One thing I like about this show already: They don’t add a lot of fluff and filler to stretch this second round of auditions to fill two hours. However, when it came down to the last two contestants, they did a lot of the fancy split screen, back and forthing, and the last mudge deliberating, broke for commercial, came back and replayed the last 30 seconds of it all over again. Since I was having problems with the ABC website, I was watching sans commercial breaks, so it was even more annoying. That said, they got right to it, so I shall now do the same.

First up is Jennifer, a restaurant consultant. I decided last time that if they make their living having to do with food, that makes them a pro, even tho she says she cooks more at home. She makes a play on a salmon nicoise with a beet gastrique, which winds up making it too sweet for any of the judges.

Next is Huda, a caterer, according to what they flash on the screen, a personal chef according to her. Either way, she’s a pro. She makes shrimp and grits, which is right up Nigella’s comfort food alley, and when Ludo is trying to fight Nigella for her, he makes a comment about turning her into a professional chef, and when Nigella points out that she is a professional chef, Huda informs him that he didn’t pay attention to her, and unsurprisingly makes short work of picking Nigella.

Jeff, a professional chef (I believe he’s an executive chef from a restaurant here in L.A.) has an intro package that looks like one we saw last week. It’s not, but that’s not the last time I’ll be having deja vu. He makes a red miso snapper with avacado puree, which turns Nigella off. Anthony appears to be waiting for Escoffier Jr. to appear, and Ludo also says no, but Brian is more than happy to snap him up.

This leaves everyone with one last slot, and I think they all have that fear of filling their teams and missing out on someone really fabulous, so that may be the why behind all of them saying no to home chef Robert, who is up next. He made a seafood sausage with beurre blanc, and he made the sausage and fried it up on-site. He rattles off the French name for the dish so fast I can’t follow it, except for the “fruits de mer” (seafood) part, and evidently it’s such a classic (or obvious) French dish that Ludo even greets him in French, and they babble at each other a bit.  Ludo doesn’t know why he said no and neither does Tony. Robert points out that it’s a good question, and it’s the same question I asked last week. Especially since Escoffier was a French chef. Oh, well.

Yesterday, I read Potes’ Biggest Loser recap on TWOP, and she made a comment about how one of the team members has to say he’s giving 120%. She then ups the ante throughout the rest of the recap, which I found hilarious because I really agree with the ludicrousness of someone claiming they’re giving more than 100%.  The next (home) chef up, Brian, must’ve read that recap, too, because he says he’s giving “One hundred and fifty million percent.” Unfortunately, his vegetarian version of his grandmother’s lasagne doesn’t taste good with all that extra percentage in there, and he gets four nos.

Next is Erika, who has a morning cooking segment on her local news channel. I think she’s also one of the anchors, or a reporter, but I’m going to put her in the pro category anyway. She makes a lime and coriander crusted tuna with coconut and lemongrass cream sauce. It doesn’t sound like it’d be up Nigella’s alley, given the rest of her team, but it is, and since she’s the only one to say yes, her team is now full.

Now we have a montage trio of vegan/vegetarian chefs, which category Anthony evidently abhors. Not surprised, since he’s a Jersey boy. They started out this montage normally, so I was writing everything down, but since no names and dishes are flashed on screen, and they all get roundly rejected, I’m not going to try to straighten out who’s who and cooking what. Except to note that the last cook is wearing a tutu, and doesn’t cook with flame (or evidently any kind of heat) and makes some kind of chocolate “mousse” mess that looks like it tastes as disgusting as it appears.

Next up is Greg, a culinary instructor, who makes a lobster bisque w/ coconut milk to make it lighter and his own curry paste, which thrill Ludo and Brian enough that they both want him. Greg’s background is French cooking, it appears, so he picks Ludo. This evidently adds to the rivalry supposedly building up between these two, as that is the third time Ludo’s gotten a chef Brian wanted. It seems like Brian’s feeling this is all his last name.

Nigella’s been pretty good at bowing out quickly, since her team is full, and Ludo now follows her example. And I guess it’s just as well, because the next chef only Brian wants. Adam is a pro, and he gives me my second deja vu when he makes seared scallops with a sweet corn hash. Brian confirms my memory that someone made that dish last week, because evidently that someone is also on his team. Anyway, after Tony bows out, he starts talking about what “we” have to do for “our” team, but that’s too subtle for Brian to catch that he just became the last member of Team Malarkey. Heh.

Now only Tony has a spot left, and this fact (the what, not the who) doesn’t seem to faze the next trio, but maybe it should, since it winds up being a dessert montage, and we already know Tony’s only looking for savory chefs.

And so we come to the final duel, between home chef Uno, who wants to drink a bottle of saki before starting her dish, and private chef James, who is making a spice rubbed rib eye steak with custard as a play on steak and eggs.

But Uno’s making a Laos recipe she grew up with, lap gai, which is chicken with chopped innards, which turns out to hit Tony’s sweet spot. A la ABC’s ancient two word reality competition The Bachelor, James shows up first, so you’re already mentally prepared for Tony’s knockdown, and the home chefs win this last battle. Although I think more pros got through this time that they might be even now.

So prepare for a season of cooking and double entendres from Nigella (it’s a British thing), and the poor mudges risk sending one of their own home as the blind taste testing continues.

See you then.

Nina Lisa