“What Happens In Vegas Steaks In Vegas”
So the Top 18 contestants (or are they all there?) have arrived in Las Vegas for their next team challenge. They walk out onto a rooftop and everyone is dressed up for the occasion.
They are at Dria’s Beachclub at the Cromwell. As they all line up we learn that one home cook is missing tonight: Dan. He had to leave and is no longer going to be part of the competition. That’s certainly a surprise, although it’s strange that’s now happened two seasons in a row, a promising contestant leaving suddenly off-screen between episodes. I guess for confidentiality reasons we’ll never know exactly why Dan left unless he speaks up himself about it.
Now we learn what challenge the remaining 17 contestants will face. They have to cook a meal for 101 Vegas entertainers. Stephen and Shelly are the team captains as they had the best dishes in the last elimination round. Stephen had the best dish overall, so he gets a choice: can either pick his whole team first, or pick which protein each team will be cooking with. The first choice is a luxury item: lobster. The other choice is America’s favorite every day protein: chicken tenders. It could be more work to make a standout dish with the chicken, although it is more familiar, so that is the challenge to pick wisely.
The smarter captain has to out-think the other, so Stephen is going to pick his team. Shelly gets to pick the protein. Stephen is sure that Shelly will pick the chicken, and that’s what she picks. “It’s the Jedi thing going,” he says when asked how he knew she’d do that.
Stephen then picks his team: Amanda, Charlie, Jessie, Sara, Olivia, Tommy, and Kerry—these are of course many of Shelly’s top picks. He finishes his team with Nick. That means that Shelly’s Blue Team will consist of Claudia, Ailsa, Katrina, Derrick, Hetal Veronica, and Christopher. So Shelly has another disadvantage in that she has one less person on her team than Stephen does, thanks to Dan’s departure. Interestingly I remember in a previous season when there was an odd number of people for a team challenge, I thought they allowed one person to sit out the challenge on the team with more members? Or am I misremembering things?
In any event, both teams will have 60 minutes to prep an upscale dish for their 101 dining guests. We see that Shelly is having a hard time getting everyone in agreement on their dish. She wants to do pounded, stuffed chicken with mango. Derrick thinks it’s a bad idea with too many ways it could all go wrong but he’s overruled.
Stephen takes control of his team and is immediately putting people to work on certain elements of the dish. He’s strong in asserting who is going to do what and he doesn’t want them messing up his plans.
Gordon goes to check on the Blue team’s progress and corrects Shelly when she says she’s making a “chicken remoulade”. No, she’s making a roulade, he tells her. And questions if they will have enough time to get it done. Gordon says it’s way too complicated and it will take too long to cook.
Their guests for the evening are now arriving in full costume for their upcoming performances: showgirls, comedians, Chippendales dancers who can tell what else? They have to serve their dishes on time or else they’ll lose a vote.
The judges check out the Red Team, where Stephen is doing a variation on piccata sauce on grilled lobster, roasted vegetables, smashed Yukon potatoes and olive oil and a slice of truffle butter. Gordon wants to know if he’s going to be able to execute all those plates consistently?
Shelly’s Blue Team are still struggling with her overcomplicated stuffed chicken. The judges look at their first sample plate and Gordon calls them over to stop. Gordon says they need to have a meeting and get their “bleep” together. It’s turning into Shelly’s “worst nightmare”.
It’s time to start service and the Red Team plates are flying out of the kitchen. The Blue Team, meanwhile, cannot produce any plates at all. They don’t have any ready to go and they maybe have 74 underway. 69? It’s not bingo, Gordon says.
Stephen is having some issues now with Tommy being over his head with plating their food. He’s got to show finesse, and not make portions oversized and sloppy. Stephen moves Tommy to the potatoes station and puts Sara on plating. Christina is checking in with the diners who are loving the lobster dishes. But it’s halfway through service and the Blue Team still hasn’t plated anything at all! It’s embarrassing.
Derrick steps in and takes charge on the chicken, which is being served with roasted potatoes and a saffron butter sauce. He’s going to fix things and get plates out. Shelly has “checked out” and Derrick feels like the team captain instead of her. Christopher is the one guy cooking, making sure chicken is getting seared, and Derrick is now plating the food. Graham says you could get rid of everyone else on their team except for Derrick and Christopher.
Meanwhile, Tommy is testing Stephen’s patience. He’s overcooking the potatoes. Is he trying to sabotage the Team? Tommy gets defensive and says he’s getting “full on volcanic hatred” from everyone. Stephen kicks him off potatoes and relegates him to washing dishes, as they don’t have many potatoes left and can’t afford to burn them.
