|Image via Bravo|
Now, the elimination challenge was awesome. Curtis introduces Louise Benson, the chairman of the Hualapai tribal council and tells the chefs they'll be flying to the Grand Canyon in helicopters and working in pairs to prepare a family style dish using traditional Hualapai ingredients. Woohoo, Cosentino is PSYCHED. He's never been to the Grand Canyon! He's never been on a helicopter! But Takashi's afraid of heights so he's kinda freaking out. They pick knives for their partners and ingredients and lo and behold all the BFFs get put together. Art and Lorena with quail and prickly pear; Takashi and Thierry with venison and banana yucca; Cosentino and Patricia Yeo with rabbit and squash - and then Kerry and Clark the only non-BFFs leftover and clearly lesser duo with beef and corn. Not looking good for Kerry and Clark - but they do have easy ingredients (and Clark thinks he has a secret advantage because his dad was involved in Indian education at the University of Arizona…). No comment.
They all have a blast on the helicopter except Takashi who's hyperventilating in the corner. All the chefs love this challenge, they're awestruck by nature and honored to be working with the traditional Hualapai ingredients. In the cooking tent, Art and Lorena gush over one another as usual. If Art were straight, he would marry her, he loves her sauciness and he loves her sauce. Takashi's excited to be working with his longtime friend who's also well trained chef. Cosentino and Patricia get down to business. Everyone's vibing and having fun with their partners, except Kerry and Clark who are not clicking at all. Then comes the rain. It's pouring and they're stoves aren't heating. Cosentino turns into a real boy scout and flips the stove, removes the grill and starts cooking on the plancha panels. Thierry sees what a smart cookie Cosentino is and gets in on their plancha action once they're done. Thierry thought the yucca was going to be a root but it's actually the flower of the cactus and he didn't realize what kind of texture he was working with so he improvises, throws some batter on and deep-fries them because who doesn't like that. Patricia and Cosentino taste their sauce and high five, she says it's got flavor and depth. Kerry and Clark are clashing on the plating. Clark wants to go rustic, family-style and thinks Kerry is too fussy.The tribal council comes down with Curtis and judges James Oseland, Francis Lam and thematically-hair-braided Ruth Reichl. The tribe is totally adorable and everyone's equally excited to be there. Oseland thinks it's so magical he never wants to leave and makes an awkward joke and says "I want to marry you, are you single?" to one of the older women and she points to one of the younger ones who is and everyone laughs uncomfortably.
Art and Lorena are up first and babble on about how food is sharing, food is love and Patricia just wants them to shut up because the food is getting cold. They serve prickly pear barbecued quail with prickly pear slaw in a corn dressing. They all like it, one of the women says this is how her mom makes it and another tells a story about going with her aunt to pick pears on the Coloardo River. All the members of the Hualapai council love it. Reichl says her quail is overcooked but she could drink that sauce by the gallon.
After the tribe leads the chefs in a traditional maraca thank-you dance and chant, we get down to business. Takashi/Thierry and Cosentino/Patricia are the favorites. Oseland says the tribe was honored to see the Takashi and Theirry's deer and yucca on the plate in such a glamorous way. They praise Thierry for dealing with the unknown yucca (but don’t tell him about the skin!). They felt Cosentino and Patricia really honored the ingredients and say the agrodolce was a brilliant touch. We really thought it was gonna go to Cosentino and Patricia but Takashi and Thierry win and we get the amazing prize of Takashi singing "I'm So Excited" and Thierry says he's "mindbugged" (!) that he won using an ingredient he's never seen before. Cosentino should've gotten a shoutout for figuring out how to cook in the rain but it goes unmentioned.
Art, Lorena, Kerry and Clark are called back as the losers. Reichl tells Art his quail was so overcooked it was leathery. Lorena has immunity and made that amazing sauce. Art makes the mistake of saying Loreana did a beautiful job with it and Oseland is all like "oh so she made the sauce but it also basted you're quail…I see, interesting." Curtis also says it was fiddly and hard to eat. Oseland tells Kerry one of his beef sauces separated and didn't work, and then tells Clark he knows he's a very talented chef but (ouch) his corn salad was kind of like a bland succotash and Reichl adds that the textures didn't mix. In the end, Clark is sent home and it continues to feel like we're just stripping off the excess before we can get down to the final six. But who knows, maybe Kerry will surprise us.