Hello I am Zin and we are going to a Vegas wedding!
On the way there, the Chefs all give little speeches: “I am here to win;” “I am here to be the Next Iron Chef.” I wish one of them would say “I am here to make money and be famous!” You can tell it is getting late in the season when I start getting cranky!
Alton meets them in a wedding chapel and they notice there is food all around! “Nothing says Las Vegas like a quickie (pause, pause) wedding.” Naughty Alton! They have 45 minutes to make a dish that marries very disparate ingredients like clams and strawberries. See – that Mr. O’Reilly said that if you let gays marry, people would marry turtles next, and here we are with squids marrying marshmallows and chicken livers marrying peppermints! But no people are involved so maybe he will not mind!
Marcel was the winner last week so his advantage is to make the assignments. That is a good advantage! Nate is worried because they have had little tussles and he could really do damage. And Marcel says, “I want to save myself and murder everyone else.” That is the American Way!
All of the hysteria is really out of proportion! Most of these people have been on Chopped! Amanda and Alex are judges on Chopped! They have seen people use combinations like these! With asparagus and rye crackers as well and only 20 or 30 minutes! So stop all the groaning!
Amanda gets calamari and marshmallows! She takes the sweetness out of the marshmallow by adding horseradish, which sounds like a really good idea, and also makes a Hungarian paprika coulis with it. She is trying to deep fry the tentacles and there are Skittles in the fry basket from the dish Mehta was doing! “It just feels so rude.” She is making barley and has trouble with the pressure cooker and Nate helps her (“I plan on winning with integrity” he says) . So she serves grilled marinated squid with marshmallow horseradish cream, paprika coulis, crispy tentacles and a barley-marshmallow treat (like Rice Krispies treats only with barley, that sounds like a really good idea too). But it is not a good idea because her squid and sauces are great but the treat is tough! But Zakarian says the paprika is brilliant to take the calamari on a little tour.
Marcel takes peanut butter and blue cheese which is the least terrible combination! He is talking about being an outsider and they are really playing that for all it is worth! The rest of the chefs seem to hate him, but it is not like any of them would have given away the easiest combination. He wants to show that even though Falkner is gone there still is someone who can make desserts! He makes all sorts of things: blue cheese ice cream which is maybe the most normal thing; peanut butter powder; peanut butter praline; and tawny port fluid gel (which is a lot of trouble to go through but I know what they are talking about, it is a non-Newtonian fluid! Wow I never thought I would get to use my knowledge of oobleck! I am so excited!). Alex is worried because compared to her rustic dish: “It looks souped up and technical.” It turns out the sandwich Simon most loves is blue cheese and peanut butter! I do not believe him! I do not think Simon has ever eaten peanut butter in his life! But he likes this dish, it is like salted caramel. Donatella prefers more sugar in her desserts but it is great anyway. Zakarian says “I do not like this dish” and Marcel looks sad but he continues: “I love it!” Cheesy fake out! But he thinks the tawny port gel is bitter and is a throwaway but the marriage will last 50 years! As Marcel leaves Simon says “That boy could be the next Iron Chef” which means he probably will not be! That is too bad, I thought he got a raw deal in TC2 and even though he has been a bit of a jerk since then, like on All-Stars, I still have a lot of residual affection for him! And they seemed to be creating this “lone wolf” persona for him! But I do not think they could stand having a Top Chef on the show since Alton has been so snooty about it!
Alex has to marry chicken livers and peppermint! I do not think anything goes with chicken livers, I think they should breed chickens without livers so no one ever has to mess with those awful things again! She tries to melt the candy but it turns pink and chalky like antacid so she melts it in balsamic vinegar which is probably a good idea! She gets mad at Marcel because he is in her way. She makes chicken liver mousse on toast with a bistro salad of watercress, grilled radicchio, and fried shallots with shaved peppermint. Simon likes it. Zakarian would like more candy which is not what I expected him to say! Donatella said it is good, but in the end it is chicken liver on toast with a salad and Alex is very good at playing it safe! Uh oh!
