I’ve cooked for indigenous people in the past. Whether it was for the Australian Aboriginals or the Berbers in North Africa, the key part is to be sensitive to the culture. Our chefs did an amazing job with this, using the foods of the Hualapai Tribe in creative, vibrant, and respectful ways that celebrated their cuisine. Patricia and Chris were superstars on this front. The Rabbit and It’s Bits, Acorn Squash & Agrodolce was a culinary feat that also showed reverence for the food. Takashi and Thierry, though, really captured the essence of the challenge by working together to create a dish that wowed both the critics and the Hualapai. Every part of the Grilled Venison and Banana Yucca Cake with Figs worked so seamlessly with every other part. Thierry played magician, making a truly magnificent cake out of an ingredient that he’d never so much as seen. And while it would have perhaps been too bitter on its own, it was a perfect complement to the rich complexity of Takashi’s venison.
Not every plate worked so nicely together. Clark and Kerry’s Spiced Beef Filet & Corn with Sage Pistou & Chili Ragout felt like it was put together by two chefs that hadn’t communicated with each other. The textures were too similar, and Clark’s corn simply too bland. I felt for Clark. He had to play it down to try and balance Kerry’s bold flavoring. But in the end, his dish was lacking. Best of luck back in Maine, Clark!