Quickfire Challenge. Guest judge is Wylie Dufresne. It's scaring me that I not only recognized him on sight, but I associated him with Marcel and that whole molecular gastronomy foam business. Anyway, Wylie loves eggs, so the challenge is to take an hour and create something with eggs. That's pretty open-ended, and it's a lot of time, but the cheftestants all recognize that they need to do something related to molecular gastronomy. The first named to the bottom is Fabio, who did all kinds of wizardry to make dishes that looked like eggs, but didn't actually contain eggs, like a dessert served in an egg shell with mango puree as the "yolk." The second on the bottom is Hosea, who made a trio of Japanese-type dishes but Dufresne felt like the three dishes didn't complement each other. The last on the bottom is Leah, who made a heavy and greasy potato ravioli. The top two, then, are Carla and Stefan. Carla made green eggs and ham, using spinach in the egg whites. Dufresne appreciated her use of humor. Stefan made two egg dishes, one savory and one sweet, both with impeccable technique. Dufresne names Carla the winner, and she's thrilled that she won by keeping it simple and not even using molecular gastronomy, since that's not her strength.
Elimination Challenge. The cheftestants pull knives, each imprinted with the name of a giant in the culinary field. Since it's their last in New York, they will be cooking the chosen "last meal" of their food icon. And can I just say that, for a bunch of chefs, they chose really boring last meals? There's not a hamburger or a steak in the bunch. During prep, Fabio breaks his little finger but refuses a hospital visit so he can continue cooking. Colicchio comes in during prep and begs the cheftestants not to embarrass him.
Leah cooks Eggs Benedict for Wylie Dufresne. The judges find it pretty good, though the egg whites are a little runny and the sauce is a bit thin.
Stefan cooks salmon with spinach and roasted potatoes for Marcus Samuelsson. The judges find the salmon to be overcooked, which ruins the whole dish.
Hosea cooks shrimp scampi with tomatoes Provençal for Susan Ungaro. The judges don't really like the departures Hosea took from the traditional dish, particularly the tomatoes.
Fabio cooks roasted chicken and leafy salad for Lidia Bastianich. The judges love the simple and straightforward dish.
Carla cooks roasted squab with fresh peas for Jacques Pépin. The judges are divided over whether the squab is overcooked, but Pepin loved everything about the dish.
At Judges' Table, Jacques Pepin tells Fabio that he was the unanimous winner. Wow! Even with a broken finger! Carla gets praise for her peas and gets to leave the kitchen as well. That leaves Hosea, Leah, and Stefan as the bottom three. Leah is told her egg was undercooked and she shouldn't have second-guessed her Hollandaise; Stefan overcooked his salmon, and Hosea strayed too far from the traditional recipe. FUCKING FINALLY, Leah is told to pack her knives and go. I could have lived with Hosea missing the finals, but not if it meant Leah was going. And the finals in New Orleans start next week!
Stefan, Fabio, and Hosea sit out on the balcony and discuss Jamie's exit. Stefan says he'll miss her, but also recognizes that she made a mistake, and it's to his benefit to have one more cheftestant eliminated. He also recognizes that, no matter how talented you are, one mistake can mean going home. Leah makes her bed and rasps in an interview that she flunked out of college, and then started working in a restaurant and fell in love with it. She seems like the type that loved the camaraderie (and male attention) of the kitchen and that's what she fell in love with more than the food. I'm just doing some amateur psychology, and I'm probably wrong, but it sounds like it could be true, doesn't it?
Carla and Stefan sit in the living room. Apparently, Stefan is a bit down and Carla starts clapping and going, "Yew can deeeeeewwwww it! Yew can deeeeeewwwww it!" Man, if he was discouraged before, now he's probably homicidal. I love Carla in the small doses I get once per week; I don't think I could take living with her. Stefan looks like he agrees with that assessment. In an interview, Carla explains her background: she was a model, and then went to culinary school late, so she feels like she's a dark horse in the competition but could also be an inspiration to women everywhere. Also, birds. Big birds. I'm just saying. So that's the briefer-than-usual (it seems, I didn't time it or anything) reflection on past episodes and setting up for this episode. Must be a good competition this week! Also, it's a normal length episode, so that could have something to do with it.
Quickfire Challenge. The cheftestants enter the kitchen to find a tableau of various sized and colored eggs, and standing next to Padma is Wylie Dufresne. Wylie Dufresne always looks to me like instead of a chef, he should be the lead singer/guitar player in an alt-country band. Like he would fit right in with Wilco. Maybe it's just me. Hosea explains, for those who haven't watched previous seasons, that Dufresne is known for molecular gastronomy and "standing food on its head." That sounds difficult to balance, especially when you're talking about eggs. Padma reminds them that this is the last round in New York, and four of the cheftestants will be heading to New Orleans for the semifinals and finals.
Dufresne explains that he's there because he loves eggs, and he believes that the ability to properly cook an egg is a sign of a good chef. Padma explains that the challenge is to take one hour to create a dish using eggs that will "surprise and delight our egghead, Wylie, over here." When did Padma become a vaudevillian with the jokes? Fabio interviews that he really needs to win this so he can get whatever advantage it offers for the next Elimination Challenge. Padma calls time and the cheftestants start running around like chickens with their heads cut off.