So maybe I was wrong about Ariane's win last week. The judges said she won on flavor, which was Radhika's marinade, but Gail said it was "juicy," which was due to the cooking. I stand corrected. I still contend that Ariane won't win the whole competition because her cooking is too straightforward. That's the way I like to cook, which is probably why I wouldn't win either. Speaking of classic, traditional and straightforward cooking is Martha's specialty.
I'm loving the camaraderie theme between Fabio and Stefan and between Ariane and Jamie. Let's see how long this lasts.
Martha loves a one-pot meal, and I agreed with all of her critiques. Cornstarch is nasty, and Eugene saying that it's what housewives use doesn't help matters. Fabio is flailing and he is giving the Italians a bad name. I instantly thought paella was the perfect idea, but Ariane took it home again with a twist on a classic. She stumped Martha on butter, which is probably still driving Martha nuts. I myself make cauliflower as a mashed substitute, so I loved the idea. Jamie is ready to jump. Also, I suppose by substituting cauliflower for potatoes, she avoided the dreaded "too simple" warning from Martha. I've had culinary moments with Martha and she knows her stuff. Ariane's meat and faux-tatoes must have been good.
I get that gospel is religious, however I didn't know where that moment was going. I did, however, love the Christmas theme. They are always so clever. How perfect that Fabio got 8 ladies dancing? Stefan was so right on by describing how daunting 3 hours to prep for 300 people is. Just unpacking is a process.
Here we go again with Jeff doing something complicated and out of the box. Jeff, less is more. I hope this works out. Even his method of cutting potatoes into Arborio rice was a bit too tricked out for my taste. Holy crap. The refrigerator was warm. That is terror in the heartland. Brutal. Maybe I'm hormonal, but I literally started to cry when everyone pitched in. Those are good chefs and no one should go home. They are rolling with the punches.
Don't complain. Don't explain. Hosea and Radhika were rock stars and Carla and Eugene's genuine offer to help was divine. Although Stefan has his moments, I was moved when he said that Radhika being without duck does him no good, and that he wanted to win fair and square. I literally welled up.
However, everyone was oddly mediocre. I long for the days of Harold, Hung, Dale, Richard, Stephanie and even Marcel.
Eugene is disappointing me.
That Poisson Cru looked nasty. And Fabio, how do you screw up crab cakes so monumentally? They are such an easy "go to" dish for a crowd. Jamie, who oddly made scallops twice in one day (not everyone loves scallops to begin with) couldn't even pull those off. Scallops are a really easy food to cook - simply sear them with salt, pepper and olive oil and you can avoid a slimy taste. Melissa doesn't ever seem to bust out with anything impressive and Ariane used that immunity by throwing in deviled eggs. Huh?
I was wrong about Jeff because the judges liked his dish, but I still think his Achilles heel is being too all over the place.As for the Radhika and Hosea mishaps, they pulled it together and Hosea deserved the win. I think he is the best one there if we factor in Stefan's arrogance.
I understand Natasha Richardson's connection to Amfar, but I thought she was an odd choice for a judge. Many people don't know who she is to begin with, much less as an actress. This season is odd in so many ways and I can't get excited yet. Am I alone?
My top 4 picks: Stefan, Hosea, Jamie or Ariane and possibly Jeff. I'm rooting for Hosea.