Quickfire Challenge: Tony Mantuano (a former Top Chef Masters competitor) judges as the cheftestants try to make the best stuffing. I'm guessing it's actually dressing. Isn't that what it's called when you don't actually cook it inside the bird? The twist is that they are not allowed to use any utensils when making it. It's pretty hilarious to see people stirring with celery stalks and slabs of bacon and jar lids. Fabio grates cheese on the pot and pan rack. Here are the dishes:
Casey: mushrooms with crispy chicken liver, miso cake and mushroom dashi.
Jamie: stuffing crepinette with pork, lemon oil, and broth
Carla: Thai inspired vegetable stuffing with black quinoa salad
Spike: stuffed quail with raisins, herbs, port, and apricot glaze
Marcel: whole squab, stuffing with raisin brioche, cherries, currants, and ras el hanout gravy
Blais: pressure-cooked onion, nitro fried fennel, raisins, and pine nuts
Tre: Southwestern stuffing with bacon, cheddar, bell pepper, chili powder
Dale: Spanish influenced stuffing with crab, oysters, chili lemon aioli, grapes, olives
Tiffani: soy maple stuffing with quail, grilled mushrooms, and quartered grapes
Fabio: polenta bread, vegetables, smoked bacon, and grated parmesan
Tony's least favorites are Carla's food (who knows that she undercooked the quinoa), Tiffani's food (which was overly sweet) and Casey's (which seemed more like an appetizer than stuffing). His favorite dishes belong to Tre, whose food was spicy but balanced, Marcel, whose stuffing and bird both tasted great. And the winner is Tre, who gets immunity as well as $20,000. Look at Tre, making a run!
Elimination Challenge: They divide up into two teams (Orange and Yellow), and have to create a healthy dish for the participants in the U.S. Open. They will serve dishes head-to-head against someone from the other team for points. The team with the most points wins and someone who won will be up for the individual win. One of the losers from the losing team will be up for elimination.
First up, Team Orange Fabio serves whole wheat gnocchi with pork loin ragout, caramelized fennel and zucchini versus Yellow Casey who serves grilled pork tenderloin with farro, cherries, sugar snap peas, and vinaigrette. The judges award the point to Fabio, and Team Yellow is pissed because their strategy was to go first with their worst dish and probably lose, but Jamie had the worst dish and she wasn't ready, so they kind of wasted Casey's dish. So now they're down a point and they still haven't served their worst dish.
Second, Team Orange sends up Dale, who serves edamame dumpling with carrot froth and crispy soy nuts, versus Team Yellow Tiffani, who serves sashimi of black bass, avocado, and ponzu vinaigrette. Originally, Marcel was supposed to go second for Orange, but Dale's dumplings were time sensitive, and Marcel gets all pissy about getting bumped. Tiffani wins the point for yellow and it's all tied up.
Third, Team Orange Marcel serves cauliflower couscous with pomegranate seeds, golden raisins, and yellowfin tuna versus Team Yellow Angelo, who serves smoked tuna, yuzu gelee, red onion, and capers. Angelo was originally going to serve mackerel but decided last minute that the fish he got wasn't good, so he got some tuna from Tiffany. Angelo wins the point for the Yellow Team, giving them the lead.
Fourth, Team Orange Antonia serves diver sea scallop, Indian lentil puree, mint, dandelion greens, cilantro, and chives versus Team Yellow Tiffany serves spiced tuna with fennel, peppercorns, coriander seeds, and lentil salad. The judges give the point to Antonia, so now it's tied up again.
Fifth, Team Orange Blais serves "thai-bouleh" (a play on tabouleh) with lamb, herbs, and yogurt versus Team Yellow Spike, who serves tomato tamarind soup, olive oil poached shrimp, pineapple, tomatoes, and dill. Angelo and Tiffani did a lot of playing around with Spike's dish before he served it. The judges award the point to Blais, mostly because they hate Spike's shrimp. So now Orange is one point from winning.
