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S16.E11: The Greatest

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The chefs take a turn at fried chicken; chef Art Smith judges a secret herbs-and-spices blind taste test ahead of the Quickfire fry-off; after the finger-licking goodness, the chefs turn their attention to boxer Muhammad Ali, aka the Louisville Lip.

Air date: February 14, 2019

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Have we seen Justin in glasses before and I just didn't notice?

I like fried chicken, but don’t drool over it like many people do.  So I was only mildly interested to see what everyone did in the QF, but I was curious to see how Justin dealt with not being able to use salt; it’s interesting that he overcame that just fine, but overcooked it. 

(I always enjoy the blindfolded “identify the ingredient” challenge, because the cheftestants are always surprised by how many they miss.)

I’ve never seen Laila Ali fight, because I dislike boxing, but I’ve seen her compete on Chopped, and she’s an impressive woman.  And, of course, her dad was The Greatest.  So I was excited all around for this EC.

I love how moved Eric was by the opportunity, and his dish was totally unfamiliar to me so I enjoyed hearing about it and am glad he got the win, even though my taste buds weren't particularly tickled by the sight/description of it.

I'm not surprised Sara was the other favorite; her dish looked/sounded nice and light to start, and I love when something simple comes together perfectly.  I also think she incorporated the story of the fight well.  She had a very strong two days.

I know the judges said someone would be going home for a good dish, and they had to nitpick, but to me Eddie was a no-brainer to get the knife.  His dish came across as fine but ho-hum, and I don't think having to switch meats had much to do with that - he didn't seem to think about the fight or Ali's overall legacy at all.  Justin may have been a little simple in his take-away, but there was some thought there and his soup sounded good.  Adrienne's spicy ribs sounded great and it's good she was told she had no clue about Filipino food because once she dug deeper and looked for inspiration in the details of the fight, she made a great dish.  Kelsey's bread pudding sounded surprisingly - since I'm not much of a bread pudding fan - tasty, and I really liked the layers of story she told with that dish.  So I was glad Adrienne and Kelsey were both readily declared safe from elimination.

Edited by Bastet
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What is with this calling people mama?  At least they have a relationship.  I placed a take out order the other day the female server kept calling me mama.  It bothered me so much it took everything I had not to say something to her.  Is this a regional thing? I also hate when people call me "hon."   Ugh!!  

So is it about the food, or about the story?  I am confused. 

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Just spit-balling here; I think Eric is getting a winner's edit and Kelsey the fan favorite.  Outside chance Eddy comes back and wins....

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3 minutes ago, xaxat said:

t's gratifying how Ali's image has changed over time. I remember the seventies when many considered him a draft dodging uppity negro Muslim.

I'm not sure it is "gratifying."  I was a teen in the 70s and remember him as a draft-dodger.  Not a Muslim expert but my guess is the religion does not avow shirtless men slugging the hell out of each other.  I don't mind he has somehow become a beloved figure; marketing is a fun study.

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14 minutes ago, albarino said:

Not a Muslim expert but my guess is the religion does not avow shirtless men slugging the hell out of each other

It’s a sport not prohibited by Islam.

Edited by biakbiak
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3 minutes ago, albarino said:

Not a Muslim expert but my guess is the religion does not avow shirtless men slugging the hell out of each other.

There's some debate about it, as there is with many Christians. Quakers on the other hand. . . 

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37 minutes ago, catrice2 said:

What is with this calling people mama? 

This seems to be a trend in reality TV.  The first time I remember someone constantly saying it was Heather from the Real Housewives of NYC.    I'm not sure what got it started!

It's interesting that we went from packaged waffle mix last week to bottled hot sauce this week.  I chanted "homemade, homemade" as I watched.   Some things just come back to bite one in the ass.  😉

Edited by ChitChat
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So happy Eric won. Loved the story & I want to try a fufu. He’s also local so I’m biased!

And I love fried chicken & never eat it. I looked to see if uber eats delivered KFC. It does but I fought it. I see myself there this weekend!

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Eddie was the right choice but I sure felt badly for him. He couldn't connect to the challenge in the way everyone else did. I am not sad to see him go, but I always feel sorry for the chefs who go in these types of challenges, even though they are TC regulars.

