Hugh Acheson comments on the new Kerry Heffernan, Patricia Yeo's misstep, and Chris Cosentino's win.
Three’s company but four is a crowd.
After Takashi went home last week we have quickly realized the depth of character that he brought to the show. His calm demeanor and skillful food seemed to act as a calming force to all involved. Now we are down to a cat fight, aloof Kerry, and Wolverine’s sidekick, Chris.
Patricia looks tired. Heck, they all look tired. So it’s a pantry/hot line team scenario where they can’t leave their zone and must help each other to make their food. Patricia and Chris are team MUSTARD YELLOW and Lorena and Kerry are in a baby blue apron ensemble that makes Lorena look like a study in pastels.
Kerry makes a list for the pantry runs in short staccato outbursts separated by 30 seconds per item. Lorena is dancing and prancing in response, but this is not a very efficient way of working this challenge out. You really do get the idea early that Kerry has interpreted this challenge as follows: you are an ill-communicating executive chef who has a frenetic extern to assist you. Cook. This is a disaster for Lorena. She is watching the time tick by and her rice fails to appear on the plate. Kerry meanwhile has really concentrated on his dish.The Berber duck from Chris is pretty good-looking. I love the Berber flavor profile going on here: dates, pinenuts, and spices. But I have to agree with the bookie and Curtis that the fat has not been rendered down enough on the breast. Chris thinks they are wrong. DO NOT DISAGREE with Wolverine’s sidekick. Yes, Chris the bookie and the Aussie know that ducks have fat, but in the beauty shot you can really tell that that duck needs a little more time. Take the criticism and smile a little more.
Chris’ partner in crime, Patricia, has made a tuna tataki with radishes. The odds guy likes it. You want to make guys like that happy or he’ll be breaking kneecaps. Curtis doesn’t have those connections so you can disappoint him. He’s like a weeble wobble when hit with disappointment, with his sunny disposition always reigning supreme. At this point I have the odds at 3:1 that team Cosentiyeo is going home with this Quickfire trophy… but like a Davydenko tennis match in 2007, picking a winner can be a nuanced affair.
So Kerry is putting on the ritz with a fancy farfalle. It’s bow-tie pasta to the rest of America and what are the odds that a bookie from Vegas will love a pasta with shrimp, butter, bacon, and tomatoes? If we forgive Kerry’s lopsided allegiance to himself and not his team then maybe he can win this Quickfire. Lorena’s dish looks pretty straightforward and rice-less, but it gets a solid nod as well.
Kerry/Lorena pull through and win. No immunity though, just a good payday at the sports book cage. Lorena is still disappointed with her rice mishap, but she’ll take the money for her charity.
Is Kerry the bubble team that can win this competition? He really has been a quiet player throughout the season but seems to be getting stronger the longer he hangs around. He’s like Santa Clara beating Arizona in March Madness back in 1993. Some kid named Steve Nash was playing patient, precise ball, and sinking six free throws in a row at the end of the game, locking up the win. Kerry is the Steve Nash of this season. I was the Bill “Spaceman” Lee of my season. Dinner in white. They have to make a picnic today, to be consumed tomorrow. I would have made a farro salad, cured and sliced beef tenderloin with a simple little sauce, pickles, and then a little lemon curd tart. I like this challenge.
Shopping time. Chris is thinking and gets the butcher to combine and grind his forcemeat for a pate or terrine. Smart player that Wolverine sidekick. Patricia offers to buy food for Chris and this pisses off Lorena, who really has become a small Venezuelan Army of one.
To the Cosmo cave! They cook and pack it up. Then they go to bed and have terrifying nightmares about bored people all dressed in white having a group meal in a parking lot in Vegas. Oh wait -- that’s actually happening.
To the Venetian! Is that Newt Gingrich all dressed in white?
Packing food for picnics is a challenging thing. When we cook at out restaurants, it’s much easier because the food is being enjoyed right after its created. You pack it up and put it in the fridge for 12 hours, then we have the term “doggie bag” show its true meaning.
I love how the judges are really forcing the French accents on the whoel event. Very Alex Trebekian of them. God, I hate mimes and clowns. Kerry is also playing the accent game, and like many Kerry moments of public speaking, it kind of falls on its face. Stick to the cooking, Kerry.
To the food:
Lorena has made a Jerky Chicken salad, a potato salad, and a chocolate mousse. She has added Aji Amarillo and other choice South of the Border ingredients to bring the Lorena. It’s a mixed lunch bag of commentary from the judges, except that the judges all hate the mousse, and the French guy wants some cheese before dessert. The French… nothing’s ever good enough for them. Patricia is kicking it Marco Polo-style. Salad with whitebait, bison with chili jam, and flatbread with stuff. Flatbread was a bad choice. Day-old pizza is loved by hungover frat boys everywhere, but there is a reason that it never has ascended into fine dining. French guy hates that and maligns the American supermarket. I am rethinking my decision to never use the term “Freedom Fries.”
Chris is bragging about his recent trip to Venice, where he was filming a new competition cooking show about running a restaurant while being handcuffed to your overbearing mother-in-law. He has taken that trip as inspiration, and so we have a conserva of swordfish, marinated mushrooms with pinenuts, a terrine of pork and chicken liver, and some vegetable stuff cooked in hay. May the hay trend have its hay day and go away. They are all very impressed with the terrine. the conserva is kickin’ it but is possibly a bit overcooked. The mushrooms get no comments.
Kerry and his aloof self have made a cauliflower soup, a green bean salad, and some chicken. The judges are behind this new Kerry. Kerry has even pleased Robin Leach who is looking less annoying than he did 30 years ago.
The judges throw Patricia and Lorena to the bottom rungs of purgatory and the tops are Kerry and Chris. Chris wins. Winner winner chicken dinner. This win is sadly balanced with the departure of Patricia, his mentor and friend in this show. If he could get into time machine and do this again he would, but that’s another show.
To the finale!