Chef Diana Stavaridis tests the team of child cooking prodigies in a Mexican standoff! The round three special guest judge is known for single-handedly …
ADAM: You're about to witness
a culinary revolution.
five of the most talented
cooking prodigies in the world
go head-to-head in three rounds
against executive chefs
with years of training
and decades of experience.
I definitely don't plan to take
it easy on the kids.
I don't want to be teated
like a kid. I'm a chef.
Cooking is a science.
WOMAN: You just can't
underestimate these kids.
I'm gonna crush
that competition!
With our final round judged
by the world's most critically
acclaimed chefs
in a winner-takes-all
blind taste test.
It's the superstars
of tomorrow…
Way to get in his head.
…against the titans of today.
Coming down to the wire.
I want to show the world
that kids can take down
executive chefs.
This is cutting it so close.
ADAM: This is "Man vs. Child:
Chef Showdown."
Captions by VITAC —

Captioning provided by
A E Networks

I'm your host, Adam Gertler,
and this week it's a culinary
showdown in three rounds.
Our first judge is chef/owner
of several restaurants,
including Graffiato
and Kapnos — Mike Isabella.
And our second judge
is a butcher and private chef
to Hollywood A-listers —
Alia Zaine.
Our challenger today was
executive chef for Neal Fraser
at the world-renowned BLD.
She'll soon open her farm-driven
gastropub Manhattan House
in Manhattan Beach, California.
DIANA: I think I have an edge
in the competition
because I've worked as a chef
for quite some time now.
Working for Chef Neal Fraser
was absolutely amazing.
He's my mentor.
He has trained me and taught me
and helped me grow
and accrue to the chef
that I am today.
So I don't plan to lose
to the kids.
Please welcome executive chef
Diana Stavaridis.
[ Applause ]
Okay, prodigies,
who's it gonna be?
HOLDEN: Chef Diana
definitely came here to win.
We need a really, really, really
strong competitor to beat her.
All right.
-All right.
-We choose…
Chef Dylan.
ADAM: Chef Dylan.
He's 12 years old and taught
himself to draw in 3-D.
DYLAN: When I draw,
I feel I can do anything.
When I cook,
I feel I can do anything.
Today, I'm gonna really just
bring in all that creativity.
I just want to prove
to all my friends and my family
I can do this.
Please welcome Chef Dylan.
[ Prodigies cheering ]
DIANA: Chef Dylan
looks pretty confident,
but I think that I can beat
a 12-year-old.
Sometimes fire isn't necessary
to get things cooking.
And today
is a prime example of that.
Our round one challenge
is ceviche.
-I love ceviche!
So cute.
Ceviche is a South American dish
of marinated raw fish
or seafood.
A good ceviche demonstrates
a chef's knife skills,
along with their ability
to blend subtle flavors.
Ceviche basically is when you
cook fish in an acid marinade
such as lime juice,
lemon juice —
you know, anything
really citrusy.
I'm very experienced
with seafood,
so this is gonna be
a wonderful round.
DIANA: I'm really excited
that it's a ceviche challenge.
I have a strong comfort level
plating ceviches
and preparing crudos
and raw fish.
Okay, chefs, please
take to the burners
and prepare to begin
your first cook.
-All right, Dylan!
-You've got this!
You've got this, Dylan.
Now, remember, whoever scores
an advantage for this round
has a better chance
of keeping the advantage
for the all-important
winner-takes-all third round,
presented and blind-tasted
by our master-level chef.
You have 30 minutes
to showcase your raw talent.
[ Laughter ]
And your time starts…now!
-You got this!
-Get it, Dylan!
CLOYCE: Come on!
ALIA: There's so many
different types of ceviches,
so many different combinations
you can do.
MIKE: But you really need
perfect knife cuts.
A bite of a bigger chili
could ruin the whole dish.
I'm also gonna want
some crunch on there,
so there's a lot
of different ways
you can really evolve ceviche.
The sky is the limit.
I have not made ceviche.
But, you know,
I'm good with fish,
so I'm still gonna pull through
and take her down.
I am making
an aguachile ceviche
with sole fish and tostada.
So I'm just gonna squeeze
a cup of lime juice.
I make ceviche a lot.
Generally running restaurants
in Southern California,
it tends to be a popular item.
I'm doing a little snapper
ceviche here.
Gonna have, like, a touch
of a little Latin flair
with a super-creamed out avocado
cilantro on the base.
Crispy chips on top,
if I can get to it.
I'm happy
with the snapper choice
because it does work really well
with ceviche.
It marinates pretty quickly,
and it stays really tender
and juicy in the middle.
Super citrus season right now,
so get a bunch of the good stuff
in here.
Basically cooking the proteins
in there, the high acid.
So use high-quality fish,
just sort of a quick cook
like we're gonna do here today
will do the job.
That's a lot of lime.
Where's the cup on this?
I'm planning to squeeze out
about 30 limes,
but after about 10 limes,
my hands are getting
extremely sore.
This is much more time-consuming
than just dumping out a bottle
of lime juice.
[ Sighs ]
Dylan has taken seven minutes
of his time doing his limes.
I really badly want
to win this round.
I really do.
I'm making a citrus vinaigrette
with some Fresno chilies
and raw shallots,
and let my fish marinate
with some Cara Cara oranges
and incorporate some
suprême pieces of the fruit
to really give the judges
that nice, bright pop.
MIKE: So I see her cutting some
orange segments out,
'cause I see her cutting some
of the orange segments out,
putting them in a little ramekin
for later on.
DIANA: Just get a little raw
shallot in there,
some sliced Fresno chilies.
Judges look like they can handle
some heat for sure,
so I'm gonna give them
just a little.
Chefs, 20 minutes left.
10 minutes have gone by.
You're one-third
through the round.
Finally I got my lime juice,
put that into the food processor
with three jalapeños
and four serrano chilies.
That's gonna be
really spicy!
For my ceviche,
I'm using sole fish.
I'm going to give it
a nice dice,
make sure
they're all even cubes,
and I'm gonna let that sit
in the marinade
for about the rest of the round.
And at the very last,
I'll take them out.
HOLDEN: Dylan, 18 minutes.
You got this!
-You got it, Dylan!
-Have 18!
CLOYCE: Bold flavors!
EMMALEE: You don't want
to have all acids, though.
You maybe want to balance it
out with some avocado,
that's not so acidic.
-I love that.
-Something lighter,
something creamier, and maybe
something that's spicy.
So it's not like —
oh — sour.
-Like that?
[ Giggles ]
DIANA: I'm gonna do a nice fatty
base for the bright citrus
and spicy ceviche that
we're gonna have on top.
Avocado, just a great time of
year for right now
locally with some nice cilantro.
And then cream it out
with a touch of crème fraîche.

