Yeah, I’m confused, too.
A short footrace decides which vegetable each of them will be cooking. Nick beats Carlos to the eggplant, then roasts it and serves it with a sesame seed sriracha tahini and chili threads. It’s a great looking dish, but it’s not seasoned enough for Tom, so Carlos’ red pepper soup (which didn’t exactly highlight the pepper) wins him the car, some muted gloating, and a scripted monologue about the car’s neat-o features.
Next, Emeril walks into the kitchen to announce their final elimination challenge in New Orleans. Since they’ll be packing up the next day, the chefs are tasked with a capstone assignment: Create a dish inspired by their time in the Big Easy. Not only will the winner move on, but their dish will be featured on Emeril’s menu. Oh yeah, and they’re cooking for Grant Achatz, Andrew Carmellini, and Douglas Keane. No pressure guys.
The cheftestants all opt for seafood, which makes sense. Nina makes her first mistake of the competition by forgetting the malfatti on her barbecue speckled trout. The judges don’t seem to miss it. Nick goes above and beyond once again and prepares not one, but three types of fish in a shrimp broth. The judges appreciate its beauty and the depth of the broth, but Dr. Elmi falls victim to underseasoning once again. Shirley, a study in studying exactly what people want to hear, impresses the judges by using the Cajun holy trinity of celery, onions, and bell pepper in her dish–black drum with Zhenjiang vinegar butter sauce, braised celery and mushrooms. Carlos gets creative and makes a tamal entirely out of seafood. The concept is well-received, but the dish needed more acid and a bit more time in the banana leaf.
All told, it was a showing good enough that the judges are left to split hairs, but not for Nina and Shirley. At this point, they’re cooking on a different level. Even with the missing component, Nina advances. Shirley does her one better by winning the challenge, leaving the final spot to either Nick or Carlos.
During deliberation, it’s clear that Padma wants Nick gone, but she can’t override the rest of the judges, and as if the decision was made before they even talked about it, she quickly dispatches Carlos to the Last Chance Kitchen, where he’ll have to battle Louis Maldonado for the final final spot (which won’t be announced until next week, so no need to waste the 11 minutes and 42 seconds watching the webisode. You’re welcome). And just like that, we’re finishing things up in Hawaii.
Only three more to beat, Nick. Let’s do this.
All Top Chef Coverage [f8b8z]