Sixth, Team Orange Carla serves African groundnut soup with baked sweet potatoes, adzuki beans, and peanuts versus Team Yellow Tre, who serves Coho salmon, parsnip puree, olive oil sauce with citrus, tomatoes, and olives. Jamie couldn't go for Team Yellow because her dish STILL wasn't ready, like how long have those chickpeas been cooking at this point? Carla gets the point and Team Orange gets the win.
So Jamie gets away without serving a dish AGAIN and won't get sent home AGAIN which is kind of bullshit. Anyway, up for the win are Fabio, Carla, Blais, and Antonia, and the win goes to Carla! Yay! It's especially awesome because multiple competitors dissed her food, and she also cut her fingernail off during prep and just bandaged it and kept going (JAMIE!).
The cheftestants up for elimination are Casey, Tiffany, Tre, and Spike. Blais points out to Jamie that she's kind of got a pattern of not cooking. Agreed. And mad because Jamie was one of my pre-season favorites. Spike explains the team's strategy and how it backfired. Spike blames Angelo and Tiffani for his dish's problems, even though most of the judges hated the shrimp, which were all Spike. Tre doesn't throw Angelo under the bus, even though they hated his salmon, which Angelo actually cooked. But he has the luxury of immunity. Casey argues that her dish was fine, and the judges are wrong. So the judges tell Spike to pack his knives and go. Damn. Well, he was never going to win the whole thing. But it should have been Jamie.
After the stress of the double elimination, the cheftestants repair to a bar to drink away their sorrows. And the bartender is the hipsteriest hipster that ever hipped. He's wearing a low-V T-shirt with a zipper hoodie over it (exposing lots of pale, bony, hairless chest) along with GIANT red Sally Jesse Raphael glasses. I would walk out if I saw him behind the bar, because girl, please. I don't know what time they arrive at this bar, but most of them are drinking coffee. Maybe it's Irish coffee? Is that racist against the Irish to say? Anyway, Casey is sad to lose her BFF Dale, and Tiffani vows to stay out of the bottom, since she's been there twice now. I really can't get over how cute Tiffani is compared to her first season of the show. I don't know if her attitude made her less cute, but she's really stepped up her game. Mike I. tells the table that he's glad that Dale won, if only because he's not Angelo, and then interviews that he thinks Angelo is his biggest competition. I find it kind of fascinating that none of them know much about Angelo, since presumably his season hadn't finished airing while they were filming. But I guess they know he made it to the finals? I don't know.
After the credits, we jump right into the Quickfire Challenge: Tony Mantuano (a former Top Chef Master competitor as well as chef/owner of Spiagga) is there with Padma. She explains that they will be making the best stuffing. I'm guessing it's actually dressing. Isn't that what it's called when you don't actually cook it inside the bird? Tiffani points out that stuffing is really regional, and it's not just house-specific, it's mom-specific. That's true. My cousin-in-law makes our stuffing for Thanksgiving and it is delicious. I have no idea what he puts in it, though. I think there might be sausage? Tony explains that he and his mom always argue over the stuffing because he wants to make it Italian with prosciutto and sage (mmm) and his mom wants a more traditional stuffing.
But there's a twist to this challenge -- they don't get to use knives or any utensils. Fabio wonders if he's supposed to "crash potato with his head." I don't know that he should worry about putting potatoes into his stuffing. And the winner gets immunity and $20K. Tre tells us that he has two girls to support, and girls are more expensive. They are? Why? Because you want to spoil them more? Because they make cuter clothes for girls? I wore my brother's old clothes as a kid, but it was easier to find gender-neutral kids' clothes in the '70s. I go shopping for my boys now and everything either is green and brown with a truck on it or pink with a butterfly. And I would totally put my kids in pink with a butterfly, but I'm just saying. Why not green with nothing on it? Do we need our newborns to express a love of dinosaurs? They don't even know what dinosaurs are! Anyway.