-Chef Dylan?
-How's it going?
And what are the herbs
you have here?
Right now, I'm making
my guacamole and my salsa.
Seems like you were going
with a real
Mexican-inspired ceviche.
Yes, I am.
And how is that
all gonna be served?
Well, I'm gonna serve it
on top of a tortilla,
and them I'm gonna fry
the tortilla.
Oh, so now how are you actually
cooking the fish?
-It's sitting in a marinade.
It's the citrus in the limes
that cooks the fish.
So this isn't like sashimi,
it's not a crudo.
You're actually
cooking the fish.
-Thank you so much, Dylan.
Looking forward to seeing
what you come up with.
10 minutes to go, chefs.
Diana, how's it going?
-Having a lot of fun.
I can already see from here
the edges of the proteins
starting to cook in the acid.
Now, is there a danger
of over-cooking ceviche?
Yep, for sure. In
the restaurant, for example,
you usually want to do it
at least about an hour
or two before service,
and at the end,
it's for the staff.
-Okay, exactly.
-[ Laughs ]
And how does the fennel
play in?
Uh, just get a little extra
depth of flavor, brightness,
fresh, a little extra
accent in there.
Is that going in the marinade
as well?
It's gonna get folded in
a little micro salad on top.
DIANA: I love fennel,
so I slice it very thin
and toss it
with some micro greens
and just a touch of lemon,
oil, and salt.
You've got
about seven minutes left.
-Good luck.
-Thank you.

My ceviche tastes amazing.
So now I'm frying my tostada,
taking a soft corn tortilla,
placing it in the deep fryer.
And I'm gonna let that fry and
get that nice crispy texture.
I need to bring some crisp
and some texture to the dish.
So I julienne
some corn tortillas
and fried them
to garnish my dish.
They're both serving
a tortilla chip.
Chef Diana
is doing shoestrings.
Dylan looks like
he's doing a tostada
or something like that.
Both the dishes
are so similar.
It's going to come down
to plating.

Relatively ready to assemble.
We got the base, we got
the ceviche, we got the garnish.
I've got the other garnish.
I've just got to get
a vinaigrette for that.

My strategy is to make that
plate look absolutely beautiful.
ADAM: Chefs, two minutes.
It's time to plate
everything up.
CLOYCE: Two minutes left, Dylan.
You got this.
He's got to get more fish
on the plate
because this is
the ceviche round,
and this could really hurt him.
Get it on a plate.
This is down to the wire.

I feel pretty confident.
I have the perfect amount
of time
to plate exactly how I like it
for these judges.
ALIA: Chef Diana's
really delivering
that she's doing.
Playing the clock, watching,
seasoning, layering.
DIANA: Just shine up the greens
a little bit.
Just a touch of lemon oil,
not much.
Get some nice pieces of fruit
in here.
55 seconds. Whoo!
less than one minute.

Make it perfect.
-10 seconds!
You can do it!
You got this, Dylan!
And 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Step away from the plate,
-[ Cheering ]
-Nice job.
I'm a little bit nervous.
I look over
at Chef Diana's plate.
And her plate looks better
than mine. It really does.
We're gonna lose.
your plates up to the judges.

Chef Dylan,
please explain your dish.
I made an aguachile tostada
using sole fish
with a pineapple, cucumber salsa
and a lime guacamole.
Chef Dylan,
I like your presentation,
I like that it's a clean,
simple tostada.
I love that everything's green
and one color,
but I also like the little pops
of the marinated tomatoes.
ALIA: I like the fact that
you chose to do a tostada.
I think it's gonna be
very fun to eat.
I don't know how you and I
are gonna share this.
We may have to
fight over it.
Just kind of break
a piece off or…
Yeah, it looks worthy
of digging into.
The judges dig into my dish.

