Things are really coming down to the wire. Tonight the theme is Seduction, certainly something that great food should be able to convey.
Four chefs left. Last week they were supposed to have a double elimination, but there were five chefs left. Eliminating two would have left an uneven number, so they had a “tie.” This was contrived and I think they should have not pretended it was a double elimination.
Now a double elimination will leave two finalists.
Mini-challenge – Seduce the taste buds with a cocktail and snack in 30 minutes.
Jean Georges Steakhouse in Las Vegas is the setting, Master mixologist Charlotte Voisey is guest judge. Secret ingredient is liquor. Create a signature cocktail and bar snack.
- Tio: “An English Summer” : Gin with Elder flower liqueur. Snack: Oysters with jalepeno and salted radish. This one went over OK but not great. Canora was probably overly critical with his game playing.
- Canora: “Avariation” : Gin with Lavender, Mint and Lime. Snack: Goat cheese stuffed cherry with lavendar, mint and lime. Generally good comments all around, including from Chef Tsai.
- Tsai: Lychee Margarita: Tequila with lychee syrup. Snack: Shrimp tempura cocktail with charred jalapeno. Once again, Canora criticizes his biggest competitor on the theme, for not being seductive enough. Totally spurious criticism. But valid criticism was not enough lychee flavor from Voisey.
- Forgione: “Smoky Sophistication” : Mezcal with a Champagne float. Snack: Saratoga chips with bacon salt and dip. Everyone liked these.
Main challenge: “Safes” with hidden luxury foods, each must select a safe (like “let’s
Make a Deal”) that holds a secret luxury ingredient. Canora, with an advantage, can take the last safe or take what one of the others have already picked. He took Tsai’s waygu beef, so Tsai gets the last safe:
- Canora: Wagu beef
- Tsai: Mangalista Pork
- Tio: Hawaiian Moi Fish
- Forgione: Lobster
This may work out in Tsai’s favor, but I don’t blame Canora for playing it safe. Tsai was happy.
90 minutes to create three dishes with their luxury ingredients. Remember the theme “Seduction.”
- Forgione: 1) Maine Lobster Sashimi. 2) Surf and Turf. 3) Sweet Corn Rissoto, Lobster Ravioli. First was a big hit, so was second, third has undercooked ravioli.
- Tio: 1) Chinese style Moi Sashimi. This one was well liked. 2) Olive Oil Poached Moi. This had mixed reviews. 3) Crispy Seared Moi. Generally well received. Overall, a good showing.
- Tsai: 1) Mangalista Pork and Prawn Shumai. 2) Slow Poached Thyme Lardo. 3) Grilled Mangalista Pork Loin with Bordelaise sauce. They love the first, not so much the second and third a winner. Symon is most impressed with Tsai.
- Canora: 1) Waygu beef tartare. 2) Waygu Wrapped Asparagus. 3) Minute Staek of Waygu Beef. First course was great, second had flaws, third was huge hit.
At this point, it’s anyone’s game, but I give the edge to Forgione and Canora.
Going to the finals: Canora and Forgione
Going home: Tio and Tsai
A lot of people thought Tsai was a slam dunk to win the whole thing, but I’ve called it right all the way. The best two chefs have made it to the final.
My take on the final? A tough one. I would bet the odds makers have Canora as the favorite. Personally, I’d like to see Forgione win. My hoping he will win doesn’t make it happen, however.
My prediction: Chef Forgione will be the next Iron Chef.