Carla is shucking corn as she explains that her family was from a lot of different Southern states, and she wants to pay tribute to them. She remembers her grandma's old beat up biscuit cutter, so she wants to make biscuits. And she's using liquid nitrogen! Blais is surprised but thinks that it's great that Carla is pushing herself this close to the finals. It is cool, but it also reminds me of the sous vide disaster that kept Carla from winning her season, so I'm torn.
Tiffany is working on a dish that they would regularly eat at home, and it includes stewed okra. She knows that Tom isn't a fan, but she hopes she can make it in a way that he will like anyway. Carla tries a little bit and thinks it tastes great. Then again, she's Southern, so she's kind of predisposed to like such a Southern dish.
Antonia explains that her father is undergoing radiation treatment for prostate cancer and she wants to make a dish to honor him, so she's going with braised veal. Blais, meanwhile, is combining his meat market ancestors with his chemist ancestors and making braised short ribs, fried bone marrow, and pickled glassworts. What are glassworts? They are sea beans, according to Blais, although my quick Google search doesn't reveal anything about that. But glasswort is a great word, and Blais recognizes that.
Mike explains that he's never cooked Italian professionally, but he learned it all from his grandmother. This is almost making me root for Mike. I love grandmas. Meanwhile, Carla is trying to get her biscuits done, but the oven isn't getting hot enough, so she's worried. Antonia is making a risotto, which is a tough dish to make exactly right. Remember Tre? Remember how he went home for the wrong texture on his risotto? Yeah. Exactly. Blais is nervous about his food, but you wouldn't be surprised about that, because he's always nervous.
The judges arrive at the table along with the family members of the cheftestants that we met earlier. Judges for this round are Padma, Colicchio, Gail, and the aforementioned Dan Barber. Isn't it going to be weird, criticizing the cheftestants in front of their family members? I feel like anything negative would be met with blank stares or dirty looks. Although, probably at this point the family members are used to the cheftestants' food being critiqued.
Mike serves first: potato gnocchi with braised pork shank ragu and burrata cheese. He explains that his great-grandfather was from Naples, and this dish is something his grandmother cooked for him when he was younger. Colicchio asks when Mike started cooking, and his mom says that he started at three, but his grandmother was the one who taught him. Colicchio tastes the food and then says that there has been a lot of trouble with gnocchi, on this show, but Mike nailed it. Antonia's mom and Carla's husband agree. Dan Barber thinks that gnocchi can be heavy, but this is light and airy, and Mike's mom admits that it's better than his grandmother's gnocchi. That's saying something. I would assume. I never had Mike's grandmother's gnocchi, but grandmas are usually pretty good cooks, especially Italian grandmas.