And then I start to get
a little bit worried again
because everything
is just on flavor right now.
I really hope the flavor
tastes nice.
Chef Dylan, I think
you really had the right idea
with this dish.
Flavors were
definitely there.
Something that you may
have struggled with
is the right proportions
of everything.
That just killed me because
I'm — I realize, well,
I was using a small piece
of sole
and I should have gone
for a bigger one.
I love the tostada,
I love the guacamole,
I love the fresh cucumber salsa
with the pineapple.
The whole dish overall needed
a little bit more salt —
especially the tostada
needed more salt.
It's a thick chip.
You want a lot of salt on that.
Um, it wants to make you drink
more margaritas,
um, when you're
at the restaurant.
So you got to thi–
-He's — come on.
Well, I'm eating it.
[ Laughter ]
-He's got time to thi–
He's not eating it,
I'm drinking the margaritas.
Chef Diana,
please explain your dish.
I prepared
a snapper ceviche
with an orange
Fresno chili vinaigrette
and a whipped
avocado mousse.
Chef Diana,
I think you nailed it
in your presentation
on this dish.
I see the brightness
of the chilies, the avocado.
Everything looks very inviting
and it's very vibrant.
I'm excited to dig in.
-Thank you very much.
No, yeah, it has
a lot of similarities.
Both of you guys went
to a similar fashion.
I like it — I like how you both
put the tortillas on top
so they all stay crunchy
throughout the whole meal.
And the richness is
on the bottom.
And you, yeah, I see
a lot of seafood in there,
so I'm excited to taste it.
-Thank you.

DIANA: I think it's gonna come
down to who has enough acid
and who has enough salt
in their dish.
Chef Diana,
I really like this dish.
First and foremost, I mean,
it's a ceviche competition.
I like that there's a lot
of seafood here.
I think everything
was cut really well.
I think a little bit of —
little bit more acidity
would be really nice,
but as far as that,
textures were really
on point in this dish
and everything
was really tasty.
You know, I don't think fennel
a lot when I'm thinking,
you know, Mexican cuisine.
And actually the fennel
was really a nice touch.
You kept it very traditional
and you put your little touches
on it.
I thought it could use
a little bit more salt,
maybe a finishing salt just
to kind of break it in there,
because you had nice chunks
of fish
and the outside
had a little seasoning in it.
But when I got a bit into it,
it wasn't enough seasoning.
A little — little —
little love on top
and it would have been right.
I feel confident that I had
plenty of — ample salt
to serve my ceviche,
but he made a really good point
to have that coarse texture
on top.
MIKE: Well, chefs,
you've both given us
something to talk about here.
So give us a minute
while we make our decision.

I'm seeing a lot more fish
on Diana's plate.
I'm a little bit worried
that the judges are gonna think
the same way.
DIANA: I feel confident
and I feel good
about the portion of fish
that I've provided
in my tasting.
And I'm really hoping that —
that I have the edge
over Chef Dylan
because I'd love to get that
advantage for the next round.
So, Mike, Alia, who gets
to pick an advantage
from the menu board
for the next round?
We've decided that the advantage
goes to…

We've decided that the advantage
goes to…

…Chef Diana.
Thank you.
It feels great to win.
This is a healthy competition
with some really talented
And there's a lot of pressure
in this kitchen, so I feel good.
I feel good.
DYLAN: I feel bad
letting my team down.
But at the same time,
I learn from every loss,
and we still have
two rounds left.
This still could turn out
pretty good.
-Congratulations, Chef Diana.
-Thank you.
ADAM: This means that you enter
into round two
with control of the menu board.
But before we get to that,
you're probably wondering
what round two is all about.
Is it just me, or is it getting
a little hot in here?
Mike, Alia?
It's time to drop it
like it's hot.
What do you think, quick?
DYLAN: Yeah, chilies.
Today our round two challenge
is to prepare a spicy entree
choosing from our array
of hot peppers.
Chef Dylan…it's time now
for the big question,
which one of your teammates
will be competing
at a disadvantage in round two?

Chef Dylan, who's it gonna be?

