As predicted, it was Brian who was sent home from the range. Not a tough call. Unlike me, Eric Ripert is a very diplomatic guy. He has had to be. He rarely bad mouths even the deserving. He is restrained in his disapproval. But I will tell you, from long experience and much alcohol with my Buddhist buddy, he hated Brian's dish. Given the dearth of suitable English adjectives in the mountains of Andorra (a country you probably haven't even heard of), from whence Ripert hails, I hope he won't mind if I translate his comments: "
Dry elk shank ... horseradish ... sour cream ... bourbon ... red wine, balsamic vinegar, garlic, cherries, sage butter ... and now you want me to choose between overwhelming blue cheeses?
What the **** is THAT about?!"
Indeed. It's not that Brian isn't a good cook. He's clearly very talented. His flavors are usually, it appears, excellent. His technique also excellent. He deserved to be in this competition -- and by whatever means he got there -- deserved to be in the finals. It's that he's often clueless about what he's done wrong -- and why anyone would disagree with him.
I'm sure that Brian still believes that his Jumbo Sirloin With Barbie-Head/Potato Hash was undeserving of scorn. That making an ugly but delicious shepherd's pie for a table of French master chef educators was an adequate effort. And I fear that when he looks back on the inexplicable and insanely awful decision to invite Eric Ripert to cut a fat slab of Gorgonzola onto a (presumably) nicely composed plate of elk ("Help yerseff to some fixin's, pardnuh!!") he's still wondering what went wrong. Where Brian fell down was on the conceptual end. Killed off -- as so often happens -- by a Bad Idea.
What happens next week? I sure want to know! And I haven't a clue. From the few brief seconds of clips, I recognized a incongruous troika of Todd English, Michelle Bernstein, and Rocco DiSpirito. Where this mosh pit of very distinguished, VERY different chef/judges will come down on the final Elimination Challenge is beyond predicting. All I can say is Dale better have another VERY good day.