Stefan is down in the dumps, lamenting the "birthday curse" that plagued his previous season, with several of his competitors strangely getting eliminated on their respective b-days. This is especially an issue since the day of the current challenge... Stefan's 45th. Will the birthday curse live on?
The chefs split into teams of two for the Quickfire Challenge, serving breakfast-on-a-stick to the fish market workers on the pier. The only really standout team, simply because they absolutely hate each other, is John Tesar and Josh (guy from Oklahoma with the twirly mustache) -- funnily enough, the two work great together, making a tiny breakfast taco that had my mouth watering. The team of Hawaiian dishwasher-turned-executive-chef Sheldon and Belgian Bart pull off the win with a breakfast sandwich, which is mostly nice because poor Bart was falling all over himself in a rush to get everything done, earning immunity in the process.
The teams stick together for the Elimination Challenge, making dishes that spotlight artisanal ingredients ranging from cheese curds to salmon candy to spicy dill pickles. Like always, good news for the teams that gelled together well in the Quickfire, bad news for those who were already starting to butt heads. It's kind of funny to see Josh and John (and actually several other teams) each talk about how they see something wrong with the way the other is working, but being afraid to speak up for fear of tempers erupting. And wouldn't you know it, the judges absolutely hate their dish. This is in a way the theme of the episode: chefs that were afraid to fight for their dish because they didn't want to step on their teammate's toes.
Something was in the air this week. Judges were grumpy and disliked the vast majority of the dishes, plus several of the teams clashed and threw their team members under the bus. In particular, Tom Colicchio chides the competitors for their lack of originality and takes the $10000 prize off the table. This seemed like quite the overreaction, especially considering the chefs were given only two hours immediately after a draining Quickfire, and also because the elimination isn't until the next day. So... why not prepare the dishes and cook/serve on the second day?
Alas, the birthday curse is broken as Tall Guy CJ and John are taken out of the game for an apparently awful pork burger with a spicy dill pickle. The rest of the competitors are certain that CJ will run through everyone else on Last Chance Kitchen and will rejoin the show later, but the fact that he went out so early doesn't bode well for his chances. It's too bad seeing a returning competitor go home already, but I prefer CJ take the bullet rather than John Tesar or Stefan.
Final Grade: B-