The Chairman sends the remaining rivals to Nickel Diner in Los Angeles for a test of innovation. Instead of putting their signature spins on classic diner dishes, however, they'll elevate international comfort foods: the Vietnamese banh mi sandwich, Mexican taco and Mediterranean falafel.
Back at Kitchen Stadium, the chefs have only one hour to take their assigned dish to the next innovative level. Chef Vigneron, part of Team Falafel, focuses his offering on chickpeas, falafel's main ingredient, and showcases them in three ways: a chickpea salad, fried chickpeas and pureed tahini.
Alton unveils white bread as the secret ingredient in this ladies-only showdown with Chefs Estes, Falkner and Freitag. Their challenge is to take this everyday pantry staple and turn it into something worthy of Kitchen Stadium. "How am I going to make that taste good?" Chef Estes wonders.
After Simon called her Chairman's Challenge dish, a banh mi-inspired pasta, "a bit of a mess" with "fusion confusion," Chef Falkner is determined to redeem herself in this potentially final battle. "Everything's on the line," she explains. "It makes me angry and it makes me want to fight very hard."
"She's in beast mode right now," Chef Greenspan says of Chef Freitag as he watches the cook-off unfold. For Chef Freitag, this 30-minute head-to-head-to-head battle is nothing short of intense. "Now there's a one-in-three chance that I could go home," Chef Freitag says, "so the Secret Ingredient Showdown is a war."
Chef Estes' approach to the showdown is simple: "My strategy is to elevate the white bread. That's what Iron Chefs do; they take an ingredient of any caliber and they make it incredible." She opts to prepare freshly made ravioli filled with runny egg yolk and bacon fat-laced croutons.
"I wanted to make the bread the best I could," Chef Estes tells the judges, but ultimately it's not enough, as she's sent home, her egg yolk-filled ravioli falling short of her competitors' dishes. "It's crazy disappointing to want something so bad and then be told you can't have it," an emotional Chef Estes says after the competition.