And then there were five!
Welcome back to the eighth episode of America’s Test Kitchen: The Next Generation, where we are truly getting to the pointy end of the competition. With only five contestants remaining, this really is anyone’s game, and any dish could be these cooks’ last.
So let’s waste no time—what’s our Task Challenge all about?
There are few things more heart wrenching (and completely avoidable!) than wasting fresh food, and at ATK, our test cooks ensure that as little as possible goes to waste. In that spirit, today the contestants will be repurposing “ruined” meals to give them new life and show off their food fixes in a cooking demonstration video.
James Beard Award nominee, food educator and expert in Mexican cuisine Claudette Zepeda will be judging this challenge along with our own Dan Souza, though there won’t be any tasting involved in the judging. It’s all about food presentation and camera readiness.
So lights, camera, snacktion! Jeannie twists her pear timer and the chefs are off to their stations.
With stale bread, overcooked vegetables, dry chicken and mushy rice abundant, the contestants all seem the most concerned with how they’ll manage the cooking demonstration. Robbie, who didn’t finish in his allotted time in the previous media challenge, is wiping sweat off his brow and looking nervous, while Marc can’t seem to stop practicing his enunciation of “dinner party waffles.”
Antoinette, however, is in her element.
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“All of my fellow contestants are looking pretty nervous, so . . . that’s good for me. I feel good!” she says with a sneaky smile, knowing her skills lie not only in the kitchen but also in front of the camera.
It’s a good thing she’s feeling confident, because she’s first up in her demonstration. In true Antoinette style, she is all bubbly charisma all the way and is able to demonstrate her “dry chicken salad” hack perfectly within the time frame given.
A very nervous Robbie takes the stage next and ends up juggling a little too much to have any time to engage and share his personality with the audience.
Christina, Marc, and Garrett follow, with poor Garrett suffering a complete mind blank in the middle of their presentation.
Antoinette’s engaging presentation takes first place and proves that her confidence was well-placed, after all!
The big question is, will Antoinette repeat her habit of winning the Task Challenge and coming in bottom of the Test Challenge?
We hope not! And to help her out, Antoinette has been offered an advantage in today’s second challenge. The contestants will be given a classic, fan-favorite ATK recipe to update—just like our test cooks regularly do—and give new life.
Thanks to her advantage, Antoinette will be delegating the recipes that all her fellow contestants will be working with. She takes the crispy fried chicken for herself, giving Marc pub-style burgers, Garrett the poached salmon, Robbie the shrimp dish and Christina the pan-roasted chicken.
Unfortunately, Garrett’s plan to take their poached salmon and turn it into a ceviche dish is dashed when Jeannie visits them to mention that the recipe they are updating still needs to be titled, “Poached Salmon.”
Marc, Christina, and Antoinette also start getting nervous when their dishes are harshly criticized by Dan and Claudette. Luckily, the judges love Garrett’s revamped poached salmon dish.
And just like that, we’re down to the winner and loser of the day. Let’s do the good news first! Robbie is the ultimate victor and is also the winner of a $2,500 gift card to Amazon Fresh to stock the pantry of his dreams. With the price of eggs what they are, this prize will go a heck of a long way!
Sadly, Antoinette has repeated her pattern of ending up in the bottom of the Test Challenge after a successful Task Challenge. But it’s Christina who impressed the judges the least and will be heading home.