…and then there were eight, at the Farmer’s Market in LA. Since this is outdoors, we get to see Alton in a Panama hat. Apparently the first step of today’s challenge is a photo shoot. To that end Mr. Brown is joined by one Todd Selby, who I’ve never heard of, but apparently is known to the chefs. He is a “renown food photographer,” and he is here to create portraits of each of our remaining contestants. This segment is fun. Chef Marcel gets a mad scientist look as he plays with caramel. Chef Eric tries to carry as much cheese as can fit into his beefy arms. Chef Amanda is caught laughing over meat. Chef Elizabeth makes pizza. Chef Jehangir and Chef Nate both give the cameras intense, semi-evil stares. Chef Spike plays with chorizo over a pizza crust, while Chef Alex makes it into sausage. But even as they’re having fun, they’re all wondering what the hell this has to do with the challenge.
Back to kitchen stadium, where the best shots have been framed up and sit upon the altar. Alton, now hatless, appears. He reminds the chefs that in the very first season of Next Iron Chef, for the “Simplicity” challenge, the Chairman had the contestants make a single bite that exemplified their personality and style of cooking. The twist this season is that they will be making a single bite dish that exemplifies a fellow contestant’s personality–gleaned from the photo. Chef Alex grumps that this is “Simplicity in its most complex form.” Chef Nate frowns that he doesn’t know what the other chefs taste like. But the real twist is that with each of the chefs paired together cooking from the other’s photos, each will actually be competing against the other, so at the end of the hour we will have a bottom four, one from each set, to compete in the Secret Ingredient Showdown.
Chef Jehangir, as the winner from last week, gets the prize of setting each pair up. They are as follows:
- Chef Alex vs Chef Marcel
- Chef Elizabeth vs Chef Amanda
- Chef Nate vs Chef Eric
- Chef Jehangir vs Chef Spike
I already pity Chef Marcel, as Chef Alex has a judge in her pocket. Chef Amanda is worried that this is a set up to knock her out, since Chef Elizabeth outcooked her last week in their 3 way head to head at the end of the episode. Chef Nate looks at Chef Eric like a lion surveying an injured gazelle. But Chef Spike is the one who gets really insulted, as Chef Jehangir obviously thinks he’s easy prey. Alton ignores all this, passes out the photos and announces to let the cooking begin.
Chefs Nate and Marcel are so eager to be the first to the fridges that they run into them bodily, which seems counter productive. Apparently they are both after truffles. The scuffling gets bad enough that Alton feels the need to amusedly announce that “Food doesn’t like violence.” Chef Marcel ends up with said truffle and isn’t about to cut it in half and share until he’s damned good and ready. What the hell is he using it for? Well, apparently he sees Chef Alex as a mother figure, so he’s using eggs. He’s also using sausage, per the photograph, and butter, as that is the name of her restaurant. The truffles are because she’s expensive, I guess? It seems superfluous. In response, Chef Alex is going for the liquid nitrogen, because, hello, we all know Chef Marcel is famous for that.
Chef Nate is cranky in his corner for his lack of truffle, until he finds another in the fridge. Why does he need a truffle? Because his take on Chef Eric is “big bold flavors” with roasted tri-tip and poached prawns, smothered in truffles. Chef Eric is flattered. His take on Chef Nate’s intense stare for the cameras is deviled eggs. Chef Amanda is very worried about missing the theme again, so she’s going ultra simple. She’s also going for anchovies because she feels they are a misunderstood ingredient, as Chef Elizabeth is misunderstood, pigeon holed in her dessert world, when she’s so much more versatile than that. Chef Elizabeth seems to be focused on how sexy she thinks Chef Amanda is, and that this somehow translates to sea urchin, despite the fact that Chef Amanda is holding slabs of red meat in her photo. Chef Jehangir is going for combining the photograph with Chef Spike’s Greek heritage by making a pizza roll dolma. Chef Spike is busy insulting Chef Jehangir. First he’s using shrimp because they are “slippery”, then he’s using bacon, despite the fact that he is Parsee and doesn’t really use pig. Hmph.
And with that, it’s time to put it down and walk away. Let’s go to the food.