Image credit: David Moir/Bravo
Time's up! Among Dana's favorites was Nina, who made the world's smallest scotched egg with a leek and potato puree. Dana said Nina managed to squeeze tons of flavor out of just a few ingredients. This Nina is one to watch. And she didn't even mention Saint Lucia once! Also landing in the top was Stephanie with fresha pasta wrapped around lightly candied bacon and flash-fried sweet potatoes. Stephanie is a total spaz but there's something I like about her -- I think it's called passion. Then there was Shirley, who ended up winning immunity with her rice congee served with shirred egg and soy sauce (egg, rice, and soy sauce is the best combo ever). While the judges were tasting her dish, Shirley used her amazing powers of observation to note that when Padma likes something, she picks it up and eats more. That may sound like normal human behavior, but Padbot is no normal human... or even human at all.
Now for the least favorites. It was Bret who defied Dana's wishes and made a straight-up kale salad: kale and tomato gazpacho with a kale salad on top. Bret strikes me as subtly crazy, like one of those dads who out of the blue snaps one day and spends his kids' college fund on a Maserati. Louis once again underwhelmed (after doing nothing in the last Elimination Challenge) with his smoked trout. Dana said, "Part of the challenge is to still find the smoke. I'm still looking." Shade, girl. Shade! But if it's any consolation, Louis really is the actual best-looking guy this season, not generic Jason, even if he did look like a surfer. And lastly, instantly eliminated was Aaron, whose fried kale dredged in soy, Mirin, and rice vinegar was too salty for Emeril to even finish. Finally, we're down to an almost-manageable 16.
The Elimination Challenge took the contestants to Commander's Palace, a New Orleans institution that brought sparkles to the chefs' eyes. They all sat down for a delicious meal at Commander's Palace, where chef Tory McPhail — whose last name sounds like the loser brother of McDreamy and McSteamy — served them all four dishes. Their task would be to replicate the dishes as best they could. They were separated into four groups of four, and each group had to re-create one of four dishes made by a great New Orleans chef: Shrimp and tasso henican, a blackened skillet-seared trout, veal chop Tchoupitoulas, and a strawberry trio by McPhail himself. On hand to guest-judge, in addition to Dana and chef Paul Prudhomme, were the proprietors of Commander's Palace, Ti Martin and Lally Brennan. Oh my word, these ladies were southern. I expected them to start ending every sentence with "I do declayuh!" Tally told a delightful story about Commander's Palace's history... I didn't understand all of it, but I believe the restaurant used to be a brothel of some sort, I DO DECLAYUH!
NEXT: Whos' the biggest schlub of them all?