I choose Chef Emmalee.
-Oh, my God!
Chef Emmalee is a perfect pick.
She is very efficient,
she knows what she's doing,
and she can overcome
Chef Emmalee, enter the kitchen.
She's 12 years old,
an animal activist,
and her passion for food
is contagious.
Even though I don't
like spicy foods, I think
that I can really handle
the disadvantage
because I have some experience
in that area.
I feel like Chef Diana
is very professional.
So I really just need to focus
and definitely bring it.
Please welcome Chef Emmalee.
-[ Cheering ]
Nice to meet you.
I'm happy it's a girl.
So we have two women
in the kitchen,
a young woman
and a…younger woman,
challenging each other,
and this is gonna be fun.
ADAM: Chef Diana,
you won the last round,
so you get to pick an item
from our menu.
And in this round,
the menu items are…
Chef Diana, it's time for you
to make your choice.
Which item from the menu
would you like?
I choose sabotage.
DIANA: I chose a sabotage
that I could control.
If she looks like
she's getting ahead of me,
then I can —
I can give her a disadvantage.
Now, remember, whoever scores
the advantage this round
has a better chance of keeping
the advantage
for the all-important
winner-takes-all third round.
Chefs, take to the burners and
prepare to begin your next cook.
-Good luck.
-Good luck.
You have 45 minutes
to prepare a spicy entree
utilizing one or more
of our hot peppers.
And your time starts…now!
-You got this, Emmalee!
-You got this!
Spice it up!
I'm gonna take
the green Thai chilies.
I grabbed the Thai chilies
because I feel like
those have a lot of heat,
but they also come from Asia,
so they'll keep with my theme.
Emmalee grabbed
the green Thai chilies,
which is a younger version
of the Thai chilies.
ADAM: Okay.
Very spicy chili,
a lot of seeds inside of it.
You don't want to mess up
with a Thai chili,
because it's gonna be hot.

I really like curries,
and I think, "You know,
I think I'm gonna go
in an Asian direction."
I'm making a spicy laksa, which
is a hot broth from Singapore.
I'm gonna put rice noodles
in it, I'm gonna put mussels.
I really want to make it creamy
but spicy at the same time.
It's basically just a bunch
of vegetables and mussels,
so it's like onion, garlic,
bell peppers, snow peas.
I love snow peas!
Those are all gonna go
in my broth
and make a really good base
before I add the stock.
DIANA: I'm just gonna use the
Arborios, just rice for my dish.
I'm gonna make like a little
spicy shellfish dish.
In the past, I've used it
in quick jambalayas
and quick paellas sort of
as a special at the restaurant.
So I think I can use that
to incorporate sort of
a shellfish and rice soup.
Need to put some chilies
in there, yes.
I need to put chilies.
I plan on using red Fresno
chilies, dried guajillo,
and dried chile di arbols.
With the Fresno chili,
I'm really gonna feature that
in the actually base
of my broth.
EMMALEE: Rice noodles.
So instead of letting water boil
and wasting a bunch of time,
I decided to just take water out
of the circulator.
That water is already
at about 200 degrees,
so I just took some out in a
ladle and put it over my noodles
so that my noodles
could start to loosen up.
20 minutes, chefs.
20 minutes left.
So I'm looking to develop some
depth to my shellfish stock.
I shell the shrimp,
I throw some clams in there.
I do add some tomato puree
and a touch of saffron
just to give the judges
a little something different.
So the next thing that I do
after my vegetables are all soft
and aromatic is add laksa paste.
It has lots of salt
and it actually has quite a bit
of spice itself.
That's going to have
a really distinct flavor.
After that, I decided
to add some seafood stock
because it's gonna give
the fishy flavor that you want.

How's it taste?
Oh, that's not spicy.
I need more spices.
There — it just hit me.
[ Laughter ]
MIKE: She's got dried chili
and fresh chili.
That's good.
Which I like where she's going
with that.
DIANA: Just making
a little chili paste.
So, generally,
when I make a chili paste,
I pull the seeds out
and I toast those separately.
Just gonna blend it up,
make that the base
for the whole dish.
I didn't take out the seeds,
so it's gonna have some heat.
With this competition
and them wanting it
to be very hot and spicy,
I'm not worried about
those seeds in the middle.
I think they'll be just fine.
-Chef Emmalee.
Oh, I'm smelling
some good things here.
What's going on
in this pot?
What was the paste
I saw you working with?
-That's laksa paste.
-Laksa paste.
It has seafood in it
and it has spice,
which is perfect
for the spicy round.
Where do you get
your — your taste
for such exotic things
like this?
I mean, like, most people
don't even know what laksa is.
Well, I've always had
a unique taste palate.
I guess I get that from my mom,
'cause she's Australian.
So she has, you know,
lots of Aussie braveness,
I guess I'll say.
EMMALEE: My mom,
she's just taught me so much
she's learned from the cooks
there about being creative.
And I feel like because I have
so much creativity,
that could give me the edge
in this round.
-Chef Diana, how you doing?
-Doing great.
All right, we're having
a fun time over there
watching you trying to figure
out what you're doing.
So we were thinking was it
a paella, was it a risotto?
Yes, it kind of is everything.
It's a —
It's a bouillabaisse
comes to Mexico and…
Okay, so bouillabaisse
came to Mexico,
had a baby with a paella.
-And maybe…
Then it went through my brain
and here it comes.
And, like, they had
a little risotto.
DIANA: So I'm calling it
a bouillabaisse,
which is shellfish broth
from the south of France
with a big piece of bread
and a nice, you know,
saffron aioli spread roux
on a crouton.
I was thinking
you'd get the carbs
and the starch from the rice.
So I guess we'll call this a…
spicy bouillabaisse
with Italian rice.
Italy meets France
meets southern United States.
10 minutes, chefs.
10 minutes left.
ESTIE: She hasn't used
her disadvantage yet.
Maybe she just forgot.
I'm most concerned that I'm
gonna right away need something,
and I'll turn around and it's
gone because of my disadvantage.
So I'm just gonna try to keep an
eye on her and work through it.
Emmalee, I don't have time to
sabotage you, I'm sorry.
-All right.
-I'm way too busy.
-Fine with me.
-[ Chuckles ]
I'm just gonna keep it an honest
competition, let her do her job
and I'll do my job
and we'll see where we —
where we meet head to head
at the end.
She might be tricking me here.
I still need to keep an eye
out for her.
Keeping one eye open.
She's right there.
Keep an eye out.
So the rice is about ready.
You know, let it finish cooking
in the actual dish,
then the rice will soak up
all the flavor from the broth.

