At this point in the competition, it was a bit of a low blow, dragging the contestants to a trout stream in the freakin' wilderness and making them clean and cook fish over propane for the Quickfire. Something of a come-down after Le Cirque and the French Culinary Institute. I think they deserved better treatment this late in the game and a cleaner shot at the brass ring. And it was a terrible waste of a great judge.
Eric Ripert is probably the greatest seafood chef in the country (one of the greatest chefs -- period, but he famously specializes in seafood). His restaurant, Le Bernardin didn't just get four stars from The New York Times and three stars from the Michelin guide -- it has gotten them EVERY TIME. An unbroken, perfect record going back more than 15 years -- when Eric was suddenly, and unexpectedly called on to step in as chef. To remain as relevant and widely loved in Manhattan, the most competitive, capricious, dog-eat-dog, and outright vicious restaurant environment in the world is an amazing accomplishment.
So it was, to my mind, a terrible waste of a great judge to shoehorn him into a Scout jamboree. While I have seen Eric cooking fish under even more rustic conditions -- on hot stones in the Pyrenees -- it would have been nice, given the all-too-rare presence of a distinguished specialist, to see what the kids could REALLY do with fish.