Apparently, reinventing classics isn’t as easy as the Hollywood film industry makes it look – the contestants struggled this week to reinvent the favorite dishes of three leading chefs of the culinary world. One contestant slated for the chopping block wasn’t even in the bottom three, and a star-challenge winner from last week almost went home.
Some contestants failed to spice things up when they had to cook a meal using their assigned chili pepper for the camera challenge. The stakes were high, too, as the winner would have their dish put on the menu of Bobby Flay’s restaurant Mesa Grill for a week. Aria was in the bottom for the first time when her presentation and her dish failed to impress. DAS was with her in the bottom, also for both presentation and dish, the latter of which lacked imagination. Brianna ended up winning with her best presentation to date, and a chili chicken kabob that the judges loved.
The star challenge struck fear into the contestants’ hearts when they were faced with the task of reinventing the favorite dishes of three highly acclaimed chefs. Not only that, but they were divided into groups of three, and in that group they would each make the dish they were assigned in a head-to-head battle. Bobby Flay’s mentor, Chef Jonathan Waxman, wanted his group to make lamb and potatoes. Chef Susan Feniger, who Aarti called “the queen of international cuisine,” wanted her group to make fried chicken with iceberg lettuce and dressing. And Chef Eric Greenspan, who Aria called a “hot, young chef,” wanted his group to make macaroni and cheese and a grilled steak. Aarti, Tom and Herb were put in Chef Waxman’s group; Serena, Brad and Brianna in Chef Feniger’s;, and Aria, Paul and Das made up Chef Greenspan’s.
Aarti Sequeira: The clear judge’s favorite right now. Her friendly personality continues to win over the judges, and the star challenge panel loved her lamb kabobs.
Brianna Jenkins: As much as I really don’t like her, she is a top contender right now. Her food has been the most consistently good since the beginning, and for the first time her personality showed some warmth. If she continues to improve on camera, she could make it to the end.
Paul Young: I’m stunned that he wasn’t in the bottom three this time. He’s still confused about his point-of-view, and the judges didn’t like his creative twist on steak (by making pork tenderloin instead). The previews showed the return of his rudeness next week, so hopefully that will be what finally sends him home.
Herb Mesa: He was a total wreck this week. I’m still undecided as to whether he should’ve gone home instead of Das. Other than the stupid remark about not being sure whether he should be there, he completely bombed both challenges. If he doesn’t return to his former, confident self next week, this could be the beginning of the end for him.
Brad Sorenson: This guy is definitely the most inconsistent of the bunch. After his culinary failure last week, this week both of his dishes were a home run with the judging panel. However, he still needs to amp up his personality.
Aria Kagan: Had some real trouble with the pepper challenge, and then her starchy dish in the star challenge didn’t come together. Hopefully this is just a misstep and she’ll be back on top next week.
Tom Pizzica: His personality is really starting to shine, and his food is improving. He might be the dark horse this season.
Serena Palumbo: Her Italian twist on fried chicken didn’t work, but the judges love her family stories.
Who Went Home:
Darrell “DAS” Smith: Sure, he’s struggled to make his “cool guy” personality seem natural on camera, but his food had promise. The “tri-berry sauce” and the filet vs. prime goof did him in this time, but otherwise he might have at least out-lasted Paul. And strictly referring to this week, it’s a tough call to say whether he or Herb deserved to go.
Tags: Next Food Network Star