I want to make sure I don't cook
the rice all the way.
I want to let it finish cooking
in the broth
so it can absorb the flavor.
I'm just gonna throw a couple
of mussels into the pot,
and they open pretty fast,
so right when they open,
you want to put them
in a separate bowl.
Okay, so the mussels
started to open up,
so she's taking them out
because you don't want them
to over-cook.
And then she's going to add the
coconut cream into the broth.

[ Inhales sharply ]
It's hot.
So I'm considering my dish
right now
as a 6.8 on the spice scale
for myself.
I'm not really sure
what level the judges want,
and I'm not sure
what they can take.
So I'm sitting on the fence
right now.
I don't know their palates,
you know?
I'll go a little hotter.
It is a spicy competition,
so I'm gonna add a little bit
more chili
because I think that's
what they're going for.
That should do it.
Two minutes left.
I have some time on my hands,
and so I decided to start
putting my noodles in the bowl.
-I'm nervous.
DIANA: It looks like
she's ready to plate,
and so she's way ahead
of schedule.
ALIA: Yeah,
it looks like she's —
Emmalee's getting her dish
already in the bowl.
She's already looking
to plate.
Yeah, it's a little early
to be plating.
The danger of plating early,
especially if you have
a hot dish,
is that the dish could go cold.
So it's a huge risk,
but if you don't take risks,
you're gonna lose.
DIANA: 90 seconds.
Time to go.

I'm always quite conscious
of the food
that I'm serving to be hot.
-30 seconds.
DIANA: And I like the way all
the proteins are coming together
and they're gonna be cooked
just perfectly.
Considering I won the last round
and I had the advantage,
I'm hoping I can continue
my momentum
and my stride
into the next round
and gain one more advantage
by winning this competition.
10 seconds.
Oh! That's good.
I think it looks really rustic
and authentic.
And I don't even like spicy
food, and I like this dish.
It's a winner.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Step away
from the plates.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Step away
from the plates.
Time's up, I step back,
I look down at my dish,
and I am really happy.
I would love to eat this dish
right now.
EMMALEE: I'm super happy.
I think it looks really rustic
and authentic.
And it smells amazing.
Chefs, please bring your dishes
up to the judges.

Now, remember, chefs,
the judges' critique
is based on presentation,
adherence to the spirit
of the challenge,
and, of course, taste.
Chef Emmalee,
please explain your dish.
Today I made a spicy mussel
laksa with rice noodles.
ALIA: I love the presentation
of this dish.
There's a lot
of fresh elements on it.
I appreciate that
you left them on top
so they don't get muddled
by the broth below.
Yeah, Emmalee, I'm excited to
taste this nice bowl of noodles.
You got the mussels,
a little lime wedge.
I love a lot of acidity,
it helps balance the chilies
and the heat and the freshness.
So it looks very exciting.
EMMALEE: When the judges
take their first bite,
I'm really nervous.
EMMALEE: But then, they dig in
for more and everything,
and I'm actually pretty excited,
because they seem to like it.
There's some nice Thai chili
in there.
Are you feeling the heat?
It's — I am.
[ Coughs ]
A little bit.
[ Laughs ]
Good job.
Chef Emmalee,
this is super, super tasty.
Really nice level of heat.
And to me, the chilies
really shine through.
So good job.
Chef Emmalee,
I really like the dish.
The broth had great flavor,
and the mussels
were cooked perfectly.
One thing I wasn't crazy about
in the dish
is presenting
a little bit early.
And, you know,
you had the perfect noodle.
Once you put the broth in
and it sat,
now they're a little bit
more delicate
because they absorbed a little
bit too much liquid.
They were falling apart
a little bit.
I wanted perfection when I had
that beautiful broth.
EMMALEE: I should have plated
just a little bit later.
I definitely think that I still
have a chance of winning,
but it did hurt.
Thank you, Chef.
Chef Diana,
please explain your dish.
Yes, today I've prepared
a spicy shellfish bouillabaisse.
I, uh, I'm excited
to dig into this.
I overheard your conversation
with Adam.
It sounded like you went
in a lot of different routes.
I'm curious
to see how it tastes.
You guys
have similar dishes here,
I think
with totally different flavors.
The two of you
have the nice broths,
seafood coming out of them,
little garnishes on top.
I'm really interested
to taste it.
We've sort of paralleled and
chosen similar styles of dishes.
And, great.
That's all — that's all
for the better for me.
I'm glad that will sort of
help the judges
pin one dish against the other.
Chef Diana, I think
that you definitely exhibited
a little bit more
technical skill
in really developing all
those layers of flavor,
starting with the base
ingredients individually
and then combining them
in such a way
that really brought out
their flavors,
and everything married well.
The seafood is cooked
really nicely.
It has a really nice
kind of sweet balance
of everything going on.
I wish it was a little bit
spicier, I mean,
otherwise I could eat, you know,
bowls on bowls of this.
It's really, really tasty.
I disagree. I thought you had
the perfect heat level.
I like the chili paste in there,
the tomato, all the seafood.
You built up a lot of deep,
rich flavors with this dish.
I'm happy with the spice level
of my dish.
I think it's all —
it's sort of all relative.
I guess I came pretty close to
guessing the needs of the guest.
Both chefs did a great job.
You've both highlighted chilies
very well.
Give us a minute so —
so we can sort this out.

