Next Level Chef recap episode 9: World fusion to confusion

NEXT LEVEL CHEF: L-R: Mentors Nyesha Arrington, Gordon Ramsay and Richard Blais in the “Fusion Confusion” episode of NEXT LEVEL CHEF airing Wednesday, Feb. 16 (9:00-10:00 ET/PT) on FOX © 2022 FOX Media LLC. CR: FOX.
NEXT LEVEL CHEF: L-R: Mentors Nyesha Arrington, Gordon Ramsay and Richard Blais in the “Fusion Confusion” episode of NEXT LEVEL CHEF airing Wednesday, Feb. 16 (9:00-10:00 ET/PT) on FOX © 2022 FOX Media LLC. CR: FOX. /

While Genesis might have sung about too many problems in its Land of Confusion, the Next Level Chef episode 9 had the cooks serving the judges confused plates. While fusing two world cuisines in a single dish might sound like music to foodies’ ears, the reality is that some dishes made promises that they could not keep.

With all the cooks sent to their various kitchens based on previous performances, the cooks seem to be feeling the pressure. Whether it is the desire to rise from the bottom to the need to stay on top, the reality is that one plate determines their fate.

For this Next Level Chef theme, the cooks tackled world fusion. With a platform that featured several countries, the idea was to blend the various ingredients and flavors into a cohesive dish. Although fusion has had its moment in cooking, the reality is that some flavors blend better than others. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many Icelandic Brazilian dishes in this world.

Which world fusion dish was Next Level Chef culinary discovery?

Looking at the dishes, there seemed to be an advantage to being in the top two kitchens. Getting a better choice of country combinations seemed to help some cooks find their direction. But, it was not a guarantee.

Again, like previous episode challenges, a calm demeanor, a focused dish and the ability to execute under pressure allows some cooks to rise to the top. Still, each challenge stands on its own. Past performances might have earned the kitchen location but it doesn’t mean that a cook is safe.

Looking at the dishes, the cooks with a clear vision soared to the top. Although she has been quiet, Angie knew that Italian and Germany flavors and ingredients would pair well. Not quite the mantra of what grows together goes together, the similarities worked in her favor.

More importantly, Angie executed well. There was a nod to a classic schnitzel but the dish captured that Next Level Chef feeling. The German and Italian influence was clear, but it was a dish that stood on its own.

Mariah found similar success. Appreciating that the chilis in the Mexican basket would work with the Thai flavors showed that she thinks quickly on her feet. That scenario is key to doing well in Next Level Chef.

With lovely spot prawns, the dish felt confident. In addition to all the flavor in the bowl, it captured both of the locales. It earned her a spot in the top kitchen.

Courtney had another good dish, but not quite good enough. Maybe doing another curry didn’t show enough range for the judges.

And, even though Pyet had a strong start, she has faltered again. From incorrectly cutting her steak to lacking salt, the dish was one step forward and two steps back.

Unfortunately, two top cooks fell and fell hard. Reuel, who has been a star, was totally lost in the kitchen. While he picked Japan so that Tricia wouldn’t get the basket, he didn’t pair it correctly with another country. Choosing a basket based on strategy was a poor move.

Tricia was setting the kitchen a blaze and she isn’t part of team Trail-Blaisers. While it might be nerves, it is also lack of experience in a real kitchen. The reality is that time constraints, adaptability and quick thinking are key skills for Next Level Chef. Tricia has yet to figure that out.

Going into the elimination round was Kenny (again), Rueul and Tricia. Given that all three cooks were from the original Gordon Ramsay team, it was clear that Gordon was not pleased. Even though that situation could happen to Richard Blais and Nyesha Arrington, it happened first to Gordon. The situation did make for a good food television moment.

The challenge had the cooks blending Korean and Southern cuisine. While that fusion doesn’t seem too out of the box, the cooks needed to find a way to bring a touch of their culinary voice to the table. It isn’t next level prep cook, it is Next Level Chef.

As the challenge unfolded, it was relatively clear that Rueul would be safe. His take on a fried rice wasn’t perfect, but it was smart. It played the familiar yet different angle. Although not perfectly executed, it was better than the rest.

Kenny’s dish could have been better, but there were technical errors. As Richard Blais mentioned in the first challenge, a too sweet dish is not a good choice. That situation happened again. Either Kenny’s flavor profiles are off or there is there some sabotage in the kitchen?

Lastly, Tricia played to her strengths. Choosing a dish that was familiar is smart. But, the questions by Nyesha foreshadowed the outcome. Cooking dark meat chicken in a short time frame needs to be done with care.

The biggest moment of the night came as Gordon Ramsay revealed that Tricia’s chicken was raw. But, Richard Blais had already taken a bite and then he spit it out. How did Blais not realize that it was raw or were only some pieces uncooked? And, why didn’t Gordon stop Richard before he ate the chicken?

Needless to say, raw chicken is immediate dismissal from Next Level Chef. The one good piece of news is that with Tricia leaving there should be less fires in the kitchen.

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What did you think of this Next Level Chef episode? Can you guess who will make the finale?