The first Quickfire challenge: Flambe something. REALLY not that hard. A little bit shocked that some of them had never flambeed something, but hey, playing with fire is not all that hard ... unless you are using red wine. I was not impressed by many of the presentations, though I do think some of them knocked it out of the park with flavors. Emily's Pork Chops and Apples looked tasty (I am partial to anything swine), as did Sam's Sambuca Flambeed Shrimp. Funny, I know H and I have a lot of the same tastes, so when he picked those two -- along with Betty's Coconut Curry -- I knew they had to be pretty good dishes. They break up the group into teams for the elimination challenge (this feels vaguely familiar). The twist? Cook with a mystery box of ingredients you would probably otherwise never have in your house, let alone together in a box.
A few weeks ago I had to recreate Ilan's winning dish for my cooking webisode on the Bravo site. I remember thinking, "Good gravy! Artichokes, and escargots? Processed American cheese slices?!?" I wasn't sure that I would've been able to think of something to do with those ingredients, plus a potato and cocktail peanuts. Maybe escargots and potato croquettes, crusted in peanuts with an artichoke cheese dip??? It still doesn't sound appealing to me. Now, that bright orange cheese can really throw anyone off the presentation aspect of this challenge. I was really turned off by a couple of dishes: The ravioli, the artichoke potato cake, and Suyai's mess. However, I commend them for getting anything done at all with those ingredients. It was disappointing to see Suyai throw in the towel so quickly. And for Otto to claim he had a "bad day" ... well, it's the second day, bud, and the first elimination challenge. Not the best time to use the "I've had a bad day" routine.
Besides Marissa's "Sweeney Todd" like moment, when she chopped off her finger into her snail tart (just kidding), there wasn't a whole lot of excitement with this group. I remember thinking that I admired how calm Elia works, and how funny it was for Ilan to say he had no idea what he was doing.