Now that was entertainment. Between the Aspen eye candy, the truly challenging nature of both competitive exercises and the high stakes involved, this semi-finale was gripping from start to finish. Usually I find the Quickfires rather awkward contrivances the cheftestants -- and viewers -- have to endure before getting to the meat of the matter. They're merely a device designed to lend some additional drama by giving the winner an advantage in the elimination round -- an advantage which, since immunity was ruled out, has often been of dubious merit. However, the campfire cook-off was an intriguing test of nerves and resourcefulness. And the prize of being able to use their imported favorite ingredients could have been significant.
As we've come to expect, Hung took to the task like, well, a fish to water. But he swam too fast. Fish is not generally well served by a post preparation rest and Hung's had a seven minute nap. Mr. Precision also neglected what he obviously considered a vital element -- the lemon juice. He just may have been more rattled by having to pass muster with the great Eric Ripert under those rustic conditions than he let on. Why else volunteer such an omission? Casey admitted to hand-shaking nervousness, but she shook it off to adopt what has become her signature of focused cool to pull off a winning dish.