It’s a battle of the “young guns” on Knife Fight with two twenty-somethings cooking their youthful patooties off for the chance to be on television for approximately twenty-three minutes.
So who are these chef de fame? First up is Brian Huskey, a not-so-Top-Chef from a season I definitely watched but do not remember, and Mei Lin, a sous chef for Chef Voltaggio, another Top Chef regular. The vagueness leads me to believe it’s the lesser of the Voltaggios, and good luck figuring out which that means. Sigh. These television chefs are seriously exhausting.
The three secret ingredients that the chefs must use in at least two dishes over the course of one hour are:
Taro root: potential for poisoning
Aloe vera: potential for sliminess
Silkie chicken: just like regular chicken only scrawny and an unappetizing shade of blue
The crowd seems extra hipsterific, likely due to the contestants’ lack of years. Mei starts out by de-sliming the aloe vera whereas Brian goes straight for the blue chicken to begin a chicken stock. There’s blood orange and tangerines added to the aloe vera and Mei Lin busts out a quick and early first dish– spinach salad with citrus and aloe vera. It is received well, but it’s still just a salad.
Next, Mei attempts a congee. The bird’s neck gets hacked up like a teen in a horror movie and Brian’s pressure cooker goes up in flames. “That smell is pressure cooker handle melting.” Oops? We learn from Mei that pressure cooking cuts the cooking time in half “by the pressure of the heat.” Uh, thanks for that insight.
Brian finally pulls a dish together. His first plate is cilantro braised silkie chicken with polenta cream and aloe vera. “The whole thing’s a little rubbery.” “A little salty.” Plus, it contains cilantro, the world’s most disgusting herb.
Brian moves onto the taro root. He brings out the flavor and purees it in the blender. Mei treats it like a baked potato and makes some chips. She overcooks the chips and has to start over which probably will not be her downfall even though the editing is all “OMG WILL SHE OR WON’T SHE?!”
Grilled tangerine? Okay. I would try that at home. Brian also grills the aloe vera which looks decidedly less delicious. He drizzles some goop on there and presents the plate to the judges. Seared aloe vera with taro puree and spinach. Honestly, I would never order that from a menu but it looks super pretty and tasty. The judges are cautiously optimistic.
Mei’s congee looks like someone ate a plate of whatever the last chef cooked and didn’t get to the bathroom soon enough so whoops! Right on the plate. But the silkie congee with taro chips is a hit with the judges, so looks can be deceiving.
Both chefs attempt a dessert with their final minutes. Mei presents mixed berry panko streusel. The judges are disappointed and sense that it was a rushed, half-assed effort. Brian’s dessert looks a little more considered. He presents the judges with a fried egg with aloe vera and taro. Um, that’s not a dessert. And the taro is raw. And toxic. Oops?
The congee is deemed the Best Dish Of The Night by all three of the judges, so she wins, right? She should win. Brian tried to poison the judges. The winner is Mei Lin! Yes! Despite that sad looking spinach salad, she cooked a few circles around the competition.