Quickfire Challenge: Guest judge Paula Deen asks them to create a deep-fried dish. The bottom two are Dale, whose flavors are bland, and Carla, whose hush puppies are heavy. Antonia had Paula's favorite dish but forgot to create two plates, so she's disqualified. Blais makes a dish that includes deep fried mayonnaise, but Mike totally steals an idea from Blais to make chicken "oysters" and then wins. Of course, Mike claims he didn't steal a thing, but what a dick. At least he didn't get immunity.
Elimination Challenge: Make Gulf Coast seafood for three hundred people, as part of a benefit for the Gulf Coast, after it was damaged by the oil spill. The previously eliminated cheftestants return, each holding a seafood protein, and the remaining cheftestants have to choose a person and an ingredient to work with. At the actual event, the sheer number of people overwhelms everyone, and some handle it better than others. Here are the results:
Mike worked with Tiffani to create grit-crusted Gulf shrimp, sour cream and chive potatoes with pork and lobster sauce. The judges like it, although it seemed like Tiffani did a lot of the work.
Blais worked with Fabio to make crispy Gulf snapper with pulled pork and citrus grits. The judges are surprised that the disparate elements actually work together.
Carla worked with Tre to make fried grouper with collard greens and chow-chow pico. The judges don't love the greens and think that the seasoning is off on the fish.
Tiffany worked with Marcel, and they butted heads while making honey-glazed shrimp, grits with jalapeno and cheese, and shellfish sauce. Some judges like the glaze okay, but others don't like it at all.
Dale worked with Angelo, and he gets totally frazzled while serving amberjack stew with andouille sausage and potatoes with a Creole mustard crouton. The potatoes aren't cooked through, and all of the judges agree that the crouton is way too strong and overpowers the dish.
Antonia worked with Spike to make a blue crab cake, corn, jalapeno and andouille relish with crab broth. The judges think that the crab is light and tasty.
The top three are Antonia, Blais and Mike, and the winner is Blais. That leaves Tiffany, Carla, and Dale as the bottom three. Dale lost the fish in his dish because the other ingredients (mustard, sausage) were so overpowering. Carla masked the flavor of the fish with hot sauce. Tiffany's glaze was too sweet, largely because she let Marcel make the glaze and didn't tell him to water it down. And then the judges send Dale home. DAMN. He knew he was going; he was just defeated the entire episode. But it shows that they're serious about judging based on that night's dish and nothing else. I can't say I'm super-sad that the finale is shaping up to be more female, but Dale is the Most Improved, for sure.
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Immediately after Angelo's elimination, everyone in the Stew Room was stunned. Mike, obviously. But even Tiffany admits that she was one hundred percent sure that she was going home. Dale comments that it was shocking to see Angelo leave, but the reality is that they all have to leave sometime, unless they win the whole thing. We really have gotten to the point this season where any elimination is shocking. I mean, I think Tiffany and Mike shouldn't make the finals, but it's tough to remember that this show is judged on the one dish the cheftestant makes for that day's challenge, and not the cheftestant's entire body of work. So one off day means that person is going home, which kind of sucks, but is also what makes the show exciting. Otherwise, the finals would be a foregone conclusion. Anyway, Dale also reminds us that he won both the Quickfire and the Elimination in the previous episode, so he's on a high right now. So he's probably safe this week, right? Because he's been doing so well? Oh, that totally doesn't matter in terms of judging? Yeah, I just said that.
Antonia, Mike, and Blais are hanging out in the apartment, and Blais shows them his planning notebook. He's taken a little reporter's notebook and written out various plans for dishes. He explains that he's filled up two of them since he's been on the show this time around, because while he is there for the experience, he also wants to win. Note that Mike flipped through the notebook and read some pages, at least that we saw, and Blais even explained one of the recipes step-by-step. Why did he do this? He probably couldn't help himself; he seems like the type who's always teaching and helping other people, even to his own detriment.
Mike notices that Tiffany is wearing makeup and looks fancier than usual and asks her if she has a date. She giggles that she thinks if she looks better, she will think better and perform better. She interviews that she's realized that she has to step up her game, and it's nice to see a rejuvenated Tiffany, as she's been barely skating by.
The cheftestants arrive at the kitchen and see Paula Deen waiting for them. They all recognize her and smile. How can you note smile when you see Paula Deen? You may not like her food, but she's always so happy and upbeat, even while she's irreparably clogging your arteries. Paula and Padma explain the Quickfire Challenge: make something in the deep fryer. Paula explains that she's deep fried mac and cheese, lasagna, and even butter, and she's looking for imaginative food. Time limit is thirty minutes and the winner gets $5,000.