The Next Iron Chef

Go Symon! Not only is it our new favorite chef’s first battle in the blue, it’s the “Chairman’s Annual Fall Classic” – in years past there has been apples, squash, and turkey.

The challenger, Ricky Moore, was specifically selected to battle Symon. He’s the head chef of Agraria, where they daily select their farm-fresh produce. (Oh, also? It’s totally the Battle of the Bald – from the chefs to their sous(s?), there’s not a hair in the house!)

The secret ingredient? Thanksgiving. I hate it when the chairman does this. The last time it was “farm fresh produce” and…well, yeah, of course? Duh?

Both chefs start with the turkey of course, as it takes the longest. Moore ripped his to pieces with his bare hands. Symon used a knife. Also early on are the peelings: sweet potatoes, russets, and apples.

Comments on the groundbreaking nature of the battle, yada yada. Oh! Venison! I love anyone who uses venison over turkey at Thanksgiving. Turkey is nasty. Venison *and* bacon! Delicious.

Symon seems to have an apple crumble of some kind. I love apple crumble. The challenger is going with something involving maple ice cream. Can I put the maple ice cream on the crumble?

Cracklins are in the process on Symon’s side, which pleases Alton greatly. Also there is comment on how very quiet the Stadium is. Tsk!

Symon’s first judges! Ted Allen, who is awesome, Alexandra Guaranschelli, AND JEFFREY STIENGARTEN! He gives thanks for crispy skin, by the way. You know, if you’re surprised.

Symon’s got ice cream too, and a sweet cranberry application. I am hungry! Moore’s cranberries are in stock, which could be interesting.

…Ricky Moore has very vile-looking cornbread stuffing that I would not touch. Symon has “old skool” stuffing. I want Symon to win, thankyou.

There are duck eggs looking to get poached on Moore’s side. Oh, and apparently not entirely the battle of the bald – that particular sous did have a bunch of hair.

Brussel sprouts on the challenger’s side. Ew. However, he does seem to have sweet potato chips, which is a point in his favor.

It is noted that Iron Chef coats have sleeves, which Symon does not normally wear. Symon cries out with heat.

Interesting! The challenger is putting his mashed potatoes through a fine mesh seive to mash them. Symon used a potato masher. Once again, I prefer Symon’s method. The only points that the challenger gets is the sweet pototo chips and the venison.

Symon loses an egg! This is why they make extra – and Symon’s got all his plates in motion. The challenger, whose been yelling about plating for 15 minutes, still doesn’t have a one down, according to Alton. Moore is not doing so hot! Oh, there is a pumpkin soup now, with mushrooms and bacon.

OH NO! Symon spilled the grappa into the apple crumble! Oh, but he seems okay with it. Maybe it was going to go in eventually?

Moore’s venison is still raw. Moore is not doing so hot at all. 3 minutes to get that up to a servable temp! It will be pretty sad if Mike wins his first battle on forfeit.

Symon, DONE! He’s wiping plates with 30 seconds left to go. Challenger is darn unhappy, but he’s got to plate with 10 seconds left. Happy Thanksgiving??

Moore’s food was inspired by growing up. 1st course: Pureed pumpkin soup, with apple ragu and bacon. The judges love it.

Cornbread dressing and braised turkey, as inspired by his mom. Awwww. Alexandra doesn’t think the sweet addition wasn’t necessary. Ted likes the stuffing.

Deep fried turkey with zinfandel cranberry sauce. Ted appreciates the crispy skin. Alexandra thinks it is bold to have such thick slices, and Jeffrey tells her to say what she means, which, he tells her, is that the turkey tastes like shoe leather. Typical Jeffrey.

Venison wrapped in bacon with potato rubachon, which Alexandra loves – even though she normally hates potato puree. Jeffrey actually likes the brussel sprouts.

Sweet potato streusel is up next with apple cider. Alexandra calls it seduction. Ted likes the ice cream.

Symon’s judgment. He wanted to bring out the nostalgia, and at his house they start with drinks and oysters. There’s that grappa. The oyster was in a strange sauce that sounded okay. The judges are very interested in this – and they appreciate the lightness of the first course that is acidic, to cut the later fats.

Turducken spin next. Duck, turkey cracklins, and chicken somehow. Ted thinks turducken is nauseating, but this, being not bird-inside-bird, is okay. Alexandra likes the liver, Jeffrey likes the crunch.

Mashed potatoes with fried turkey liver. Alexandra thinks the breading on the liver was unnecessary. Jeffrey loved the potatoes.

Braised turkey with squash and cranberries next. Ted thinks that the deconstruction of everyone’s traditions is clever, but not too clever, and thus awesome. Alexandra was pleased that the cranberry sauce was tart.

Apple-fennel crumble and ice cream up for dessert. Ted wasn’t expecting to feel the fennel, and he wasn’t too sure about that. Jeffrey wasn’t as sure about the lack of cinnamon in the dish, either.


Taste 24 – ?? (My computer died and I lost the numbers)
Plating 11 – 11
Originality 14 – 10


Sorry, this is a terribly long review. Four pages, in fact. However, WordPress did not cooperate with my desire to link you directly to where I state the winner, so my best recommendation would simply to scroll quickly. It’s in bold, second-to-last paragraph. 

It’s been a long go of it. There were some bad decisions (How did Aaron make it that far? Why did Traci go so soon? ) and there were some good decisions (Besh and Symon are walking into the Stadium to face each other), but either way, here we are. The Kitchen Stadium, where it all began and where it will all end.

I am pleased with both Symon and Besh. Josh and I think that they are both worthy, and that really, if they had them fight two battles, it would be a tie.

Symon wants Iron Chef more now than he did before. Besh is excited to learn of the secret ingredient. Alton calls it a culinary deathmatch. Now, can we get to the ingredient? No, we have to listen to the accomplishments of Besh and Symon thus far. Impressive, yes, but I’ve seen those episodes already. Can we get on with it?

The Iron Chefs that are remaining, Cat, Bobby, and Morimoto, are also monitoring the battle. Catcalls, anyone?

The battle, this test, is called Attain Greatness. I like it.

The ingredient is swordfish! Alton states they must both have a gameplan in mind. Besh, not so much: I’ll roll up my sleeves! Symon: Don’t mess up in the first 10 minutes.

All of the former competitors are in the audience, watching. Josh and I think that must be awkward, but the competitors might appreciate the support.

Besh is headed back to Louisiana. Is anyone surprised? Word on the street is that there are surprise judges (perhaps the Iron Chefs?) and that might save him – Donatella would not let him live after yet another Weeziana showing.


