Ultimately, it's Chefs Nate and Jehangir who've made the weakest dishes of the day, and neither one is pleased to be cooking for his survival this late in the competition. "Two Secret Ingredient Showdowns in a row — this is not where I wanted to be," Chef Nate explains. "I was quite upset," Chef Jehangir adds.
The rivals meet Alton in Las Vegas for a mystery wedding, but it turns out that the blissful union they're expecting to find doesn't exist. Instead, the Chairman cooks up a test of fusion that will challenge them to pair culinary odd couples on one plate. "The problem with fusion is that you can easily end up with confusion," Chef Alex Guarnaschelli explains.
Putting his advantage to work, Chef Marcel chooses for himself the easiest ingredient match: peanut butter and blue cheese. "I want to save myself, and then just, like, murder everybody else," he says of his strategy. He assigns bone marrow and fruit candies to Chef Mehta, chicken livers and peppermint to Chef Guarnaschelli, clams and strawberries to Chef Appleman and squid and marshmallows to Chef Freitag.
Chef Nate opts for an acqua pazza, which translates to crazy water in Italian, to showcase his clams and strawberries. It's traditionally prepared with tomatoes, but today he's letting ripe berries be the star of the dish. "They both have a really nice sweetness and nice acidity," he says, comparing tomatoes and strawberries.
Even with the disparate ingredient combination of chicken livers and peppermints, Chef Alex finds one of her greatest challenges to be cooking in a small kitchen. She manages to score a few stovetop burners to reduce peppermints in balsamic vinegar, which she'll serve with a salad and chicken liver mousse. "I tried to imagine what would happen if a mint-candy truck crashed into a French bistro," she explains.
"I don't ever think seafood should be paired with marshmallows," Chef Freitag says, but nevertheless, she's tasked with marrying calamari with these soft, sweet bites. She adds a bit of horseradish to marshmallow cream to strip it of its sweetness, and serves the mixture with grilled squid, fried tentacles and a warm, smoky Hungarian paprika sauce.
Although he's never before tasted flavored fruit candies, Chef Mehta devises a plan to strip them of their traditional candy flavor and feature them in a chimichurri sauce alongside grilled bone marrow. Not completely satisfied with the lime candies as they are, however, Chef Mehta uses them to make new candies, this time rolled in chili salt and deep-fried.
"This is the one I've been dreading," Simon Majumdar tells Chef Freitag of her mismatched ingredients. He and the rest of the panel, however, are pleasantly surprised by what he calls an "incredibly successful" marriage, and her dish is named the best of the day. "I'm the only chef that has won two challenges," Chef Freitag says excitedly.
Despite a potential lack of fusion in her dish, Chef Alex is deemed safe from the Secret Ingredient Showdown on account of its standout taste, and while she's overcome with relief, she knows she needs to bring her A-game in the future. "While I don't want to be on the bottom, I certainly would like to win," she notes. "I think it's time for me to deliver some really refined dishes to the judges."
Instead of battling in a traditional kitchen, Chefs Appleman and Mehta meet Alton at Shibuya, a Japanese restaurant, for a shrimp showdown teppanyaki-style. In this head-to-head cook-off, they have access to only a flattop griddle and limited pantry ingredients, but both are confident in working with shrimp.
Chef Appleman sets off to make okonomiyaki, a Japanese pancake, with shrimp and fresh peas, although on his first attempt at flipping the pancake, it falls apart. "It's a disaster," he admits. "I start to panic at this moment." Luckily, he's able to change his pancake preparation and successfully flip enough okonomiyaki for the judges.
Despite the effort Chef Appleman puts into his pancake, it's deemed the weakest element of his dish. The lemon-scented shrimp head, however, which he decides to feature with just minutes left to cook, is the star of the plate, with Simon calling it "a delivery system for some extra flavor."