Bringing Home the Bacon — Critical Moments

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Rival Chefs Nate Appleman and Amanda Freitag leaving Marcel Vigneron and Alex Guarnaschelli in the bottom at for the Chairman's Challenge "Transcendence" as seen on Food Network’s Season 5.

Photo by: Eddy Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Eddy Chen/Creel Films, 2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

The four remaining chefs were asked to transform the much-maligned Las Vegas buffet into something worthy of Kitchen Stadium Sunday night.

After legendary magician David Copperfield pronounced that bacon was to be the main ingredient, Chef Freitag paired herself with Chef Appleman to face off against the decidedly odd couple of Chef Guarnaschelli and Chef Vigneron.

The end results brought some real highs and some very definite lows on both sides. I thought that Chefs Freitag and Appleman’s salad lacked any of the announced lime and jalapeno dressing, leaving it bland and tasteless. Their dessert called “The Elvis,” however, still ranks as one of the very best tastes of the whole competition.

Chefs Guarnaschelli and Vigneron produced two triumphant dishes in the form of bacon-wrapped bacon and sublime roast chicken. But they let themselves down by presenting undercooked leeks and a chocolate mousse that was grainy and unpalatable. It was enough to send them both to the Secret Ingredient Showdown to battle it out for a spot in the finale.

The quest to pair chocolate with protein showed just how creative and skilled both these chefs are. I marked Chef Vigneron down, however, for presenting a piece of lamb so rare it was almost bleating. I felt it was a far bigger flaw than his opponent’s lack of seasoning on a deep-fried duck heart .

Although there was a long and heated debate, in the end the three judges reached a unanimous agreement that Chef Vigneron would be the next chef to hear the words “I am sorry, but you will not be The Next Iron Chef.”

That left Chef Guarnaschelli joining Chef Frietag and Chef Appleman in the final battle to reach Kitchen Stadium. It’s going to be one heck of a showdown.

What did you think of the episode? Tell me in the comments below.

Relive the episode and take a look at an extended preview of next week’s final episode below (click the play button):

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