Please excuse my screaming. It’s exciting, okay? Anyway, Josh and I are definitely noticing that this battle seems off to a very slow start – not a good thing for either chef. Thus far, they’ve been given 90 minutes, 3 hours, etc etc, but they’ve had other difficulties. Now that they have only 60 minutes, but the best equipment and all the food they could need, will they flounder?

Besh makes a Nage which sounds vile. Symon has a combo of beets and lamb tongue. Weirdo.

Word on the street is wrong. Dontella, Andrew, and Ruhlman are sitting at the judges table. Well, we can hope Donatella is feeling generous.

Symon is using the sous vide! That’s awesome. He took the other contests to heart. There will be points for that. Ruhlman is excited to see what is going on. Donatella is predictably excited to see the sous vide. Andrew is hoping for boundary breaking, as always.

Symon is already plating! Wow! Not even to the 30 minute mark and he’s already getting stuff down.

Besh is quiet, according to Symon, and Symon claims to be feeling like “a million bucks.” Besh is not agreeing. That spells even more doom for the Beloved Besh.

Symon trying to avoid being a “one-trick pony,” which is by all accounts a smart move. Our judges just hate one-trick ponies. Besh should take note.

There is a new Iron Chef coat coming out. Debbie Johnson and her daughter Tore won a competition for the design of the new coats. Interesting. Anyway. Off of that little interlude…

There’s some roasted pineapple and swordfish on a triangular plate down on Symon’s side. It’s really pretty, and looks really good.

I do hope he’s got something up his sleeve for those being stark freezing cold by the time he gets to judging….Bobby usually doesn’t plate until the dead end for that reason, even though they get 15 minutes or whatever once it’s all said and done to make up plates for the judges. All the things he’s made in the hour will need reheated. I hope they take it well.

Symon is so confident. Besh is so not. Come on, Besh!

Skordalia on Symon’s side. I had never heard of it before, but it sounds delicious. I must try this. Symon has also cut down on the bacon.

Flay things they are doing well, but they can’t get lax. Cora agrees. Morimoto wants dessert. Alton is glad that neither of them went for the ice cream machine.

Besh is going to go for dessert, since Morimoto asked for it. He’s got less than 7 minutes to pull off swordfish dessert. Dang. And it’ll be his SEVENTH dish. I was expecting six, because that’s Besh for you, but holy crap. I mean, the man pulled off catfish dessert. Surely swordfish, being less nasty, can’t be that hard.

Ack! Symon has some pretty amazing dishes, but Alton talks too fast for me to get good notes of what they are. Symon does have six as well, however, plate seven, swordfish dessert, is done on Besh’s side. You still can’t top him in dishes yet, Symon. Even if you do plan to tie.

Alton comments! OH! The iron chefs are going to switch chairs with the judges! As Josh said, there really is nothing more appropriate. The Iron Chefs should be the judges when it comes to entry into this tight little club.

Symon is up first. The first one is a marinated swordfish with sesame yuzu. He did a coktail with sake and yuzu. Bobby Flay thinks it’s a refreshing way to start. Next up, olive oil poached swordfish – this is the one that went into the immersion ciruclator; cora is excited about the plating, but not the spices. Bobby loves the taste.

Dish number three for Symon is a swordfish ravioli. Cora doesn’t like the mousse, calling it gritty, but the broth is nice. Morimoto is waiting for the “punch.” Moving on to spice roasted swordfish! Bobby says it is “just tasty.” Cat says it rocks. Good words for Symon!

Crispy Swordfish up next, with micro beets. Morimoto is impressed with the super tender beets. Cat things the skordalia was bland, and she would know. His last presentation is braised swordfish, in a soup thing. Again, Cat thinks that it’s perfectly iron chef material, and Morimoto loved it. Flay is now a swordfish collar convert. It’s looking good for Symon.

Besh is on the block! He starts up with cold smoked swordfish, served with Louisiana wine, and paddlefish roe over mascarpone. (why is mascaraed recognized by the spell checker, but mascarpone not?) Flay will be stealing the dish. Cora thought it was exceptional.

Second, Swordfish Crunchy roll, which sounds like my kind of time – Lobster wrapped in swordfish. Flay says the focus was not on the swordfish. Morimoto agrees. Up comes Swordfish Brandade Anigoli, it’s a pasta with basil foam and quick tomato sauce. Cora really likes the foam. Morimoto approves of the tender mousse.

Breaded swordfish next! He ran bread through a pasta press for this, served with hollandaise. Sounds amazing. Bobby loves it, but he and Cora agree it needs something – heat or acid, but it’s missing.

Blackened swordfish and shrimp for the what, 5th course already? Cora thinks the shrimp is unnecessary. Flay agrees – swordfish was great, leave it be! Sixth course, Swordfish Picatta with chanterelle and bacon. Bobby thinks treating the fish like meat is good. Morimoto is glad he got to the swordfish steak, but finds the bacon and mushrooms too strong.

Swordfish dessert! Swordfish cream and Brik pastry. Bobby applauds the effort, but he can’t taste the swordfish. Morimoto likes his challenging spirit, and thanks him for making dessert. I agree with Morimoto. This dish was obviously unplanned, and it’s really quite spectacular that he tried it at all.

It looks like it is Symon’s win. Normally I would be excited about this, I love the judging of iron chef battles (they are less dramatic than most, with judging happening behind the scenes) but here I’m more nostalgic. Why did this battle have to come? Why can’t they both be Iron Chefs? They both deserve it.

But here it…oh, how am I not surprised. There is a full panel — all six judges are there, even though Donatella and Co didn’t eat. Weird.

They are here to provide history, since the Iron Chefs haven’t been watching the series, as it hasn’t yet been edited and taped, as of the taping of the Iron Chef battle. Ruhlman says that Symon started poorly, and then truly excelled. Besh startred strong and kept it up. Andrew thinks Besh is cocky. Donatella says that Besh had fewer wows, but he never dissappointed. I would say that, despite the fact that these judges have been repeatedly delusional, that this a good representation of the truth as we were shown it.

Now, the Iron Chefs get a moment to say what being an Iron Chef means to them. Flay says you have to think on your feet. Cora says being a visualist is important. Morimoto things that Bobby and Cora said enough. He “100% agree, Yes.”

Ruhlman was pleased with their fundamentals (having apparently forgotten the consomme incident), Donatella got pushed to the edge (catfish truffles will do that to you), and Andrew felt that he saw the warrior spirit he was looking for (once the chairman beat it out of them!)

….Apparently Morimoto drew all the dishes. That’s awesome! Cora felt that they were both warriors. She also felt that the Iron Chef spirit came out when Besh made the dessert, even if it wasn’t that great. Bobby thought the dessert was a Very Bad Idea and that he should have kept his risks elsewhere.

