Not everyone was as at ease with the kids as Antonia and Richard. You can sense an awkwardness with some of the contestants, especially with Tom keeping a watchful eye over their interactions with the kids in the kitchen. $10 is a very low amount of money to feed a family of four, but there are people who do it every day. Successful or not, I think it was great that certain contestants were able to utilize their time and the pantry to create extra dishes, like Spike and Stephanie.
Speaking of Spike, I'm curious what everyone's perception of him up to this point has been. I will reveal one thing, and it's totally corny and a bit stereotypical, but what you all missed is that when his sous-chef cut his finger with the peeler, Spike dropped everything that he was doing to clean out the cut. Mind you, this took several minutes (we all know how much our contestants love the clock), and as he was putting the bandage on his kid, I think I gave an audible, "Awwwww ...", in that girly sort of way, when a guy does something totally unexpected. He's all cotton candy under that wise ass exterior.
In my opinion some of the chefs' ideas were not so great from the start, but what I found interesting was which of the chefs actually asked their kid what he or she thought. While her dish was bland (all it needed was a little salt and lemon juice to wake it up), I thought Lisa worked well with her partner. I get a big chuckle when I think about what Andrew's partner must've first thought after the 10 minutes of working with him (do 9-year-olds know about Ritalin?). Andrew's dish was delicious, and the refreshing combination of the citrus and the fennel was the perfect complement to the chicken paillard. It was one of the kids' favorites dishes, though Art Smith had said one of the reasons why he didn't win was because it was similar to the chicken finger syndrome: People think kids will eat anything breaded and fried. Spike's dishes were also well received. The carrot soup was colorful and tasty and the pasta was a smart choice, as he loaded his sauce up with lots of vegetables. Richard also found a creative way to get his kids to eat beets, and I love that he put his extra apron on his sous so they matched. Dale's dish was very good, so good I'd love to eat two plates of it probably with a big stein of German beer. Not a kid-friendly dish though -- the cabbage was something I think an adult may be able to handle but was just too vinegary for the young palate. While Nikki's dish embodied the challenge, I wasn't a huge fan of it, as it was a jumble of stuff on the plate. It certainly tasted OK, and she definitely gets props for putting the brussel sprouts in the mix. I suppose it was just hard for me to look at the plate because there was so much going on. Cheap does not have to mean unrefined.