I chowed down on everyone's food porn taco. When I go to Mexico, I practically gorge myself on street food. Puebla is the place to be for street food that's off the hook. It's delicious, obscenely cheap, and more satisfying than what I would normally get anywhere else. Most of our contestants made something very close to street food. Mango salsa does not make a taco upscale. We had put things like taro root and sweet potatoes on the table as options for crispy taco shells. We also had fresh masa and a tortilla press for the contestants. Everyone, including Memo, used the packaged corn tortillas. There was also caviar and different kinds of sashimi-grade fish (... potato chip taco shell, tartare, avocado cream and caviar?). Again, it speaks to the pressure our chefs are under when they only have moments to imagine a dish and then 30 minutes to execute it. I am sure with more time we could've seen some more creative results.
Poor, poor Manuel. You can just see how crushed he was that he didn't win the taco challenge. I've known Manuel for a few years here in NY and he's always made phenomenal food for me when I would go to Dos Caminos. Plus the fact that he's super nice. In his defense, his chorizo taco was muy delicioso.
There were a lot of steak tacos too. Lisa's skirt steak was close to raw, and watching Rick try to eat it reminded me of the cavolo nero I never chopped up for Tom for the sandwich Quickfire. Andrew's tacos were delicious. I am a believer in the duck taco. Aaron Sanchez puts what I call the "crack taco" special on his menu at Paladar every winter; Crispy Duck Confit Tacos with Foie Gras (which I couldn't stock in the pantry all season because we were in Chicago) and a Quince Habanero Salsa. I always order them when they are on the menu. I do not share. Erik's sloppy plating gets him called out again, and Spike shouldn't be in such disbelief that he didn't win. He deliberately didn't meet the criteria and he knew it. Richard's Jicama Tacos were very light and delicious, and they actually remind me of a dish I had just had two months before in Oaxaca. They were also similar to Korean Vegetable Wraps. Either way, it was the most innovative of the bunch and definitely deserved the win.