I balanced my spice really well.
She didn't really have
enough spice,
and this is a spicy round.
I've got this.
DIANA: The judges are
criticizing Chef Emmalee
for plating her dish
a little early.
The noodles have swollen
and soaked up a little too much
of the broth.
So maybe
it's tilting in my scale.
Well, Mike, Alia?
Who gets to pick an advantage
from the menu board
for the next round?
We've decided that the advantage
goes to…

We've decided that the advantage
goes to…

…Chef Emmalee.
-[ Cheering ]
-Thank you.
-Nice job!
-Good job.
It was a grain of rice between
you guys, a grain of rice.
I regained the advantage for
my team, and I came back strong.
I was kind of all over
the place, and, unfortunately,
I'm gonna be at a disadvantage
for the third round,
which I'm a little
nervous about.
ADAM: The third and final round
is a trio challenge,
meaning each chef will have to
create three different dishes —
tasted blindly
by our master-level chef.
And, remember,
this round is for the win.
Our master chef today
is internationally credited
for revitalizing Tijuana.
Please welcome San Diego's
2013 chef of the year,
Javier Plascencia.
DIANA: I love Latin cuisine
and the types of flavors
that he parallels with the sort
of Spanish, Mediterranean style.
It's beautiful what he does.
When we walk
the streets of Tijuana,
one of the things you —
you find right away
is a vibrant food scene.
Everyone has their favorite
taco spot,
and I thought it would be
appropriate to make this trio
all about tacos.
[ Laughter ]
JAVIER: One of the things
that I like in a taco
is the quality of the tortilla.
The ingredients needs to be
the best ingredients,
the freshest ingredients.
And why not tons of chili
in there?
We like spice, so…
-Ha ha ha.
All right, chefs.
It's a taco trio.
I'm really excited.
I love making tacos.
There's so many different things
that you can do with a taco.
You can make it out of steak,
you can make it out of pork,
you can make it out
of chicken — anything.
Chef Javier, thank you
so much for your help
in presenting round three.
We'll call you back in
as soon as our chefs
have completed their cook.
JAVIER: Looking forward to it
and good luck.
All right, Emmalee,
three remaining teammates.
Who do you think has
the tortilla chops,
the taco tenacity?
EMMALEE: Chef Javier
is like a taco master,
so I have to pick somebody
who is going to be able
to take tacos
and bring them
to the next level.
I choose…Chef Cloyce.
ADAM: Chef Cloyce!
[ Applause ]
He's 14 years old and has been
cooking for almost a decade.
And his wit is almost as sharp
as his knife skills.
CLOYCE: I definitely have
experience making tacos.
For this challenge,
I got to make sure my knife rock
is right on point.
I got to make sure I'm chopping
as fast as I can.
Please welcome Chef Cloyce.
[ Applause ]
Okay, chefs, in the last round,
Chef Emmalee won.
Which means Chef Cloyce,
you get to pick an item
from the menu board.
For round three,
the menu items are…
You can ask a judge
to provide feedback
on one of the components
of your dish.
Take five minutes off
your opponent's cook time.
Your opponent will only be
allowed one trip to the pantry.
Chef Cloyce,
what is your decision?
One stop shopping.
[ Cheering ]
One stop shopping.
Your opponent will only be
allowed one trip to the pantry.
Make it count.
Okay, chefs,
take to the burners
and prepare to begin your cook.
You will have one hour to
prepare a tremendous taco trio.
This is
the winner-takes-all round.
And your time starts…now!
-[ Cheering ]
-You got this, Cloyce!

