This episode was a little boring to me after the excitement of the Foo Fighters last week. Even the Quick Fire, which usually scares the crap out of me, was a little tame. The challenge, with guest judge Rocco DiSpirito, was for the contestants to create a breakfast amuse-bouche. Rocco hinted at the beginning that he would like to have bacon involved in the dishes, as it is his favorite. Seeing as how I saw him on the Biggest Loser a couple of weeks ago espousing the virtues of healthy eating, that seemed a little counter-productive to me, but I digress.
My favorite part of this challenge was Fabio referring to DiSpirito as being, "not really Italian", but some of the dishes were at least a little interesting as well. Stefan's Huevos Rancheros in an egg shell was very cool-looking, and Jamie's breakfast BLT sandwich sounded pretty dang tasty as well. I also thought Fabio's brioche and banana with espresso sounded tasty, but apparently Rocco doesn't like sweet breakfast dishes. I guess we should have been tipped off by the bacon comment.
As they were going through the dishes, I couldn't help thinking, "These are appetizers. Where are the amuse-bouches?" Then Leah verbalized the same thing I was thinking, and I realized that I loved her a little bit. I'm a stickler for the rules too, so I appreciated her actually listening to the directions on the challenge. Her dish was a true amuse-bouche (the only one out of the whole bunch, mind you), and her bacon, quail egg and cheese on bread was named the winner.
Then it was onto the Elimination Challenge. This week, the chefs had to learn to sell themselves as well as their food by performing a 2 and 1/2 minute cooking demonstration. They weren't given much direction, other than that the time limit would be strictly enforced. They were then given time to shop and an hour in the kitchen to prep for their presentation. Let the idiotic decisions begin!
It was clear from the time they left Whole Foods that Alex was totally screwing himself over. By picking a creme brulee, which he would have to prepare, bake, rest and cool in an hour (impossible), he pretty much guaranteed that he would end up in the bottom three. Jamie, up until now one of the strongest competitors, screwed herself by not allowing herself enough time to finish cooking the egg that lay atop her frisse salad. Melissa (or Gareth from the British Office's sister, as my husband has nicknamed her) screwed herself by making shrimp so spicy that the judges couldn't even eat it. Shockingly, they all ended up in the bottom three.
Other chefs managed to make good decisions, though. Ariane picked a very simple salad dish of beefsteak tomatoes, watermelon, basil and feta, Fabio (God, I love him) made a very simple tuna with roasted veggies, and Daniel made a marinated skirt steak. I thought Jeff's malfouf roll-say it with me, Mal-fouf!-seemed totally over-wrought for a home chef, but apparently the judges loved it. They named Ariane, Fabio and Jeff the top three.
When they didn't name a winner, it became clear that the challenge wasn't over yet. That was confirmed when Tom Colicchio showed up at 3 in the morning to wake the top three for their final challenge. They were escorted to the Today Show studios, where their creations would be judged by some ladies from the Today Show, including Kathie Lee Gifford and Meredith Viera.
Not at all surprisingly, the Malfouf roll wasn't a hit with the ladies-hence the above picture. Kathie Lee even spit hers out. Yikes. The did, however, enjoy the simplicity of Ariane's salad, and they named her the winner. Wow, Ariane has really redeemed herself after her first two crappy weeks, hasn't she?
Now onto the poor final three. Again, no real surprise here. Although Rocco smacked down Jamie pretty violently for her pouting on camera when things didn't go her way, and everyone agreed that Melissa's dish was pretty much inedible, poor Alex was sent packing. He never had a chance, but it was his own fault. Come to find out, the dude was getting married in a few weeks anyway, so he wasn't all that broken up about it. Although he did accuse Melissa of throwing him under the bus about wanting to leave, even though she didn't say a word about it in front of the judges. Basically, he just made himself look like kind of a jerk right before he left.
One interesting side-note--a romance between Leah and Hosea? They certainly implied something was cooking (hah!), but we'll have to wait and see...