Bravotv.com: Let’s jump to Kristen’s winning dish.
GS: Hers was opposite of Josh’s in a way, not in terms of concept, but in terms of execution. She did something that was VERY sophisticated. Very modern, but also clearly French. I liked that she had the gumption, the chutzpah to say, “I want this to be a fine-dining restaurant.” She cooks in a fine dining restaurant in Boston now, and she wanted it to be a really elevated dish; an example of French technique, clearly French food, French flavors, but using modern technique, like the way she cooked that egg sous-vide. Her dish was really polished, so you felt formal eating it.
The only thing we were sad about was that we had to eat it in a paper cup, which obviously couldn’t be helped. That dish deserved to be in a beautiful porcelain dish atop a fine linen tablecloth ,and I should have been in a cocktail dress! And that is the other reason people go to restaurants: to celebrate, to feel special, to have a night on the town and get dressed up. That little dish, even though it was in a paper cup, made me feel celebratory. The egg was so creamy and carefully-cooked and the mustard tamarind sauce was so savory, paired with her radishes poached in butter… there was a lot of creamy richness and the mustard just broke through it all. It was an interesting, delicate little dish.
Bravotv.com: Sheldon’s dish won as well!
GS: Sheldon blew us all away that day. He showed us a bit of this style of cooking in the Anna Faris-Chris Pratt challenge, but it really came to light in this tamarind soup. It was based on a very classic Filipino soup, but it was so refined, so clean, so delicious. It had so much acid in it, such tartness, but was rounded out by the shrimp and the fattiness of the pork belly, the crunch of the vegetables. Vegetable cookery is not an easy thing to nail. He cooked each element separately, I have to assume, because they were all so different in terms of done-ness. SO many different textures that you need to get right to make that soup work. The execution of the dish was immaculate—we all adored it. It was different, it woke us up, it got us thinking. It had so much flavor, and we had never had anything like it before, which is impressive as we can be a grumpy bunch of food snobs sometimes! I was so excited about it too because as a member of the food media I am always looking for the next trend, the next cuisine, and Filipino food is one of the most under-represented cuisines out there. I think there are so many people of Filipino descent in this country, but there’s such a minimal understanding of their food. I know a handful of dishes from friends and that’s about it.
Bravotv.com: Stefan was kind of in the middle.
GS: The reason he was in the middle -- and people might wonder why -- is because his food tasted good, but the concept completely missed the mark. Not because I don’t think that concept could work, but because he just didn’t show it to us enough. His whole story about it having a German influence didn’t really make sense—just because you put a potato in a soup that wouldn’t normally have a potato in it doesn’t make it German. The Bavarian cream I get, but it just tasted like mango and mango ice cream. He didn’t follow through— but his food tasted totally fine.