From Lemony Snicket to Lucha Vavoom, this episode had a little something to whet everybody’s appetite.
Doug and Sang’s love/hate relationship was out in full force this episode. I thought it was hilarious that Doug created the ketchup challenge simply to get Sang’s goat. There is some real humor amongst this group of chefs. The games and digs at each other aren’t malicious or nasty -- it’s typical of what you find in a normal commercial kitchen. Chefs love to annoy, offend, and be smartasses to each other in the name of a good time (I think as an industry we’ve earned a rep for being like this!), and I’ve been sitting back enjoying the banter.
I’d have to agree with Sang -- I don’t think I’d use ketchup in my restaurant. Don’t get me wrong; it’s perfect with French fries and a burger, but ketchup does mask the flavor of other ingredients in a dish. Saying that, Jen did an awesome job using ketchup in her scallops dish. My gosh, welcome back Jennifer! Talk about coming back with a vengeance. Her winning dish was super creative. Obviously, ketchup is a bit of a one-note ingredient, but Jen spiced it up with the other ingredients to create an incredibly well-balanced flavor, and it looked gorgeous on the plate. Maybe her taste of going home a few weeks ago is exactly what she needed to get to the top. Has she got what it takes to go all the way now?
Lucha Vavoom was so much fun. I actually ended up taking Lindsay to their Valentine’s Day show following working with them on this episode. Both the chefs and judges had a really rad time and enjoyed every minute of the ridiculousness. I think it was good for the chefs to get in the ring themselves and release a bit of pressure and bravado. This challenge also presented a really good test for the chefs. It’s one thing to conceive an incredible dish; it is another thing to do it en masse for 300 people and to do it well.
Sang and Jennifer were thrown a real disadvantage. I'd be spewing if I had to swap sous chefs at the last minute because you almost speak another language with your sous chef. It’s like doing a dance; you move in one direction and your sous just knows to move in the other, which sounds pretty silly on paper. They know what you’re going to do next, they know at what point you like to season your food, they know what particular style of plating you like, and you don't have to spell much out to them. This sort of relationship is built up over time. When you have someone new standing next to you, you’ve got to teach them your style. You’ve got to stop what you’re doing and explain how you want things done. So hats off to Jenn who won this challenge despite having Sang’s sous chef to help her. The sous chefs were great sports and definitely stepped up to this obstacle well.