Now, Alton asks – have they pushed the envelope enough? Everyone knows who they have decided for – they aren’t doing the typical voting, with points for plating and whatnot. No, they are voting for who they think should win.

My guess, now, is that it’s going to be really close, but I still think Symon won.

A commercial break, and then the jury verdict! Of course, there is an obnoxious amount of rhetoric on the part of the chairman, there just to tick the viewer off, I’m sure. JUST TELL US ALREADY!

SYMON! Mike Symon won. Wow. The chairman didn’t flourish toward Symon, he actually turned back to the Wall o’ Chef, and then there was Symon’s picture where Mario’s used to be. Symon kind of stopped, and then he was all, oh look! It’s me! and then they let him step up on his brand-new platform.

Besh is a really good loser, though. He was quite gracious. I hope he comes back to the Stadium. I hope that, when he does, he picks Symon, and kicks his butt.

Oh, Aaron is gone! Dancing and joy! Anyway. Tonight is in Paris (that was totally said in accent by the way) I’m not the biggest fan of French food, as the French defined pretentious, but if the food is good, it’s good, it doesn’t matter where it came from.

Chris, Besh, Symon. They are all excellent, but if the world goes rightly, Chris will leave tonight. Besh and Symon are better chefs.

An envelope is presented to each of them – each with 2,000 euros and a list of the chairman’s favorite Parisian grocers. They have to create a 3-course American meal for 20 people, in France. They are culinary ambassadors!

As Chris points out, they don’t know what sort of kitchen they have available. Thus, they can’t plan to make sure they have all cold, all hot, whatever. However, I can’t imagine that the chairman is going to put them under that sort of pressure again. After all, the Iron Chef doesn’t have to fight in a mud pit, he has to fight in the Stadium.

Chris doesn’t know what to do with American food. He hasn’t made it in a long time, after all – he’s been too busy being a foreign-food traitor (yeah, I know, I’m such a hypocrite!) Besh is super-excited (has he done non-American yet?) but he debates over pulling in all the regions in or sticking with his tried-and-true. Josh and I are rooting for the former option. Symon plans on modernizing the classics, a terribly American move. Besh v. Symon, last episode, check.

Chris is already lost, confused, and irritated with how slow his transport is. He finds Symon and heads on in to the same shop.

GO BESH! He can speak a bit of french, and he’s talking it up with the locals. Rachel Ray would be so proud.

Chris continues to follow Symon! Bad form. He should have done a little more research before going to Paris? Yeah, it’s not hard to get a street map beforehand, look up a few words of French, stand on your own two feet….

Symon is making a twisted hot-dog with lobster. Sounds good. Oh, and guess what? Chris is using lobster too. He claims it’s not a coincidence. Loser!

Chris is dealing with this super-expensive cheese and he wants to make a sauce out of it. I’m with the man at the fromagerie – that’s a waste!

Besh is not concerned with his competitors. As he should be! I imagine Symon wouldn’t be either, but he has a shadow.

They are cooking in a beautiful location, namely Craig Robert Stapleton’s home, the former Rothschild mansion. So, it’s actually American soil, ironically enough. Craig has told the 20 guests they are serving that the best chefs in the world cooking for them this evening. Well, isn’t that pressure!

As for that leadership and inspiration: they each get sous-chefs, whom they’ve never met, handpicked by the chairman for each contestant. Most excellent!

They get 3 hours for 3 courses for their 20 people. They also have to showcase their vision in some kind of display. The judges will be sitting with the guests, and the guests’ responses will actually matter, for once. This is good. I like the guests getting a say – and if there are only 20 guests, it’s quite likely that they are all extremely qualified to judge the candidates anyway.

John likes to cook next to Chris, as then he feels more organized. Yeah, I can see how that would make you feel better! Symon needs to read the cookbook, “How to Boil Water,” as he’s not doing so hot in that arena. Not a good day to have a bad day, Symon, no.

Carmelized onion puree sounds icky. But that could be a personal thing.

Chris cries out in anguish when Alton calls the first hour over. Hmmm.

Holy. Cow. Truffle mashed potatoes, something with blueberries for dessert – Symon’s meal sounds delicious, and I don’t even know what it is yet.

I have never heard of what Chris is doing – stuffing a bottle of vodka in a watermelon for the fourth of July? Okay, I can see that happening, but it’s not really a tradition I’ve ever heard of. Not like, oh, strawberry shortcake, which Besh is making.

Symon is having to talk himself into not quitting! Oh noes!

Guests are upstairs having cocktails when Next Iron Chef returns, and it is coming down to a madhouse downstairs. Yes, I know I mixed metaphors, but you know what? It makes plenty of since if you’re watching.

They are all now starting to create their table displays, which really just look like your standard banquet displays. What can you say, they’re chefs, not designers. At very least, it’s very American. Symon has this really cool blueberries-and-raspberries on a white tablecloth thing going, so that’s pretty and American, if kind of cliche.

“No more foodie touchy” comes along, and everyone was still working when it came along. Whooo, that’s close!

The guests, by the way, were unspecified dignitaries and important French people – well, except for our old friends Ruhlman, Donatella, and Andrew.

Besh starts with a crab meat BLT sandwich with caviar ranch dressing. Frenchman 1 complains that that caviar shouldn’t be hidden behind bacon, but other Frenchman 2 says it was the best BLT ever.

Chris starts with new england lobster roll, with no real mentions yet.

Symon’s beginning was a spin on the hotdog, the lobster hotdog and chips. He comments that you can “hammer it home” like you were at the stadium. Frenchman 1 complains that potato chips weren’t something like tomato chips.

Besh’s second dish was chicken and dumplings, to no real comment as yet.

Symon presented veal meat loaf over truffle mashed pototo Frenchman 3 liked it, Frenchman 1 is a jerk. He also looks like an older Draco Malfoy, but I’m sure that’s just coincidence.

Chris, Philly cheese steak – with onion puree, instead of the usual carmelized diced or strings. Also, instead of a bun, it was lying on croutons. Frenchman 4 liked the cheesesteak, but an American-sounding dude said it didn’t taste right (unsurprisingly). Donatella wanted more croutons.

Chris’s dessert was melons and moonshine, the “play” off the vodka-filled watermelon, which didn’t get any comments that I heard.

Symon presented a goatcheese ice cream float.  Lots of comments that it’s very American, a float. Weird Americans, liking cream and soda. American dude really liked it!

Besh went for strawberry shortcake with watermelon sorbet, which someone commented was tasty. Also, everyone laughed that each of Besh’s children eats one watermelon each per day, so he had to add the watermelon.

