Nicep4finalists_and_alton
So, was I right?  Questions and comments?  I’ll try to elaborate on the food tomorrow answer burning questions.

Monday Morning Update: This was a really difficult decision–Cosentino or Sanchez.  Symon was the clear winner from all of us, for the incredibly juicy salmon (he made a risky decision to finish it in the airplane rather than reheat), but his other dishes were on the money too.  Besh’s asparagus salad was a little lacking, just wasn’t all there.  And he told me why afterward.  In the rush to get all his food into the box he forgot one of his vinaigrettes!  This challenge was indeed really hard–the time, the number of dishes, the unfamiliar kitchen and the cameramen getting in your goddam way.  I personally thought Chris was being kind! And showing uncommon grace under pressure by not ripping the camera out of their hands and mauling them bloody–you have no idea what a drag they are when you’re trying to cook. They are of course required for a show, however.

Nicep4aaron5 Chris’s crunchy cauliflower and Aaron’s nasty fish skin hurt them.  Neither prepared dishes with the muscle Besh and Symon did.  We had an hour between when we actually delivered a verdict and Knowlton argued vociferously, actually taking me by the lapels and slamming me against a concrete wall way in the back of the hangar. He was persuasive. They were so close in fact that I had to take their overall performance into account. In the end, we all wrote down our choices and handed them to Alton, and it was unanimous.  Chef Schmitt did not judge but his comments and opinions were very important to our evaluation.

And yes the editing. It was kind to Knowlton this week. He’s just as much of an ass as ever.  Donatella just as elegant.  (Kidding about Knowlton!)  If anything, I was the snooty one this week, nothing but curled lip and disdain.  The consomme issue is important.  Besh used it to make the dish sound prettier.  But by doing so he’s diminishing the value of the word.  Soon it won’t mean anything. He trailed me in the Charles de Gaulle airport the next day saying, "Consomme was in quotes!"  He even dropped his bags to make quote marks in the air.

For the record, to respond to a grumbler, I do not and never have called myself a chef, because I am not a chef.  A chef is a leader of a kitchen.  I am a trained cook, and spent a very brief and not inglorious time as a line cook at a Cleveland restaurant owned by Marriott (which gave health bennies, thank god).  I make my living as a writer–perhaps the grumbler should check out my new book. Also, I don’t know who said it, but no winner was pre-selected.  We were told repeatedly by the producers to vote from our gut.  And if they had told me anything else, I would have said, f.u.

Now, after a falling out with these producers, I have decided to reveal the big secret from next week’s show:
Cossymonbesh

Besh is in fact an undercover agent for the international police and arrests both Symon (frigging peacemonger, Besh was heard saying, as he put the cuffs on) and Cosentino for illegal foie gras activity, citing an obscure Chicago ordinance as his justification.

Read fellow judge Andrew Knowlton’s comments and picks for top three bottom three dishes, which i agree with.

And the inimitable Amateur Gourmet here.

UPDATE: I put this in the comments, but a reader suggested putting it here and I agree.  I got an email from Cosentino this morning saying this:

thanks for defending me with the camera guys. these guys were german and not understanding of space every time i moved my elbows touched someone. i thought i was going to hurt my self. also i found out later that eytan with this ear piece was telling the camera guys to get closer to me . In kitchen stadium they understand the dangers of being to close and they want you to succeed, in this episode all they wanted was the shot. that is why i got hostile i told them from the beginning to give me space since the kitchen configuration was really bad we had a very small pass way to get to equipment (like bowls, pans )and they were always blocking it and wouldn’t move when we asked them . thats when the hostility came. now that 1/2 the country thinks i am an asshole as some one put it in another blog. life goes on.