Hello I am Zin! And today we go to Food Court! And someone is found Guilty!
Now, we can see that Team Giada has four people, and the other teams only have three, so I predict someone from Team Giada will go home. I would be ok with all of Team Giada going home! Giada herself in her white dress looks like she is about to go to First Communion! Maybe she can only fit into clothing for children!
Digression: I watched Cook’s Country and America’s Test Kitchens over the weekend (on PBS) like I sometimes do, and you know what? I did not hear a single “story” about grandma! Nobody was “energetic” or “unique” though the taste test guy is a little nerdy. I heard about how to roast a chicken and why, and I heard about how they tried different ways, and about how they are getting over brined chicken (I have never tried it!) and how it changes the texture of breast meat, and about different kinds of rice complete with a taste test (my brand came in second, a “strong alternative”), and all about cutting boards, and I did not miss phony Grandma stories at all! That is why I watch PBS instead of Food Network for cooking shows! I miss Good Eats and I miss Brian Boitano for humor, but I watch PBS for food info!
Back to Food Stars! Each team has a different theme for their food court kiosk (did you know the word “kiosk” comes originally from the Persian for “palace” via Turkish and French?) in the South Street Seaport:
Team Bobby: The American Deli. Michele is not happy! She does not think that is anything special or exciting, it is hamburgers and hot dogs! Michele, did you not know that since the introduction of the $5000 Truffle Burger, hamburgers have gone upscale? It is not your mother’s hamburger stand! But she is all about seafood so I understand her disappointment! Because they are at the Seaport she is determined to do seafood, so she decides to do clam chowder, nothing wrong with that! Malcolm takes crab cakes, Maryland style, and Nikki does a grilled fish taco, which, well, I guess a taco is just as American as it is Mexican, especially when made with fish. Nikki brings up the name “American Sandbar.” Bobby tells them to sell it, then tells Malcolm, “that you are still here is a miracle” which seems very harsh! Wow, Bobby, that is not nice! Then he says it is probably because of his food! Bobby, you are supposed to be the food guy, the one who cares about food more than personality! He tells Malcolm to make an impact, because on Food Network, food has no impact.
In the store Michelle wants to buy chopped clams because she does not think she has time to steam and open and chop fresh clams, but they do not have any so she gets bags and bags of clams! She is worried about time! Hey, she is a very experienced chef, I think she can handle clams!
Team Giada: I would throw something if she got Italian! But no, she gets Mexican, which is almost as bad since she has Miss Mexico on her team! Yvan wants to make… I am not sure what he says, actually, or what Martita says either, I must have been daydreaming; Ippy is all about chipotle chili, and Linkie is stuck for a Mexican dessert. Giada is not very helpful. She just sits there looking impatient. I think Giada is done with Linkie. Someone suggests churros, and Linkie does not know how to make them but will figure it out. She figures it out by asking Martita for a lot of very detailed instructions in the car on the way to the store, and Martita seem impatient with her! That is not nice, Martita! Martita says she can not help her with pastry and I think she means she will not, I suspect Martita could make churros in her sleep! But she gives her all the details for Mexican hot chocolate, since Linkie was going to make it with cocoa powder. I guess Linkie never read Like Water For Chocolate.
Team Alton: Italian! Justin says it is all about preserving the natural beauty of food made with love and enthusiasm. I do not know what that means, but it is the sort of line Food Network loves! When Justin thinks Italian, he thinks Tempura of course! Just like when Guy thinks Mexican, he thinks of sushi! Justin will make fritto misto, which is Italian for “deep fried stuff” so calling the batter tempura makes sense even if it is making Italians cringe! It is like doughnuts, everyone has them, and they are all called different things (like churros), but they are basically the same! Emily will make a dessert panini and for once she does not say “I will make it retro-rad!” Thank you Emily! Panini is not really retro, since it has only been popular in the US for about ten years, but I it is good that she does modern food too! Martie wants to make Partie food of course, so she picks arancini (rice balls). Alton asks what they want to call their booth, and Martie looks like she is about to speak but Justin pipes up, “Littler Italy” which is reasonably cute! The editing for this is quite suspect! I would like to see the raw footage of that session! Alton tells them to all come up with a very short, intense sales pitch to deliver to every single customer! I hope Martie heard the “short” part!