Alton reminds the crowd that they shouldn’t pick a winner at this point – “What we have to do at this point is send somebody home”

Josh and I comment, over the commercial break, that it’s kind of sad that the judging always comes down to whose idea of what makes an Iron more important. They never argue over the chefs, they argue instead that this quality is better or more important than whatever you said is important. Then, whoever wins THAT argument says, without further discussion, who wins or loses the competition. These people need to take a course in fair grading – they should have decided long since what things are important, and should be looking for the chef that fulfills those roles the best!

Final judges! Alton explains that they were to lead and inspire their sous-chefs, but also to inspire the guests to new appreciation of American flavor.

Ruhlman calls out early, saying Besh’s appetizer (the BLT) was superior. He also felt that it was more controversial and caused people to talk more than other dishes did.

Donatella thinks that the lobster roll was heavy handed on the mayo, and the weakest dish. Andrew apparently loved the lobster roll, as he immediately jumps to insult donatella – have you ever HAD a lobster roll?, he asks. Ruhlman and Donatella promptly jump down his throat, Andrew gets rolled and Chris loses that portion.

Andrew starts out with veal meatloaf praise for Symon. He didn’t abandon the nature of meatloaf, while still elevating it. However, all three judges agree Symon’s mashed potatos were not so hot. There was a problem with Chris’ Philly cheesesteak; they complained that there were some plates without cheese. Other plates didn’t have croutons. Problematic.  Alton complains that Besh’s dumpling was not actually a dumpling, it was pasta, after Micheal asks pointedly. However, it was “complex and interesting,” so those qualities might yet save it.

Ruhlman felt that the final dish represented them wholeheartedly. Bold and simple for Chris, playful for Symon, complex from Besh. Andrew doesn’t think that the fruit salad was either American or Iron Chef material. Donatella thought the shortcake was great. Ruhlman thought the fruit salad was technically cool, but he “didn’t like eating it.” Well, that’s not good. Symon’s float was well done, they thought, it made people scoff and then they changed their minds. Looks like Symon might have taken it again.

Alton comments on how all four of them are extremely proud. He says that they also felt they had never represented themselves better – that’s a pretty hard insult for the loser! Also, the decision, he says, was tough, but clean. Chris goes home.

Chris’ loser speech had hints of sore loser. Barest hints, but after watching him for weeks, they kind of glaringly stare at you. Symon and Besh both were sad to see him go – relieved that they stayed, but sad to see him go. Typical for both of them, really. They are both really great sports, if extremely competitive.

Cue Alton speech about the Kitchen Stadium battle. It’s obvious that Alton is trying to sow discord between the two, and it’s also obvious that these two are still great friends – competitive friends, but friends nonetheless. It is that attitude that carried them both this far, and it will be what carries them home.

Besh, Symon, Chris, and Aaron are going to Munich! However, interestingly enough they’ll be cooking for/on the plane – the new wave in airplane food, this time complete with tasty. They each have to make an innovative 3-course meal for the passengers of the airline Lufthansa’s new plane.

Alton takes the home audience on a tour of the kitchen where these meals are created. They are really well done for this airline – lots of meals, of course, but really well done. Definitely not your standard peanuts! These people earn the name Sky Chefs.

Our beloved competitors get 90 minutes in the Lufthansa kitchen, in which they have to create the meal and plate it onto the airplane’s trays and then get it into the trolleys. It has to be chilled, but reheatable, as that is exactly what will happen to it. The head chef of Lufthansa also advises them that it would be best to spice their food more heavily than normal, as palattes are less sensitive at high altitudes.

As usual, they get a limited stack of ingredients. Symon took venison, and later ruminated that perhaps he should have taken it all, to gyp someone else out of its use, but then he remembered that he feels chefs should win on their own cooking merit. A good thing, but he does have to remember that backstabbing will happen. So long as he assumes that he will be backstabbed, though, I’m cool with Symon’s being honorable.

Besh is going to try making an extra course. Or two. Anyone surprised?

The kitchen they are in is designed to make mass amounts of food, so they have troubles making smaller amounts with what they’ve been given. It is hard to make three plates in a bowl 3 times the size of Chris’ head, as it were.

Symon’s dishes sound interesting, but there’s a lot of fish. I don’t know that fish is a good idea, because it seems that it would have a weird texture if you’re already having texture issues from being that high up. Also fish reheats poorly.

Lobster and watermelon soup out of Besh’s kitchen? Wierdo, but it could be good.

AARON! He is making a scallop ceviche. Which he has made before, or at least tried. He needs a creativity shot. Or, you know, knocked out of the competition, but we’ve already discussed that a few times before. He also has a lot of fish present, even beyond the ceviche.

Chris starts yelling at the cameramen because they are in his face. He’s cursing all over the place and threatening the camera. The others don’t seem to have this problem – a bad attitude I hope we don’t see later! It could get really annoying in real Iron Chef competitions if he shoved the cameras out of the way all the time. However, Aaron is still the worse sport.

Alton asks Symon, who has fish in multiple forms, if he’s ever had fish on an airplane that’s worth having. He says it’ll be a culinary first. I say it’s an unnecessary risk.

For finishing, they have to put everything in little tv-dinner-like trays and cover them with saran wrap. Then they have to blast-chill what they have in those trays so that it will be safe to put in the trolley to take up to the plane. Then, before the 90 minute timer is up, they have to barrel, with the trolleys, down the elevator into the door. 20 seconds to go, but they all make it in.

Then, once they are on the plane, a flight attendant reheats it for them, and then they plate, from what I could see.  They didn’t really describe it. I imagine that if this were real, the flight attendant would have been trained in how to plate the dish, but obviously here that’s not the point.

Everyone says they all really respect airplane chefs now. Really, though, airplane chefs don’t do this in 90 minutes, with jet lag, thinking they will lose their job if even one plate isn’t dead-on exact perfect.  Deadlines, yes, pressure, yes, but not quite that extreme.

Chris: Sicilian Vitello Tonnato (Piece of tuna and veal with stuff on it), White asparagus in lobster stock with lobster greviche – which they thought was overspiced with chives, but they are not in the air, and then there was a cauliflower dish in which Ruhlman decided the cauliflower was not done. Hopefully that does not spell Chris’ doom.

Besh: Watermelon consomme with poached lobster – Alton wonders what makes consomme, and Besh answers that it’s a clarified, usually clear soup. His is bright pink, but you know, you get a little artistic license in naming.  White asparagus salad with pumpkin seed oil came next, to no coment. Baby lamb with spaetzle with canterelle mushrooms and bluberries, which Donatella likes. Madeira sabeyon and fresh fruit came up for his extra dish, but no one seemed particularly impressed or surprised that he had one extra dish. Donatella laughed. Besh felt his dish was an Iron Chef set because it was history, improved upon with modern technique. Very similar to Chris’s answer.

