From a challenge standpoint, I thought this was a great show. The chefs haven't been asked to do anything really crazy yet. There's been no Venetian action; there hasn't been anything really daring. I thought last week came the closest so far, with them being asked to do an interpretation of an American classic. I would have been a little cranky doing that. I thought this challenge was great. You have all these ingredients to work with paired with gin, and a lot of chefs drink gin, so I didn't think that was surprising. And then, in the elimination challenge: come up with a trio. I thought to myself: this is another great one.
I really felt for the chefs who did the dessert. It's one of those things, a double-edged sword: you draw the fourth course and you don't put out a dessert? The judges are going to call you out on that. You're creating a tasting menu for these people, and you don't do dessert? You have to. I didn't agree when the judge told them they didn't have to do dessert. It's one of those things, it's like, "yeah, we did have to do that, because if we had pulled out a cheese course at the end, you would've crucified us." So, they went with pineapple, something indigenous to Miami, and I thought that was smart. But pastry is such a science. If I had to go through the whole show again, I would totally position myself to have a half dozen desserts that I could pull out of my sleeve at the drop of a hat, because you know if you get to the finale, you are going to have to do dessert, so you'd better figure something out.
Pineapple was a smart choice, since grocery stores usually don't have great chocolate for cooking. It's usually pretty low quality, so they really had no choice. I thought the shrimp dishes were coming from incredibly talented chefs. You have Brian, who works for a fish restaurant, Hung who has a great pedigree, and has also worked in great restaurants. I thought they really nailed it. And I thought all the beef dishes looked really nice, too. I thought they did a really strong job with that. Tuna is one of those things: to the general public, they love it, but then there are foodies who are say to themselves: "been there, done that". They want to see something a little more than a seared piece of tuna or tuna tartar. If you're going to do tuna, you've got to really bring it.