This week’s Quickfire guest judge is Marilyn Hagerty, the food columnist for the Grand Forks Herald whose Olive Garden review got the food-writing world’s panties in a bunch earlier this year. Because Hagerty’s favorite holiday food is the ebelskiver, the Quickfire challenge calls for the cheftestants to make a sweet-and-savory holiday dish based on their lineage.
They have to use Truvia sweetener (a sponsor), which. . . really? Gross. The other catch? They all have to share one knife. The chefs improvise, using meat slicers, spatulas, graters, pizza cutters and other sharp objects to do their work.
The dishes that didn’t fare so well? Bart’s waffle and Micah’s tamale (which Hagerty called a taco). The holiday favorites are Josh’s johnnycake, Stefan’s latkes and Brooke’s apple pie with cheddar. And Brooke wins! She gets immunity in the Elimination Challenge.
For the Elimination Challenge, the cheftestants have to cook for Washington State natives, actors and marrieds Anna Faris and Chris Pratt. Each chef must serve a dish that pregnant Anna and Chris “crave.” The chefs get five minutes with the couple to brainstorm — Anna and Chris favor game, meat and potatoes, salmon and Dungeness crab, but no hummus — and they’re off. This week, chef Rick Moonen (contestant John Tesar’s old boss) joins Padma, Tom and Gail on the judging panel. Here’s what they ate:
Bart: Loin of elk with cherry-beer sauce and mushroom couscous.
Brooke: Lamb-stuffed squid on black rice with coconut milk.
Sheldon: Braised Okinawan pork belly with seared-scallop-and-rice congee.
Stefan: German goulash with marjoram bread dumplings and sour cream.
Kristen: Delice de Bourgogne tortelloni.
Micah: Braised pork ribs with celery-root puree, grilled apples and celery leaf salad.
Lizzie: Crusted wild king salmon with radish and beet salad.
Eliza: Elk rib-eye with elk-sausage polenta, spiced carrots and huckleberry-port sauce.
Danyele: Pan-roasted wild boar, hoppin’ John and tomato-bacon marmalade.
Josh: Roasted pork shoulder, grilled corn puree with succotash and fennel-apple salad.
Josie: Malbec-braised short ribs, pork belly and polenta with cippolini onions and figs.
John: Seafood chowder with cockles, Manila clams, crab, mussels and sockeye salmon.
All of this sounds infinitely better than the crapfest that was last week’s challenge, that’s for sure, and the kitchen seemed drama-free for a change. Up first before Judges’ Table? John, Kristen, Brooke and Sheldon with the best dishes of the night. Tom tells Brooke to stop being afraid and cook this boldly in every challenge. Moonen calls John’s chowder “a hug from the ocean” and tells him it was “celebratory soul food.” Gail and Tom praise Kristen’s pairing of dried apricots and cheese in her tortelloni. Padma and Moonen tell Sheldon his dish really represented him, and that was a good thing. Who wins the challenge and takes home a Toyota Prius? Brooke.
Eliza, Danyele, Josh and Micah stand before Judges’ Table next with the worst dishes of the night. Tom tells them their dishes weren’t necessarily bad, just that the others’ dishes were so much better. Moonen and Tom criticize Micah’s celery-root puree and tell him it wasn’t smooth enough. Padma tells Josh to stop saying he’s known for doing pork because his underseasoned slab of pork wasn’t good. Tom didn’t like Eliza’s thin, dry elk or her dried-out, undercooked carrots. Tom tells Danyele her dish was uneven — the relish was fantastic, but the boar was unevenly cooked.
Who’s headed home? Eliza. Whose name I always had to look up when writing these recaps, so I won’t miss her much. She’s headed to Last Chance Kitchen (Bravo’s online series that will bring back an eliminated cheftestant for the finale) to go up against CJ and Tyler.
Up Next Week: Stephanie Izard, an exploding Vitamix, frozen tuna and Josie in yet another tiresome name-embroidered sweatband.