Yay for Eric! He knocked it out of the park. It looked like Padma's eyes got a bit watery too. I could feel his emotions through the TV so I'm sure it was a moving JT.

It was really nice to see them all work together with no BS and no drama (once Sarah recovered from her tantrum). They seem like a really nice group of people and the only one I don't want to see win is Sarah. I'd be happy with any of the others. 

Edited by Squirrely · Reason: typo
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Confession:. I love KFC (original), their mashed potatoes and gravy, cole slaw and biscuits.  A special treat.

I thought maybe they'd have the chefs try to guess the Colonel's secret recipe!

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What is with everyone pickling everything? Not a fan of pickled food.

Both Sara's win in the quickfire and second place finish seemed scripted to me.

I did think the right person won this week but was sorry to see Eddie leave. This is pure conjecture since I haven't watched LCK yet and they never show the winner in the last episode besides, but I'm pretty sure he's going to win LCK.

Apart from Sara, I thought most of the treatments this week were pretty interesting, but still not quite up to the level I expect from my one time favorite show.

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10 minutes ago, The Solution said:

This is pure conjecture since I haven't watched LCK yet and they never show the winner in the last episode besides, but I'm pretty sure he's going to win LCK.

I won't spoil you on who won LCK, but just FYI, they did announce the winner. I was surprised they didn't hold off!

I was having trouble seeing how they were going to work a dinner around boxing matches, but I thought it went well, and I agree it was nice to see them working well together.  

Edited by akr
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18 minutes ago, Thumper said:

I thought maybe they'd have the chefs try to guess the Colonel's secret recipe!

I toyed with that idea, too.  I've only had KFC once - it was about 15 years ago on a road trip - but I know the umpteen herbs/spices recipe is a trade secret guarded like Ft. Knox, so I briefly wondered if they'd be asked to taste the chicken (I'm assuming KFC has different flavor options, so one version per chef, two chefs for each version, whatever) and try to replicate it, with whomever's tasted the most like the KFC version they were trying to replicate being the winner.  But then I figured that it would be hard to judge and they wouldn't even want to mess with the chefs all talking about what flavors they detected in the KFC chicken.

1 hour ago, xaxat said:

It's gratifying how Ali's image has changed over time. I remember the seventies when many considered him a draft dodging uppity negro Muslim.

A similar thought passed through my mind, and it's nice how general consensus changed before he died.

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26 minutes ago, RealityWatcher said:

I'm honestly not sad to see Eddie go. I haven't quite gotten over his spending over 1/3 of his team's budget in the earlier episode, even though he seemed to genuinely feel bad about it after. 

Unfortunately, it cost the elimination of one of his team members - because they had to scrimp on lemons.   He also got to sit out an entire challenge last week because he won the quick fire.  It was Eddie's time. He's been hit and miss.

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11 minutes ago, avecsans said:

So it’s back to being called Kentucky Fried Chicken instead of KFC?  The product placement is so ham- handed this season. The local table and chair rental company even got a mention and a shot of their truck.

I always enjoy the blindfolded taste test. I would be lucky to name salt and pepper correctly.

I’m old enough to remember Muhammad Ali in his prime and I also loved the moment when he lit the Olympic flame in Atlanta. I thought this challenge was kind of contrived but I was very happy for Eric. It clearly meant so much to him.

NotGail needs to tone it down a few hundred notches. She is so loud and seemed to dominate the judges’ table. I’m going to need Gail back asap. I think Nilou (is that her name?)is auditioning for her job.

I wonder what this “gala” was? It seemed to be only white people in the crowd.

I miss Gail, too.  She is a stable influence in the judges, IMO.

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For anyone interested, there’s an incredible documentary on Muhammad Ali and the Rumble in the Jungle called When We Were Kings.  I can’t recommend it enough.

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I cried at Eric’s win!  How meaningful for him. I kinda knew it would be him given the call home to his wife at the beginning. 

KFC was a low bar for a show sponsor!  Tim and padma had to be privately dying inside to have to shill it. 

Kelsey is awesome; I hope to see her in the finals. Didn’t expect to like her and her cooking as much as I do!  