Aaron: Scallop and spinach ceviche up first, and then snapper over summer squash. The skin on the snapper was icky and the dish not appropriate for high altitude consumption. We can but hope! Seared sirloin over celery puree. When queried as to what made his particular dish-set Iron Chef-eqsue, he talked about not being afraid of the fish, but it’s quite obvious the judges wish he had been more so! They are seeing turkey ice cream in his future, perhaps?

Symon: Tuna Crudo (raw tuna with lemon vinagrette). He felt that this test was extremely difficult, but he took it well. He’s right, it was, and he did.  Salmon with creamed leeks – no berry gastriques, which donatella wholeheartedly appreciated. He also used the plane as the cooking apparatus, which alton seemed to appreciate. A beef dish next, which no one commented on. He felt his presentations were iron-chef worthy because he used the cultures of the place where the plane was to take off from and where it landed. Not an Iron Chef issue, really – but the culture mixing is definitely appropriate.

Alton called Cosentino playful, but the extra chef from the plane (hereafter called Chef) didn’t like the Vitello Tonnato because the garnish was limp – he felt it would have been better without entirely. Ruhlman didn’t like the cauliflower, and Donatella didn’t like it either. Micheal doesn’t like the trend of something “always missing” in at least one dish, feeling that Chris is incapable of making the five necessary dishes for an Iron Chef competition.

Ruhlman didn’t think Besh’s watermelon was consomme, but it was tasty. He tried negating the dish due to the name, but Donatella thought he was being too darn picky and she liked it, name aside. I agree, and also feel that the playful use of consomme is appropriate. He knew what a consomme was, when asked, and thus obviously he is using it artistically here. Chef didn’t think anything was well enough seasoned.

Aaron had heat, according to Donatella, which she appreciated. However, the snapper was ugly and “like cardboard” – also, the skin wasn’t crispy. Micheal would have sent it back.

Chef loved Symon’s salmon. Micheal felt that only Symon actually listened to the warning to spicing. My guess is that they will give Symon the win.

Elimination comes! Alton tells them that Paris is on the agenda, but of course, only 3 can go.

Symon was quickly informed that he knocked it out of the park and is the easy and clear winner. He looked so relieved, he looked about ready to cry. Besh was told it wasn’t his best showing, but he survives to cook another day. (What are we going to do when Alton doesn’t get to say that anymore?)

Here is where I started chanting: Aaron needs to go! Aaron needs to go!

All three of the judges felt that the two of them were on the edge, as we know. But then, guess what! It’s commercial time. I hate it when they do this. It is annoying!

Sanchez is informed that the sirloin was good, the salmon was a 50/50 shot, and the snapper was worthless. Cosentino was told to stop setting off bombs in people’s mouths with chives, and then following it up with flavorless beef.


I nearly jumped out of my chair. I don’t think that Cosentino will make it through next week – which is acceptable, as Besh or Symon needs to win – but I am so happy that Awful Aaron finally went home. He went home due to bad food, which doesn’t have quite the justice as someone telling him to go home and grow up, but y’know. You take what you can get, so long as he is no longer in the competition!

See you all next week!


Commercials and early research indicates that they’ll be cooking outside and they are nicking two people off. Sabatoge is also afoot.

The sabatoge? Each chef is given the oppurtunity to select an ingredient (wild!) from a table – for another chef. Because Chris won, he gets to select the pairs of people.

The chairman, via Alton, complains that there hasn’t been enough sabatoge, and thus, this will be a double elimination round.

Chris chooses Micheal for his own partner. He breaks the Aaron/Besh best-friend duo, and makes it Besh/Morou. Gavin is paired with Aaron, as the only one left. Morou complains Chris used to be his friend.Whiny, whiny, Morou! Not very classy. He was given direct orders to sabatoge everyone!

Chris gives Symon mushroom. Symon gives Chris squab. Besh gives Morou venison leg, and Morou gives Besh fruits, veggies, and flowers.

Sanchez gave Gavin frog legs, and Gavin gave Aaron escargot. Which is apparently the one thing that Aaron didn’t want to see. Go, Gavin!

Symon thinks it would be offensive to win by sabatoge. I say, all is far in love and war!

Then they are told that they will be outside, in a nice garden without water, gas, or electricity. Also, a tiny pantry, and oh, the expansive herb garden behind them? Off limits. They are paired in location as well – each competitor is next to the one that selected his ingredients for him. For screaming matches, I suppose?

1 hour, two dishes. Besh goes to light the grill before checking out his food situation, a good move.

Only Chris is a good mood. Everyone else is crying sabatoge – Morou complains about his venison and receiving nothing to go with it. Aaron whines about his escargot – which he was in denial about. Gavin complains of frog legs and raspberries, and John Besh is grouchy about his vegetarian heap.

Symon takes a risk by making a polenta, knowing it will be very difficult and he will be given technical kudos. Morou complains the lack of spices.

Chris finally sees the sabatoge – his squab is cleaned, and he actually wanted the offal. Ew?

Besh is still very fun to watch. Even though he’ll cry foul as much as anyone else, he is taking it more in stride, and he’s fun to watch. He’s a terribly good sport about all of this.

Alton interviews the working chefs – Chris thinks they are fighting the fire the most, more than the clock or the given ingredients. Gavin says he did Aaron the favor of given him the escargot. Alton laughs and says sabatoge. Aaron agrees.

However, to ease that wound, Gavin helped Aaron out with his fire problems – Gavin loaned him his hot grill, but at 11 minutes he has a lot of raw protien out to be cooked.

Besh is comforted that if his dish tastes bad, at least it’s a great corsage!

Aaron actually makes time before it is called. For once. Thank heaven, we don’t have to listen to him whine!

Judging up! I still think that Aaron deserves to go, even though he wasn’t that bad this week. Besh deserves to stay (and win, go Besh! *waves a little flag*), and as for the others – well, I don’t know how their food tastes, and I think all of them were pretty good sports, all things considered. I like Symon, I like Chris, I like Gavin all right. Oh, yeah. Morou. Morou can leave! Josh thinks Gavin should go now.

Gavin: Grilled Frog Leg Lollipops, on leek. His failure? “I didn’t want to give you frog legs twice.” Alton, Josh, and Liz all jerk their heads up. “What if it was the secret ingredient?” we all think, marking him off our list possible successes. Now, I think it is he and Aaron who should leave. Morou can have another shot.

Symon started with a berry drink. Polenta, mushrooms and chicken, and then he had blackberry-and-onion quail salad, served family style. He went much better than Gavin, though, with no deadly mistakes, but they aren’t super-impressed either.

