All Sorts of Jaw-Drop Crazy — Justin’s Rebel Recap

by in Recap, July 21, 2014

Justin's Rebel Recap, Episode 8Last week, Luca returned from Star Salvation, and Chris couldn't prove himself as the culinary elevator. Emma showed her silver tongue describing her food, and Lenny was deemed "the man to beat." As the competition rages on in Las Vegas, we see a poker-faced dealer flanked by Giada an Alton.

The gang is dealt a single card with the name of a world-class Vegas Eatery. Little do they know, each contestant will use his or her edible experience to craft a course in a team-based tasting menu, to be presented at Guy Savoy. Alton reminds the gang that the food is just a part of a world-class dining experience — ambiance, showmanship and presentation are crucial as well. Bob and Susie will be back, joined by Penn Jillette, who will hopefully make terribly good fun of the soon-to-happen disasters.

Emma FrischEmma heads to Nobu to learn about the showmanship of teppanyaki. Lenny gets his culinary boots brilliantly polished with a few courses at Guy Savoy. Loreal eats a $777 burger, which I could probably make for you for about $80, but rent is so darn high.

Luca Della CasaSarah lucks out with a giant dry-aged ribeye, which is more like a bull's-eye for her beef-based Texas POV. Luca gets the noodle card and learns about Chinese hand-pulled noodles, and the welcoming hospitality. Nicole has a sundae, which costs $1,000 because the ice cream is made from milk of narwhal.

After they get to experience tremendously fancy food, the finalists must cook. But the mentors give them one more task: to incorporate one really fancy ingredient per course.

The Draw: Emma and Sarah, who scraped through the last challenge, are dealt a reversal of fortunes and get to choose their teams. Emma snaps up Lenny and Loreal, while Sarah grabs Nicole and Luca. Everyone pretty much thinks Emma has stacked the deck in her favor, but the kitchen always has terrible odds.

Emma, Lenny and Loreal are saddled with Mangalitsa pork loin, uni and langoustines respectively; Nicole heads from the beach to the pond with frog's legs, Luca gets Muscovy duck breast, and Sarah, clearly in the money tonight, gets Wagyu beef.

With Sarah getting the Wagyu, I thought maybe the game was rigged, but then I remembered that I was once on Food Network Star and everything is realer than real (aside from that guy dressed as Julius Caesar). Sometimes the Hawaiian guy wins the beach challenge; sometimes the most-fashionable guy wins the fashion challenge. It's just the luck of the draw.

Luck is clearly not on their side and the Team Emma competitors pretty much hate their special ingredients. Lenny realizes there are no cowboys underwater (but who wrangles sea horses?), and Emma hasn't quite heard of Mangalitsa. Loreal copes decently, but she crafts yet another surf and turf.

To make matters worse, the crew must "collaborate" on the dessert course. Read: Put the dessert on one person, who will assuredly flounder trying to do too many things at once.

Team Sarah - Food Network StarTeam Sarah: Team Sarah gets really creative with the idea of a "culinary voyage" — pretty much the same thing anyone ever does on FNS in a group challenge. Safe and smart, but lame. I would have probably made an Italian tasting menu and called out the various influences: Tex Italian, Grandma Italian and Coastal Italian.

Nicole tackles the frog's legs by Thai-ing them up. Good call. I call them Pond Wings at my restaurant and they definitely take well to spicy sauces. Her dish is super colorful, but her story meanders like the Mekong.

Luca channels his grandma with a duck risotto, but he's got more shakes than a green can of Parmesan. The dish is "meh" to most, but Penn is stoked about it.

Not missing what very well could be her final opportunity to strike, Sarah breaks out the big guns and makes three very Texified plates: a huge steak, a potato galette and lobster creamed corn. I don't know so much about Texas lobsters, but Bob sums it up as Tex-Vegas, so I guess it works.

The dessert, crafted by Coley, is a hot/cold rendition of the s'more, which really flaunts her beachside POV.

Team Emma: These cats definitely don't settle down with the "culinary journey" cliche. Team Emma gets Gilgamesh on the challenge and attempts to take the judges to a feast in the Garden of the Gods. As no godly meal is without some good drink, the team also makes an attempt at wine pairings. These ideas seemed pretty good on paper, but, well, let’s talk about the food first.

Lenny puts the uni with a truffled cauliflower mousseline, which is kind of like rolling a 36-sided die of culinary flourishes and picking the first three. The dish is seen as having "too much going on." To make matters more weird, Lenny can't shake the idea of channeling Greek plays, which are about as Vegas as a knitting circle. Lenny also seems to have trouble addressing a small group in an intimate setting, and it comes off as borderline creepy.