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1 hour ago, catrice2 said:

What is with this calling people mama?  At least they have a relationship.  I placed a take out order the other day the female server kept calling me mama.  It bothered me so much it took everything I had not to say something to her.  Is this a regional thing? I also hate when people call me "hon."   Ugh!!  

I’m on the east coast and it’s an irritatingly common thing 😞

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36 minutes ago, The Solution said:

What is with everyone pickling everything? Not a fan of pickled food.

Both Sara's win in the quickfire and second place finish seemed scripted to me.

I did think the right person won this week but was sorry to see Eddie leave. This is pure conjecture since I haven't watched LCK yet and they never show the winner in the last episode besides, but I'm pretty sure he's going to win LCK.

Apart from Sara, I thought most of the treatments this week were pretty interesting, but still not quite up to the level I expect from my one time favorite show.

If you don't give judges pickled crap for their acidity cravings and cutting the richness of dishes then you will get dinged for it.   It's so odd to see how contrast is a MUST now in food.....god forbid if something doesn't have texture or crunchiness...acid, salt, heat.....basically anything that contrasts the main note of the food.  I remember early episodes of Iron Chef (the Japanese version) and the food had to be spectacularly underseasoned to let the nuance come through.  It was considered an art.   Morimoto did interviews where he said he had to change his flavor profiles for an American palate or he wouldn't win at all.  

Felt like Sara's QF was scripted....and her pickled starter course seemed like an odd choice for a win.   I really thought we'd hit a new low there in terms of overall talent of this year's chefs.   If this indicative of the groups we have left then this show is winding down.   Sara also doesn't this weird thing with her lips protruding in a buck tooth kind of way when she gets nervous and pleased with herself.  I find her entire affect fake.

I think it's smart to make obscure foods where there aren't many comparisons LOL.   When I saw him make the dish I was excited that he used grain free flours.  Chewy.

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29 minutes ago, twilightzone said:

Unfortunately, it cost the elimination of one of his team members - because they had to scrimp on lemons.   He also got to sit out an entire challenge last week because he won the quick fire.  It was Eddie's time. He's been hit and miss.

Their biggest criticism of her dish was the crust not the lack of lemons.

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12 minutes ago, rhys said:

Did Sara only smell (not taste) during the challenge?

It's hard to tell because footage of that part of the QF was so truncated, and I can't specifically remember what they showed of Sara's portion, but I figure all of them sniffed first and tasted only if they couldn't figure it out (since each item they tasted made it more difficult to taste the next one, and I don't think smell is dulled to the same extent taste is).  But, while I can't remember if we saw her tasting anything, I know we saw a lot of her smelling, and she was right about her nose being a great tool.  In one QF, Sara finally and totally lived up to all the bragging she does -- her sniffer is, indeed, impressive, and she can, indeed, turn out perfect fried chicken.

(I should state for the record her "I can nail X dish" confidence only bothered me once, back near the beginning when Nini interrupted her litany of dishes she could do to perfection by asking, okay, which one did she want.  But it is noticeable as a pattern.)

Edited by Bastet
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Sorry, couldn't watch this.  I despise boxing, an activity where the aim is to injure someone.  What it has to do with food, god only knows.  I don't mean to open this up to a discussion for or against boxing (not the place), but I don't want to see it on a cooking show.

Perhaps I'll check in to see the results.

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1 minute ago, Fukui San said:

We weren't shown Sarah tasting anything in the Quickfire, but she must have. Salt, for instance, has no smell that I'm aware of.

It’s quick but it does look like she dipped her finger and tasted it off that, though the lack of smell would have been a big clue that it was a salt because very few spices don’t have a smell. It’s super smart on a challenge like this to rely on your nose so you don’t burn out your palette. She seemed very confident of her nose. It reminded me of my father who has a similar abitly to identify anything by smell.

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13 minutes ago, Brookside said:

Sorry, couldn't watch this.  I despise boxing, an activity where the aim is to injure someone.  What it has to do with food, god only knows.  I don't mean to open this up to a discussion for or against boxing (not the place), but I don't want to see it on a cooking show.

If it is truly only about seeing boxing the only thing that is shown is a few still pictures of him fighting.

I thought it was funny that Eric won with fufu because he was just on the Pack Your Knives podcast and he and the host were talking Ghanaian food and how neither like fufu and both prefer banku as the starch side to eat the meal with.

