The Taste Season 2, Episode 4: Street Foodie

Ludo’s kitchen dominates as Nigella and Marcus fizzle. But the important thing to note is that my imaginary boyfriend Anthony Bourdain is going to his happy place with this week’s challenge. Street food.

Team Challenge

Roy Choi, who just appeared on Top Chef, will be judging the Team Challenge. Is it possible to be overexposed within the course of two weeks?
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Tony introduces his team to the bahn mi sandwich and challenges his team to make their best interpretation of the bahn mi. He tells Shellie that he expects a lot out of her since she runs a food truck. You know what that means, right? It means Shellie is going to fail miserably.  Marcus asks his shrunken team to make meatballs, and Nigella decides to have her team of two present fish and chips, which Crystal says is “really easy.” Heh.  Ludo is all about the croque monsieur, which leads to bizarre flirting by Cassandra.
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Bourdain knows that Roy loves Spam, so he hands Shellie a can and tells her to use it to its full potential. This leads Ludo to ramble, “We cannot looose this chaaahlahnge to spaim, we cannot looose this chaaahlahnge to spaim.” Nigella’s kitchen is in trouble. Both tartar sauces are abysmal for different reasons, and Crystal is not at all interested in changing her recipe or refining her technique. Jacqueline is also driving her made, pushing back at every suggestion. In Ludo’s kitchen, Marina is talking about boiling her beef, which is giving Ludo hives.

As expected, Tony puts up Shellie’s Spamwich. Nigella selects Crystal’s dish as the least bad of two clunkers. As if it’s not bad enough, Jacqueline sabotages Crystal’s fish by busting open the crispy batter and then adds just one lonely chip. Marcus’s team is split on Sheha and Sarah’s dishes, but in the end he goes with Shehu’s fish eye soup.  And, Ludo picks Jeff. Again. It’s a fried chicken sandwich…boring…..

Shellie’s spam sandwich was a huge hit, and Shehu’s soup was surprising and enjoyable. Roy has “construction” problems with the fish and chips, and the components are confusing to him because fish and chips don’t go together in his world. The bread on Jeff’s chicken sandwich was too crumbly.
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Tony’s kitchen is the winner, and Marcus’s kitchen comes in second. Ludo comes in third, which means Nigella’s kitchen loses again, and will be down another lousy cook. Nigella lets both of them have it because it’s an attitude problem. But she sends Crystal home because at least Jacqueline can cook a decent meal.

Individual Challenge

For the individual challenge, the chefs must serve their best street food. And Anthony Bourdain’s kitchen gets the benefit of guidance from the self-proclaimed King Of Street Food.

Okay, I’m keeping an eye on Cassandra who is making falafel. I’ve eaten some really, really delicious falafel over the years, so if she’s going to claim to be a New Yorker, she’d better get that right. Then there’s Sarah who is boldly preparing fish and chips, despite the last fish and chips disaster. The other teams are not-so-silently mocking Jacqueline who does not appear to know what the heck she’s doing.

Oh, Cassandra. You are so lost without a mentor. And did she just shout, “MEDIC!!!” Yup, there goes her finger. But that’s all just a big distraction from the food:

Jeff’s curried lamb meatballs with chutney and Brussels sprouts: the judges like it and place the middle east flavor, and Nigella steals the rest of Tony’s bite.

Dana’s toasted fish burrito with cabbage: Bourdain is confused, the dish is bland, and frying and wrapping is weird.

Lee’s halal style lamb over rice: Tony is confused as to what it is but he likes it anyhow, and the judges don’t know how to eat it without a mess.

Shehu’s jerk steak on jonnycakes with spiced bananas: Ludo wants to spit it out, Nigella makes a baby fart face, Marcus looks angry at the raw dough, and Tony babbles something about sweet, too sweet, it’s just sweet.

Marina’s caramelized banana with cinnamon in fried wonton: the judges gobble it up.

Cassandra’s falafel pita sandwich: it lacked texture, heat, attitude, and the judges can’t even figure out if it was fish or not.

Brad’s surf and turf flatbread with chimichurri sauce: terrific bread, but slightly unfocused.

Louise’s peanut potato chip ball: the judges momentarily lose their power of speech because everything is stuck to their teeth, but they loved it.

Shellie’s fried chicken taco: too much salad and not enough flavor.
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Sarah’s fish and chips with jalapeno chow-chow: the judges understand the skill it takes to make fish and chips with curry sauce, so it’s a hit.

Jacqueline’s empanada with chimichurri sauce: no, no, underseasoned, wrong dough, Marcus may have spit it out, she is so going home.

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Tony and Marcus both chose Sarah’s fish and chips as the best, and Ludo and Nigella selects Marina’s dessert as the best. And now, for the worst dishes. Tony picks Cassandra, because bad falafel is a crime in New York City. Marcus cooses Shehu’s jerk steak, which hurts because that’s his team. Nigella and Ludo also pick Shehu, so it looks like Jacqueline gets a stay of execution.

Cassandra put flour in her falafel, and then ran it through the food processor. Major rookie moves. Shehu just got the wrong flavors. He used bananas instead of plantains, then tossed mango on top for sweet-on-sweet. It was his first time preparing this dish, which, yeah. Rookie move. Wow, Marcus is about to burst into tears. He’s really going to the mat for Shehu. But Tony has it in for that falafel because it’s a failure of imagination as well as preparation. And how come a pretty girl only has to have a good attitude in the kitchen? Nigella can’t get over the disgustingness of Shehu’s dish, and Ludo calls it “caca.”

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It was a difficult decision, but the judges send Cassandra home. Goodbye, vegetarian. Ludo will miss you. And probably Lee, too.

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