The atmosphere in the hangar is tense as the remaining rivals gather for one of the Chairman's most difficult challenges: the ingredient auction. Having survived the auction last season, Chefs Falkner and Guarnaschelli know what they're in for. "This was a really, really cool one, but a really stressful one," Chef Falkner reflects.
Given that this is a test of risk, Chef Mehta knows that he shouldn't settle for a supposedly safe ingredient and holds out on bidding until Alton reveals ostrich eggs. He and Chef Appleman exchange bids, but ultimately Chef Mehta wins the war and claims these extra-large eggs for 25 minutes.
Chef Falkner has won paiche, an exotic fish, in the auction and has 50 minutes to cook it. She puts all parts of the fish to work in her dish by pan-roasting fillets, smoking the loin and making deep-fried chips with its scales. "This fish is a challenge for me. That's why I bid on it," she explains.
Once again struggling to simply begin working with her ingredient, Chef Freitag wastes valuable moments of her 40 minutes trying to break open the wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano. After the inside is finally revealed, she gets to work preparing a cheese plate, featuring shortbread, soufflé and ice cream.
This is Chef Mehta's first experience cooking ostrich eggs, and he has 25 minutes to make these thick-shelled beauties shine. He decides to feature the eggs in a side-by-side duo of soufflé and French toast ice cream, but Alton warns him of the pesky ice cream machine, "This device has meant doom for so many before you."
After last week's win, Chef Falkner is given the substantial advantage of judging her competitors and picking one to compete in the Showdown. With this power, she's reminded of Super Chefs competitor Anne Burrell, who was ousted after she, too, had this advantage in last year's auction. "If it is an instant replay, I need to change the way the dice rolls at the end," Chef Falkner says.
Iron Chef Zakarian calls elements of Chef Alex's dish of bison steak and potatoes "to the book delicious," but the panel questions whether her only risk of the day — stealing beef tongue and fat from Chef Marcel's calf's head — is indeed a large enough risk to take in this test. She's ultimately pardoned, Alton says, because her offering is simply "the tastiest dish of the day."
In the ultimate culinary coincidence, Chef Falkner, just like Chef Anne Burrell last year, is deemed by the judges the least successful rival of the day, and she's forced to compete in the Secret Ingredient Showdown against the rival she chose, Chef Appleman. "I can't believe I'm in this Showdown. I think there were other, weaker dishes," she explains.
In a Next Iron Chef first, the Chairman has looked to Redemption fans to choose this week's Secret Ingredient, and they have responded in droves, voting for anchovies to be the star of the Showdown. "The good news is redemption is possible," Alton tells them. "The bad news is it'll only be possible for one of you."
Chef Falkner begins her salute to anchovies by making Caesar dressing, which she says "is probably the most common thing that people have had anchovy in." She turns this dressing into chilled mini rounds and will serve them with fried anchovies and fregola, an Italian couscous, with sardines and saffron.
Simply because of too much saffron in her fregola, Chef Falkner is eliminated from the competition after five hard-fought weeks. Reflecting on the elimination, she says, "There's something fantastical about Iron Chef. It is the only title that matters to me, so not having that really makes me mad."