ALIA: Really a blank canvas,
tacos. You can do anything.
That's why Mexican cuisine
is such a popular cuisine.
-It's also very humble as well.
Using the right
bold ingredients,
you can really create
something super tasty.
CLOYCE: I definitely have
experience making tacos.
I love tacos.
I'm gonna do
a beer batter fish taco.
My three tacos are gonna be
a beer battered Baja style fish
taco, a crispy shrimp taco,
and a fried avocado taco.
I have the advantage.
But if I'm gonna beat Diana,
I got to bring it.
ADAM: One stop shopping,
I knew that that was gonna be
the one to play.
Three separate dishes,
you have to think
of all the mise en place for
all those different dishes,
plus all
the cooking equipment.
She's got a lot of things
to consider.
DIANA: I'm trying to go shelf
by shelf and make sure
I get all my equipment,
all my tools, all my proteins.
I'm choosing not
to look at the time
because this is very important
that I find what I need.
I've had this disadvantage
Just try to work through it.
-Okay, I'm done.
-It is terrifying.
ESTIE: Tacos seem very simple,
'cause it's like,
"Oh, all you need to do is
just fold a tortilla,
then fill it up with all sorts
of random things."
No! It's much more complicated
than just that.
10 minutes have gone by.
10 minutes in the round.
I hope I have everything I need.
I need to start going
100 miles an hour.
I do love making tacos,
and I love playing with chilies
and different Latin flavors,
which is the direction
I'm going to take.
I'm going to make a fish taco,
a spiced-rubbed chicken taco,
and I'm going to do a play
on a vegetarian taco.
That is cod,
also known as butterfish.
It is flaky,
and it completely falls apart.
CLOYCE: For my fish taco,
I've seasoned my black cod,
I put it in the beer batter,
it's just gonna chill.
Oh. Ice.
She forgot to get ice.
She's probably gonna make
a beer or tempura batter also.
So the beer batter for the fish,
I got to get it
in the fridge here,
so hopefully it chills
in about 30 minutes.
Time's gonna be a problem for me
for sure.
Wait. Look at
Chef Diana's station!
She has a tortilla press!
EMMALEE: [ Gasps ] She's making
tortillas from scratch.
-She's making her own tortillas.
Now, that's impressive.
DIANA: I'm making
the fresh corn tortilla
to try to honor Chef Javier
and give him proper tortillas.
Not the prettiest one…
Chef Diana
is being really smart,
giving the care
to the tortilla.
But you got to make it right.
-You got to make it right.
-You got to make it right.
Chef Cloyce better do something
that's very much different
than a normal tortilla
or make his own.
-To compete with that.

-What's going on?
Whole bunch
of different stuff.
Okay, I see we got fish.
You battering this fish?
-I am.
Okay, and then how are
the shrimp getting done?
And then what is
the third taco gonna be?
Fried avocado taco.
You seem
a little scattered, man.
You worried
about the time at all?
No, I'm just — don't want
to not plate on time.
Maybe I did a little too much.
-All right, good luck, man.
-Thank you.
-Don't slow down.
-How's it going, Chef?
-I'm getting a workout.
For all that you've had to deal
with with one stop shop,
you still got your own
tortilla dough, I saw, made.
Yeah, I hope —
I hope I do it justice.
This one is definitely
going down to the wire.
Chefs, you have 20 minutes left.
It is intense down here!

I'm gonna do a shrimp taco,
but it's gonna be served
in a jicama shell.
Part of my whole big idea
is to have three distinctly
different tacos
with three distinctly
different shells.
Is that a potato?
-No, that's a jicama.
-Jicama root.
Jicama is this thing right here.
Grab a jicama, I cut the skin
off so I can mandolin it.
The ideal thickness is
where you can still bend it,
but without it breaking.
I look at it, it's too thin.
I try to fix my mandolin,
and then I do it again.
Too thick.
It's gonna add
too much jicama flavor.
This sucks.
I'm super stressed out.
I only have one jicama bulb
to work with,
and if I don't make this work,
I'm screwed.
15 minutes left!
15 minutes remain.

DIANA: For my second dish,
my chicken taco,
I'm marinating the chicken
in cumin, garlic, and oil,
searing it in the pan,
and leave it in the oven
till it's cooked through.
CLOYCE: My jicama's gone.
There's nothing left.
What am I gonna do?
I can't just make this taco work
with a packaged tortilla.
Hey, Diana?
Is there anything I can get you
from the pantry
that would benefit you
if I can have your jicama?
You can just have my jicama
if you can catch it.
Thank you so much.
Yes, my pleasure.
Thank you, Diana!
I wanted to help out Chef Cloyce
just because that's
the kind of person that I am.
CLOYCE: Thank God.
ESTIE: 10 minutes
and 50 seconds.
I like veggie tacos.
I'm gonna do a little potato
corn taco right here.
So I'm preparing my vegetable
medley for my veggie taco.
Caramelized yellow onions
with sweet corn,
and add my sliced confited
fingerling potatoes
with a couple of slices
of chili.
That goes
with the poblano crema.
For my fried avocado taco,
I'm making
a blistered corn salsa.
Start by blistering the corn.
I get that black going on
all sides.
I'm adding red onions,
tomato, habanero.
I mix it all together,
I taste it.
There's the heat.
ALIA: You think taco,
that's simple, it's easy.
But, like, there's so much
flavor in each component
they're putting
in the taco.
You know, if you make
your own salsa,
you can't use the same salsa
for every taco.
MIKE: Nope.
You got to make it — you got
to make it different.
That's a lot.
Even though I forgot the ice, it
looks like my batter has chilled
and set to the temperature
that I would like
to prepare my fish.
Looks like
it's gonna work out great.
HOLDEN: He's doing a four-step
breading procedure.
Oh, wet hand, dry hand.
Makes sense.
Yes, buttermilk, flour,
egg wash, panko.
CLOYCE: My shrimp and my avocado
are both panko-crusted.
All right, let's start
frying some stuff.
But my cod
is in the beer batter.
Thick piece of fish.
And beer batter is notorious
for sticking to the bottom
of the fry basket,
so I'm holding it in the fryer
and make sure
that that first half fries
before I set the second half in.
This is definitely dangerous,
but this is part of the fun.
Chefs, one minute —
60 seconds.
Down to the wire plating.
Get your shrimp!
Get your shrimp!
-Don't yell!
-This is insane!
You guys are making me
second guess myself.
Come on, come on, come on!
5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Step away
from the plates.
MIKE: Oh, wow.
-To the wire.
Okay, chefs,
please bring your plates
up to the judging table.