Loreal GavinLoreal makes her langoustine with hollandaise and a chicken "skinaigrette," which is a smashingly good idea. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see a "skinaigrette" at my restaurant soon. Sadly, her presentation sounded like a female version of HAL 9000. "I'm sorry, Bob. I'm afraid I can't allow you to remember me — or my food."

With a creepy course one and an animatronic course two, Emma is the Atlas in the Garden of the Gods menu, and the weight of the world is now on her shoulders. She delivers her dish succinctly and elegantly, and then she begins to enlighten the judges on the origins of pork consumption. The tale involves pigs trapped in a flaming barn.

And this is where I get a little cranky. The judges, including my very own mentor, get all sorts of jaw-drop crazy when she talks about dead animals. I understand that maybe a four-course meal at Guy Savoy isn't the best place to talk about these things, and she deserves to be dinged. What irks me is that Emma is the first person I've seen on a culinary competition to remind us that when we eat meat, an animal dies. It wasn't meant to be horrifying. It's just the fact. If you can't handle that fact, that dead animals taste good to us, then you should probably stay in the vegetarian section of the Garden of the Gods.

Loreal torched the "ambrosia" dessert and it got really bizarre when she decided to throw flower petals at the judges.

Cue the Scary Music: Surprisingly, the gang learns that after this challenge, they'll be heading to New York City. Not surprisingly, Sarah's team pulls a win this week. Where it gets really interesting is who on Emma's team is going home. The food across the board was poorly handled on Team Emma, and the concept wasn’t nearly as cohesive as the overdone "culinary voyage" over on Team Sarah. So it all came down to personality and presentation. Loreal was odd at best, glum at worst, and she didn't talk about the best part of her dish. Emma talked about dead animals. Lenny was uncomfortable, like a carnie in a Michelin-rated restaurant.

Due to his strong performance in previous challenges, Lenny is saved. It comes down to Loreal and Emma, and Emma is tearfully shown the door.

The Moral of the Story: Sadly, the time and place to talk about how we get our food, or why eat the way we do, is not prime time. If you want to change the world around you, stick to your recap blogs and YouTube vids.

Threat of the Week: Did you see that smile on Loreal after Emma left? The butcher babe has a cleaver behind her back, and she won't stop until she’s at the top.

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Comments (207)

  1. Crouton40 says:

    My #1 pick for a deserving win is Nicole. Definitely.

    Cooking---More reliable/consistent. She has great flavors!
    Teaching---clear, warm & confident. Easy to listen to and follow.
    Personality---Immediately likeable in the early Runway/introduce yourself challenge. Unpretentious, informal/warm.
    Knowledge---has taken practically everything thrown at her and turns it into something good.
    Point-of-view---Clear. She's stuck with it all along. Tasty, and New!
    I hope she rocks it on Rachel's show!

    And one more thing: if I ask myself, who could I watch for several seasons on tv, learn from, enjoy & not get tired of?, there's another reason I'd vote for Nicole.

    • Big LB says:

      what do you say when someone on a cooking show would tell a lie or they can not promote their production in a commercial? you would no something extra special about seafood since it has already been done before. Ina has a lot of coastal shows under her belt

      • Crouton40 says:

        I would say..
        1. you make it sound as if Lenny is the only one without any flaws. Hmmm. And...
        2. If Ina has cooked some seafood, Bobby Flay has overlapped some cowboy cooking. Btw--i really do loovve a good steak, chili, barbecue, etc.

        While Ina may put some seafood in a dish, and I like Ina alot, Coastal Cuisine is broader than the occasional seafood that Ina may do. It also is more distinct and new, as it would be much easier to lump Cowboy cooking/southwest/and barbecue all together where coastal cuisine stands out more as not already being done. It's a very welcome new POV. And Nicole does more than "just" seafood.

    • guest says:

      Crouton,I can't wait for this weeks show. I know there were other challenges that have been filmed in front of an audience. Those were larger audiences such as at an amusement park or on the Hollywood Night or at Ceasars. They were not close knit quarters like on a tv set. I think it's great that they have to do this with a live audience who is there for a cooking show and not just random people who were either hired for the job or just randomly visiting a park.This is the week when I think we are going to see their real abilities. I think they will sink or they will swim. We will finally get to see what they would truly be like on a show. I question if some can tone it down but still be interesting. Will others be too subdued. I think this week may change a lot of folks favorites "order". Maybe mine too!

