Brian and Dale's collective consternation made for good television. Brian's outdoor piscatory meltdown was as much a surprise as his candor about it, while Dale's commentary about his fish out of water experience with the circumstances was typically amusing. Actually, the Quickfire being out of his grasp may have been a blessing. I shutter to think what might have happened had he been empowered to dip into his cache of spice to further embellish the elk. Dale's self-described "carnival on a plate" might not have been deemed such a deliciously harmonious act by the judges. He might have wandered into Brian's discordant three-ring circus arena. Than again maybe not. In fact, probably not.
Dale was at the top of his game during the Elimination Challenge. And what a pleasure it was to watch after his last two mistake-burdened performances. Sure, I was concerned about all that was going into the dish; too much happening on a plate usually being the kiss of culinary death, but Dale fired on all-of-what-is-expected-of-a-top-chef cylinders, especially when he so seamlessly ditched Plan A in favor of B. Throughout the competition, the judges have stressed the importance -- make that, the necessity ---of not letting something out of the kitchen that isn't up to snuff. On (too rare) occasions, we've seen the contestants take that edict to heart, but until Dale tossed the tart and started cooking the cauliflower, we haven't seen anyone so drastically switch gears and improve upon the final product in the process. It was a masterful stroke of gastronomic finesse. From my point of view, he deserved to win for that alone. And I think he scored considerable points with the judges there too -- certainly with Tom.