Laurine is feeling a bit overwhelmed by the talent surrounding her. Jesse wants to get out of the bottom of the pile. Let's see if either of them makes a statement today.
Mark Peel is joining Padma (who is in a lovely dress), and their challenge is to create an out-of-this-world potato dish. They have 45 minutes and all sorts of potatoes. Ron talks big talk about being the Bob Marley of cooking. Many of the chefs seem to be leaning on sweet potatoes because they are the most flavorful of the bunch. Others are making gnocchi, and a potato rissoto. Preeti used Ashley's boiling water by mistake because she thought it was Kevin's water that he said she could use. Jesse's worried that her soup is too spicy.
Ash made a chilled sweet potato custard with toasted pecans. It was meant to be ice cream, but the ice cream maker didn't freeze it quickly enough. Mark liked the texture, but sounded surprised that he liked the texture.
Bryan made a sunchoke and yukon gold vichyssoise with applewood smoked caviar. Mark liked it.
Preeti made Saffron poached russian banana fingerlings with asparaguse and tomatoes. It was called very nice.
Michael V. made a confit tuna and potato sandwich. Mark called it a little underdone, but liked it otherwise.
Jennifer made steamed mussels, yukon gold & blue potatoes with lemongrass potato sauce.
Robin made purple & fingerling potatoes, white yam with pancetta, frisee and a fried egg. It was pretty. I like the way that eggs look.
Hector made Potatoes Three Ways: Steamed Sweet Potato with Fish Sauce and lime, Purple Potatoes and ham, and Smashed fingerling potatoes with yeast (huh?), yellow chile, slow-cooked egg, and cream.
Laurine made a vegetarian potato burger with a portobella mushroom bun and fingerling chips.
Mattin made a poached cod with blue, yukon, and sweet potato purees.
Kevin (Red Beard) made bacon braised yam with potato sauce, asparagus, mushroom and cauliflower.
Mike I. made potato risotto with king crab and marscapone. It was called a little salty, but a nice idea.
Ashley made potato gnocchi with hen of the woods mushrooms and homemade ricotta. She got props for the homemade ricotta.
Eli made yam puree with pistachios, whipped bliss & bourbon maple syrup. Padma got a pistachio shell, and he used pre-shelled pistachios. Oops.
Ron made a sweet potato crusted yellowtail with fennel and leek stew. He had good marks for the stew.
Jesse made a sweet potato soup with ginger, brown sugar, and cayenne. It made Mark Peel gasp a bit at the spice level.
In the bottom were Eli, Ron, and Jesse. Jennifer, Ash, and Ashley got top honors, with Jennifer taking the win. Mike I called favoritism, and I think she's just better than he is. He is my least favorite at this point.
They have a special guest - an Air Force commander. They have to prepare a meal for the Thunderbirds, 300 people. They work in one single team, and have four hours to cook, but their ingredients and cooking equipment are a secret until the next day.
They come up with a plan (which Mike I. chats about), and plan on having Jennifer as chef in charge of the kitchen, because she is immune. There will be 7 teams of 2, each with a dish.
Time to see what they are working with - and it's a lot of canned food, no stoves, no pots. Cook's nightmare. They found some fresh stuff in the walk in. Lots of people are planning on making hot foods, and it's going to be a hot day, but Hector says that's why you eat hot food - look at Mexico. There is only one skillet and one soup pot. Both are gigantic. Jennifer seems to be doing a great job as the head of the kitchen.
They were loaded onto a convoy to get over to the hangar, where they will be serving. They are setting up tables with duplicate sides (good idea) and a table in back with stuff to replenish foods. Laraine and Preeti are concerned about the relative simplicity of their pasta salad.
Service time! I'm tired and missed writing down what everyone made. Red Beard did a great job presenting his dish, because the military means a lot to him. The chili and clam chowder go over well. The roast beef looked wonderful and got good marks. The pasta salad got mixed reviews - Padma appreciated that they offered a vegetarian option, but said it wasn't inspired. They said that the clam chowder was a little salty and a little too thick. Mike V's lettuce wrapped pork belly got wonderful marks, but Mike I's greek salad was not so good. The chefs got a rousing round of applause when they were dismissed. They seemed to do a wonderful job.
Mike, Michael, Eli, and Red Beard were sent back first. Red Beard's family does competition bbq (which is cool), and they appreciated his recipe. The judges thought that Michael V's treatment of slab bacon was nothing short of genius. Apparently, Michael and Mike have worked together before. Interesting. Mike was sure to toot his own horn at doing the Greek Salad, though only one was required. That might have been cool, if the judges had liked his salad. In the end, Michael V's pork belly won it. The brothers are even for wins in elimination challenges.
Preeti, Laurine, and Mike I. are sent back for the lower bracket. Mike I. is shocked at his inclusion, but I am thrilled. He's got too big a head. He backed up off his support for the salad, saying he wasn't even sure about serving it. Padma said that he shouldn't have served it if he wasn't 100% about it. Neither Preeti nor Laurine want to take responsibility for their pasta salad. Laurine said that she wanted to fill a niche in the menu, and said that she forgot about the competition for the moment, and immediately voiced that that was a stupid thing to say.
In the end, it was Preeti's time to go. They said it was because she had no awareness of the fact that her dish wasn't that good.
I wish it had been Mike I.
What do you think? Do you dislike Mike as much as I do?