Air Date: Contestants:A Team:
Sugita Kaoru (杉田かおる), Matsuzaki Shigeru (松崎しげる), Sugimoto Aya (杉本彩), Kaai Gamon (河相我聞), Matsubara Nobue (松原のぶえ)B Team:
Mie (未唯), Aoki Sayaka (青木さやか), Yinling (インリン), Umezawa Tomio (梅沢富美男), Takahashi Keiko (高橋恵子)Guest Judges:
Yumi Kaoru (由美かおる), Nakao Akira (中尾彬), Higashino Kouji (東野幸治)Theme Ingredient/Recipes: A Team:
Beef / Croquette and Ground Beef CutletB Team:
Squid / Seafood Fried RiceRecap:
In honor of the World Cup, the Ai no Apron staff decided to host an Ai no Apron Cup. Bringing together some of the best and worst Ai-Epu chefs in first an elimination match, then a final cooking battle. It was a bit confusing at first for me to figure out how this was going to work, but it ended up being very simple.
There are 10 chefs, who by random selection were put into two teams of five. Each team (A Team and B Team - I'm using that rather than Block which is used on the show, as I did with the earlier special like this), would have different theme ingredients and dishes to cook. From the 10 chefs, four would be chosen to fight it out in the final battle. The four chefs would be decided upon by points awarded by the four judges (three special judges and Kentaro), with each judge being able to award up to 25 points for each dish. So a perfect score would be 100. They had four spots set aside in the studio, where the current top four scorers would sit. Then, as the judging continued, chefs would be 'eliminated'.
Yes, it's confusing. The easiest way to view it is the same as the regular ranking board. The four with the highest ranking (or highest score) out of the ten, will be in the final battle.
They setup a light board that would randomly choose the teams, and Joushima quickly got things under way. It was interested that aside from Yinling, the B team had the strongest line-up. The battle was also to be extremely short, only 30 minutes allowed for cooking.
Cooking Time was a bit of a jumble, as they had 10 chefs to keep track of during the battle. In fact, many responses were very brief as everyone seemed to feel the time crunch. Yinling's rice looked a bit odd, as she had mixed egg in with her rice before frying it. But what was really odd is that was the correct thing to do. Meanwhile Umezawa was doing everything with a big flourish, being the highest ranked Apron Boy and known as the 'King of the Apron'. They barely checked in with most of them and Cooking Time was as short as usual (and with 10 chefs, that was way too short).
A Team was up first for judging, and started with Kaoru. She gave it her all, and hoped that it would be enough. Her dish looked very odd with a lot of garnish, she also used pieces of whole white bread when making her cutlet. Yumi had problems determining what was up with her croquette. The cutlet had huge chunks of bread and egg still in it. Things aren't going to go well if you can't tell the croquette apart from the cutlet. After judging, she only scored 23 out of 100 possible points. But it was still enough to put her in the lead (since she was the first one judged). It was amusing because made a big deal of her being in the top spot.
Next up was Kaai Gamon, who is a singer/actor and I think may own a ramen restaurant. Either that or he was in a drama that featured one. They kept calling him a Pro, so I presume he probably owns one. But can he do fried foods? Obviously not, as neither dish really lived up to expectations. He scored 28 points out of 100, taking over the lead.
Matsubara was up next, and to be honest, I'm really sick and tired of her constant crying while being judged. Her dish wasn't perfect, but she started bawling which started Yumi cry, which started others crying. I don't think I've seen anyone cry so much on this show, whether she is being critiqued or complimented. Which is what happened here, with her croquette not being good but her cutlet being fine. But we wasted over five minutes with the crocodile tears. She scored 40 out of 100, moving into first.
Matsuzaki did well with both of his dishes, though he could have done a bit better. Overall they were good, which gave him a score of 68 out of 100. So far, everyone judged was moving into first knocking Kaoru further and further down. She was on the verge of being eliminated, and if the next person scored 24 points, Kaoru would be eliminated.
Which pretty much was a given, seeing that Sugimoto Aya was the last person on the A Team to be judged. Her croquette was perfect, and the sauce that she made to go with it was fantastic. Her cutlet could use a little work. It also appears that there may be a bit of rivalry between her and Mie. They really wanted Kaoru to understand how good it was, so they had her try it. Then, with a score of 86, Kaoru was eliminated. She was not happy about giving up the chair.
Then, with the A Team having been scored, it was time for the B Team. First up, Yinling. Who they referred to as the Typhoon of Ai Epu.
Before even revealing her dish, they asked her what position she was aiming for. She wanted the top seat. Everyone kind of chuckled at her boldness, then she revealed her dish and everyone was shocked. They then flashed back to cooking time where she was making fried rice to perfection. It turns out that she used to watch her mother cook this all the time. Kouji was really amused and in a bit of disbelief that she actually cooked that. Then came time to pour the seafood over the rice and it really came out as a gelatinous mess. She got chastised a bit for just dumping it over the rice rather than making it look nice. Yumi took a spoon and tasted it.
Then the impossible happened...
It was delicious. The reaction around the studio was amusing, as both Kaai and Kaoru were stunned. But it wasn't a mistake, it was really delicious. Nakao also found it extremely good. Joushima and Kiriko were floored. Kouji, her harshest critic in the past was also extremely happy to pronounce it was a fine dish. Kentaro explained that it was done exactly right. Mie and Umezawa asked to try it, and both also said it was perfect.
Now to really understand what was happening, you have to keep in mind that there were three Special Epu's yet to be judged. Aoki, Umezawa, and Mie. You can do the math in your head, Umezawa and Mie were pretty much a lock for the final four, as was Sugimoto. Aoki should have the final spot, but if Yinling scored really well Aoki would be in trouble. When Aoki was asked about it, she never though that Yinling would be her rival for the final four. If Yinling beat Sugimoto, Aoki probably would not make it.
The judges entered their scores, and Yinling received a total of 84 points, only 2 less than Sugimoto. Kiriko got extremely emotional congratulating her, even bursting into tears. It seems that everyone was really happy with her success. Which is one of the reasons I like this show, because even if you are a bad cook, everyone wants you to do well. Which is why there has been such a focus on getting Aoki a Special Epu ranking. But in terms of the Ai no Apron Cup, Kaai was eliminated, and Aoki looked very concerned. But with only four more dishes to judge, the episode ended.
Normally, I'm used to three-hour specials, so I was surprised to find that they did not continue the judging of the last four chefs. If this had been intended, you would have figured they would have stopped after judging the A Team. I think that what happened with Yinling was so surprising, that they decided to use the week to promote the conclusion.
Next week: Will Yinling make it to the final four battle? Will Aoki?