Stephen is sending out their last portions while the Blue Team has Derrick in control and they are on a roll. And now they may have hit the jackpot; could there still be some luck left in Vegas? Some people are definitely enjoying the chicken more than the lobster so they may have a chance yet.
Time isn’t even up now and the Red Team has completed service of every plate. Stephen’s team has crushed it, Graham says. But just because they finished early doesn’t mean they’ve won, Stephen reminds his team, and they need to stay humble. The Blue Team may be running out of chicken. They are serving up to the very last second and as it turns out, they have eight plates on the table they couldn’t get out to diners so those are immediate lost votes.
It’s time for the diners to begin voting with either a blue or red playing card. Olivia is seeing red, red, red at first…but then they start seeing a lot of blue, Jessie observes with some worry, saying they are shocked. So, who has it? Of the 101 votes cast, there are just three votes separating both teams. It has to be the closest ever, Gordon says (really?) With 52 of the votes against 49, it’s the Red Team for victory.
Blue Team will be facing the pressure test, but they won’t all be up for elimination: just four members of the team. Shelly is not going to be one of those four, but she will be picking which three people will be safe. Derrick says she can reward the hardworking, deserving people, or put the really strong people in the pressure test. They’ll have to see what she decides.
They are next shown entering Gordon Ramsay Steak and Christopher is worried he might screw himself over by getting too much into his own head. Shelly doesn’t know who she should save. Graham and Christina inform the Blue Team members that they will be cooking steak and there’s only one person who can judge such a challenge: Gordon Ramsay himself. Hetal has never cooked steak in her life, being vegetarian so she knows if Shelly doesn’t save her, she is going home.
Gordon asks the eight members of the team where they started going wrong. Claudia thinks that it went wrong right from the beginning, she tried to suggest changes to make it more of a complete entree but got nowhere. Katrina thought stuffing a chicken was a bad idea. Derrick said it wasn’t a dish that could be executed for 101 people in 60 minutes. Shelly feels has to speak up for herself now and that even if she wasn’t a flawless leader, she knows she was going to be thrown under the bus by her team mates. Derrick argues back why did she pick a dish she’d only made once before and that he knows she’s going to make the strongest members of the team face the pressure test.
So now she has to make her picks to save three people. The first person Shelly is saving is Hetal. Derrick wants to know what she did? She did the least amount of work on the team. The next person just had her head down and kept going: Veronica. Her third and final choice? Worked hard and was overall a big part of the team: Katrina. That means she saved the weakest three people, Claudia says, and it’s a direct hit but she’s ready to bring it. Shelly says she’s pitting he four strongest people in the pressure test because she wants to knock them out: Ailsa, Derrick, Christopher and Claudia.
Christina warns them that they’re not only going to now face the “dreaded pressure test”, but that it’s not just one pressure test, it’s two. First, they will have to make a steak to just the right temperature that Gordon demands. Then two of them will have to do it over again in a one-on-one battle for survival; a different cut of steak to a different temperature. First, Gordon wants a New York Strip Steak cooked medium rare, in 20 minutes. It’s one of the most popular steaks and one of his favorites, Gordon says.
He is tasting all four steaks blind. The two chefs who get the closest to perfection will be safe.
Derrick is saying it’s a bucket list pressure test. Cooking steak in a professional kitchen? This is where he’s going to shine. Shelly says to Tommy she’s hoping that Claudia and Ailsa are able to pull it off. What’s the secret to cooking this steak? It’s the sear, according to Gordon, and they have to render the fat down side first to keep it juicy and pink in the middle. Claudia is having some trouble getting that perfect sear. Christopher says if there’s a single misstep it’s game over and then he realizes he’s made a mistake: he didn’t do it fat side down first. Ailsa thinks she took hers out of the oven too soon.
Time is up and Graham calls for service, please. Charlie, up in the balcony, says he’s glad he’s not in this intense pressure test. “Ever watch Goodfellas? Somebody’s getting whacked tonight!”
Beginning with the first plate, Gordon says on top, it has a great sear, and that person cooked it with finesse. It’s cooked beautifully, mid-rare in the center and mid-rare throughout. It’s Derrick and he can’t believe it. The second steak, Christopher’s, has white fat running through and it has no color. No color, no flavor. It’s embarrassing, Christopher says, since he’s a restaurant manager. Gordon says it’s lazy and Christopher things he’s doomed. It’s rare and nowhere near cooked. However, it actually tastes better then it looks but unfortunately it would have been sent back in a heartbeat.
Steak number three is Ailsa’s, there’s no seasoning and underneath it’s mealy. It looks like boiled beef. It’s embarrassing, again. Undercooked and inside it’s raw. “The only thing missing on this one is its horns,” Gordon says. It’s hard to swallow and it would never leave the kitchen.
