Going Against The Grain

Going Against The Grain

Bethenny Frankel on why Dale is the man.

Well, it really is coming down to it, and this week showed me that it could be anybody's game. I've loved Dale, Richard, and Stephanie the whole time, and I still do. In fact, Stephanie could be the first female to take this whole competition.

So let's get down to it: the Quickfire. Spike stole this challenge for his first time ever with his interesting spicy beef salad with pineapple and a whole combination of interesting flavors and textures.

Richard's "pun on ceviche" salad was underwhelming at best which really made me nervous. He always stands out, and this showed me that even he can choke. It is crunch time now, and competition and lack of sleep can really affect your game. When I was on The Apprentice, what separated the boys from the men was the ability to survive with no sleep and really catch your stride towards the end of the competition. I'm also getting a little annoyed at Richard having to make his dishes a twist on something else. Sometimes, less is more and classic dishes do work.

Stephanie "choked." Yes -- there was pun intended. Her pear vinaigrette was less than stellar and she forgot her artichoke chip. I love her, but she has been lagging lately and I'm concerned. Antonia keeps surprising me. I didn't think she's got the goods, but if it's two men and two women, she will be one of those four. Her poached egg salad with thick-cut bacon was my favorite salad. Dale's salad was also one of Sam Bolton's favorites. OK -- it's official -- I live for Dale. He really is my favorite. He really doesn't care about anything except the food. Lisa's squid salad was more like a banana salad which is entirely disgusting to me.

Now to the main battle: Dale rocked this challenge by giving Chicago's finest meat, but he was daring enough to use bison. He has been criticized for preparing Asian food. I have no problem with this. He is Asian. I don't think if he wins he'll open a Mexican restaurant anytime soon. Do what you do best I definitely wouldn't accuse Dale of not taking chances. I haven't seen bison on any Asian menus recently, so Dale is alright with me. In addition, his winning record of 5 out of 20 is totally impressive. He's the man.

Spike was a total weasel this week. Instead of wisely using the ability to choose his meal components before everyone else (thus making it so the others couldn't choose those items) he was more concerned with screwing over his competitors. He made a non-event chicken salad of olives and grapes and barely used his chosen ingredients. Enough on Spike.

Lisa thought she was the victim of sabotage. That was just absurd. First of all rice is the easiest thing to cook, and you really have to ignore it for a while for it to burn. She really needed to own her dish which the judges didn't like regardless of the rice component.

Now to Andrew who really is tweaked and wired and skittish and scary. I do think he is very talented, but you really need to be a team player and have basic people skills to be a chef. He is like some artist or writer who needs to be alone in a cabin to work. His sushi was beyond extreme, especially for policemen. I don't think sushi was a wise choice, much less an entirely raw sushi. I followed a raw diet for a year, and it is entirely extreme and definitely not for everyone. Tom was spot on when he said that healthy food has to taste great and just happen to be healthy. As a natural foods chef, this is my entire mantra. My www.BethennyBakes.com baked goods are decadent cupcakes, cookies, and muffins that taste great first and foremost, and they happen to be low-fat, wheat, egg, and dairy-free.

I do want to point out that although chefs swear like drunken sailors, there was no excuse for Andrew and Lisa to curse in front of the judges. They are the superiors -- they've earned the contestants' respect and that is unacceptable. Andrew was sent home, and his negative, obnoxious personality with no ability to accept criticism, is why he is gone. I don't think his play on rice was that much of a fatal error, and I was on the fence with whether Lisa should have called him out or not. It is a competition, they all really want to win, and him not following a basic rule is problematic and frustrating for others fighting for their lives. That being said, he accepted his dismissal with class and grace, and his parting words were redeeming.

Richard ended in the middle. He seemed to be irritating everyone by selling his faux-rito to the cops like a cheap car salesman. It was a bit irritating, but I do think he's a good chef. However, this was another pun on a dish where he swaps out all ingredients with some twist. I really need to see him make something classic. This week wasn't his finest.

As for the girls, Antonia was in the middle, so she's still alive. I do like her sense of humor. She tends to not choke, and she really has stepped up her game lately. I'll be watching her closely. Stephanie came in second with her delicious, hearty, well-seasoned soup. I really like her. She's beyond sweet, calm, and talented.

That's all folks. I can't wait to see Restaurant Wars, and it looks like everyone will be slinging hash in a greasy spoon next week. Bring on the heat.

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