Antonia says that veal was a "celebratory protein" that her grandmothers would serve to their husbands to warm them and fill them. Gail thinks she was brave to serve risotto, given the history of the dish on the show, but it had a great texture. Tom says this was confident risotto, which is also the name of my third album.
Tiffany knew she was from Texas and Louisiana, so she had to make okra. Tom admits that she converted him with the okra, and she cheers VERY LOUDLY. Tom says that it wasn't slimy, which is always his problem with okra, and it was great to hear her mom talk about food, because she and Tiffany are so similar.
Padma asks Mike about his gnocchi recipe, and Mike says that his grandmother would start cooking in the morning which gave her gravy a depth of flavor. Dan thinks the dish was rich and hearty, and Gail thinks Mike should always listen to his mother because the dish was "soulful and satisfying." Colicchio says he doesn't know if he could take his own mother's advice, even though she's a great cook. Mike wipes some tears away, and tells them that he was very close to his grandmother before she died, and he hasn't cooked her food since she died. Gail tells him that his mother thought her mother's gnocchi was the best, until she had Mike's. Okay. They got me. I am seriously crying right now. ABOUT MIKE! I HATE HIM! Ugh. Show. Why do you do this to me?
The cheftestants head back to the Stew Room to wait. Tiffany is happy that the judges liked their food and compliments Mike on how open he was and emotional. Mike says he thought he was past missing his grandmother, and Carla tells him that cooking is more than a job and you can taste when someone puts love into the food. Antonia breaks up the love-fest when she reminds them that someone still needs to go home.
The judges deliberate. Tom says that he doesn't even know where to start, and he can only nitpick tiny things. He cleaned his plate on Antonia's dish, and her proportions were perfect. Gail can only say that the veal was "just a hair salty." Dan thought Mike's gnocchi was brilliant and Tom thought it was absolutely delicious. The only criticism is that Dan would have used a little less meat. Moving on to Blais, Dan says that the flavors were perfect. Tom loved the sea beans, but Padma wanted more green. Gail loved how he embraced his past but moved it into the future. Tom thought Carla's broth was the best part of the dish but the garnish got lost. Gail loved the grits cake and they laugh over how she froze it in liquid nitrogen. Gail points out that everything on Tiffany's plate was a window into her life, but Tom thought she needed to lose some accessories. Tom thinks this is an impossible decision, but apparently they have made one. And at this point, they have given no hint about who's going home because all the problems were so minute! What's going to happen?
Padma reminds them that the winner gets to move on to the finals and also wins a new car. Dan gets to announce the winner. He says that it was an incredible dinner with great dishes, but the one that rose above was the dish made by Antonia. She is giddy with delight. I love how happy Tiffany and Carla are for her. Richard and Mike are still grouchy and nervous, though. Padma says that she also gets to go to the finals, which will take place in the Bahamas. And then Tom tells Mike that he's safe and will be going to the Bahamas as well, and Padma sends them out. Tom's announcement was totally added in post, which was weird. Anyway, Mike and Antonia go back to the Stew Room and are so, so happy.
But back at Judges' Table, Tiffany, Blais, and Carla are still in jeopardy. Tom says that Tiffany gave them a soulful plate, Richard pulled off Irish and English food, and Carla made one of the best sauces he's had all season. Tom gives a hint of what's to come when he says that he "would hate to see any of them go home." Wouldn't he normally say that he does hate to see any of them go home? Bad phrasing. So then Padma tells Richard to pack his knives...and it's very strangely edited...and get ready to go to the Bahamas. Richard seriously just had a heart attack. He heard pack your knives and was mentally preparing to be gracious about that and then the second part came and that was just really mean. I mean, of all the people to do that to. He manages to pull himself together enough to thank them before he runs out of the room and tells Antonia and Mike that he's safe.
So now it's down to Tiffany and Carla. Tom tells them that they've been going back and forth and nitpicking and trying to make sense of it, and it's a tough decision. Padma says, "Carla. Tiffany. You're both going to the Bahamas." Tiffany and Carla laugh and hug, and the judges are all laughing. Tiffany says she had already told herself that she was going home. Tom tells them that it was too tough to make a decision, and so they didn't. I don't blame them. It would suck to send someone home for a really good dish that had a little too much salt or whatever. Like not inedibly salty, but just a smidge salty, and it sounds like it would have been that level of nitpicking.
Tiffany and Carla return to the Stew Room and pretend to be all sad before revealing that they're all going to the Bahamas. Antonia seems happy. Mike and Blais seem a little bit like, "Shit, that hurts my odds of winning" but they pretend to be happy. Mike even admits in an interview that he would rather have four people in the finals than five, but he's happy anyway. Carla points out that three of the five are women, and it would be great to have a female winner. As long as it's deserved, I can deal with any of these winners. Except maybe Mike. I think that would bug me. And it all starts next week.