Toby Young makes a case for the females in the Super Bowl challenge.
As a food critic, I'm constantly asking my editors to let me review airline food, not least because it is such a good opportunity to be funny. So far, they've never said yes, but for an example of just how funny it is possible to be about airline food check out this
letter of complaint received by Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin Atlantic.
Last night's Elimination Challenge wasn't about making a good airline meal, but it wasn't far off. The seven remaining cheftestants were asked to put together the kind of dishes that would be good to eat while watching the Super Bowl. In other words, something simple and portable and which didn't require too much fiddling about with cutlery. If they could convey something of the flavour of the region where their particular teams came from, so much the better.
For me, the big surprise of the night was that the three remaining female contestants ended up among the winners, while Stefan, Jeff, and Fabio had to battle to stay in the competition. Why should women be better at cooking "football food" than men? Perhaps the answer is that in spite of the advances made by the feminist movement, in most households women are still stuck behind the stove on game day.
Carla admitted that her husband and stepson are big football fans, while she can take it or leave it, so it is not surprising that she emerged as last night's overall winner. She's probably been cooking up a storm on Sunday nights for years. By picking New Orleans, she got to play to her strengths and she scored a touchdown with her gumbo. I can just imagine her making this dish for the men in her life as they sit down to watch the Super Bowl - which might explain why both Tom and I said we could "taste the love" this time. I wonder if she'll
give both of those Super Bowl tickets to them or keep one for herself?Picking the overall loser was a lot more difficult - probably the toughest decision I've had to make as a judge since joining the show. Remember, we're not allowed to take a chef's track
record into account, so Stefan wasn't safe in spite of having won so many times before. We really didn't like his salads - and serving two salads, along with two different proteins, seemed a little excessive given the parameters of this challenge. Fabio, too, let himself down, by overcooking the venison. Still, I preferred Fabio's dish to Spike's - and so did the audience.
In the end, we concluded that Jeff's dish was the weakest of the three. His ceviche was limp and flavourless, not the sort of food anyone would associate with the Miami Dolphins. Up until now, I've enjoyed Jeff's complex, multi-faceted food, even if he is a little over-reliant on sorbets. But this dish was more suitable for a trio of ladies at a tennis match than a bunch of guys sitting down to watch a football game. If the sports competition in question had been
Wimbledon, rather than the Super Bowl, he might have won. As it was, he deserved to go home.