Moving on. The elimination. Now, if there has been a time all season that I was jealous, this was it. Talk about right up my alley. Shopping at a farmers' market ... being forced to work with only locally grown products ... I loved it! Cooking 300 portions alone for 150 guests? I loved that part less. As a professional chef in a professional kitchen you have help. A prep cook. A sous-chef. A dishwasher who just peels potatoes. The guy who takes out the trash. Someone. Five hours to cook that much food and transport it and get it set up without burning out, passing out, and freaking out is a commendable feat in itself. Here is my recap of all the dishes, and please, don't be too harsh. A lot of this is based on personal preference, and I am a picky eater. Let's start with Kevin, my number one go-to guy, and the one I am secretly, or not so secretly, rooting for. I gotta say, out of all the vegetarian dishes, his really did it for me. I thought it was gorgeous, and I think when food is visually appealing, it really does make a difference. The idea of taking something so simple and just celebrating it for what it is, like a beet and a carrot, is ballsy and impressive. For me, the component that was most impressive on that dish was the carrot top puree. I have never seen that before, and I thought it was a brilliant way of using the entire product. Very smart. I was less impressed with his defense of undercooked brisket, though I understood why he would have said the bit about texture. It was nice to see him wax poetic about his food. There is no doubt Kevin is serious about cooking, but if he said "per se" one more time, I would have screamed! On to Jen. I was less impressed by her food. I liked that she used all parts of the duck, but I can't say I would have wanted to eat that much duck on a plate. Sometimes a meat like duck, which is rich and gamey, can be a little overwhelming when it is used a lot in one place. Her goat cheese with radishes and mushrooms looked nice, and apparently tasted delicious, but it didn't speak to me in the way Kevin's dish did. I did find it odd that Chiarello remarked that he had never had goat cheese and basil together. That seemed a little strange to me. I've seen those two things put together before, quite a number of times. I guess not in Chiarello's world? Then there are the brothers. I gotta say Bryan's food sounded great. Simple but well-executed, even if he was missing a wee bit of salt. The ravioli looked lovely and I bet tasted that way too, and squash puree can do no wrong in my book. I was impressed that he got his short ribs so tender in the brief period of time, but was bummed for him that the fig flavor didn't come through that much. As for his brother ... I think out of the four chefs Michael's food was the least appetizing. I know all about slow cooked eggs, and I have to agree with the judges that if they aren't executed properly the texture can be gnarly. That's one thing about an egg like that — it needs texture, whether it's balancing it with something crispy or chewy, it needs it. I think the judges were completely right in their assesment that the vegetables in the pistou were cut too small and that the egg was too large for the dish. I was thinking the same thing when the dish flashed upon the screen. It seemed like he was trying to go rustic, but then went refined and shot himself in the foot a little. A big crusty piece of grilled bread, some garlic oil, the egg (maybe a slow cooked quail egg?), and large chunks of warm farm fresh vegetables would have made that dish delicious. As for his foie gras dish: I was floored that he managed to bang out a bunch of terrines in five hours. That takes some serious chops. I was less floored with the pairing of foie gras with turnips, but that's just me. The pear made sense. The color of the soup was lovely. The idea that it all needed to be eaten together was smart. Michael is definitely a very conceptual chef and that's impressive, but for some reason I just have a hard time getting past his exterior. But, hey, I have heard the same thing said about me, that I'm smug, confident, obnoxious, etc. I just try to take it all with a grain of salt and continue to try and be the best I can be at what I love to do.
As I come to the conclusion of my second to last blog (your can all stop crying now...), I make one last prediction: I say goodnight to Jen, just because. And I say hello to the top three guys. With any luck the winner may just be Kevin. For some reason, I am feeling him all the way. Guess we have to wait another week and find out. Until then....
Every week I say the same thing. But you REALLY should be following me on Twitter. I want to get to 4000 followers. Then 5000. Then 10,000. Then I'll take over the world. OK. I'm done. I'm clearly just wasting space now.
Shameless self-promotion! @chefjamielauren