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Ice Ice Baby (Too Cold, Too Cold)
Gail Simmons explains why Sarah Grueneberg's dish's flaws didn't get her sent home.
Bravotv.com: Now we are in Vancouver.
Gail Simmons: The Quickfire was at Bao Bei. We ate there away from the cameras as well, and it was one was one of my favorite meals of the trip. That’s a great place.
Bravotv.com: The chefs seemed to think the “fire and ice” theme was really open to interpretation.
GS: We said they could leave it open to interpretation, which was fine. Fire can come in many forms -- heat from temperature, heat from spice -- we were totally fine with that. And the cold? It didn’t need to be frozen. We were happy with interpretation. We just wanted to see that there was an effort and an idea behind the two in some way. Did I think that they knocked it out of the park in terms of the fire and ice component? No. But some of the food was really good.
Bravotv.com: Paul won with his king crab and sunchoke dish. That Paul loves a sunchoke!
GS: The cocktail was great, and it had a little bit of heat in it too. I love chili in a cocktail, and I think it just cuts the alcohol so well and it has such a great, fun flavor. This was also his second time cooking with crab, King crab. He did King crab in that ice block challenge, and he did sunchokes in the mentor challenge, but that’s OK because it was delicious. I mean, the dish was really aromatic as it should be, that lemon snow had a lot of flavor, and it was really smart. That was his ice component. Bravotv.com: Padma commented that it wasn’t hot enough, but they had also gotten him in the Quickfire for putting too much chili in it.
GS: So he played it down, and that’s a delicate balance obviously. You don’t want to blow peoples' mouths out because heat is not a flavor. Chili has flavor, but it also has power and you need to be very careful because you don’t want it to be so powerful that you can’t actually taste it, and it just kind of dulls everything else and you can’t taste anything in the dish. But the dish was really balanced and it was really lovely as we had hoped.
The circumstances were a lot harder than they seemed from the outside. First of all, it was freezing in that room because they kept all the doors to this event space open, this old salt factory that they were cooking in. We were actually in Olympic Village where all of the Olympians stayed, and now they are converting them to really nice condos. And we were in this old salt factory; it was really cool. But they were cooking in a very makeshift kitchen behind the event space, and most of the people who were at that party were chefs from around town, chefs from Vancouver, as well as people from Canada Tourism, a lot of really well-traveled, well-versed people in food, so it was actually a really good group to cook for. It was just freezing in there, which did not help the contestants when they had to carry the food from across the event space into the party. So that also was sort of a challenge in itself. But I thought what Paul did was smart -- it certainly showed a range of flavor and technique.
Bravotv.com: Next we have Sarah’s dish.
GS: Sarah’s dish was really fantastic. The pasta, of course, was, for me, the best part. She’s really a master when she makes fresh pasta. She does it so well; it’s flawless and soft and melted in your mouth. The greens had tons of flavor, it had the chilies, the garlic, but I also wanted to see way more heat. I didn’t really get the fire in this dish. And I actually, of all of us, had the most issue with this dish from Sarah with the frozen sformato. She put it right on top of the pasta, and it was frozen into a block. So when I used my fork to push down into it, to cut it, not only was it very difficult to cut, and so frozen, but it also pushed down on the pasta and squished out all the filling from the pasta which I think actually was a flaw in the conceptual presentation of the dish. That said, once you got the sformato into your mouth, it was so flavorful. It had some spices in it, it had a curry flavor, it was delicious, it was creamy as it should be. It really was more like a semi-freddo than a sformato even though it was partially frozen. And I know there was an ice challenge, but you still have to make it work in terms of how the dish feeds and I don’t think it was totally successful which is why she didn’t win, but her flavors were so strong and the balance of the ingredients was so great and her cocktail was excellent too, so that’s also why she didn’t lose.Bravotv.com: And then we have Lindsay, who did go home, with her halibut.
GS: Lindsay’s dish was sort of interesting to me. It was very complex; there were a lot of elements. When I first started eating it I really enjoyed it, but then when I started looking at it more closely and taking apart the individual components, there seemed to be too much there. Too many layers that didn’t quite go together. And then her cocktail was a little weak. It was a Bloody Mary, which I’m all for, but it was a little watered down, it didn’t have the punch it should have -- we wanted more heat, we wanted more flavor, and a little bit more personality. The other two dishes were very unique -- a Bloody Mary is something that we see everyday at home.
Bravotv.com: So we have two left.
GS: It’s the final showdown between Paul and Sarah. Who would ever have known it would come to these two? And the next episode is just straight-up cooking as they were meant to cook -- we are leaving the fire and the ice and the gondolas and the guns behind us and you will see some pretty extraordinary food from these two chefs.