking at them, while they’re eating her chicken and potato torte. Maybe it’ll take their minds off the crunchy potatoes. Rick again is complimentary. François says she was talking about a crust and he never saw a crust on his chicken AND his was overcooked. Sunny says her chicken was one of the dry ones, but she loved the potato dish.
Melissa says they always have cheese and a salad for dessert at her house. Remind me not to go there during blueberry season…or chocolate cake season…or when I'm needing some crème brulée.
Sunny and John LOVE the pastry. He says she’s an artisan…Well, so are the people that make steel radial tires. He says her ratatouille was incredible, the potato torte was an A plus, and the pastry was incredible. Marcus says she’s done a great job. Bob says he had to hunt through the salad to see what she made and he found the pastry. Alex says let’s get rid of the cheeses and bring on a big plate of those “cookies”.
Debbie comes bounding out and she says her folks emigrated here 60 years ago and ALL they knew how to make was fried chicken, greens and cornbread. HUH? They learned THAT in Kree-a and brought it here? Or does she mean they emigrated from North to South…
She goes into something about blending her southern cooking with her grandmother’s Korean cooking. No one at the table can taste anything Korean in her first course.
Debbie says the short ribs are served for special occasions. Gina says they taste a little bland. François says they’re tough. Rick likes it that they aren’t braised.
Dessert is served and she does a demo of her Asian pear eggroll. Pat loves the demo, Marcus loves the filling, but says the dough is raw. She says she’s sorry.
Jeffrey comes out. He demos his first course, scallops.
Jeffrey says the next course is as much his wife as it is him. (Don’t blame HER!) He says they’ve travelled many times to
François says he likes his personality, but that the risotto is the worst he’s ever had in his life. THEN François says, “It’s like killing the Italian cooking.” Good one!
Marcus says, “You had me” with the first course, but that the risotto is “a disrespect to
Bobby says we gave you $1000. He asks how much he spent. Jeffrey says $370. Liar. Not that it matters. He’s so over. (Debbie would have been pilloried for that.)
He starts babbling about the dessert and how he and his daughter make biscotti over the weekend and how he likes mousse and that it fills his mouth with lots of flavor. He oughta fill his mouth with something (ANYTHING) and stop talking.
Alex interrupts him and says she thinks it’s just delicious and that she’s really connected to him. (Maybe she’s going through a dry spell or something).
He leaves and they discuss. Anne likes his demo the most and says he was the most polished. Rick says Melissa’s food was the best. Emeril thinks she was gutsy to do what she did. Marcus reminds them she’s not a chef and that people can relate to that. Morimoto, a man of few words, “To ME, Debbie”.
Evaluation time. My prediction: Melissa is safe for sure. They HATED Jeffrey’s risotto, but they liked HIM. Debbie didn’t seem to have as many boosters. I will say…Debbie will go home.
Bob tells Melissa there’s only one word to describe her week after week: surprising. He tells her that François Payard said her pastry for dessert was amazing. (Do you have to keep rubbing in how very wrong I was?) Bobby didn’t think her demo was particularly good. Bob basically says she talks too much and she does have stuff to say, but she needs to edit. (Maybe the part about violent death should be the first thing to go.)
Bob says he was incredibly impressed with Jeffrey’s first course. But the judges all remark on the poor risotto and how little money he spent. Bobby says he should have thrown 5 lobsters in there and just made it unbelievably aromatic. Hello? FRESH fish (or shellfish) stock, anyone? Bob says if the meal had been better, the money wouldn’t have been a big deal, but it didn’t feel like a luxurious meal.
Bobby says Debbie came off just like Debbie. He says he wanted more flavor from her dishes. Bob says she has warmth and humor, but that her food was mixed bag (of good and bad, I guess). Bobby says he doesn’t want her to change soul-to-soul, but he wants to TASTE it.
Bob gives them a last chance to tell them anything they want to. Melissa does her gross marketing spiel about how there’s a market out there not being addressed. She brings in the 4 kids again. (In the dining room, she was a high powered career woman. Who uses those words anymore anyway?) And she adds, “Good news, I can cook.”
Debbie’s plea for staying is that she’s a human. Yup, that’s what she said. (I AM really loving this episode.) And that she can enjoy her life and who she is. And she adds something about loving
THEN she loses them even more when she says, “Not only do I represent the Koreans (and) the Americans. I think I understand the whole population! And I think I’M the person THEY want to study.” You mean like behind bars in a zoo? Susie actually grimaces. Debbie is definitely gone.
Jeffrey's defense for keeping him is that he won’t let them down.
The three leave the room and Bobby says Melissa has improved the most. Bob says she’s a wild card. I guess that’s a good thing? He says Jeffrey is strong. And, good, it seems like Bobby is with me. He says Jeffrey hasn’t shown a lot of range during the whole process. Susie and Bob think Debbie is “camera-ready”.
They come back in. Bobby says it wasn’t easy. He says Melissa has made it to the final two. Knew it! Jeffrey is staying. Debbie is gone!!! She thanks them graciously. I didn’t think she was terrible this week, but since she should have been given the heave-ho weeks ago, it was lucky she made it this long.
Jeffrey and Melissa talk on the balcony of the hotel. Melissa, throw him off! Then you could add felons to your fan club.
*My VERY intelligent reader, Kathy, pointed out below that Debbie probably meant Seoul to Soul. That DOES makes A LOT more sense.