Dessert – the part of the meal that most vexes even experienced chefs kicks off this week’s episode, the effective semifinals for the competition. At this point, both the red and blue teams are down to their final two. Eddie, who doesn’t seem to be able to listen to Anne, though pretty good in raw ability – and Rachel, who makes messy but effective plates, represent the Red Team while friend of the blog (see the comments) Jen Vecchio and Jenny “Elvira” Cross try to stop sniffling long enough to compete for a final spot on the Blue Team. This time, the chefs don’t demo and ask the contestants to cook, instead they cook together. The results of this part are pretty good – indeed the molten chocolate cake that Chef Beau teaches (“this is a pretty easy recipe” Beau observes, ever the wordsmith) looks ridiculously delicious. Both ladies do pretty well with it, though Elvira seems to nail it down a bit better. On the Red side they make some Italian puff I cannot recall with a chocolate cream in the middle – like a Napoleon (or a Devil Dog depending on one’s perspective). Both came out solid.
However, then the twist – they have to teach some high school football players how to execute the desserts. A-ha! Separation!! The football players are from a local high school and are perhaps not dumb jocks, though my own stereotyping makes that hard to shake. Of the four, the blue team seemed to do a better job handling their pupils. While Jen V missed the powdered sugar, the problems did not seem overly awful. I’d eat the cake, even if it did not explode like it needed to. The red team contained more slop from Rachel again and Eddie providing a neat but meh dish. In the confessional he explains how he feels totally broken down – and this is BEFORE the challenge … come on bro!
Anyway the challenge for the entree was actually pretty cool. Each one of them was to get reacquainted with the original dish they auditioned to get on the program – all various tragedies of culinary good sense – and reinvent it using the skills they have learned. Rachel was cooking a mac and cheese, Eddie a fried rice, Jen V a tuna steak with fettucine and Elvira a thai coconut chili dish. The real surprise hits when they are introduced to the special judges for their challenge – their loved ones (husband, grandma) – and we are treated to an uncomfortable scene of Eddie completely losing it. Rachel seemed a little harsh but Tom Jackson’s “C’mon man!” echoed through my brain.
After being treated to the surreal scene of watching Jen set foot in a grocery store for the first time since possibly the Reagan administration, we get to the kitchen. Really, the entertainment sort of abated here a bit – as the students have actually seemed to absorb quite a bit. Dare I say, with a fairly tight prep time, they looked like they knew what they were doing. The results showed. Aside from raw shrimp from Eddie, everybody else produced good dishes – certainly miles ahead of the horrendous garbage they produced (so far ahead, I wonder as to how much time lapses between episodes) at first. The scenes of loved ones being awestruck by food actually was kind of sweet in a Biggest Loser sort of way.
Sadly, despite all these personal victories, the absolute victory is not accessible to all four. Ultimately the eliminations seemed fair. Raw shrimp is raw shrimp – so Eddie’s semi-surprising ouster felt necessary. Jen V’s elimination was tougher – and both blue ladies seemed really good. But at the end, Elvira (my pick to win it all) seems like she can reach transcendence with just a little higher probability.