We’re down to the final four, and I’m sure someone very, very accomplished will win but I’m not sure I’m too invested in the end result. Maybe that’s because our chefs, having gotten this far in the competition, don’t seem too invested, either. Granted, they’ve taken a lot of time off of work, they miss their families and they’ve made it far enough in the game that they can take pride in knowing their damn good at what they do. The only chef who seems a little keyed up is Floyd, and I think he just wants to beat Mary Sue at something, anything as a point of pride. He’s probably eaten at Border Grill. That’s all I’m saying.
Anyway, Quickfire Challenge! The chefs can only use the food they find at their station, which is divided in half. On the other side of the divider they’ll have a mystery teammate with the same ingredients, and they must instruct them in how to make an exact copy of the dish they’re making. This sounds overly complicated, but it could be fun and not as dangerous as operating a deep fat fryer while wearing a blindfold, which I’m sure was second choice.
What the chefs don’t know is they’ll each be paired with a family member. Chris DeWitt is Mary Sue’s sister, Mitch des Jardins is Traci’s brother, Debra Furtado is Floyd’s sister, Toby Pomeroy is Naomi’s dad. Oh, and they have twenty minutes to scream at said family member. The weird thing is that not one of the chefs recognizes the voice of their “mystery partner.” But it’s apparently loud in the kitchen or the chefs have mild hearing damage, because they have to yell a bit to make their intentions clear. Chiffonade! Chiffonade! CHIFFONADE!
But the real screamer is, of course, Naomi, who acts a little pissy, too. Floyd is horrified. I’m horrified. But Floyd may have needed to yell, because his sister calls her food yucky looking and she isn’t wrong. She didn’t cut the asparagus! Traci is appalled that Naomi’s been yelling at her dad. But when the dividers go up and everyone sees their partner, Naomi isn’t embarrassed at all. It turns out that Dad doesn’t mind, because she yells at him like that all the time. Well, if you need a reason not to go to their house for Thanksgiving, there you go.
Time for judgment. Curtis notes that Naomi and her dad made very identical dishes. Floyd can’t believe his sister didn’t cut the asparagus. I know! Mary Sue is delighted to see her sister and delighted to see they made the same ugly, unappetizing salad. They’re very identical except for avocado placement. Traci can’t believe she didn’t recognize her brother’s voice, but apparently they do connect on some level, as heir dishes look almost identical. Curtis isn’t sure which one he likes better. I think that’s a compliment… sort of. Traci for the win, I think.
Curtis didn’t love Floyd’s (the asparagus differential) or Mary Sue’s (too simple). Naomi’s was good, but his favorite was… Traci’s.
Elimination Challenge! Four servicemen are coming back from their grueling tours of duty. The chefs must make a buffet that has one main course and two sides for 100 people. Oh, and it has to be what their assigned serviceman was missing while he was gone (hints provided by their loved ones). Betting that’s not five star food.
Floyd discovers he can’t make spicy food. Horrors! Traci has to make meatloaf. Mary Sue’s thrilled, because her guy likes spicy food and he’s Guatemalan. Unfair! She can just make Border Grill food and he’ll be thrilled. Naomi will be making Hawaiian food, namely poke. Which is raw fish. And which this steak and potatoes crowd is not going to love, except for this one guy and his family. Yeah, Naomi, you’re screwed.
Lots of rushing around, lots of panicking about getting it done, and Floyd is afraid of overcooking his meat. But it all seems to turn out fine, as usual. These are master chefs, after all. James Oseland, Ruth Riechl and Danyelle Freeman will be judging.
Mary Sue: tomatillo barbecue ribs & avocado corn relish with potatoes & rajas and apple & cream cheese bread pudding with crema
James asks them what they think. The family loves the food. But even if they didn’t, what are they going to say? It’s not nice to put them on the spot, James.
Naomi: Barbecue pork, prawn & cucumber rice salad, iceberg wedge with tuna poke and panna cotta with carmelized pineapple & ginger tuile
The serviceman says the bread was incredible in Afghanistan. Who knew? The family likes the food, but Ruth tells them she doesn’t love the rice. They don’t either. Well, I guess putting the families on the spot isn’t a bad idea after all.
Traci: meatloaf with mashed potatoes & Caesar salad and peach cobbler
It’s better than submarine meatloaf according to the serviceman. Well, that’s a ringing endorsement.
Floyd: tamarind margarita, roast tenderloin with mushroom jus & garlic mashed potatoes and spinach salad with pomegranate, broccoli, walnuts & bacon vinaigrette and clam chowder
The guy lost 26 pounds in Afghanistan. He loves the steak. I bet he’d love a pig knuckle and a three-day-old McDonald’s hamburger if he lost 26 pounds in Afghanistan. The man’s hungry!
The diners vote, and the winning chef will get immunity and enter the finals. The winning chef is… Mary Sue. Floyd wants to kill her. Not really, but you know he wants to beat her just once. Hey, everyone gets a pass to Universal Studios! Floyd gets a coin from his serviceman Eric. Aw, shucks. That’s better than beating Mary Sue, right?
I think Naomi is going home. Raw fish? Not gonna be a hit. Plus that rice salad Ruth didn’t love. At this stage, one little eh dish is enough to get you the boot.
Judges table! James tells Naomi he felt the love in her food. But Ruth says the rice salad didn’t work and her shrimp was seriously undercooked. Curtis tells Traci her family loved her food. Then James tells her her meatloaf was salty. Ruth also thought her potatoes were ugly. Danyelle wishes Floyd had done more with the meat. James felt the salad was muddled. Floyd doesn’t care, because he got a coin and as far as he’s concerned, he won. That’s the right attitude, Floyd! Don’t murder Mary Sue in her sleep!
The judges hash it out. Curtis defends Naomi for never playing it safe. James wished Floyd chose a better cut of beef. They complain about Traci’s salty meatloaf. We’re just wasting time here, because we all know Naomi’s going home. Maybe her dad stuck around and he can give her a lift. But I bet she’s a horrible backseat driver.
The chef getting the ax is… Naomi. Knew it. She’s disappointed. But she’s raised $25,000 for her charity. She kicked ass for the most part and she knew it.
So, Floyd’s still in it, which is odd only because (as he’s pointed out), he’s won the least amount of money for his charity. But never mind. I think Traci’s going to win this thing. As long as the final challenge isn’t meatloaf.
Do you think Floyd can ever beat Mary Sue? Do you think Traci’s going to win? And are you excited about the finals or not?