James Oseland

James Oseland admits that the boxing challenge is his favorite episode... ever.

on Sep 5, 2012

When Patricia and Lorena took to the ring, I was fascinated. We didn't know then, at the Critics' Table, about the animosity between the two that had developed while shooting the previous week's episode; Lorena was giving off a palpable sense of nervousness and insecurity. But when the cooking began, she was in her element, and that was rewarded in her win. Both of the final dishes were excellent, and despite the differences between the two chefs, Lorena and Patricia wound up having a surprising amount in common: Patricia's exquisite leek reduction and Lorena's rich chowder echoed one another in texture and flavor. A surprising synchronicity, given the circumstances! 

The battle for victory between Lorena and Chris was fraught from the get-go. My heart sank when I saw that the secret ingredient was sugar: for Chris, the king of all things cured, smoked, and fried, an ingredient that was outside his obvious skill set. I wasn't optimistic that he could pull it off, but he proved me wrong with an expert zabaglione, delicately flavored and beautiful in its simplicity. Unfortunately, the one-two punch of Lorena's flourless chocolate cake (phenomenal) and a dulce de leche-drizzled grilled pineapple was a hard one to beat. She gambled on a highly ambitious play, and won.

The final elimination round was tough -- both to watch, and to judge. I felt a certain level of insecurity from both Patricia and Takashi, who were put in the difficult position of, as Patricia put it, cooking for their lives. What undid Takashi here was quite similar to his downfall against Chris: his dish was so complex that it lost some of its coherence, the various elements fighting for dominance and canceling each other out. It was sad to see him go. Patricia won in spite of her inconsistently cooked chicken liver (I glanced at Jane's plate and saw that, in fact, hers was less rare than mine had been — I seem to keep getting the raw deal this season). Patricia’s dish told a story with a clear beginning, middle, and end. It looked beautiful, and it tasted even better.