“Is it hot in the kitchen today . . . or is it just Robbie’s muscles?”
Is there really a better opener to this episode—or this recap—than one of Marc’s trademark cheeky quips? I don’t think so. Let’s get into it.
First up is, of course, the First Task.
One of my favorite things about working at ATK is seeing the magic our test cooks can create with simple pantry staples. And today on America’s Test Kitchen: The Next Generation, we’re going to see if the contestants can work that same magic.
And so, with only 30 minutes set on Jeannie’s ice cream timer, the cooks will need to create a delicious appetizer made of three frozen ingredients and pantry staples.
With the timer ticking away, the chefs sprint toward the freezers, and frozen spinach seems to be (ironically) a hot item.Three spinach dips are being cooked up by Jessica, Corrina and Garrett.
But those three aren’t the only contestants feeling the pressure to bring originality to their dish, with Antoinette and Basil both making fried rice.
It looks like the clone wars have come from a galaxy far, far away, right here to the test kitchen.
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But how will all these similar dishes be judged?
It’s a tough job, but luckily we have guest judge Nick DiGiovanni, a social media star and the youngest ever Masterchef finalist, alongside Julia Collin-Davison to get it done.
Unfortunately, none of the spinach dip or fried rice clones get a look in during the judging, as Marc’s frozen waffles with frozen raspberry peach compote win over the judges for unexpected depth of flavor and complexity.
So does Brooke get an advantage in the Test Challenge?
She sure does. In this week’s Test Challenge, the contestants are given a notoriously fussy dish (this Beef Wellington or Chicken Cordon Bleu), and are tasked to re-envision it for time-poor home cooks.
Not only will they have to reinvent these classic dishes with flair and creativity, but there’s only 45 minutes on the ice cream cone to create their masterpieces. And what’s more, the winner of the Test Challenge will join Julia on an episode of Julia At Home as a special guest star.
Now, back to Brooke. As the winner of the first task, she has first choice of the fussy dishes and decides to go with braised lamb shanks. Then, much like the famously kind and inclusive method of high school sports team selection, each contestant chooses the next to get to pick their fussy dish.
As the cooking gets underway, Marc shoots a furtive side eye at Garrett Schlichte, accusing him of pinching a chicken breast from his workbench.
“I just want you to push yourself” Garrett responds, and the competitive heat is on between these two.
No, literally, the heat is really on because—almost as if in retaliation for the thievery—Garrett’s skillet catches fire, and a towering flame begins to blaze, reaching almost to the contestant’s iconic strands of long blond hair.
The rest of the cooks seem to be unaware of the drama though as they while away their 45 minutes. I can even see a blowtorch being deftly wielded at someone’s bench, which is not necessarily the definition of “unfussy” but I guess we’ll let it slide.
Out of the fire-filled frying pan into the . . . judging.
It’s a mixed bag when it comes to judging, as Corrina’s creative take on Beef Wellington fails to impress the judges, as Nick notices her puff pastry rosettes are underbaked and doughy, and Julia claims her steak was overly salty.
But there is justice in the test kitchen today, as Marc, still recovering from his stolen ingredient fiasco, wins the challenge with his Chicken Pot Pie Soup with Salt-and-Pepper Puff Pastry Croutons.
Do doughy rosettes and salty beef send Corrina packing?
Unfortunately, yes. Corrina is sent home having delivered the least popular dish of the day and bravely holds back tears as she leaves the test kitchen, thanking the judges and her fellow contestants.
“I’m going to continue to persevere and show the confidence I have in me. This is not the last time you’re going to see me,” she says.