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Yorktown: The Demise of Cornwallis and Aaron
We open this Boston episode with our antagonist, who is expressing pride. This pride is coming on the tails of the last episode where young Aaron made OK decisions and did not totally screw things up. This, in Aaron's world, translates to him being a team player. I don't know if I want to be on that team. That's like wanting to be on the 1978-82 football squad of the Northwestern Wildcats, but at least on that team you get a good degree from a world class school.
It is Quickfire time and Jamie Bissonette in the house. Jamie is an EXCEPTIONALLY talented chef. He’s also a fantastic guy. I kinda like him. He’s the teddy bear punk angel of cooking. Go to Toro, Coppa, or Toro NYC and show him some love.
This is a Reynolds Wrap Quickfire. Wrap it up well and win 10K. 30 minutes of cook.
"Oh, someone's pot is on fire."
They cook and put up food. The food gets tasted. Winner is Gregory. Golly that tall lanky man is killin' it. Poorest choice of words in winning though: "I feel so proud of myself that I was able to beat up the dumpling princess today. Mei looks on with utter disgust. They are supposed to be taking turns winning everything available but Gregory is taking more than his share.
There is a lot of talking sh-- between Katsuji and Aaron. They have found each other, which gives solace to the other eight who keep muttering, "Eight is Enough."
The Elimination Challenge is the QF winners vs. QF losers with a "Battles of the Revolutionary War" theme. There will be the battle of Lexington and Concord between Dougie and General Adam. The Battle of Bunker Hill with Katsuji versus Melissa. The Battle of Trenton will be the prime time showdown of Gregory wrestling Mei. Saratoga will be a bloodmatch of Keriann and Stacy and we will finish this ode to war with the Battle of Yorktown: Katie v Aaron. That last one should be an interesting one.
The event will take place at the Watertown Arsenal for 100 guests. The budget is very low so don't expect foie gras and caviar if you are on the way.
Let the shopping begin. They grab the carts. Adam adam's apple tattoo is throbbing. Keriann is making balls. Aaron is making balls. They do not want to make balls together. Stacy cooked from a young age to pay the bills. She's a good one. Aaron has found the perfect head of fennel. He wants to beat Katie.
They prep. Two hours. Katsuji feels like to beat the fine dining excellence of Melissa he will make a very confused tostada. He says "party in your mouth" a lot. Like too much. I don't want a party in my mouth, not after drinking a cigarette butt from a can of beer at a party when I was 17.
Melissa is countering with a white gazpacho. She reads off her resumé which is about ten great restaurants more than most resumés. It's pretty stellar. Crenn and Siegel are bad ass chefs in our culinary world. . .more than that they are LEADERS and TEACHERS and Melissa seems to have learned a lot about how you act in the kitchen. Decorum and grace and hard work all pay off. It shows.
Meanwhile back to Aaron, who has lacked in mentors along the road of life. He is trying not to let Katsuji get under his skin, but like habanero juice, it’s something you forget about for a while and then you rub your eye, and you realize the annoying pain is there for a while.
Aaron is making another noodle with shellfish protein. If he is a one trick pony it is a weird one trick.
Melissa is having some soup anxiety. The next day at the arsenal she is still anxious but happy with the flavors at least.
Gregory remarks that Aaron just likes to talk sh--. Aaron responds with, "It's war, Gregory." There is a kernel of truth to this, but if it is war, Aaron, then Gregory is kicking your ass. And if you are going to war, keep your dashi level.
Well, Aaron's war is not going well, and the dashi is on the ground, the ground where blood and dashi have now been historically spilled over 200 years ago. Aaron gets a hand from Mei in the form of instant dashi stock. It's a convenient product to have around, evidently, and a very pro gesture from Mei.
The guests start arriving. Jamie has no musket. But he does have good posture and a fine collection of tattoos. And there is a guy who is announcing each battle with a musket shot, so. . .'Merica.
Adam: Beef Tartare With Ginger Aioli, Radish, Chili Oil and Cilantro
Dougie: Salt-Pepper Grits With Cheddar Cheese, Poached Egg, Bacon and Onion Jam
Adam's grits were the best grits I have had in four seasons of being on this show. Doug's tartare worked too. Very close. Adam wins but don't let that unanimous vote fool you, cause it really was close. Adam goes winner crazy and gets a penalty for too much end zone celebration. He has some issues, but unlike some people, his excitement is just chatty and giddy.
Katsuji: Tostada With Charred Cauliflower, Olive, Date, and Goat Cheese
Melissa: White Gazpacho: Cucumber, Green Grapes, Marcona Almonds, and Mint
Katsuji’s panicky plating may spell trouble. His tostada is a little oily but really good. Melissa's soup was just too thin and to sweet.
Gregory: Shitake Mushrooms and Coconut Milk Broth, Tumeric, Green Curry and Dill
Mei: Kimchi Vegetables, New York Strip Loin and Scallion Salad
Gregory can make the most homely street food crazy good. The man is a beast. Mei cooked a total gem of a dish. Gregory wins but by a hair.
Stacy: Beets, Pecan-Sage Yogurt, Horseradish Brittle, and Fresh Horseradish
Keriann: Herb Meatball With Red Onion Jam, Ginger Mustard, and Port Reduction
Wow, Aaron needs a PR specialist to edit him at every turn. He just blurts out that Keriann can't cook. He may be right, but that is no way to communicate. Oddly enough, maybe he's a sage soothsayer, cause Keriann's meatball is pretty terrible. Stacy has made presentable but very simple beets. Stacy wins.
Before the next dish comes out to begin the next battle, we get a healthy dose of Katsuji antics. He is a handful. He burps his way through to the next round.
Tom says that war always comes down to the last battle. I think, "Duhhhhh," but have a hard time telling him my feelings. He outweighs me by a hundo.
Aaron: Pork Meatball and Scallop Noodles
Katie: Stout Chocolate Cake, Smoked Sour Cream and Pomegranate-Strawberries
Aaron says “The ambition shows a lot of heart in the dish.” Well, that noodle was a mess. He spills the truth about the dashi. Not a great showing. Katie's dish is safe as can be. It ain't gonna win an award but up against a mistake it could reign supreme. Aaron talks about how nobody would bring a chocolate cake to a war and he's not too happy with my response. He gives me the evil eye. I crush his head with my thumb and fore finger ala Kids in the Hall. Katie wins.
Blue team chefs are all safe. Red team is not. We decide that Mei and Adam are safe and the others up for the chopping. To Judges' Table. Aaron, Melissa, and Stacy are lined up.
There is no individual winner in this episode. There is someone who loses though. His name is Aaron.
I think Aaron is a brash young chef. I don’t think he’s a poor cook but he needs to learn a lot more, a lot. His brags about not been trained. He insults his peers. He is selfish and headstrong. Someday he will realize that patience and skill are much better than being an antagonistic prick. I hope the lesson sinks in.