The last steak is Claudia’s and it’s got a great sear, exactly what they are looking for, and underneath it’s good. The meat is two minutes short, slightly undercooked, but decent flavor. The saving grace is the seasoning and the sear underneath. What a shame it’s not perfect.
Gordon now will pick the two best steaks and therefore the two home cooks who are safe. The first steak that is head and shoulders above the rest is Derrick’s. He is victorious and says he can feel Shelly’s energy—he can’t wait to take her out. That leaves three steaks remaining, and so the other one who is safe? Is steak number four: Claudia’s. “This Latina is on fire!” she says, and she’s so glad she doesn’t have to go through the second elimination test. That means Christopher and Ailsa have to face a final challenge.
One final steak stands between them and elimination. It’s the “Rolls Royce of steak”: filet mignon. It takes more finesse than any other steak combined, and Gordon wants his cooked rare. For one of the cooks, the end is coming. They have 15 minutes to cook. Shelly wants it to be Ailsa who is safe and that Christopher will go home.
The hard thing about this steak, Gordon says, is there’s hardly any fat so you’ve got to keep basting it, and not to leave it cold in the center. It’s the hardest to cook.
Christopher says he was in survival mode in the first round but he’s in revenge mode now. Ailsa feels confident she got a nice sear, and now Christopher is second-guessing himself. He thinks he didn’t sear his steak long enough on the stove before putting it in the oven. So he puts it back into the pan and Graham and Christina are wondering what he is doing. There’s only a few minutes to go and his steak should be resting, not still cooking. And now, his steak is on fire! He can only hope that somehow Ailsa’s steak is worse than his.
Christina thinks Christopher is going home. It’s time for tasting and Ailsa thinks she couldn’t have made a better filet.
Again, we’re reminded that Gordon doesn’t know whose plate of steak is whose. Their names are underneath the dishes so they won’t be revealed until after he’s made his decision. The first plate could use a touch more color but there’s nice seasoning around the steak. A rare cook should be strong pink, and it’s slightly undercooked. Part of it is cold. But it was a strong effort.
Time for plate number two. This steak has started to caramelize, which is nice. He cuts through the center and observes that the cook is strong with steady pink throughout. After tasting he says it’s slightly heavy on the sear, maybe thirty seconds less, but it’s well done.
It’s a tough one to call he says. The first plate? Seasoned nicely, but could do with thirty seconds more of basting. The second one could use thirty seconds less. Ailsa and Christopher are squirming so much it looks like they’re practically doing the potty dance (seriously, it’s pretty uncomfortable to watch.) So, who will win? It’s either thirty seconds less or 30 seconds more. Gordon lifts one plate to read the name of the chef with a slight edge. After he puts it down, he says Ailsa’s name. She is going home. Christopher had a near perfect filet mignon.
Christopher is relieved and some other people like Veronica look upset. Christopher says Shelly made a big mistake today and she should have been the one sent home.
Gordon reassures Ailsa she should stand strong, that she’s had some “great moments” in this competition. (Really? If so the editors certainly haven’t shown us any of them. They’ve hardly shown us Ailsa at all, right from the start.) Shelly knows her gamble didn’t pay off, she wanted to send Christopher and Derrick home. She sent the wrong person packing.
Once again, I thought this was a pretty predictable episode. The Blue Team looked way too disorganized from the start to be able to pull off a win, no matter how much they tried to make the Red Team look like they were struggling because of Tommy. They tried to make it look close between Christopher and Ailsa in the final pressure test but I just knew Ailsa would be headed home; the editors have shown us so little of her from the start that she was the last “no name” contestant to get rid of in this early an episode.
But what of Shelly? They sure tried to make it look like she was floundering and deserved to go home this week, but I’m still standing by my prediction that she may make it to the very end. They could be setting her up for a “dramatic” come back or turnaround later on, especially if they now set up a rivalry between her and Derrick who just keeps looking stronger and stronger every week. Dan’s surprise sudden disappearance throws a bit of a wrench in my thoughts for the season ahead, but I really didn’t think we’d see him win it all anyway.
So those are my thoughts for this week. Do you think Shelly deserved all of the flack she was getting from her team mates? Or should others have tried harder from the start to suggest changes to their team plate?
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sockii is just your typical Jane-of-All-Trades who never has enough time in her day for all of her projects. She has written for many websites online including Squidoo, Zujava, Yahoo! Contributors Network, HubPages and Wizzley. She has been attending and vending at science fiction and media conventions for over 15 years, and for several years ran an art gallery and jewelry store in Philadelphia. Today she is happy to be living in South Jersey with her partner David and their 6 cats. Sockii is a member of several affiliate sales programs including Amazon Associates and Viglink. Products from these services may be advertised on her posts and pages to generate sales commissions.