Tonight on Cutthroat Kitchen, things go foul when two chefs must switch dishes in the middle of a competition. The following is what happened during this episode where the winning chef walks away with what remains of the initial $25,000 given to each at the beginning from which they can gain advantage over the others with purchases of items. As Rumpelstiltskin would say, “magic comes with a price.”
The host, Alton Brown, outlines the premise of the series, which is to be the last chef standing with as much money as possible. Four chefs face-off weekly in three competitions with one chef being cut each round. The competition is fierce but not nearly as tenacious as the taunting brought on by the host’s “auctions.” The chefs on this “no holds barred” episode are: Chef Robert Burmeister from Harvest Cafe in New York which trains adults with special needs to work in the community (a guy after my own heart!), Chef Dawn Burrell from Dawn Burrell Catering in Texas and is a former Olympian in the long jump, Chef Billy Ngo of Kru Restaurant in California who built his restaurant within a year after graduating from culinary school and is wildly successful, and Chef Todd Harrington from Central at Caesars palace in Las Vegas and self-taught in the art of food preparation having been cooking since the age of sixteen. Harrington may be the biggest gambler of the bunch! Let’s find out…
The first challenge is individual idea of lettuce wraps with the chefs being given sixty seconds to procure items in the “market” shopping spree. The first auction item is a bucket with garden tools where the winner can force an opponent to use these in place of the traditional chef tools of knives, graters, etc. The bidding starts at $500 with Chef Robert winning with an expenditure of $2500. The chosen opponent is Chef Billy who really laughs off the loss of knives since the challenge is to make lettuce wraps. The second auction item is shredded lettuce which could have a big impact on the challenge since lettuce wraps are usually made with whole lettuce leaves! Once more, the bidding starts at $500. Chef Todd wins by bidding $5000 and tries to shred Chef Dawn’s hopes of winning. The final item for auction in this first round is a sabotaging collection of heat sources. Bidding goes from $500 to $4000 for Chef Billy who gives Chef Robert the microwave, Chef Dawn the fryer, and Chef Todd the boiler. The game is afoot.
The chefs have thirty minutes to complete the challenge with an auction started earning the opportunity to make two opponents stop mid-challenge and switch stations giving the leader a distinct advantage. Who wins? The bidding gets crazy as the price rises from $500 to $13,200 for Chef Todd who chooses Chef Robert and Billy to switch stations. The two actually paid for their own disadvantages. The challenges ends with Brown introducing food critic Simon Majumdar who loves the shrimp of Chef Dawn but tells her the choice of using shredded lettuce was a bad one…he does not know it was a sabotage. Chef Todd takes hot for saltiness. Whose dish was the loser? Chef Todd was cut as his lettuce wrap was not edible due to the over saltiness cause by excessive use of soy sauce to keep it moist. Tata big spender!
Round two has the challenge of preparing clam chowder to be completed in thirty minutes and begins with a sixty second shopping spree. The first auction is for canned clams and whipped cream which can be switched for an opponent’s heavy cream and fresh clams and immediately Dawn bids $2500 since she has no cream at all. Chef Billy wins with a bid of $7100 and gives the item of canned clams to Chef Dawn leaving her without a dairy product and the whipped cream to Chef Robert. The second auction item is a set of spoons to allow for tasting during the round with the winning bid of $3600 from Chef Dawn. The final item is a loaf of white bread which must be used to make a bowl to serve the clam chowder in. The winning bidder is Chef Robert with $5000 and gives the bread to Dawn. These guys are REALLY cutthroat this round…she is my choice to win this round even with her disadvantages.
Alton Brown assists Chef Dawn by stating (silently) she should fry the bread bowl as he stands behind her as it may make it more able to hold a liquid. The time ends and once more the judge, Simon Majumdar, returns ignorant of the sabotaging that has taken place this round. Chef Robert comes out fairly clean with good taste and texture despite the fact he was unable to taste the product at all. Chef Dawn is criticized for the leaky bowl. Will it cause her to sink this round? Chef Billy presents an extremely thick soup which is more like a paste but the taste is splendid. It is Chef Dawn hitting the rocks.
The final challenge between Chef Robert and Chef Billy is to create a country fried steak dish in thirty minutes with the challenge starting immediately after the sixty second shopping spree. Auctions will take place throughout the challenge as the host sees fit. This will be interesting as the chefs race to gather ingredients. The first item for auction is a meat tenderizer which must be used in place of knives which Chef Billy allows Chef Robert to win for $8100 but Chef Billy gets all items he needs cut ahead of time. The next item is chicken nuggets which can be switched for the the traditional breading and won by Chef Robert for $3600. Ten minutes remain when the chefs start to assemble plates. The food critic returns as both contestants are fairly confident with the results of the challenge. Will the judge be as reassuring?
Chef Robert is criticized for a lack of pepper and the steak being chewy but is given points for the tasty gravy. Chef Billy is criticized for the overbreading of the steak but given points for the presentation. The winning chef is Robert who leaves with only $5600 from his original $25,000 but he is psyched as Chef Billy leaves knowing he did his best having been plagued with numerous kinds of sabotage.
Image courtesy of the Food Network