S1E12 – Semi-Final 1

Employment Status: 2 Rejection E-mails… 

To determine which two chefs would be going to the finale, the contestants were paired off and challenged to beat each other head-to-head by cooking three different dishes in just two hours. David and Sheetal were the first pairing and they were asked to make Veal Milanese, Apple Pie and Clam Chowder.

Sheetal chose to stick to fairly traditional interpretations of the dishes, while David decided to put his own twist on each. This resulted in him winning the overall challenge, having prepared two better dishes than Sheetal.

Round 1: Clam Chowder – David Wins

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Round 2: Apple Pie – Sheetal Wins

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Round 3: Veal Milanese – David Wins

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For my attempts at these dishes, I decided to stick to the traditional route and follow the recipes since I had never made any of these dishes before. For the clam chowder, I used this recipe: New England Clam Chowder. Since I was only cooking for me, I got just one pound of littleneck clams and then estimated proportions on the rest of the ingredients. I added carrots for some additional color but pretty much stuck to the recipe as given. I am not a big clam chowder fan, in general, but this was DELICIOUS! The broth did not get too thick and everything tasted really nice and fresh. The only thing I would have liked to be different was to have a few more clams but that is definitely an easy fix.

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To make the apple pie, I used these recipes: Old Fashioned Apple Pie and Pate Brisee. This was another recipe that I made a much smaller version than the original, but I did stick completely to the recipe. The pie dough was surprisingly easy to make. I had always bought the pre-made dough before because I was too intimidated to make it from scratch. But it really was so simple, and it really made a difference. The crust was flaky and perfect. However, the filling was a little tart for my taste. While it was very tasty, I would have definitely preferred a tad more sugar.

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Finally, I made the veal milanese using this recipe: Veal Milanese Recipe. The only thing I did differently (aside from doing a smaller recipe) was add some shredded parmesan and oregano to the bread crumb mixture. I also put together a simple arugula salad with red bell pepper and a simple dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. While it was really good, the breading did not stick to the veal. It fell off almost completely into the pan and it looked a hot mess. (In the picture below, I just placed the breading on top of the veal). Because I was distracted by the breading issue, I managed to slightly overcook the veal. It was a little tough as a result, but it wasn’t anything disastrous in terms of taste.

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Overall, everything was perfectly good but not great. The chowder was awesome but the other two dishes were just averagely good. But you live and you learn… I’m going to try the next three semi-final dishes tomorrow so stay tuned!

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