“An amazing chef just walked out that door. It’s getting real.”
After last week’s all-girl mystery ingredient showdown (with bread as the mystery ingredient) that claimed the knives of Duskie Estes, Chefs Elizabeth Faulkner and Amanda Freitag were determined not to be fighting for survival this week.
In episode three, the eight remaining chefs were put into head-to-head matchups, and instructed to prepare a single bite; an amuse bouche that represented the personality of their opponent, as captured by photographer Todd Selby. The winners progressed to cook another day, the losers were thrown into the elimination challenge.
Last week’s winner, Chef Jehangir Mehta was honored with choosing the pairings:
Alex Guarnachelli was matched up with Marcel Vigneron, Nate Appleman went up against Eric Greenspan, Chef Mehta chose Spike Medelsohn as his opponent, and guaranteed that one of last week’s elimination competitors would be thrown back into fighting for survival by pairing Amanda Freitag with Elizabeth Faulkner.
Without revealing too much, when one of the pairs stood in front of the judges they were told by Simon Majumdar, “One of you had my third favorite dish. Unfortunately for them, their opponent had my second favorite dish.” That’s how high the standard is in this competition: being the third best dish is enough to put you at risk for elimination.
We saw sea urchin deviled eggs, pizza dolma, a surf and turf, liquid nitrogen (but not from who you’d expect), and a fight at the fridges for truffles (which continued into the night on Twitter). This is a tough competition. To win you have to take risks, and sometimes those risks are the thing that puts a chef in the mystery ingredient showdown.
One of the things I love about this show is the elimination challenge. The chefs who have already qualified to move to the next week are so supportive of those trying to survive. The prize of being an Iron Chef is a huge statement of recognition of their talent. None of them want to be eliminated, but they also want to keep fighting with the best of the best to prove they’re worthy, and the respect they have for each other (well, most of them) is obvious and abundant.
If last week’s mystery ingredient of white bread wasn’t plain enough, this week’s are Kellogg’s Raisin Bran and Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, and the chefs have to use them both. We get two sweet dishes and two savory dishes. Whose dish is “an accident in a tiki bar,” whose is “breathtakingly well done,” and who gets out-cooked by the smallest of margins?
The show ends with one of the surviving chefs saying “An amazing chef just walked out that door. It’s getting real.” And it is. It’s getting real good.