Besh: Grilled saddle wrapped in sassafrass. He managed to fry rabbit, Donatella is impessed. Andrew is impressed with the chickweed-rabbit connection. I am also impressed he managed to deep-fry anything on a grill. Go, Besh! (I’ll stop being a fan-girl, shortly. Promise.)

Chris: Squab breast with Juniper berry, and then a Dandelion Green salad. The salad was family-style, and they don’t seem pleased, but as with Symon they don’t complain too much.

Aaron: Escargot brochette, and a grilled lily salad. They liked it, and thought it was fun and different. Next was a mushroom salad. It looks like Aaron might stay. Again. GAH!

Morou: Venison and flowers, namely grilled daylilies? I must try this. Venison Tenderloin cured in sugar with walnut pesto up next. And blueberry garlic sauce. They critique his plating, and he worries that he hasn’t listened to them yet, and maybe he should have. Didn’t he think about that before?

Okay, so Gavin definitely deserves to go! That comment is unthinkable, given that you are going to be an iron chef. You have to think, when you are such, to put something weird into EVERYTHING. To celebrate an ingredient in five ways.

I still think Aaron deserves it more than Morou, because of his attitude, but Morou needs to pick up the ball on listening to what the judges say.

Judging comes. Andrew says Gavin failed, for the comment about not being able to do something twice – we, obviously, agree. Ruhlman demands there be salt next time. They slay Chris’s presentation, and also complain that they were “underwhelmed.”

Andrew is out to get Aaron – go, Andrew, kick him! “He has dissappointed me every time, and I’m getting ready to give up on him.” THAT is what I want to hear!

Donatella gets annoyed with Morou’s plating being less than she’d hoped for and everything she’d asked him to stop, but Andrew jumps to his defense about the creativity. Alton calls in for questions, when they feel they need more information from the chefs.

The chairman has purches four tickets to the next test, Alton says in his double-elimination speech. They must flying somewhere.

Ruhlman asks Gavin if he salted anything. When Gavin says yes, Ruhlman disagrees. Donatella wants to know if Aaron considered the escargot twice. Aaron said the same thing Gavin did – twice was too much. WHAT?! Iron chef, you’ll do it FIVE times, people. The judges will eat ten plates of whatever-it-is, twice is not too much.

Questions for Besh – did he taste the loin? Yes, he did. Did he notice it was mushy? Also, apparently, no. He got the piece that was like Donatella’s piece, I guess.

Symon, what is the tempurature of bird supposed to be? Um, high? he says. Morou, can you plate in any other way? He cringes and says, all five dishes will look unique!

Elimination – Chris gets to stay. Besh also stays, but they tell him to break out of the wee south cook thing. I won’t get too mad. He really should. He should not, however, break out of the wonderful attitude.

Symon, they feel, doesn’t listen to them, but they give him the win for his dishes this week. Twice, he’s won now. Interesting.

Lef is Morou, Gavin and Aaron, and only one of them will stay. First, the judges need to talk.

Behind the kitchen door, Andrew points out that Aaron and Gavin didn’t use the protien in the second dish. This is noted, and then promptly ignored, as Ruhlman and Andrew get into an argument over Aaron and Gavin. Alton ends it by secret ballot.

Gavin goes home. Unsurprising, though they don’t mention his comment to him. They talk about how his food was bad. Well, who cares? He can’t cook frog legs five ways, and that means he can’t be an Iron Chef. I think their priorities are in the wrong place.

A long lecture for Morou. A long lecture for Aaron. And then….

Morou goes home.

NO! No! No! Not only is Aaron an jerk and a poor sport, he didn’t get kicked for his stupid comment that he can’t do an ingredient twice. Morou wasn’t great, but he was capable of being an Iron Chef. Aaron simply is not. How many times and ways does he have to prove this?

It is truly regrettable. We can only hope he will not make the week. Again. For the third time. It’s really starting to get worrisome.

However, I was right – they are flying next week. To Munich!  See you then!

They get one bite to thrill the chairman. By Chairman, I’m sure they mean our favorite judging panel, but you know. Time to test Simplicity.

For the first bite, they get 30 minutes. Besh, having won the last challenge, gets to select his ingredient first, while the other chefs stand by and wait. Oh, and the clock is running. The other chefs catcall like mad as he luxuriously takes his sweet time.

Then, before grabbing anything, Besh lets them come up, and it’s a madhouse. He’s still closest, of course, but it was a very gentlemanly move.

Lots of grabbing for the seafood. Lots of words being thrown around: tuna tartare is declared lame. Scallop ceviche? Nope, Besh stole Aaron’s scallops, so that’s a no-go. However, it’s very difficult to keep track of anything that is going

on. There isn’t enough time in the episode to show everything, so I only have a barest idea of anything. Hopefully it will get better as the season goes on – I love learning tips and tricks from the iron chefs.

Of course, while we watch them cook, they are all talking about what their style is. “Fanatically Fresh French!” Wow. Lots of fresh is thrown around, as if we would ever assume a chef wouldn’t use the singular freshest ingredients available to him/her. When you’re an Iron Chef, you don’t have to “work with what you’ve got.” You work with the best in the world.

We also discover that Gavin hates kitchen whistling. Which Symon does. Whoo boy.

Morou has it on right away – get it plated! Now! Do not screw yourself over by not plating on time. I’ve seen the commercials, and I’m in frightened disbelief already.

And here it is. Aaron tries to keep going after Alton says no, and he whines. He whines, people, and that’s just disgusting. I know you didn’t get it down, but you didn’t get it down and that is your fault. You should have started plating sooner, period. Even if it’s not done, you can’t judge it if it’s not on a plate. He had this problem in the first episode too, and it just reeks of unprofessionalism. I want to reach through the screen and shake him. Grow up!

Gavin has awesome plating, with a pretty radish circle and spectacularly even and perfect everything. That should go over well.

But wait! They are judging themselves! That’s why they had to make six, as opposed to three. I really like that – and so does Symon, who apparently thinks this will up his chances.

Besh: Seared scallop with truffle and jerusalem artichoke. But, not one bite, possibly closer to three.
Chris: Ahi tuna, cured in olive brine, basil, and tomato juice, etc. The orange peel was a bit astringent for Jill.
Besh gets to taste Aaron’s one plated ceviche. Besh says he’s glad he didn’t make more, ’cause the bite was perfect.
Gavin: Clam, which tasted flat after the ceviche to John. Alton’s discussion on sabatoge next, and how that will happen, as intentionally as possible, in Kitchen Stadium. It kind of sounds like a lecture to Besh to never give up your advantages.
Symon, lamb tartare with citrus zests and heirloom tomato and Greek yogurt. Jill loves the dish. And also thinks it represented Symon well. And also has a crush on him. Blusher.
Jill: Crazy plating (it kind of happened in the last 3 seconds), and “strange pb&j flavor” according to Besh. Jill claims she is “crucified. ”
Morou: Duck with orange and cumin. Very tender.