Alton is watching Martie cook and he has his hands clasped in front of his face like he is praying! She assures him she can do this! He mouths to the camera, “I’m doomed!” though I do not see anything that chaotic (she has six burners and six pots, and things are not browning as fast as she wants, but hey, that is pretty typical) in what she is doing! I think they were just instructed to pick on someone today, and for him it was Martie, since she is obviously the next to go home on his team! But I do not think it will be today because someone from Team Giada must go home today!
TWIST TIME! Zakarian comes in and announces there is a Secret Ingredient one person on each team must incorporate into a dish: Chicken Livers! Ewww! This is a pretty stupid twist, you know, it is only to give Zakarian a reason to be there. Maybe he will use the money he earned here to pay the restaurant staff that he stiffed when he declared bankruptcy.
Now they have to decide who adds chicken livers! Emily laughs and says she can not put them in dessert which is true! She and Linkie have lucked out! Yvan volunteers to make chicken liver tacos; Bobby suggests that Michele make chicken liver toast as a crouton for her clam chowder, and she takes it on without complaint, but I think she is cursing him because she is still worried about shucking and chopping all those clams! I think Bobby gave it to her because he thinks she can handle it and he expects her to be in the finals so he is giving her work for extra credit, that is a good sign! Justin is excited to see chicken livers so he takes them on Team Alton. Since he is frying random stuff I guess it is fine to add chicken livers to the mix!
The next day, they go to the Seaport, spend an hour to set up, and serve!
Team Bobby:American Sandbar
Nikki is worried about her seven-step plating process. She makes a dig at Michele saying she wishes she just had to ladle stuff out. Well, you should have thought of that when choosing your dish, silly! I am sure you could have steamed, opened and chopped all those clams and then made a chicken liver crouton at the last minute, too! But no, you want to be the female Bobby Flay! Can you tell I like Michele? I like Nikki too, actually. But I like Michele more. Speaking of Michele, she does not want people to run away from the chicken liver! Yes, I would run away from it! That is not her fault though.
They present to the judges. Michele takes lead and says they made seafood because they were at the water! She explains her sweet and sour chicken liver toast. Susie loves the clam chowder, and everyone is impressed that she used fresh clams and incorporated the secret ingredient and was cheerleader and in the spotlight!
Malcolm calls his crab cake simple and soulful. A guest comments that Malcolm did not say much, uh oh! Zak says the crab cake is amazing, and Bob likes that it celebrates crab, but at Food Network only the crew will eat the food so it comes last: they worry that there are two Malcolms, one who is confident and charismatic, and one who is quiet, and this week he was quiet. Bobby sees glimmers of star but it is not enough! That means Malcolm is toast. But not this week, because Team Giada is due for a cut.
Nikki lists her ingredients: grilled tilapia marinated in margarita mix with a mango-jalapeno puree. Bobby pushes her to say more, and she talks about taking Rt 66 to Baja and he loves that, asks her why she did not lead with that, why did she recite the Special of the Day? She says she wanted to make sure they knew what the food was! Silly girl! At Food Network, the food comes last, even when you are on Team Bobby! A guest says she was working and not talking much, uh oh! Doom!
Team Giada: Mexican theme.
I do not know what they named their stand! Linkie is upset because her dough was sticky so she added flour and the churros came out too crunchy, so she decides to call them Biscotti which is not really Mexican but who cares.
Ippy leads off with “Hola and Aloha.” He has tattoos of pineapples and pigs! Way cool! Remember Kevin Gillespie with the pig tats? But I do not know what he made! He said he would make chipotle chili, and I guess he did, they like whatever he made but he is ignored except for his tattoos! And I do not think chili has pork or pineapple in it! They like his food, whatever it was, and Bob thinks he is getting more comfortable in his (tattooed) skin. I think Ippy will end up doing some Hawaiian specials!
Yvan talks about the grill in his back yard and the family stuff they do. He incorporated chicken livers into tacos. I am not sure what else he made, they like his stuff but he also got short shrift this week! But Susie says this is Yvan at his best! Really? Yvan is kind of a yawn, yes?
