How very appetizing —
The diners, VIPs and judges Padma, Gail and Tramonto are seated. Anyone
want to order an appetizer first?
Tom goes to the kitchen and tells the chefs they will need
to make one-third sized portions for the judges’ tasting menu. This throws them
for a bit of a loop, since they hadn’t planned on making smaller plates.
But what the judges want, the judges get, so they all
undersize their appetizers for tasting. Lisa’s dish of grilled and chilled
shrimp with lemon zest salad comes out first. Hung says it needs more sugar,
Tramonto says the lemon is great, and Gail wonders why Lisa chilled the shrimp.
Next is Richard’s hamachi with crispy sweetbreads. It gets "good,"
"delicious" and "perfect" comments from the judges. I think
some of them have to resist the urge to lick their plates. If only Padma had
That success is followed by Spike’s suspect scallops. He has
served them with roasted hearts of palm and oyster mushrooms. None of the
judges mention the scallops. But they pick apart the sauce, hearts of palm and
everything else as Harold calls it "not texturally interesting." Well,
Tramonto definitely looks uninterested. In fact he looks like he might fall asleep
on his plate.
Stephanie sends out her veal sweetbreads with golden raisins
and pine nuts to snap them back to attention. Harold likes it. Dale likes it.
what Spike’s dish was missing, Stephanie’s dish had.
Oh, you mean good decision-making? I concur.
Finally, out comes Antonia’s warm mushroom and artichoke
salad with a poached egg. Gail says it isn’t the strongest dish they’ve tasted.
Tramonto says, besides the perfectly poached egg, the rest of the dish "fell
apart." Oh, Antonia, perhaps you’ve gone to the well once too many times
with that poached
Dinner is served —
But enough of the foreplay, bring on the main event. It’s entrée time, and Tom
tells Richard he is "killing" him with his slow orders. But Richard
says he’ll take slow and perfect over quick and half-assed. Someone has been
reading his Aesop’s
Richard’s entrée of beef filet with potato puree, turnips
and pickled Brussels sprouts goes to the judges first. Harold says it works
when the deconstructed parts are put together. Padma doesn’t want to do the
extra fork work and says he should have put everything together in the first
place. Ilan agrees.
Ilan: It’s not a
relaxed dining experience. It’s a project.
It does kind of look like he ran out of time and dropped the
ingredients on the plate along with the instructions: Some assembly required.