Curtis Stone in Nacho Libre

Hugh Acheson will miss Neal's wit.

Jenn came out on top in the Sue vs. Jenn Battle of the Sous Chefs. This means that Sue is now trying to burning down my restaurants, if she is brave enough to follow through on her pyro threats. I have cameras Sue. 

We have the actress Ali Larter in the house. Evidently she is a foodie. I Google her and the term foodie. Both confound me. Curtis rolls on up with a joke, and not just any joke, the worst joke ever. I mean my 9 yr old would be apologizing if she said this one. 

“What kind of cheese is not your cheese?”


I put him in time-out. 

The QuickFire is a quest to make an elevated nacho experience. They frenetically run around like chickens with heads dangling. The stoic David Burke cuts off a fingernail, which makes me cringe. He then puts up the strangest dish in his entire career and knows one thing for sure: he ain’t winning this race. Calamari and spray cheese nachos look like a train wreck. He is asked whether he is out of his comfort zone, and his reaction tells a long story, “Errr… uuummph.” Translation is “Yes, this is not my happy place.”

Neal presents his “skidmark.” If I hear that one more time this season I am going to change occupations and become a dental hygienist. Neal has made a flauta thang. They seem to find it fine. 

Douglas, who hates nachos, has made the anti nacho with a salsa consommé. 

They like it. It has a shrimp and guac and stuff. It looks pretty good. 

Jennifer made a soylent green ring. The reaction is basic. 

Sang made powdered cheese. The reaction is more basic, even though he says that nachos are second nature to him. It is second nature to me to make jokes about mimes, and trust me, it is neither funny nor good. 

Bryan made something that doesn’t look anything like nachos. It is tomatillo-based, and he thinks he has a winner on his hands. 

“All the chips on the table.” Curtis continues the puns. The downs are David, who thoroughly agrees with the assessment and wants to move on, and also Sang, who is more surprised because nachos are second nature to him. 

The kudos go to Bryan and Douglas, with Douglas winning more kibble money and Bryan complaining again about having a curse of no immunity. 

The Elimination Challenge is teams of two. Hot and Cold seafood preparation. Duke’s of Malibu. $250 and 30 minutes to shop, but the fish won’t be known until tomorrow when the catch of the day is dropped off. Doug is becoming a kombu salesman. He and Jenn are already showing some signs of strain in their relationship. Neal and David are a Jedi/Jedi trainee type thing. Though not on the same team, Douglas and Sang love to hang out and act like 14-year-old boys. Sang and Bryan are planning smoke and BBQ. For that they need wood chips, but the Whole Foods vitamin aisle guy is perplexed. How many chips would a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood? The shopping goes well, except for the wood chip debacle. Best quote: “A natural thing for me is Asian-y.” Oh really? This is not news to us, Douglas. I mean, you have kombu deodorant. 

They eat and get drunk. They talk through the hardships of being a chef. They bring the ruckus. Night night happens. 

They are waiting for the fish. The fish arrives. The driver says this: “Brought a lot of local product! Some whole sea bass gutted, and some John Dory filet, fresh out of New Zealand.” As local as it gets, cause New Zealand is just around the corner. Paging Barbara Kingsolver. 

Seafood choices are made by knife selection. Douglas and Jenn get first pick and take the John Dory. Bass is picked by Neal and David. Sablefish is grabbed as the last option by Sang and Bryan. Let’s get cooking. 

Douglas is used to giving the orders but is willing to play second fiddle on this one because of his immunity issue. Over at Team Baby Blue, Neal is comfortable, or as comfortable as he can be, playing David’s sous chef. Sang and Bryan are branging it. Get it? Get it?

Sang is stealing smoky flavors from Douglas’ recipe book because of the lack of wood chips. Meanwhile Douglas is busy ignoring Jenn. Even though they are not really bonding, they so seem to be making great food together. 

Judges come in and it’s Little Francis, Gorgeous Gail, Skinny Jimmy, and Curtis. They are whale watching. 

Cold Sang and Hot Bryan have a BBQ sablefish with pinenuts and soy bubbles as the hot and dashi cured sable with cucumber as the cold. They do not like the temperature or the consistency of the cold fish. I think Sang cured the slices as opposed to the whole filet, resulting in slices too salty. They do love Bryan’s dish. For a guy who never wins, the judges certainly love his food. Bryan vs. World continues. 

Cold Neal and Hot David have a bass crudo with citrus tomato as the cold and a couscous with bass and curry oil as the hot. The messy presentation by David continues. Curtis is not impressed by the crudo consistency. David has 17 things going on, and the couscous is deemed both greasy and amazing. 

Tepid Jenn and Tepid Douglas (they have teamed up on both dishes and are thus lukewarm) have made a John Dory duo to beautiful results. Crispy fish is on top and cold fish on the bottom. Kimchi Cured John Dory with Crispy John Dory and cucumbers is the fancy name, but it really just translates to a damn fine dish. The judges really like it. James slurps the dish to its end. Francis says the fish should be crispier. Whatevs. To the Critics' Table, my people, but before that Gidget drops in to say hello. This makes all people over 60 really really happy. That ends, and they all get summoned to the table. Douglas and Jenn are the winners. Jenn is very thankful. They both get money for their charities. 

Baby Blues and Warning Yellows are on the chopping block. Sang’s cold cure was warm and mushy. Bryan’s part was better, but there was not much cohesion in the dish. Neal made some chewy carpaccio and has no good answers to the inquisition. David’s couscous was oily, but the fish was delicate and maybe a little lost, like Nemo. 

The judges hash out their decisions. They are pretty negative overall. They need to find out what has made Gidget happy through the years and order some up….

Neal is packing up for a crudo gone wrong. Baby Blue will never be the same. I personally will miss his acerbic wit. The rest of them are Team Not-AS-Funny... except Sang when he’s all loopy. I giggle then. 

Follow me on Twitter @hughacheson

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