The chefestants open their mystery boxes to reveal meat grinders. The judges reveal a huge array of meat. It’s time to make sausages!

Krissi and James are excited. Good for him. Natasha also looks happy. Bleah. And of course, vegan Bri freaks, until she sees they’ve included vegetarian options such as tofu and tempeh. Eddie is beyond happy. I even see alligator. We hop right into it; the judges discussing what they’d use and how, then get to going around and tasting while a producer interviews the cheftestants. Both Joe and Graham check in with Bri, who decided to use the saitan instead of the tempeh. Krissi claims she has a go to Italian sausage recipe, while the full-blooded Italian appears to be having some problems. I really hope someone can take her down. Gordon points out that she’s never won a mystery box challenge; so I expect this to be the first. Damn. James is probably gone if she has as much control over the elimination challenge as previous winners.

Top 3. Natasha is called up first. She brings up a chicken sausage with fried egg and potato hash. Gordon questions her closely about it. He thinks it’s delicious. Graham thinks she did a great job. Joe tells her it’s really well seasoned and complex. As Graham monologues about the next dish, I cross my fingers because it sure sounds like he’s talking about Eddie. And he is. Eddie made pork sausage with purple cabbage and apple chutney. Yum. Graham says it’s a stellar dish. Gordon tells him he could see it in his gastro-pub.

When Joe monologues about Krissi, he says he could put her dish on his menu. She made Italian sausage with peppers and polenta. He also mentioned she’s never won a mystery box challenge. Foreshadowing. He calls her formidable. Gordon tells her he thinks she’s taking the competition more seriously than anyone else behind her, and tells her it’s her best performance so far. Gordon says the advantage is pivotal, so I’m just cringing. Actually, now that I think about it, I think Bri is in more danger than James.

I breathe a sigh of relief when Gordon says it’s the second mystery box win. Now it’s 50-50 to be Eddie, and I’m thankful when Gordon says his name. They reveal the following ingredients to him: Ham, wild mushrooms, and shrimp. He doesn’t have to cook, and he chooses the mushrooms. I’m a bit surprised, because usually we don’t see what the competitors choose for everyone else to cook with. And Gordon explains that not everyone is going to cook with them. Turns out that half of the remaining cooks will be using canned mushrooms, and Eddie gets to dictate who.

His target is on Jessie, James, and Jordan. Well, I wish he’d added Krissi to that list, but if he can get rid of Jordan, I’ll be happy. Jordon suspects Eddie gave him canned mushrooms, and so does Jessie. Surprisingly enough, James, Jordan, Bethy, and Bri all get the fresh mushrooms. Jordan says it’s an advantage. But Eddie’s plan is to make them forget it has to be the star of the dish. Jessie got canned mushrooms because, as a chef on a yacht, she’s probably used to working with expensive ingredients, and he thinks she’s never even seen them. Was she born with a silver spoon in her mouth, Eddie?

I just hope Krissi screws up her canned ones enough to get sent home. Joe picks up on the mind game Eddie’s playing with Jordan. Bethy forgot to get any form of sugar, so she has no recourse but to ask the others if they have any. Jordan gives her some. He doesn’t regard her as competition, so he wants to beat her at the top of her game, he explains.

I’m trying to figure out why Eddie gave the vegetarian fresh mushrooms, but as she explains her dish to Joe and Graham I don’t hear her mention mushroom anything. Sounds like the mind game Eddie was planning for Jordan is trapping her, instead. And Gordon even reminds Jordan to keep the mushroom the star of the dish. He tells everyone this when he tells them to plate. Bit late, there, Chef.

Bethy’s up first. She did Szechuan noodles with wild mushrooms. Graham asks her what she’d give it on a scale of 1-10. She says an 8. He says there seems to be a lot of noodle to mushroom. It’s overpoweringly sesame oil and ginger. Joe tells her she should’ve gone with something Euro-centric and refined. He also can only taste the sesame oil. She used too much, and Gordon tells her it looks like she’s got one foot out the door.

Natasha’s next. She presents a mushroom ravioli made with canned mushrooms, and crispy pancetta. She also made a mushroom cream sauce. Joe tells her it’s a good job. Gordon tells her she elevated a $1 can into a $10 dish. James is third. He has a wild mushroom chowder with crème fraiche and arugula. And because this sparked a discussion, chowder does not have to have seafood. Graham tells him it’s too heavy and rich. Joe tells him it is way too salty and he needed to edit himself

Jessie brings up a (canned) mushroom risotto with pancetta and leeks. Gordon tells her she managed to hide the processed food flavor. Luca, who also had canned mushrooms, has a cream of mushroom soup with vegetables and croutons. There’s a lot of veggies and croutons on the soup, so I hope it doesn’t overpower the soup. Although that’s the only way it could not be the star. Especially if he didn’t season it well. Then I see that they’re in the dish and he pours an extremely thick something on there. Graham says it’s a little thick to be soup, but the only thing he would’ve eliminated is the black truffle oil.

Krissi made a (canned) mushroom cassoulet with eggplant and pancetta. I saw her take the tray of eggplant slices out of the oven, and wondered if she was really making the mushroom the star of the dish. I guess we’ll see. Joe says it’s an impressive effort. Bri calls her dish “A Walk Through the Forest”, which is what appears on the chryon, so I guess I have to actually listen to what she says as she describes it. But first I’ll note the chryon also says “with Sage, beet, and goat cheese”.  She says the dish has grilled wild mushrooms with a beet and goat cheese salad, and Krissi goes off on her for being a vegan hippie. Graham says she did make the mushroom the star and it’s one of the best things she’s done. Joe tells her it’s cooked perfectly and he’d expect to get it at a vegetarian restaurant. He says he’s impressed.

Jordan presents a mushroom ravioli with beet cream sauce and fried wild mushrooms. So much for Eddie’s plan. Bethy’s still the only one that really screwed up. Thankfully, Gordon tells him he can’t tell the mushrooms apart. Joe tells him it looks like he had canned mushrooms. Turns out that Eddie just thought he’d overdo it, and he did. Joe says he brought two front runners to their knees. Wonder if that means he’ll go home? I can hope. But I’m going to guess it’ll be Bethy.

Eddie assures Natasha he thought she’d do well either way; he was after Jordan or James.  Natasha is announced first, and Bri wins dish of the night. They’ll be team captains next week. I want to note here that there seems to be an emphasis on the judges saying “at least one person” will be leaving. Gordon says that the first of the worst took fresh mushrooms and obliterated them. That could be Bethy, Jordan, or James. I’m hoping it’s Jordan, even though I know Bethy’ll be up there, too. In fact, I realize that all three of them will be up there. So there’s a greater chance that someone I like will be going home. Ugh. When he says it’s almost an embarrassment, I’m not surprised he calls forward Jordan. Joe calls forward James, and Graham calls Bethy. Gordon says Eddie put three of the strongest cooks on the bottom. James steps forward first. I think Jordan did worse. In fact, I think Jordan did worse than Bethy, but I also think Bethy did worse than James and I think he’s safe. Gordon thinks so, too. However, he disagrees that Bethy’s dish was better than Jordan’s, and she’s gone. She says Jessie’s going to win, and then we see her exit interview.

Next week, they’ll be camping out and cooking whatever nature provides. It looks like the pressure test is biscotti. Should be fun!

Nina Lisa