Eric has the most EC wins this season.

55 minutes ago, Fukui San said:

Tom: He used fish to represent Lewiston, Maine? That's nowhere near the ocean.*

THE PREVIOUS COURSE

 Tom: Yes, Kentucky salmon. That's a thing we are all familiar with.

Did he actually say that about Kentucky salmon? I didn’t hear that but if your being sarcastic I think it’s because Justin is the one who connected the fight being in Maine to choosing seafood. The location component of Sarah’s dish was the thunder and lightning not the salmon. 

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2 hours ago, Thumper said:

Confession:. I love KFC (original), their mashed potatoes and gravy, cole slaw and biscuits.  A special treat.

I thought maybe they'd have the chefs try to guess the Colonel's secret recipe!

I'm glad Eric won. I think more than ever that production kept Sarah unfairly for this particular competition.

I like their cole slaw and biscuits that's it. I wish they would dump their 11 herbs and spices into their extra crispy batter because I hate the coating on the original. I also hate their mashed potatoes. Popeye's m.p. is so much better as is their chicken but their coleslaw sucks.

I've heard from many older than me that KFC now is no where near what they used to serve in terms of flavor and quality.

Chicago Tribune had an article about a recipe found in a family photo album by a nephew of the Colonel.

https://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/travel/ct-kfc-recipe-revealed-20160818-story.html

https://www.thekitchn.com/i-tried-kfcs-secret-fried-chicken-recipe-and-heres-how-it-went-235751

As for it being a secret I believe one family member got to have their own restaurant where they sold the herb and spices mixture to the general public.

A couple of years back there was a tin of the mixture from the 60s or 70s  up for auction on eBay.

I found this, it has pictures of the front and back.

https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/claudia-sanders-magic-flavor-chicken-814679144

Edited by Giselle
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Padma’s hair was very pretty tonight.  She does simple so well.  The rest is always such a question mark for me.

japanese grandmother?  I missed that tidbit along the way....I don’t see Asian in him.  Pretty wild.

I’m tired of the fried chicken this season.  It’s good but we’ve seen enough variation of it already.

Sad to see Art get so heavy again.  Did he get the full surgery?  I went to his restaurant in Chicago and it was super delicious.  And he was back there barking LOL.

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18 minutes ago, biakbiak said:

Did he actually say that about Kentucky salmon? I didn’t hear that but if your being sarcastic I think it’s because Justin is the one who connected the fight being in Maine to choosing seafood. The location component of Sarah’s dish was the thunder and lightning not the salmon. 

No, Tom didn't actually say that. Just an exaggeration for effect on my part.

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52 minutes ago, HappyDancex2 said:

japanese grandmother?  I missed that tidbit along the way....I don’t see Asian in him.  Pretty wild.

He has mentioned his stepmother a few times.  It's possible one of his biological parents is Japanese/part Japanese.  But it's also possible that his Japanese grandma shown in this episode is a grandma through marriage. 

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10 minutes ago, Irlandesa said:

He has mentioned his stepmother a few times.  It's possible one of his biological parents is Japanese/part Japanese.  But it's also possible that his Japanese grandma shown in this episode is a grandma through marriage. 

Justin is multiracial. His grandparents met when his grandfather (Norwegian by way of Iowa) was stationed in Japan. Other side of his family were Mississippi sharecroppers.

Edited by biakbiak
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1 minute ago, chabelisaywow said:

So Adrienne gave Sarah shit for boxed waffle mix - but she uses bottle hot sauce?  Uh OK.

On a dish with several components and other heat sources not a chicken and hot sauce dish not the same at all. I thought Tom was weird for even pointing it out since lots of people have used purchased hot sauces as a component in the past. Not to mention she had reinvented her dish after she had shopped. 

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Did I hear Eric say the Rumble in the Jungle was in what’s now Republic of the Congo? If so, that’s wrong. It’s Democratic Republic of the Congo, different country. Which is in Central Africa, not West. Although fufu still works. Wish he could have included some Pili Pili somewhere or done moambe.

I have a feeling that even if Eddie could have gotten duck, he still wouldn’t have connected with the fight and would have been out.

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