Around the World in 80 Plates: French Gefilte Fish

Another week, another country, another hour of Cheven’s proclamations that he is the best in every area of the culinary arts. Following last week’s premiere episode (recapped here), the cheftestants take the train to Lyon, France. The black team is riding in style in first class while the red team is standing in crowded, sad coach.

Last week’s MVP Chaz got to pick his teammates this week as a part of his prize, so the black team has been reassembled to include an all-star cast of personalities. He chose the great Cheven, the devious Nookie, red-headed Avery, and for good measure, Gary freakin’ Walker (because he can speak French and because he can speak French, only).

This left the red team with Sai, who still can’t read a map, the self-appointed leader/annoying chihuahua, Jenna and everyone else. Obviously the black team is the stronger team because they have more personality in Gary Walker’s little pinky then the whole red team put together.

So the story begins with the teams arriving in Lyon and driving off to the first location of “The Course.” I guess it would have been too easy for Bravo to put the entire team in one vehicle…and more environmentally friendly. So for our entertainment, each team splits into two cars. On the black team, Cheven leads the way. Then he misses the exit. Chaz is about to lose is F’in mind, a reoccurring theme of this episode and I assume the whole season.

Meanwhile, the red team, who was lagging behind arrives at the destination first where they are met by Jean-Marc, a humble Lyonesse cheesemonger who is smiling and animated and wearing a red bandanna tied around his neck. The challenge: identify which six of the plethora of cheeses that sit in before them are sheep cheese. This takes for-ev-er and the although the black team swoops in and looks like they might beat Jenna and her minions out, the red team gets the most enthusiastic “OK” from Jean-Marc and move onto the second challenge.

The challenge: herd sheep. Because this is a cooking show, after all. The red team is struggglingggg. I mean, it was painful to watch. Jenna’s power has clearly gotten to her head as she continues to bark orders at the herding chefs. But she keeps saying “please” after each demand, which I love. Because she is a true sweetheart. A barking, extremely irritating sweetheart.

The black team links hands and like THAT the sheep are practically all herded. That is, until guard dog Cheven gets lax and the sheep all escape. So the chefs do it again and then beat the red team and move onto the wine pairing challenge.

This goes without saying, but Cheven regales us with his sommelier skills so he takes the lead on this one, ahhhh-gain. Nookie doesn’t even have to taste the wine because he declares that it’s just about math (WTF?) but somehow it works and they win the whole thing.

The exceptional ingredient isn’t really an ingredient but it does turn out to exceptional because for the “takeover challenge” they have to make a traditional Lyonesse menu and on that menu must be the dreaded quenelle. No one has much experience with it but not to worry, the winning team gets a personal lesson from the M.O.F. chef Joseph Viola! He’s very important apparently because he is a M.O.F. which Gary Walker kindly translates for the viewers: the best worker in all of France.

So they learn all about quenelle and Chef Viola flirts with Avery which just pisses Chaz off because he wishes chef Viola would rub his leg under the table, too  they need focus, for crying out loud! Cheven tells us that quenelle is just like oh-so appetizing gefitle fish, pike or carp fish that sits in a jar of fish jelly and is a staple at every Jew’s Passover sedar table (mine included).

The red team’s punishment for losing is that they must roam the streets of Lyon and figure out how to make quenelle the scrappy way. They decide to eat it at a restaurant so they can decipher the ingredients. Personally, I would have just ASKED someone because someone somewhere has to speak a little English and have a notion on how to make it. But their way works too.

But actually, no, it really doesn’t. They end up creating a dumpling instead of a traditional quenelle and the French diners are horrified.  They like the salad, however. And they like the brownie for dessert that Jenna made. Very French.

But the red team has major kitchen drama. Sai is taking 10 years to plate a  4-ingredient salad, the other chick loses count of her fish, Jenna is annoying everyone and ughhh, it’s a hot mess.

The black team is equally as crazy. Chaz is plating ENORMOUS portions of chicken, Gary Walker is giving the diners all of the courses at once, but Avery saves the day. She cuts Chaz’s portions down, cooks up a perfect quenelle that impresses Chef Viola and wins MVP! The black team won this challenge without a fight.

The elimination isn’t as fun this week though. They all collectively decide that Sai sucked it up and give her the boot. She’s sad. No one else is. The End. Fin.

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