Funny story about Mark, I had actually met him while filming in Miami. He was doing a demo at FIU with his Executive Chef at Public, Brad Farmerie, who I know very well from New York. We met up for drinks on Lincoln Road after they had dinner at Table 8. Mark had MANY MANY drinks at dinner. Shannon and I bought him and Brad a few more. In slurred speech, he remarked how maybe he should try out for Top Chef. Let's just say I was completely amused when I saw him at final casting. What was even funnier is that he didn't remember seeing me in Miami.
Back to the show: The living situation keeps getting better and better for our chefs. In my mind a pool table may be even better than a hot tub. Moving on to the Elimination Challenge (appropriately titled "Anything you can cook I can cook better"), I worked with the producers to come up with a list of dishes that any chef should be able to recreate, though Shauna was particularly gleeful when it came to the souffle. I was slightly hesitant to put it on the list but I gave the benefit of the doubt to our experienced contestants. (Drinking several for Dale's superiority complex, drinking another because Ryan has absolutely no idea what goes into Chicken Piccatta).
Let's start with Mark who took on Stephanie with Duck a l'Orange. His deconstructed dish did him in, while Stephanie's dish was inspired, combining the classic flavor profile with Asian ingredients. The crunch of the spring roll and the sweet and spicy orange glaze are what really sold it. I think I took a few shots here for Bourdain being a judge and his scathing commentary to come.