It wasn't that long ago, a year and a half to be accurate, that I was heading to Puerto Rico for our season finale. I remember feeling like the competition was getting pretty easy, not in a cocky way, but in an experienced way. By the 23rd and 24th challenge, the routine becomes, well, just that. It's a distance runner a few miles in. By this episode, the chefs are well warmed up and in full stride. This is when the chefs should produce some of the best food of the season. And it’s this episode, where the judging also becomes obviously more detailed.
It's not over salting or an unset crème brulee, now. It's the viscosity of the hollandaise - the authenticity of tomate Provencal.
The quickfire dishes were all presented well. They even looked tasty, which is tougher then it sounds. They were seemingly creative. I mean, a panna cotta bleeding mango yolk? Using ricotta as a sub for a bacon, egg, and cheese? The green egg? The egg white as a sheet of nori? Where has this whimsy and inventiveness been all season?
And then I get it. This group cooks through a challenge, for the most part, literally. When presented with Wylie Dufresne, one of our genres pioneers, they respond by cooking to him. Mimicking. WWWD? What would Wylie do? It is the last supper after all?