Chef Symon won the whole thing. Now, however, he has to worry about everyone gunning for him: “You’re only as good as your last plate”

Crazy gadget time! Most of them have no idea what have idea what it is, and if they do they’ve never used it. This contest is Innovation. New tools, new tech, odd ingredients. Combine the previously un-combine-able, and create something new.

The chairman did help out by sending out a sciencey chef who tells them how to to use what chemicals they’ve been given and an engineer to describe the tools. Chris comments how he’s been trying to get chemicals out of food for how long, and now they are telling him how to put them all back in?

The second expert tells them how to use all of the psychotic crazy tools, including an “Antigriddle” and a immersion thing that can cook at a temperatures accurate to 2/100ths of a degree.

90 minutes from now they have to have something crazy. Some of this they look spectacularly excited to do, others they seem terrified. Lots of complaints as to how they all failed and/or hated math in the first place.

Specifics after the commercial break: 2 chemical substances, at least 3 devices. 2 dishes, 90 minutes. Symon, as winner, gets his own workstation, and, like Besh, he gets first go at the ingredients. He actually takes advantage of the extra time and has most of the pantry on his station when the rest of the chefs get to go up – or so the other chefs complain.

Morou and Jill tug-of-war on fish. They cut it in half, with each getting the half they grabbed.

Thus far, Besh has used the immerison cooker. Symon is going to do the foam thing, with tomatos. Sanchez is working with the chemicals.

Besh has whipped out the lecitin! Alton wipes his very sweaty face for him. As he does indeed sweat “like a man possessed,” whatever that means.

Jill used liquid nitrogen on a “wacky compote salad.” It’s crazy seeing how well they deal with dumping white powders in their beloved food. Or in some cases, less well (see: Chris).

Morou was unhappy with what he plated. Chris put shaving cream (a sauor [sweet/sour] cream) on a razor (clam). Awesome food-pun. There need to be more food puns, as they are far more tolerable (and tastier) than the regular variety.
Thus far, I think Aaron deserves to leave. In fact, if he doesn’t, they have done a disservice to the name of Iron Chef. There is no point to good food when you are an extremely poor sport and can’t finish your food on time anyway.

They aren’t going to give you 10 extra seconds in the Stadium. Next, Josh and I debate on Gavin (boring!) or Jill (generally seems to just lose!) leaving next, but no one deserves to leave like Aaron deserves to leave. As in, like last week.

We also think Besh deserves the title. He is fun and silly, like Mario, and a good cook who is not afraid of relatively frightening things. I mean, come on!  Catfish truffle?

Anyway, judging! The three judges are back – as it’s an elimination round. Besh first. His first “dish”: Cold potato soup, summer truffle tapenade, warm potato soup. They think that it isn’t innovative on the table, no matter how innovative it may have een in the kitchen. As to his second dish, roast Duck, parmasan roast cracker thing, frozen with liquid nirogen, and one more thing I didn’t catch. When you say “dish,” Besh assumes you mean three. So when you say “two dishes,” he makes six. Overachiever.

Gavin’s up! Fricasse of sweetbreads, with a kind of cappuchino. Hamachi crudo next, with three kinds of beets. Again, lacking innovation is the verdict.

Chris: Duck Breast smoked with spice. Also, of course, the saour shaving cream with razor clams. They seem to really like it, and they think he did well with innovation, even though he complains about the evils of those chemicals.

Symon: Deconstructed tomato salad. Everyone but Andrew loved it. Truffle salad next, and compliments for Donatella – schmoozing his way to a win?

Morou: lobster sashimi with pickled plum instead of ginger and ginger “caviar.” Braised beef cheeks was his second dish. When asked, he said he was inspired, especially by the immersion cooker.

Jill: Freezo Frito! They didn’t like the salad, calling it difficult and confusing. She also served osso bucco, made of potato that looks like bone marrow.

Aaron: Pan raosted sablefish. Very hot! Sweetbreads, which may or may not have needed salt.

Beacuse Aaron’s dish was better than others, he might not leave. If he makes it only because he “behaves” (see: manages to plate on time without whining) on elimination rounds, it will be a disservice to Iron Chef, period. He needs to leave and take his bad attitude with him. It won’t help anyone in kitchen stadium.

Anyway, elimination time. First safe, Aaron. What?! They tell him he plays it too safe with always sticking to Latin cuisine, but he’s still safe for the week.

Morou is safe next, but he’s not making a good impression. Turn things up a bit, as it were.

Symon is third safe, with no complaints.

Besh is also safe, loving the duck – but it wasn’t innovative enough.

Chris next – no onion next time, as it was very strong, but the clam dish saved him. They felt it was truly worthy of the title of Innovation, and they told him that not only was he safe, he won the whole thing. Go Chris!

Jill and Gavin are down. Jill’s been here before. Not good for her! The drama of Gavin’s smoking pillow was appreciated, but the “dirty mushroom water” was not worthy.

Jill’s salad was a no-go, and she has to go. She, like Traci, smiles through her gauntlet run, but she ends up falling. She took it very well, and for that I appreciate her all the more.

I am so dissappointed, still, that Aaron is not gone. He’s not a worthy person, no matter how great his dishes may be. He is not a worthy competitor, and they should be addressing this.

At least next week is double-elimination. We can but hope he is kicked.


The pre-starter sounded pretty extreme. “What are my chances of killing myself” was asked. Whoo, boy!

So tonight there are two competitions. First, they are working the speed knife skills. Then, they will move on to a crazy dessert competition – akin to real Iron Chefs, they have to make a dessert. No matter how improbable.

Biographies! John, Aaron, Traci, Michael, Jill, Chris, Morou, Gavin, nice to meet you! I’m hoping for Traci to win, and I think Chris and Gavin will dive early, just from the bios.

Eight tests, eight characteristics. The first day they get ‘two’ – the knife skills doesn’t count for judging. The reward for winning the knife competition is related to something “characteristic” competition, the dessert competition. No word on that yet.

They are given, in two groups, a huge pile of food. Each peice (for each chef) is given a point total. Deboning a chicken, for example, will garner that chef 25 points. Frenching a rack of lamb, 15, and so on. Their cuts will be judged, of course, and if it’s not perfect, points will be docked.

