Although I was already very familiar with Chef Estes and her well-voiced determination to use local ingredients, this would be my first opportunity to witness the talents of Chef Treviño. I had, however, heard terrific things about his cooking, so knew we were in for a great battle.
The look on the faces of both chefs when Alton Brown revealed that the secret ingredient was coconut was worth the entrance money on its own. They both soon recovered and set about cooking two very different styles of dish. To be exact, Chef Treviño started cooking, while Chef Estes stared at her coconut for a few minutes like it was an alien and then hacked at it with a cleaver.
Chef Treviño’s final dish was by no means bad, but he was marked down by all of us for overcooking his sausage and for not using the secret ingredients as well as his competitor. Despite her unfamiliarity with the ingredient, I felt that Chef Estes made the more successful dish. The way in which she used coconut flesh in her Egyptian-inspired spice mix and coconut water to cook her kale gave the dish real coherence alongside slices of perfectly prepared duck.
The judges took just a few minutes to come to another unanimous decision, one which moved Chef Estes forward to face Chef Wong for a place in the final 10 on The Next Iron Chef.