Linkie fakes it by saying her churros are crispy on purpose so they can be dipped in the hot chocolate like biscotti! Not a bad idea! But she stumbles over her words and can not tell the difference between coffee and chocolate! She says the cayenne adds hotness and moisture to the churro. Uh oh.
Martita made poblano tortilla soup, some kind of guac chips, something about feta I think, I am not sure… they are not paying much attention to the food on Team Giada which can not be a good sign! When she presents she goes blank and can not think of a single story! Bob is disappointed that she blew her opportunity to shine when the theme was her point of view to begin with! They are ok with the guac but Zak loves the soup.
Team Alton at Littler Italy:
Martie chats it up to distract people from not having any food while they wait for their oil to come to temp! I suspect this is over-dramatized too! Either that or they have decided they do not want Martie to go home yet so they give them a pass for not being ready on time!
Justin talks about fritto misto, how it is not greasy, and he sprays it with lemon juice as he serves, which sounds cool, except I hear Alton Brown saying “Moisture is the enemy of crunch” or something like that! I am sure he said that on Good Eats at some point because I have always remembered it! But it is one of those clever techniques Justin is so praised for, so maybe it works. He says they do not need marinara which is just there to cover up unpleasant flavors anyway! That is an awful thing to say! Especially since Martie is up next with marinara! But they like his food, Bob is satisfied with his culinary chops, and Zak says he is a star!
Martie says she likes marinara! I do too! Wow, Justin has me defending Martie, that is quite a trick! She talks about her rice balls. Susie loves the crispness and flavors, and Bob likes how she fused the Italian theme with her party point of view! Yes, because no one ever served Italian food at a party before! But I have to admit, arancino is not that typical!
Emily brings on dessert, a sweet apple and fontina panini on brioche with lemon honey! That sounds sooooo good! And while panini is not retro, there is something classic about those flavors! Bob loves it, Zak thinks it is very smart, and Bob goes off on her smartness. Uh oh, Emily is smart, that can not be good! Me, I value smart!
I think Team Alton is going to win, since they are the only ones who did all good food and their presentations were good or better. So what if they were not ready on time!
Yes, Team Alton wins!
One person from the other teams is picked to do the next part: Linkie, because she was more timid (I do not think she has ever been very good at presentation, she is always nervous to me, and her food has been inconsistent) and Nikki because she showed no warmth, no star quality, and her food was not very good.
The Producer’s Challenge is: Make an extraordinary chicken dish in 30 minutes! Then present to camera for one minute! And I am surprised by something: Linkie can handle a knife! Not like Morimoto or anything, but she is pretty smooth at chopping garlic! Nikki wants tomatoes but Linkie has them all, and will not give any up, she needs them all! I think she is being a little bit mean there, she does not really think about it but just says no, but Nikki adapts. Nikki wants to show her softer side; Bobby tells her to be warm. Linkie has to be less flustered. But you know Linkie will be going home since Team Giada has one too many people! And that is fine with me, I have been tired of Linkie since the beginning!
Nikki does “The Grill Next Door” and makes grilled (of course) chicken with tzatziki and talks about grilling a lemon to squeeze over it. Suzie loves the food (they taste the food this week which is a good sign). She feels good about the video and the softer approach. Bobby says she is a risk taker and that is why she comes across as abrasive. Really? I do not see her as abrasive! I thought Girl on Grill was cute! She did not really change her POV, just what she called it.
Linkie talks about her family immigrating from South Africa and the creative ways she used to bring them back, she used alcohol which never hurts (wait – no cooking with alcohol for children). She made chicken in spiced rum. Bob thinks it is so moist, like dark meat, but it is breast meat and she says that is the rum. But he thinks she needs a lot more polish. She insists she is a fast learner, though she has shown no signs of it so far! I do not see warmth, I see nervousness!
They talk about the two: Nikki has great food but the camera picks up this toughness (except my tv does not show it) and Linkie is soft and warm but does not make sense. Giada tells her, “If you stumble over a word that is what makes you so charming, it is why we love you!” No, it is not!
Linkie goes home, much to the surprise of… well, nobody!
Next week: they meet the press! Someone has 30 seconds of dead air!