And so I was discouraged in this Elimination Challenge that a bunch of young chefs all currently working in America were told to "do New American" and turned to quiche, to meatloaf, to homey, regional "comfort food," when I think that American food is so much more than that.
In general, the food looked clunky on the plate; almost nothing looked refined. The only dish I saw that I thought was very contemporary in its plating was Leah's. Padma thought it looked very '80s, but I thought it was very modern. But while it looked great, it lacked flavor. Jamie's dish was nice, corn-filled, which was appropriate, as we shot the season in the summertime. Carla's pastry was very good. I wish she'd done something with that cheddar to incorporate it, but it was a good dish. There was nothing new about it, but at least it was a good dish. Fabio won because his food was the best, but he actually took an Italian dish that has worked its way into American cuisine. Adding the olives was a nice touch, but one that was scarcely new - Fabio was using a technique that was actually seven years old. Nobody actually fulfilled the mandate.
Hosea got into trouble when he walked into the store and found himself facing bad canned crabmeat. He should have gone to Plan B right away and made a different dish. But that's a bad judgment call, not a bad dish. Ariane tried to do a take on an American dish, a lemon meringue pie, and do something modern. At least she had the idea, but it was poorly executed. She knew in advance that the dessert was too sweet. She could have added more lemon juice, even reducing it down so it would not be too liquid. She could have used lemon zest. Dessert goes out last; Ariane had the time to do something to fix the problem ... why didn't she?
Jill's dish failed in so many ways. The goal is always to celebrate and elevate the ingredients, but she took a potentially special item - an ostrich egg - and made it unspectacular. No one can tell which bird egg has been mixed into a quiche by tasting it. And why quiche? The task called for New American and she did Old French. I don't understand how she thought she could win this competition with a quiche. Were this a one-shot deal - whoever wins this challenge wins the whole competition - would you make a quiche? Furthermore, it was a poorly made quiche, just a terrible dish. I remember looking at it and thinking "Oh my god, why would somebody do this?"