The three chefs competing were:
Corey Roberts, who is from Australia and is the Executive Chef for LSG Sky Chefs. Yes, he’s the airline chef in question.
Nicole Straight from Connecticut. Nicole runs Time to Eat Cooking School. She teaches people how to throw dinner parties.
Ayinde Howell. He’s a vegan chef and food blogger. Ayinde has been a vegan all his life; he eats no animal products of any kind. He has never even cooked meat. I’ve cooked and eaten a lot of vegan meals, and done right, they can be terrific. Ayinde said he could deliver.
For the Signature Dish Challenge, Ayinde whipped up Texas BBQ Rubbed Seitan with Sauteed Mustard Greens and Home Fried Potatoes. Seitan (pronounced SAY-Tan) is another alternative to meat, and it comes from the protein in wheat. You can use it in a lot of dishes, like stews, burgers, and casseroles. Like tofu, it takes on the character and flavor of any ingredient used with it. His seitan did taste like a meat dish, but it was so over-seasoned … I could barely eat it. The level of sodium made my cheeks wince. Wish he had the ability to acknowledge his error, might have saved him.
Nicole made Pan Roasted Salmon with Truffle Butter Sauce, wilted baby spinach, and slices of Yukon Gold Potatoes. The salmon was cooked perfectly. Good truffles can change your life, but I couldn’t taste them in the butter sauce. She clearly doesn’t have lots of experience with this precious ingredient.
Corey did something playful and fun: Mummy Fried Shrimp. He took long shreds of potato and wrapped each shrimp so that it looked like a mummy. Then he deep fried them. Very cool. Creativity like that wows guests. He served it atop an avocado and citrus salad. But the shrimp was woefully bland and not crispy. So sad. I asked him if the fryer he was using was hot enough and he made some smart-alec remark.
I was taping all the shows and somewhat enjoying watching the competition and recipes but the banter amongst dinner guests is another story. The atmosphere at the dinner parties in general is reminiscent of high school, "If you don't get the inside joke, you're not cool." But the jokes are contrived, everyone is vaguely uncomfortable, and Rocco DiSpirito just doesn't keep my interest. The most banal and incomprehensible moment was when one of the guests mentioned something about a "Four minute cunnilingus session." What? This is not dinner conversation, or conversation for any time in mixed company as far as I'm concerned. This is a desperate attempt to be relevant, because it is neither interesting nor intellectual. And it's not funny. I may not be "cool enough" to "get It," but Rocco and his friends are definitely not good enough to come into my home anymore.
Rocco love your show! Marry a cuban! we have lots of Sabor! Keep the great dishes coming..i'm making your fried chicken!