I will keep this relatively short(er) because I am in Hawaii wrapping the finale, and I have not slept much in the past four days. This episode was a flashback to the gas station challenge ... I happen to love challenges like this, because it forces me to think outside of the box. And believe me, I have come home, relatively intoxicated, many a night to bizarre and somewhat random ingredients in my cupboards. The mark of a true chef is the 3:00 a.m. challenge. So flash forward to the amuse bouche vending machine challenge.
First of all, "madness?" Yes. Thank you, Sam. "Any self respecting chef blah blah blah blah"? I've heard just about enough from Ms. Pastry Chef Extraordinaire. Anyone who studied last season would realize that the challenges are unconventional, and the purpose is to make the contestants uncomfortable, but also to inspire them to bring their best creatively. It is an attitude that even Harold had to adopt and that would eventually lead him to victory.
Enter Mike Midgely. In my last blog, I queried whether or not some of the contestants were there to win, or there to get by. I will admit, when I first met Mike, I was relatively appalled by his demeanor. In many ways, he is the antithesis of everything I stand for and try to represent as a professional chef. But I respect the fact that he has a point of view, and the fact that he knows himself, and his own limitations. So he just said, "F*** it. I'm not gonna win this one, it is only a Quickfire." I would reveal a bit more about my opinions on the cheesy poof/candy bar situation but I think it is too inappropriate to put in a blog.
I love Corn Nuts and used them in my gas station challenge last year. (Go Ilan!) Carlos put together a lovely and elegant vegetarian sunflower and carrot loaf for the win. I absolutely LOVE how calm Carlos is on camera all of the time. I want whatever he's on.
Team challenges are always fun. Marcel actually calls Betty his "arch nemesis." Hilarious. The challenge is to create a three-course meal that is under 500 calories. In the past year, I have lost a considerable amount of weight, inspired by my good friend Andrea Beaman. I used to be a tiny little thing, and I think the years of cooking and grazing, and eating and drinking late at night took their toll on me. Learning how to eat right and what I could eat in abundance really changed the way I feel about food, and it is incredibly liberating because I have lost over 50 pounds and I eat more than ever now.
Anyways, thank goodness Betty, Marcel, and Frank could come together as a team to create a winning menu. The spoils, however, do not come without the drama. While educational, this challenge would have pissed me off too. Calorie counting is not my forte and I believe in fat. Fat delivers flavor. In fact, I have just made a bunch of chocolate bacon cakes for the production crew today. Bizarre? Maybe. Bacontastic? Definitely. I'd probably fail this challenge ... miserably. But I have learned to eat healthier, without the calorie counting.
Very smart of the black team to do pizza. Kids love pizza. In fact, I had wanted to do a monkfish pizza for our kids' challenge last year (obviously that idea was shot down). Marcel still has few things to learn about finesse and tact. He's always ready to place blame on all others, should his team lose. The thing that kills me about this cast is that they are so ready to point fingers at each other, and not in the most professional manner. Meringues, cookies, Splenda, sugar .... All things that should have been brought to the attention of the producers beforehand. If Sam is "not that guy," why bring it up at all? That's just passive aggressive b.s. if you ask me. Did Betty cheat?
Technically, they deviated from the rules by changing the recipe, but I don't believe she meant any harm.
You see, part of the reason I was brought on to production was to clarify the rules and provide more structure to them. None of this, "I didn't understand the rules" nonsense. What I find so interesting is that however important the rules were, there was always one of them either trying to find their way around the rules, or they were accusing each other of cheating. Not very sportsmanlike either way. You'll see what I mean later on. In the end, I understand better than anyone that it's a competition. But for the love of God, I wish they would stop complaining about each other and just cook!