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Bravotv.com: And so this week we have Dale and Tiffani.
Gail Simmons: Going back to their seasons, they were both so villainous, but I think everyone by now knows that they're not that villains. They're fierce competitors. They are both really talented. They've both gone on to be very successful in their own right. They both own meat-centric restaurants. Tiffani has a BBQ joint in Boston called Sweet Cheeks and Dale has three restaurants in Brooklyn, one of which is called Pork Slope. So vegan was an interesting challenge for both of them. They're very well matched, I thought, and it made for really great food and a really interesting duel.
Bravotv.com: We start with Dale asking Tiffani to revisit dim sum.
GS: So I'm glad Dale chose this challenge, because that dim sum challenge in All-Stars was abysmal. I was there, and it really was one of the worst days of the season. It was a catastrophe. So this was great for us, and their dim sum at the Duels was far superior. It's still a very difficult challenge. Twelve pieces of two different types of dim sum in a half an hour, but they did it somehow.
There was good and bad in both the dim sums that they made. Both tasted great. Dale's pork and king crab roll was especially good. It was deep fried, it was juicy, and it had a lot of great flavor. The steamed shrimp shumai had great flavor, as well. It was well made and seasoned, but what happens with dim sum is if the dough isn't cooked fully or if it isn't steamed right, it can stick to the bottom, making it very difficult to pick up, forcing the dumplings to fall apart when you pick them up. So that was our only issue with the dishes. Tiffani's dim sum in many ways was more complex. And the pork and bacon fried with mint. I loved the flourish of mint. So I was really impressed that she went for it and really took the challenge head on and elevated it in a beautiful way. The major issue we had was with the flavor of her lobster and uni dumpling because of the way she smoked it. The lobster had a bit of an acrid flavor, a very strong flavor that tasted a little bitter. The pork and bacon was really delicious, and I chose hers for this challenge, because I thought she really did make refined dishes, but I understand why Wolfgang and Curtis chose Dale's, and I was equally impressed with what he did in the food challenge.
Tiffani's Duel was a little more involved in the way that she wanted to create craft cocktails using high quality ingredients, taking a classic cocktail and giving it a twist and then pairing it with an American canapé. It's arguable that Dale’s cocktail wasn't necessarily a craft cocktail. I mean a Bloody Mary is a classic cocktail, and he made it a little refined, Brooklyn-style, and paired it with that deviled egg, which was delicious, but I don't think he took the craft part of the challenge as far as he could have and really upped the ante on the new creative cocktail. I don't think he pushed it as hard as he could have.
Tiffani made the most beautiful biscuit, which is kind of strange to pair with a cocktail (though she says that's normal in the South). It was light, fluffy, and so buttery, but I wish she could have put something with it, like a little preserve or even a little piece of country ham, as Wolfgang suggested. The cocktail, as you can see from my reaction, was really good, very strong but really made in a way that was modern and elegant. The mint julep and the Old Fashioned are two of my favorite cocktails and it packed a punch. It was really strong, but it was really fun. So they each now have ten grand in their pocket and then onto the main duel.
Bravotv.com: The Duel is a three course vegan meal: first course on a stick, the second course must include a meat substitute, and third course must be a dessert with a surprise element.
We took two people who own meat restaurants and gave them a vegan challenge, which I think was a bit of a surprise. Not only that, but they had to serve it to Rob Zombie and his crew of heavy metal geniuses. Total fun and crazy for all of us. I loved them all. They were so cool to hang out with. You can't deny how talented they all are, even if you don't listen to their music. I'm not a Slayer fan, but I can appreciate how much they've all contributed to the genre. Rob Zombie is a legend. Not just a musician, but also a director. I'm not a horror fan, either, but he's done so much in both fields.\
I think for the first course they were really neck and neck. I preferred Tiffani's drunken noodles to Dale's summer salad. Both were beautiful, but the way she layered the noodles on the stick. They were chewy and I loved the way that there was bite to them (though other's didn't) and the sauce. Dale's was certainly more elegant, a little lighter and fresh with all these beautiful spring vegetables and the pickled radish. They were both good dishes. Two great jobs and two interesting dishes. A lot of flavor from both, and I think that's what we were looking for, especially for Rob. When you're vegan, you're given side dishes that are really boring, and they proved that appetizers don't have to be boring for a vegan.
For the second course, Dale made a ramen and Tiffany did a mushroom dish, and both were substantial. It definitely wasn't the best ramen I ever had, but some people really enjoyed it. Some thought the broth wasn't very flavorful. I liked it, but not as much as Tiffani's mushrooms. Her mushrooms felt like a meaty dish with a really rich mushroom jus and the green bean casserole. King Oysters have a lot of richness to them and a lot of chewiness, so you really do feel like you're getting a lot of bang for your buck.
Really coming out of that course it was tied in terms of people who preferred one over the other. The dessert was the deciding factor. Tiffani's black forest cake, while a good idea, didn't really measure up. I think she focused too much on the homage to Rob Zombie with the blood element. It didn't have a lot of flavor, and it wasn't really presented in a way that was easy to eat.
Dale's pb&'j dim sum mochi was the best thing we ate all day. It was amazing. It was perfect. The mochi was gooey and chewy and the hot peanut butter and jam melted in your mouth once you got through the dim sum ball. The sesames on it gave it that richness and nuttiness. On the outside, it was piping hot. I could have eaten 12 of them. He should be opening a pb&j dim mochi stand, and he would sell thousands. And that's really what put him over the edge for all of us. All of his dishes were beautifully executed and fresh and he showed a lot of technique. And it was the icing on the cake so to speak.
And now Tiffani goes to The Knockout. I'm so proud of both of them. They are just both huge talents.