Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rocco's Dinner Party, Episode 9 Recap

This week, our three intrepid chefpetitors are Vicki, a caterer, Chris, an executive chef with a food truck, and Yuki, who works in finance. Chris is a bit full of himself because he has training, whereas Vicki and Yuki have not. Let's see if this bites him in the ass, shall we?

For their signature dishes, Vicki presents a fried chicken salad that looks a mess but tastes delicious. Yuki makes a "Japazuelan" taco using an arepa, cod, and a tomatillo sauce. While Rocco loves the flavors, he's a bit critical of the presentation. And finally, Chris offers pancakes, eggs, foie gras, and an extremely tart gastrique. Rightfully, Yuki is asked to leave (although I would have loved to see her compete).

This week's party theme is the "perfect pairing." The guests will be three couples, one of which is celebrating an anniversary. The chefs must also provide perfect pairings in their meals, with each course containing one food that tastes wonderful on its own, but even better with its companion on the plate. As if that wasn't difficult enough, the happy couple - comedians Samantha Bee and Jason Jones - come into the kitchen and request a Cuban-inspired additional course. AND...two other guests have issues with red meat and shellfish.

Vicki, as winner of the Signature Dish Challenge, has decided to present first. She does a carrot ginger soup with a coconut shrimp (a mini grilled cheese for shellfish allergic cheesemonger Tia Keenan, who is there with her financé, sommelier Hristo Zisovski); a deconstructed Cuban sandwich; lamb chops and vegetable risotto (shrimp for non-meat-eater Simon Doonan, who is there with his partner Jonathan Adler); and a pumpkin donut with warm vanilla sauce for dessert.

Chris sends out a very complicated tuna poké with mango purée and poached lobster with celeriac purée as his first course...30 minutes after the guests are seated. Tia Keenan can only eat the tuna portion of that dish, as Chris does not make any substitutions. Nor does he offer Simon Doonan anything other than the short ribs and onion soup for the main course; luckily, the beef looked so good to Simon, he ate it anyway. The Cuban course was chicken and a salsa verde; and finally, with only 2 minutes to spare, Chris gets out his pot de creme/creme brulée dessert.

In the end, Vicki's conscientiousness with the food issues wins out, despite having overcooked lamb. Chris' dishes were good, but not good enough to win him the $20K.

So what did you think of this episode? Please leave a comment!

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