This week we saw our intrepid Master Chefs competing in the second of the Championship rounds. Their fist challenge, the Quickfire, was to create dishes based on a character from the long-running Fox animated series, The Simpsons. The chefs drew knives for character assignment, which went something like this:
Tony Mantuano - Chef Wiggum
Susan Feniger - Moe
Marcus Samuelsson - Apu
Susur Lee - Marge Simpson
Rick Moonen - Homer Simpson
Jody Adams - Lisa Simpson
Jonathan Waxman - Bart Simpson
Judging the contest was Simpsons creator Matt Groening, writer Matt Selman, and voice of many characters, Hank Azaria.
The chefs all seemed to have fun with the challenge, particularly Susur who created a representation of Marge Simpson on his plate, with purple potato hair and pork chop face. Ok, it was a bit ugly/freaky, but the judges enjoyed the flavors. Actually, the judges seemed to enjoy everything a whole lot, but in the end, Rick Moonen's shrimp sloppy Joe with truffle fries got the prize.
The Elimination Challenge is almost as fun as the Quickfire. It's a rehash of a challenge from Top Chef season 3 in which the chefs had to create a surf and turf plate using unusual foods. Because Rick won the QF, he got to choose his proteins first, and he went with the most normal selections, monkfish liver and black chicken. Susur chose the same. Tony took the giant squid and goat, Marcus took geoduck and kangaroo, Jody took geoduck and goat, Susan went for sea cucumber and kangaroo, and Jonathan took the jumbo squid and duck tongues.
First they shopped, then they did prep for an hour and a half. The next day, the Masters had 2.5 hours to complete their dishes. It was interesting that several of the proteins were provocatively-shaped. Jonathan said his duck tongues resembled duck penises (penii?) and Jody insisted she had to blanch the geoduck in order to remove its "foreskin." Susan Feniger kindly refrained from making comparisons between her sea cucumber and her ex-husband.
Zimmern seemed to have a lot of good things to say about the food, but considering none of it was hakarl (fermented shark, the worst thing he's ever tasted), all of it *was* good.
In the end, Susur took top honors with his black chicken and monkfish liver plate, narrowly beating out Rick who used the same foods. And on the bottom, because her goat was terribly undercooked, was the second woman to exit these finals, Chef Jody Adams.
So what did you think about the episode? These challenges? Please leave a comment!