Mehta is given bone marrow and Skittles. They call it fruit candy but I assume it is Skittles and they just would not pay the product placement fee, what other kind of fruit candy is there that looks like M&Ms? He does not like the annoying artificial aftertaste of the candy so he melts it with fenugreek (which in addition to being a spice is used as a supplement for all sorts of things like increasing milk flow in nursing mothers and enlarging breasts) to remove the processed taste of the candy and then mixes it into chimichurri, makes lime fruit candy fennel bread with pickled fennel, and makes chili lime fruit candy by drying and reshaping the lime Skittles into balls, deep-frying them, and rolling them in salt and chili. That sounds like a very good idea! And a lot of use of the candy! So his dish is grilled bone marrow, pickled fennel, chimichurri, and the candy balls. Donatella thinks he killed the candy too much! Zakarian calls him a marrow expert but the marriage did not work! Simon disagrees and thinks it all went together well, twice he says he disagrees with Zakarian, and Zakarian says “I heard you the first time.” Now now boys do not fight!
Nate has clams and strawberries which does not seem all that bad. He makes acqua pazza which Marcel made a couple of weeks ago! But he uses strawberries instead of tomatoes because they are both sweet and acidic. I never understand when people call tomatoes sweet, they do not taste sweet to me. He makes cavatelli pasta which happens to be something Donatella makes! And compressed raw strawberries. Everything is good except the pasta which is undercooked and tough, though Nate thinks all of Italy would disagree with that assessment!
Amanda and Marcel made the best dishes! But Amanda had that chewy barley treat, yes? No matter, Amanda wins because Marcel had an easier ingredient and as Alton says, the strategy was not lost on the judges! Oh come on everyone would have done exactly the same thing! They are playing us now! But Amanda is happy and she is the only chef who has won two challenges!
Alex is safe even though her dish was very safe and lacked peppermint because it was delicious! See they change the criteria whenever they need to so they can force the showdown they want! I bet any of them could make a good chicken liver dish, it was the peppermint that was the challenge!
Mehta is in the Showdown since they think he showed “contempt” for the candy by stripping it of its essence! That is nonsense! If he had used it they would have complained that he did not transform it! And those little candy balls were pretty interesting though I do not know how they tasted. But they thought his marrow and chimichurri needed something to cut through the fat. He says “It was raining and I did not have an umbrella but that does not mean I am going to drown in the rain.” I am not sure what that means but it is cute!
Nate is also in the Showdown because even though he got the ingredients to work together well his pasta was bad!
The Secret Ingredient Showdown:
They are in a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant so they must use the teppanyaki tables to cook: Shrimp!
Nate thinks pancakes: okonomiyaki just like the ones my dear Takashi Yagahashi made on TCM4 in their teppanyaki challenge! Which just goes to show you everything NIC does TC did first! Maybe not everything but most things! And just like Takashi, Nate runs into trouble with the pancakes: they fall apart the first time when he pours batter over the ingredients so he tries again by pouring batter and then putting ingredients on top and it works better. Marcel is calling out encouragement which is nice! He adds peas, pea shoots, kaffir lime, and of course the shrimp, plus he uses the bodies and heads to make shrimp oil for a vinaigrette: “It is a shrimp attack!” Alex does not want to meet him in a dark alley with the expression he has on his face! At the end he decides he needs something dramatic so he puts a shrimp head on the griddle and sprinkles on grated ginger and yuzu. He tells the judges to squeeze the head and drizzle it over the pancake! Donatella loves the head! Zakarian says it is balanced and he wants to keep eating! Simon thinks the pancake is dense and chewy and wrong. Nate seems to have trouble with flours!
Mehta cooks his shrimp with cumin and mustard seed and it is the most loving dish he has done in the competition! It is his best childhood memory from India! Alex says, “The sleeping cobra is having to get up out of bed and writhe around on the floor” which also makes no sense, someone must be writing these lines for her and I think it is a crazy person! He also makes a mung bean salad and some breaded shiseido peppers which is a new ingredient for me! But I do not like peppers and one is just as bad as another. Still I like knowing about them. Simon thinks the shrimp is beautifully cooked but there is a disjoint between the shrimp and the peppers. Zakarian does not see any disconnect but he has little seeds in his teeth and some of the shrimp was overwhelmed with cumin seeds! Donatella says it is soulful and well-balanced.
The judges talk: it was not the best showing for either chef, so it is a matter of which is least forgettable. It did not sound like that when they did the tasting!
But in the end they decide the shrimp head was a spectacular little flavor packet so Nate is safe and Mehta is out! And Marcel goes back to being nasty in a side shot: “You can kiss your NIC title goodbye!” That is not nice!
David Copperfield (the magician, not the book) and a Las Vegas Buffet!