Chef Cloyce, what did you
prepare for Chef Javier?
I have prepared
for Chef Javier
a crispy shrimp taco
with mashed avocado,
quick pickled red onion
in a jicama shell.
And then a Baja-style
beer battered fish taco
with a Cayenne crema
and a cabbage slaw.
And then a deep-fried
avocado taco
with a chipotle cream
and a blistered corn salsa.
Chef Diana, what did you prepare
for Chef Javier?
Today, I've prepared
for Chef Javier
a beer-battered
cod fish taco
with a spicy chili
sweet crema and a citrus slaw.
I've prepared
a spice-rubbed chicken
with a tomatillo salsa
and quick pickled radish.
In addition, I've prepared
a poblano crema
with a vegetarian taco,
potato fingerling confit,
and sweet corn.
Best of luck, chefs.
-Thank you.
-Thank you.
Chefs, please welcome back
our round three tacos trio
guest judge and master-level
chef, Chef Javier Plascencia.
[ Applause ]
Chef Javier, welcome back.
-Thank you.
So this is
a blind taste test, Chef,
meaning you have no idea
who cooked what.
Now, remember, you're judging
the dishes based on creativity,
presentation, adherence to
the spirit of the challenge,
and, of course, taste.
Chef, what do you think
about the presentation
of the dish on your right?
I think presentation
looks very colorful.
Units are balanced.
I'm looking forward to tasting.

CLOYCE: Your first taco,
it sets the tone
for all the following tacos.
It's like the opening sentence
on an essay.
I got to make sure
that this taco is on point
with flavor and my jicama shell.
Yeah, so as Chef Javier
is eating my dish,
I have a feeling like, "Yeah!"
It looked so good.
My flavors are very bold,
and so I think, "Hey, my tacos
must have been pretty good."
I really like the three of them.
I like the bright flavors,
so I liked the pickled onion.
The crust on the shrimp
and also on the avocado
wasn't oily at all.
And I really liked the use of
the three different tortillas,
so we have flour,
corn, and the jicama.
That was really smart to do.
I thought the portions for
a taco were a little bit large.
We like to eat tacos
with our hands.
We don't cut it.
And it could be very messy with
this portion of the proteins.
CLOYCE: I feel confident.
I know I put out a good product.
But she could come back
with something totally delicious
and crazy.
Now, Chef Javier,
what do you think about
the presentation of the dish
on your left?
I think presentation on this
dish looks very colorful.
Looks like Mexico to me.
So I'm excited to taste this
as well.
DIANA: There is an added level
of stress right now
because I know
how Chef Javier mentioned
that the tortilla is the most
important component,
and I really want to show him
that I can create a great taco
with a perfect tortilla.
I'm thinking maybe
I shouldn't have rushed
and made my tortillas
from scratch
because it might have
hurt my chances
of winning this competition.
I think this dish
was well executed as well.
I like the idea of having
the fingerling potato on a taco.
It was a very bold idea to
have the homemade tortillas,
the — the handmade tortillas.
And very, very good flavors.
But the tortilla had
a Play-Doh consistency to it.
It might have been undercooked.
Thank you, Chef.
Now, before we announce
the winner
of tonight's "Man Vs. Child,"
enter the kitchen.

I'm a little worried.
I mean, she made
her own tortillas.
That's definitely
a pretty gutsy move.
All the prodigies
are relying on me.
I got to make sure
that I win for them.
I got to make sure I win for me.
There's a lot at stake.
Well, Chef…
who is the winner
of tonight's "Man Vs. Child"?
I thought both of them were,
uh…amazing plates.
They make me proud
and the taco proud.
They made me taco proud.
[ Laughter ]
My favorite dish was…

[ Cheering ]
CLOYCE: The tacos
were super complicated.
You know, I was really happy to
have been able to pull it off.
I'm impressed, and I'm proud
that they have raw skills
that they're developing.
And it's a beautiful thing.
Chef Javier,
are you at all surprised
that you chose
our young chefs?
I am very, very surprised.
I'm blown away.
I mean, that these kids
can make these great tacos,
I mean, I want to hire
them all now.
CLOYCE: Chef Javier is a master
in this cuisine.
You know, it's really cool
to have my food tasted by him
and get told that mine's better.
Thank you very much for joining
us today, Chef Javier.
Chef Diana, well done.
Thank you so much.
Thank you for having me.
Thank you. Thank you.
And thank you, everyone,
and we'll see you next time
on "Man Vs. Child."
[ Cheering ]
-Good job today.
JAVIER: Good job, good job.

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