Previously: The chefs flailed and nerves were fried during a fast food challenge. Mary Sue Milliken’s steak quesadilla and quinoa fritters passed with flying colors, while George Mendes’ skewers skewered him.
The remaining seven chefs join Curtis Stone in the kitchen for their Quickfire challenge. They have an array of heavenly ingredients, including foie gras, scallops and truffles. The only catch is that they have to create their dishes in just seven minutes, beating Tom Colicchio’s personal best of eight minutes, 37 seconds. As always, the winning chef will score $5,000 for charity and immunity in this week’s elimination challenge. Celina Tio immediately grabs the diver scallops with a goal of making scallop crudo. Hugh Acheson, who calls it “a Quickfire on steroids,” is generous with his caviar. Naomi Pomeroy fears she’s taking too big a risk because she’s searing foie gras, which takes a solid five minutes in addition to the heating of the pan itself, which can take about two minutes. Traci des Jardins struggles with adrenaline and shaky hands as she prepares beef Carpaccio with truffle vinaigrette. Hugh worries that his poaching won’t come off in time and that he’ll be making “the most elaborate cat food of all time.”
Time ticks down, and the judges notice that they’re not exiting the kitchen as usual. Curtis tells the cheftestants that they’ll be judging each other and rating each other from one to seven, with one being the best and seven being the worst. First up is Hugh’s tuna two ways: chopped with caviar and Ventresca with celery, which Floyd Cardoz thinks is bitter. Next, the cheftestants unanimously enjoy Traci’s beef tenderloin Carpaccio with truffle, saut�ed maitake mushroom and balsamic. Likewise, Naomi’s seared foie gras with chanterelle mushrooms and fried lady apples is a hit, though Floyd gets a particularly salty piece. Next up, Celina’s scallop crudo with blood orange, cumquat and lemon agrumato is less successful. Mary Sue’s scallop with pink salt, lime and cilantro is seasoned perfectly. Everyone likes Alex Stratta’s Santa Barbara prawn ceviche with cumquat, chili peppers, celery and blood orange vinaigrette. Floyd’s prawn with Serrano chili, wasabi and blood orange juice is also judged positively.
The cheftestants rank their choices. Hugh ranks his own dish worst, as do Traci and Floyd, who confirms Hugh’s fear that his food would be perceived as cat food. Traci gets solid scores, earning top marks from Naomi and Mary Sue. Naomi’s dish is all over the board, scoring top marks from Traci and Hugh but faring poorly with Floyd. Naomi thinks it’s ironic that Floyd is calling her out for saltiness when he has been questioned for overseasoning in the past. Celina largely falls in the bottom. Mary Sue’s falls somewhere in the middle, though Alex thought it was the best for its simplicity. Alex is among his own harshest critics when he gives himself second-to-bottom scores, even though others gave him high marks. Finally, Floyd’s dish is firmly in the middle, except for with Naomi, who deems his blood orange too powerful. But how do the scores average out? Celina is the worst, followed by Hugh, Floyd, Mary Sue, Alex, and Naomi. Traci wins her third Quickfire challenge for La Cocina.