      • Crouton40 says:

        Thank you, guest. When you said:
        ..."This is the week when I think we are going to see their real abilities. I think they will sink or they will swim. We will finally get to see what they would truly be like on a show." Yes! I think you nailed it! And I'll go one step further. Suppose....

        ...that besides this Rachel Ray Live Audience challenge (which I think is a fantastic test of who can really cut it), suppose INSTEAD OF the youtube challenge, and the "green wall" challenge, that we would have had TWO MORE Rachel-type "Let-Me-Show-You-something-Awesome/here's-how-you-do-it" kinds of challenges? That would have FAR better. All of us writing in these Blogs would have had a much clearer idea of who does what and how good they do it and what kind of range they have. (maybe next year? I hope. )
        Questions for Sunday: will anyone STOMP all the others? Or, will everyone be pretty-much even in their performance? Should be a good test.

        ...

  2. Big LB says:

    A cooking show be based on what a chef experience is. Take Lenny for an example He and Luca are the only two finalist that are executive chefs. Lenny been in the kitchen since the age of 13. People pay big money to stay at his ranch. Which is not far from Vail or Aspen. He would take the Pioneer woman/man concept to the next level.How to fix elk or bison or Rocky Mountain Oyster. The key question is: Watching a cooking show. Would you not want to become a more educated viewer? We have an Italian cooking show now in Food Network. What would you want Luca to compete with Giada? Nicole... there are Frogs on the coast. You should have been better prepared. Coastal Cuisine will get old after one season. The butcher babe only has 3 years meat cutting. Not near of being a journeyman butcher. However, she does work for an famous meat market in Indianapolis,in My two cents BTW if there was a next Food Star Hall of Fame. Guy will be the first one inducted.

    • Beachy says:

      No way would Coastal Cuisine get boring after one season. There too much cool stuff you can do with all of it.

      Bison, Elk and Rabbit would get old in a hurry.
      Coastal Cuisine offers a nice education all on its own.

      If being an executive Chef is a hallmark of one's ability, then maybe Food Network really screwed up by sending Chris Lynch home. Whatever kind of Chef he is, he could outcook them all. It wasn't enough. If I didn't know any better, I might suspect that Big LB was really Big Lenny himsel

      • Big LB says:

        I like Chris. I feel that he is a good back of the house chef. You need to both front and back. He is not both. Not everyone wants or eats seafood. Red lobster is closing some of the restaurants I like to see her make Crawdads or Lobster gumbo, If it was Luca telling Nicole how to prepare frog legs. She would crash and burn.I am not Lenny. I tell you this. Richard Simmons "sweating to the oldies" was fun, zany, and make one to exercise. His concept lasted a long time. Everyone loves a western or cowboys. Lenny will take you out on the Colorado range and show you how to cook in A dutch oven. The only reason Lenny failed is that he was given a dish even know by Emma who cant make crab cakes. Lenny, Bobby, and alton did.

    • Deanna says:

      I can't watch Giada, because I can't stand her, so yes, I'd LOVE to see Luca's show.

  3. James says:

    Tons of people LOVE lobster, clams, oysters, shrimp, and Crab. Mmmmm!
    And no one else is doing a show like this. I would eat seafood from Nicole's cooking over Red Lobster any day! It's a whole new niche. More flavors. More dishes. More viewers. More ratings! And it isn't "only" that. Nicole knows alot. Find out more about #CoastalCuisine at: http://www.toofullforschool.com

  4. Big LB says:

    I got Lenny, Nicole, and Sarah doing pilots. Luca doesn't t have a solid POV when Gilda has her own Italian show Plus I don't see Lenny crash and burn He know his cooking skills. Not Elf. Bison, etc In fact, He had to show two finalist how to prepare their challenge. He had done seafood..

    • Tonto says:

      You're so desperate sounding about Lenny. I wonder how you and the rest of the audience would freak out if he went home before Loreal, Sarah or Luca.

  5. Rubberneck says:

    Someone will be eliminated tonight. Will they send anyone else home the following week?

  6. dorothy says:

    I am not happy with the final 5. Why cant we vote after 10? We are the people who watch. Giada, Bobby and Alton don't watch. Chris would have captured a new audience. I am 59, but my 26 year old daughter is a cook. Okay I am Afr.Am. all that is left on FNS is mayo. Please for future votes, let the people who will watch vote earlier in the series.

  7. WhyamIhere says:

    Dude, your recaps are hilarious.. And somewhat educational, a la Atlas reference. Love it..