To top that, Alton is going around telling people what they are doing wrong. In some cases it seems to make the problem worse. Other cases, they simply do not listen. Chris, Traci, Gavin and John’s “group” doesn’t do so well. However, they are all judged individually, so the groups don’t really matter at all.

Morou, Jill, Micheal, and Aaron get their chance at the feast pile next.

Morou is amazing. 8 minutes left and “He’s already to the bivalves!” Alton calls. Basically that means he’s deboned and filleted a salmon, deboned a chicken, trussed a rack of lamb, and sliced a daikon. All in 7 minutes. Wow. However, during the salmon, he did slice himself open. No good! But, being an incredible troooper, he didn’t even pause. And at 3:04 left, Morou is done. Ah-mazing, people.

The people to watch for? Morou, (My word that man can cut!) Traci, and John. While Traci and John didn’t finish, their professionalism did seem to shine and other chefs were impressed.

Alton goes over everyone’s points rapidfire. Traci, 60 points. Besh, 60 points. Gavin, 60 points. Chris, failed it with 45. Besh wins their set on time – but the person to beat Besh in the second half has to beat him in point total, not time (unless of course they tie for points).

Second group! Micheal, 55. Jill, 40 points. Morou, merely 45. Definitely surprised – but he went so fast that most of the things that he cut didn’t qualify for consideration. Aaron got a full 75 points with no docks, so even though Besh was faster, and even though Morou was fastest, Aaron wins for quality. Highly approprate. After all, you don’t get points in the real deal for finishing your meal at 55 minutes instead of 60. Using every minute to maximize quality is definitely the better idea. Go Aaron Sanchez!

In the first dessert of two, there is no sugar, butter, or cheese on the ingredients-given table.   To use such things, they must make them from what they have been given. For a second dessert, the must use a weird, savory ingredient. Included is catfish, squid, caviar, tripe, salmon, etc. Ew.

Because Aaron won the last competition, he gets to choose first. He selected salmon. Tripe gets selected early (Chris, third person) – so Jill doesn’t get stuck with it. She’s happy about this, and everyone thinks Chris is completely nuts or excessively brave.

For the first dessert, as I said, they don’t get any plain sugar. They must create or substitute any butter, sugar, or cheese.  Dried fruit and coconut milk make great substitutes for Morou’s banana fritters. Jill decides to make her own ricotta for her beef gastrique, and Micheal discovered that the freezer doesn’t work – and his planned bacon ice cream is more like liquidy ick. He switches to something with a sweet (don’t ask me how, this is fast watching!) bacon cream, however, in the last minute there is successful ice cream. Yay for machine repair! Aaron goes for a flan, except his flan won’t set. He settles on a crema, instead.

Morou again finishes very quickly. A full minute ahead of time. He’s got the speed, but I’m wondering if he’ll be severely docked again. Quality could be a problem for him. Sanchez was reprimanded for “not putting down.” Always set all tools down the second Alton calls the battle, dude. It’s just cheap not to. Admit defeat, because the battle is over.

Besh is doing bread pudding – catfish – and so is Gavin, only with squid. Besh is very comfortable, and makes catfish ganace stuffed truffle sound good. For 3 minutes. And then he remembers that it’s catfish, and he curses himself for picking it.

Traci does a celery beet and apple parfait with salmon roe topping. Wow. It doesn’t sound completely vile. However, her creme fraiche is not making the transformation to whipped cream. Could prove bad for her.

Chris has an olive oil zabaglione in the works for his dessert, but it’s really kicking his butt. Again, not setting up. Nothing is setting up for these people – apparently the room is extraordinarily hot. Not surprising – but he does finish in time.

Hot? Wow, Besh was visibly dripping sweat. Lots of it. And he’s from Louisiana!

Donatella Arpaia, Andrew Knowlton, and Micael Ruhlman, will all be offering their commentary on the desserts for us. In rapid fire.

Michael Symon’s rice pudding is first. Safe, tasty, good, but it gets an “undercooked” judgement. His 6AM Special, vanilla bean french toast and bacon ice cream, sounds delightful, but the judges think it’s not very creative and they disapprove that he stuck with something that he knew.

Gavin presents his pecan crusted pain perdu. (yay, alliteration!) It sounds really good, he did really well without all the usual trimmings, but the judges aren’t pleased. They complain that the dessert is “too safe.” His squid bread pudding up next! They like it, because they feel he pushed himself and that it still turned out well.

Traci gets a “Your salmon roe is not a dessert” for her parfait. It is salmon roe. Maybe she should have put less on?

Jill heirloom tomato dessert gets a true, unchecked compliment. The first, go Jill! As for her gastrique crepe with ricotta,  they felt the beef wasn’t pronounced enough, but they otherwise loved it as well. She did quite well overall.

Aaron duck confit is spicy, delicious, and not dessert. Whoops.

Chris presents his goat’s milk rice pudding – unlike Symon’s, Donatella pronounces it perfectly cooked. That’s the trouble with making the same thing as someone else, but in this case it worked great for Chris. Fried tripe goes over well. Donatella says she “doesn’t mind it” and Andrew stares at her, saying, “You don’t *like* this?” They liked the tripe. Wow.

Besh’s first dessert was white chocolate challah bread pudding, and they love it. They decide that this dish proves that chefs rely on the crutch of butter-for-richness far too much. Next, however, is the catfish grape truffle. They didn’t throw up. A good sign, and probably the best he could hope for.

Banana fritters for Morou. Very desserty – however the judges don’t complain about creativity, despite the fact that he admitted it was “just like they make in Africa.” A little unfair to Symon’s 6 AM special, but maybe the complaint will come out in the points. His rice pudding is not desserty enough for Donatella, but it would satisfy Micheal.

Judgment comes!

The top chef of the desserting was Besh, and thus he wins the week. Excellent. They even liked the catfish truffle! (So weird…)

Chris gets to stay. Gavin, stays. Morou – though they complain a bit about the banana fritter – survives. Davie pulls it out! She gets to stay, despite the knife thing. Her great desserts pull her into safety, even though one had beef in it. Sanchez gets to stay, though they do complain about the lack of dessert-y flavor.

Oh boy, they’ll be doing the final-two critique here, as well. What else could we expect, neh? Got to milk the drama for every dollar it’s worth. At least there wasn’t a commercial break.

Symon “played it too safe,” though it was good, they felt they’d had the dish before, which is not acceptable in the Stadium.  des Jardin get a painful grade on the salmon roe. So painful, in fact, that they kick her off.

Traci, my favorite to win, leaves. No! Sadness! Traci! I was so hoping she’d win, not leave on the first episode.

Such is life, and she takes it extraordinarily well. At least she is a good sport!

Wow, that was an adrenaline rush. See you all next week!

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