Unfortunately, we didn't see as much of the restaurant-building process as in past years, but apparently the warehouse spaces had been successfully converted into pop-up restaurants. Found had the better menus; Fin had the better name.
Fin's service opened on an ugly, purple note. Brian served up scallop crudo with squash relish and purple corn gel, which he accidentally made with xantham gum. David called the gel "snotty," which is never good. Carrie picked things up with her sauteed gulf shrimp with chickpea puree — Tom loved the flavors but thought the shrimp butter was like an "oil slick." Everyone loved the chewiness and saltiness of Stephanie's linguine with caviar, oyster cream, and fennel. Nicholas delivered the best dish of his team with a roasted black drum with oxtail ragout, kale, and hibiscus reduction. Travis not only whipped up a great olive oil cake, but did a great job hamming it up in his front-of-house duties. Padma even said it was the best front-of-house performance in Top Chef history.
Found got so pummeled in this challenge that it wasn't even a contest. Justin kept going nuts about the tickets, Sara neglected to describe the dishes to the judges — Padma's eyes just about exploded when Sara walked away after plopping the dishes on the table — and Justin roasted parsnip agnolotti with Mississippi rabbit and Sara's mascarpone-free cake were the worst dishes of the night. Carlos' red snapper crudo wasn't well-sliced, but Shirley and Nina saved Found from being a total disaster with their strong dishes. The killer, though, was the horrible service. Those Chase Sapphire holders were about to revolt.
It was no mystery that Fin had won the night. Nicholas and Travis were up for the individual win, but Nicholas ran away with it for his leadership and kick-ass dish.
Things got more interesting with Found. Clearly, it was between Justin and Sara for elimination. Justin was an ineffective bully who didn't even put forward a good dish. Sara seemed in way over her head, and she had zero energy leading the front of the house. It was curious that she only described her own dish and not the other chefs', and all she did to guide the servers was to say, "Big smile!"
After Sara got the boot, she said her biggest mistake was focusing on everything but the culinary side -- but it didn't look like she focused enough on the front-of-house side at all.
Who messed up worse, Justin or Sara? Do you think a "verbal fire" is a real thing?