Chef Nate Appleman and Chef Jehangir Mehta battled it out on Sunday night's… (Tasos Katopodis / Getty…)
The remaining five contestants on "Next Iron Chef" took a trip to Las Vegas Sunday evening for a Vegas wedding -- of wacky ingredients, of course. For the Chairman's Challenge of fusion, host Alton Brown married ingredients for the chefs: peanut butter and blue cheese; chicken liver and peppermints; bone marrow and hard fruit candies; clams and strawberries; and calamari and mini marshmallows. The chefs were squirming, and so was I! Hardest challenge yet? Definitely.
Last week's winner Marcel Vigneron assigned the ingredient pairs to his fellow contestants and gave himself the easiest pair, peanut butter and blue cheese. He impressed the judges with a blue cheese ice cream, peanut butter powder, peanut butter brittle and peanut butter praline, but it was Amanda Freitag who snagged the win with her grilled squid with marshmallow horseradish cream and Hungarian paprika sauce.
Jonathan Gold Quiz: Hamburgers
Alex Guarnaschelli did a safe chicken liver mousse and peppermint salad, Nate Appleman was able to make an acqua pazza and fresh cavatelli with his pair, and Jehangir Mehta did a grilled bone marrow with hard candy chimichurri, pickled fruit candy fennel bread and chile lime fruit candy. The judges dinged Appleman for his undercooked pasta and told Mehta they couldn't taste a real fusion and sent the two men to the Secret Ingredient Showdown. I'm a fan of Guarnaschelli, but seriously? Mehta soaked his candies in fenugreek, flattened them out, dried them, fried them, re-wrapped them into balls then rolled them into lime and chile salt in an attempt to re-imagine his ingredient. Guarnaschelli made a salad!
Appleman and Mehta battled on teppanyaki grills for the challenge with the secret ingredient shrimp. Appleman made okonomiyaki pancake with shrimp and a roasted shrimp head (meant to squeeze over the pancake as a condiment), and Mehta did a grilled shrimp with mustard seeds and cumin and a mung bean salad. The judges praised Appleman's roasted shrimp head flavor pack and sent Mehta home.
Vigneron mistaking Appleman's integrity in the kitchen after helping Freitag figure out her pressure cooker as an alliance, then reminiscing about his bromance with Spike. Dude. Spike is gone. Move on.
Judge Simon Majumdar admitting one of his favorite sandwiches in the whole world is peanut butter and blue cheese. This has to be grounds for dismissal as a judge. Hey, Food Network, need a replacement?
Vigneron whining after Freitag won the challenge. "Is it really fair that she won because her ingredients were harder?" She killed it. Pretty sure that's the definition of winning.
Hangover bound: 10 wacky vodka flavors
Fergie hosts charity cocktail party, likes her own vodka
'Next Iron Chef' recap: Culinary giant Elizabeth Falkner goes home
Follow Jenn Harris on Twitter or Google+