Take Elia in the Quickfire, for example. My mind reels from all the possibilities one has with "White" as a starting point. Fresh ricotta cheese, cream, cauliflower, root vegetables like turnip and parsnip, the radish world -- jicama and daikon. You've got egg whites and lardo, an extravagantly flavorful form of bacon fat. Sour cream, goat cheese, mozzarella, every white fish in the book, and don't even get me started on potatoes. While Elia's dish turned out fine, her initial reaction to the challenge -- "what the hell am I supposed to do with white?" -- was telling. For others, the challenge, rather than providing a springboard for ideas, seemed limiting and pushed them in a very rigid direction: Witness Ilan's red on red beef tartar with beet chips. "Red" overtook his creative process and lost him the critical eye he needed to use negative space effectively on the plate.
The other thing