Morning of Elimination Challenge. Hosea wakes up early and eats breakfast while reviewing his dish. He explains that he wants his season to win all the challenges, but he mostly wants to make sure he wins his challenge and that his food is good. Fabio and Jeff wake up and Fabio complains, "I'm thirty years old and I still have to sleep in the bunky bed." I'm going to be so sad when Fabio gets eliminated. He makes me laugh. Fabio interviews that his mother is sick, and the money he could get from winning the competition would help with her medical care. Oh, I really thought he was a goner after that one. At least they didn't make him call home.
Carla sits alone and meditates with her eyes closed, except I think she's actually sleeping because you can see her eyes flicking around all REM-like beneath her eyelids. It's pretty creepy. Stefan the loudmouth asks if she's meditating and she's kind enough not to say, "Not anymore, BUTTWEED!" like I probably would. Carla interviews that winning this would give her some momentum and self-confidence. The cheftestants head out to the competition.
The judges (Padma, Toby Young, Scott Conant, and Colicchio) walk out into the demonstration kitchen, which is basically a long counter with two prep areas at either end, facing the audience. And guess who's in the audience? Along with a bunch of rowdy culinary students are the previously eliminated cheftestants from this season! I think they're all there but frankly, I barely remember what the first few eliminated cheftestants looked like. Padma runs down the rules: two cheftestants will cook in each round. The judges will taste both dishes and award one cheftestant with seven points. A panel of five students will also taste both dishes and award three points. The cheftestant with the most points wins, and any losers from the current season will be eligible for elimination.
Round one is New York Giants: Leah vs. Nikki. The eliminated cheftestants from this season, as you'd expect, root loudly for Leah. Unfair advantage! Although I guess otherwise, the students might root for Nikki, since they recognize her from television and they don't know Leah from a hole in the wall. When Leah hears that Nikki is cooking chicken livers, she feels pretty confident that she's got this wrapped up. Nikki prepared chicken livers with onions and goat cheese on challah bread and a wild arugula salad. Leah prepared New York strip steak with creamed corn, sugar snap peas, and arugula salad. When it comes to judging, Padma, Scott, and Colicchio all choose Leah's dish, while Toby chooses Nikki's dish. So Leah wins the seven points! Only two of the five students choose Leah, so Nikki earns three points there. Leah is psyched she's not up for elimination. Score: Home Team has 7 and Visitors have 3.