Hubert Keller critiques the final four's disguised dishes.
We are down to our last four chefs, and the competition is stiff, as are the nerves of some of these chefs as they try to put their heads around this exciting challenge.
In this episode, surprise to our cheftestants, there was no Quickfire Challenge. We went straight to the elimination round, meaning of course that one chef will go home! To add to the drama, Iron Chef stud, Cat Cora, and Chef Suzanne Goin are guest judges, and now the stress unfolds!
The challenge: to make a creative dessert disguised as an iconic international savory entrée…
When the chefs were asked to choose an international country at the beginning of this Elimination Challenge, it was obvious that in their minds, they thought they would be making a classic international dessert from their chosen country. Wrong! When they realized that their dessert was to look like recognizable savory food, they almost lost their lunch. What an interesting wrinkle to give them in such a critical time.
Matt chose first, selected Italy, and quickly thought of making a sweet manicotti with crème fraiche cake, mascarpone ricotta mousse, strawberry sauce, and basil gelee. His dessert looked beautiful, and the flavors were clean, but there definitely was a layer of flavor missing… although his salty buns were great with the sweetness of the strawberry sauce. Johnny was right -- adding tomato would have been a cool idea and would have kicked that dessert to another level! The ridges in the pasta added texture, but didn’t make up for the lack of pop. I’m being picky, but that’s the name of this game. We are down to the wire and the winner will revel in the success of the details!Chris chose France and selected Beef Wellington as his disguise. A historical savory dish given credit to the English and the Duke of Wellington, although, Napoleon and the rest of our French ancestors were already enjoying Filet Encroute much sooner; but that’s another story…. Chris executed his cover-up perfectly. I actually thought that if I saw this dessert in a photo, it would be a real Beef Wellington. Well done, Chris! His Wellington was made with store-bought, pre-made puff pastry. We felt that he took a short-cut, but honestly it didn’t affect the integrity of his dish. His flavors, colors, and textures all came off very well. Bravo!
Orlando picked Spain and made a paella with coconut, saffron rice, compressed plums as the white fish, a crunchy chocolate tuille as the mussels, and roasted beets as the chorizo. Very colorful, flavorful, and creative, the presentation was well thought-out, but there were two obvious mistakes: the rice was cooked in a rice cooker and did not have a classic paella texture, and although the ingredients bolstered a, colorful and flavorful sweet paella, there wasn’t enough of those ingredients placed in our dishes. It seemed rushed!
Sally picked Cuba and made a last minute Cuban sandwich. Talk about being rushed, she wasn’t mentally prepared for this at fist, but at the end she shined the brightest! In less time than anyone else, she kicked it to a level that was in another league, and we all loved it. The only complaint was that it was hard to eat. The strawberry cream cheese mousse that was supposedly ham, squirted out the sides of our mouths as we tried to bite into our sandwiches. Very playful, tasty, and successfully-executed otherwise!
All the chefs really stepped their game and put wonderful desserts out to our Judges' Table! This was a tough one, but Orlando’s dessert at the end just didn’t have enough to get him to the final round. As he put it, he “edited himself” a little too much. Time to find that passport and fly to Spain, Orlando. I’m sure you’ll find success anywhere you decide to jet to. Bon voyage, Orlando, and to the rest of our chefs: Congratulations!