6 CHEFS COMPETE
We are left with Sharone, Lee, David, Mike, Whitney and Sheetal as the final 6. The Mystery box challenge will cut one of them. The ingredients are:
Graham indicated that the choices for using quail eggs are difficult: braising, searing, tartare. However, you have to do them precisely to avoid problems. The judges wouldl taste only the top 3 dishes based on their observations of technique in creation and the probability that the dish will succeed.
Sheetal produced a venison that came out from pan searing relatively early and rested for a long time, which Ramsay identified as a key factor in who will succeed the balance of cooking time vs. resting time for optimal development of flavor and juices. On it was a red wine reduction sauce and accompanying it were creamed Brussels sprouts. Ramsay said it was chosen for one of the 3 because the venison looked like it was cooked perfectly.
The competition for him was Sharone and Whitney. Whitney had pan-seared venison with a berry sauce. Sharone had perfectly cooked his venison on teh bone, which got him into the group of 3 judged. However, he had very strange globs of things smeared all over his pale, so the on-venison part of his plate was scored at close to 0. Ramsay said that Whitney's looked beautiful. In her first top result, Sheetal won this test and received choice of the key ingredients for the next cooking challenge, the Invention Test. The theme was desserts and the choice was between a range of honey products, a range of berries (straw, rasp, huckle, goose, etc.) and a range of vanilla products. She chose vanilla. that is the key ingredient all cooked with, but this challenge involved anything in the pantry. They had one hour to cook, except that Sheetal had 15 minutes more. All would be tested and the lowest rated dish would send its creator home. Dishes presented were:
David - creme brulee (Ramsay told him after it was too late that he had chosen the most difficult way to cook it - oven with a water bath) with vanilla orange mango coulis
Sheetal - plan was for vanilla sponge cake with vanilla custard, but her sponge cake did not bake thoroughly so she had an abbreviated dish that was clearly not acceptable
Sharone - it was supposed to be a Napoleon with 3 different types of nuts; actual was listed as a Mille-Feuille with zabaglione
Whitney - profiterole with Senegalese vanilla in Chantilly cream and flambeed bananas
Lee - Bourbon pan perdu (old dried bread) with vanilla
Mike - Poached Pear trifle w/ vanilla scented brandy
Comments on these were:
Mike- short on flavor (Ramsay); question "are there raw eggs in it?" (3 times from Joe) before Mike sheepishly admitted there were. Joe refused to even taste it.
Lee - this is dried bread (Joe)
Whitney, Sharone, David - "your dishes are stunning and you are safe"
Mike, Lee, Sheetal - "your dishes are inferior; one of you is going home right now"
The odd man out was Mike, who was severely criticized for running around the kitchen like a chicken with its head cut off.. Lee got a reprieve form a poor performance only because of Mike's raw egg component. Sheetal had wasted the advantage of her picking the key ingredient and getting 15 minutes more cooking time.
The next challenge was probably the best ever. This panel of judges was brought in for the battle of the final 5:
Jeffrey Steingarten, food editor, Vogue magazine
Tanya Steel. Editor, www.epicurious
Barbara Fairchild - Editor-in-chief, Bon Appetit
This was billed by Ramsay as a heavyweight panel of judges and indeed it is. The aspiring chefs recognized the the judges had previously tasted a better version of anything they could create.
I loved the next part, the chefs going on a fishing boat to catch their primary protein, which turned out based on where they were fishing was guaranteed to be a California sculpin or scorpion fish. It had poisonous tentacles on the outside, so they had to be careful in handling them. Cooking and judging were at the Ritz-Carlton. The dishes were:
Lee -sculpin in its own braising broth supplemented by carrots, shallots and fennel
Whitney - pan-seared culpin Italian style w/ tomato sauce
Sharone - sculpin liver and grilled sculpin w fennel
David - Sculpin cooked like lobster w/ yellow pepper, a touch of saffrom
Sheetal - Sculpin in sauce w/ cauliflower
None of the chefs got any significant feedback from the judges, but they did get some questions. Whitney was asked what type of tomatoes she used, with the implicit question of why they were not fresh (she had used canned and it was obvious to Jeffrey). There was also judges commentary to just themselves about too much garlic in her dish. Sharone was given the opportunity to describe his dish and he took what may have been dozens of minutes describing how he got to where he is before a very brief description of his dish(I hope he lost points for doing that). Jeffrey told Tanya and Barbara that Sharone's liver component of the dish tasted bad. He also encouraged Tanya and Barbara to try monkfish liver, which he claimed is the "foie gras of the sea."
The few comments the judges made among themselves indicated that there was no common ground in their thinking on the chefs. However, the process of totaling points will average that out. Each judge could give out up to 12 points, with 4 maximum to any chef. The results were:
David 11.5 ( almost perfect)
Sheetal between 5 and 8
This put David, Lee and Sheetal into the Final 4 and left Sharone to face-off with Whitney for the final spot. What will the deciding Pressure Test be? The judges made it as hard as possible, the most fiendishly difficult dessert to make: souffle, with each chef able to submit just one but create as many as they liked in 90 minutes.. As Ramsay said, you have to tinker with the components and test them out to see how they rise and hold that rise after 14 minutes of optimal baking. The edge here had to be with Whitney, the budding pastry chef (only Tracy appeared in the same level of affinity for baking desserts). Joe said that souffles are a combination of technical skill and nerves to let the right moment happen. It was quite a contrast in styles between Whitney and Sharone. he did as recommended and tested out a few as a learning experience before reaching 15 minutes left and having to go with his final 2 Chocolate Souflees with sea salt. Whitney had ignored the please of Ramsay to try something and learn first and she was rigidly focused on getting the ratios of ingredients as perfect as possible. With slightly more than 15 minutes left, she put hers in to bake. The Souflees with Orange Zest came out looking perfect but Ramsay warned her to powder sugar it and serve it so it did not fall within the next 90 seconds where that could happen. Sharone's came out looking good also. The judges sampled each and decided. Whitney was in fact perfect and Sharone's needed a few more minutes cooking time. So Sharone went home and Whitney to the final 4.