The cookie was cute and tasty, and the fruit crumble was simple and seasonal, putting Stephanie at the top of the heap again. The question is, do you cook for your audience or do you cook for the judges? The answer is both. Red Team made the fatal flaw of underestimating their audience. While they did make a lot of food, I think they could've been more creative. So what if you get stuck with pasta salad? I can think of dozens of ways to transform the basic cold pasta, cold diced veggies, and oily vinaigrette, especially when combined with ingredients from our pantry (the pantry list is quite expansive). I'll be honest -- Ted and Rick hit the nail on the head when they said you could find better pasta salad at a supermarket deli counter. Then there was the wretched Waldorf salad. It would honestly be the last salad on earth I would think to make, but I guess it fits in the theme of classic, if not totally boring and poorly done. It was a mixed bag with both teams, with some good dishes and some really bad dishes, neither necessarily fulfilling their criteria for "upscale" and "classic Americana." In the end, the soggy corn dogs were the biggest disappointment for all, including the guests of the block party, and the judges. I was not so fond of Erik's attitude toward the challenges and Chef Bayless, but underneath his bruiser-like exterior, he's a very sweet guy with a laid-back California-style of cooking. I wish him the best and hope to try one of his signature corn dogs next time I'm in his neck of the woods.
Speaking of corn dogs, I was at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California a few weekends ago. I went for two things: roller coasters and a corn dog. The park was not fully open so there was only one stand that sold the corn dogs and I didn't reach it until it was late afternoon, due to its location (deep in the park). I would've preferred the corn dog to the terrible incarnation of Johnny Rocket's that I had for lunch. The first bite into that crispy sweet corn batter and then the juicy jumbo hot dog beneath, smeared with ketchup and mustard, as I like it, always brings me back to my childhood. After all, it's meat. It's a stick. It's meat on a stick. In the words of Mike Midgley, "Who doesn't love meat on a stick?"