Chef Tell: Fondue, Feasting with Fallon and a Fond Farewell

It's cool people, Dallas' final cheftestant, the last vestige of Lone Star love, still stands. I'm just going to go ahead and tell you that now. But I'm not pleased with Tiffany Derry. No, save her smile, her performance last night was no where near impressive. Details? Of course. Follow me.

For the Quickfire, it seemed that some important detail had fallen through, or perhaps a shipment of something awesome hadn't arrived. The challenge took us all to that weird back corner in the cabinet where things reside that you wish you had time to use, but don't unless you're throwing a fantastic shower, or, I suppose, an Ice Storm-themed key party or something.

There were just a line of fondue pots waiting. Padma was all: Make a fondue! A unique one! Go for it! Yay! It all seemed especially lackluster considering there was no guest judge, just the chefs voting for their favorites and least favorites. Oh, and there was no immunity. And the winner got a three-day trip to Napa Valley, which, at this point is like, soooo ho hum. Right?

Blais pulled out the freezy gas, Antonia channeled her mom, Mike Isabella had a horrible idea (spiced lamb in feta fondue) and Angelo looked like he'd shat his pants about five minutes into the challenge. It was predictable and uncomfortable at best.

Fabio, Tiff and Mike Isabella owned the bottom, while Antonia (are you noticing her consistency?), Dale and Angelo (despite the face) aced the challenge. Dale won the long weekend and a tour of wine sponsor Terlato Vineyards...where hopefully, there's a spot he can sneak out to with his one-hitter.

The Elimination Challenge was pretty awesome. With no direction (though, we saw the commercials so we totally knew), the group was sent to 30 Rock, and led into a noisy studio. Jimmy Fallon's studio. They were contestants on Cell Phone Shootout, and had to snap a photo of, essentially, a culinary slot machine showing Jimmy's favorite foods. Whatever they snapped, they had to make for his birthday lunch the next day at Colicchio & Sons.

Antonia: beef tongue
Fabio: burger and fries ("I never done a boooorger, booooger. Burrrgers. I can't even pronounce them.")
Angelo: pulled pork sandwich
Blais: ramen
Dale: Philly cheesesteak
Tiffany: chicken & dumplings
Mike Isabella: sausage & peppers
Carla: chicken pot pie (and she screamed and freaked out with joy)

They got 45 minutes to shop Whole Foods and two hours to cook their dishes in the Colicchio & Sons kitchen. Also, they were not to use Jimmy's most hated foods: mushrooms, mayo and eggplant.

After a big ol' awkward Buitoni product placement scene wherein the chefs were artificially enthusiastic about cooking refrigerated ravioli, the chefs were in the kitchen.

And then Tiffany misfired. Hard core. She decided to do a "Southwestern" take on chicken and dumplings. Yeah. When you're cooking someone's favorite foods, better not make the best version of the classic you can, but change it up a bunch and add a whole scene to it that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Screw the comfy gravy, give them spicy broth!  No, no, no.

Anyway. The judges were Tom, Gail, Padma, and, of course, Jimmy Fallon. The entire lunch sequence was pretty punny and entertaining considering his right-hand Higgins, and his head writer were seated at the table. Unfortunately, you could tell exactly who didn't make the cut immediately, without waiting for the commercial break or rewinding to review.

And it was Fabio with his meatloaf burger, Dale with his salt monster cheesesteak, and Tiffany with her lame chick-n-dump.

But it was Antonia (who, I should note, was instructed on how to pressure cook her beef tongue in the time allotted by Blais), Angelo and Carla in the top. And Carla took home the win for her love-filled, crust-on-the-bottom-too chicken pot pie. She also won her third trip -- a six-night stay in the Hilton Tokyo and $5000 for airfare.

Frankly, I think Dale should've gone home. As Jimmy pointed out, since day one the chefs should be tasting their food and if he had he would have known it was over-salted. Tiffany sneaked by too, but just barely. And Fabio, wonderful Fabio, was sent packing knives.

After thanking Tom for the use of his kitchen and telling Jimmy he loved him, Fabio left with humor and class...and I'll say it, I miss him already.

"Jimmy, I will cook a burger for you one day in the future and you will go on your knee and beg for forgiveness because you sent me home today," he said, grinning from ear to ear.

"People should look at me for consistency and perserverence. If I made it in this country in the way that I'm trying to do it, the road is there, guys. I mean, you should just go for it, you know? You really are the only shadow standing in your own sunshine."

And then that accent faded away and the previews for next week began. Elmo. That's right. Elmo.
[fists to the sky] FABIOOOOOOOOO!!!

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Merritt Martin
Contact: Merritt Martin