Top Chef recap: Emotional Eaters

The chefs cook from the heart in the nostalgia challenge
Ep. 10 | Aired Dec 11, 2013

Psssst. "You can put jam AND gravy on your biscuits, too."

David Moir/Bravo

Leah Chase, owner of the Dooky Chase, was back on hand to taste the dishes. I must say, between Leah and Kermit, New Orleans has produced some of the best characters in Top Chef history.

Carlos started things off and continued his hot streak with a cochinita pibil, which never fails to remind me of Top Chef Texas (ugh, Sarah and Heather) and Rick Bayless. Brian came up with a fine Korean BBQ New York strip to honor his grillmaster father and a Korean-style potato salad to honor his mother. Sadly, Dooky Chase wasn't equipped with a charcoal grill, so the meat lacked the woody, smokey flavor.

Travis wanted to make the perfect biscuit, but as he said, "I might have put too much butter in my biscuit." (That's what she said?) He decided to put his gravy over the raw part (well, I never!) on the off chance that the judges wouldn't notice. Everyone liked the flavors, but as Travis must have expected, the judges noticed the raw biscuits. Personally, I think raw biscuits sound delicious. Anthony Mackie seriously couldn't get over the fact that you could put gravy and jam on the same biscuit. Seriously blowing his mind right now.

Nicholas can barely make it through describing his dish for the judges because he's overcome with emotion. I'm not just saying this because the man was bawling, but his ricotta gnudi with pancetta, peas, lemon, and parmesan looked absolutely delicious, even through the TV screen. Those gnudi looked so tender, and the on-site judges confirmed it.

Shirley re-created a taste of her home with zhajiangmian, an extremely unhealthy but extremely delicious Chinese comfort food. I sort of can't imagine what she could do to change up zhajiangmian, but maybe enough of the tasters had never had it before. Stephanie made mussels with spicy pickled peppers and and tomatoes, which made her think of summers with her husband. Justin served up rice with a chicken thigh gravy — as native New Orleaners, Leah Chase's family was particularly nit-picky. Anthony in particular thought it could use more gravy.

Carrie's creamed asparagus over toast with a poached egg looked so good. Basically anything with toast and an egg and something like avocado makes the perfect, quick, anytime meal. Nina also succeeded with curry chicken with fried bakes, a Saint Lucian specialty.

Overall, it seemed the whole meal was excellent, and nobody made a bad dish, so it'd come down to the small mistakes. (Aside: I completely didn't understand Tom's joke where he compared Padma to a "shaker." Did I miss something or was it just not funny?)

Nicholas, Stephanie, and Carlos landed in the top, but Nicholas was obviously winning this one. Anthony said he'd wanted to be Nicholas' daughter if this is what he fed her. He said, "It made me happy as a little girl." Hilarious and creepy. Anthony, a wise man, told Nicholas, "You're the most stressed person I know" -- and he knows Jeremy Renner -- "Relax."

Travis, Brian, and Justin landed in the bottom, and suddenly Anthony turned into a hardass, accusing Justin of trying to make a dish he had no business making. Travis ended up taking the fall for his over-buttered biscuits, even though Anthony was still obsessed with the damn jam.

Doesn't it feel like now we're down to the really good chefs? What do you crave when you go home? Mine would be: dwenjiang jjigae with a ton of tofu and my mom's chicken-potato stir fry.

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