Image credit: David Moir/Bravo
YOU'RE AMAZING Just the way you are. But Sheldon, you didn't bring your usual self to the challenge.
For the Elimination Challenge, the top three had three hours to make three courses for Craft diners, and Tom would be expediting the orders, a task I've always found mysterious and intimidating, and other than hosting a New Year's Eve special, the one job on this planet I'd be worst at. The chefs' first challenge was to choose ingredients — Sheldon has fallen down at this stage of the challenge before, when he chose the most boring proteins for the surf-and-turf challenge, but this time, he stretched himself by reaching for the quail. Brooke noted that cooking quail didn't sound like Sheldon; and not only was he using ingredients he didn't normally, he traded out the usual color of his hat. What did cooking high-end do to you, Sheldon?
While the chefs prepped their food, they were each visited — or more accurately, pestered — by one of the judges. Emeril, like everyone else, seemed skeptical about Sheldon working with quail, and gave him a simple but valuable piece of advice: "Taste, brother. Taste." Kristen said that Last Chance Kitchen taught her to go for simple, clean flavors because there was never any time to over-think, which is what got her eliminated in the first place. (That, and a big loud kid named Josie).
Brooke once again looked lost and harried in the kitchen, but we've learned by now not to believe Brooke when she says she's struggling. She might get flustered by the circumstances, but she's enough of a pro to pull out the strong flavors. Even though she kept burning pistachios and doubted herself, she at least was way more secure than the others about the dessert. Kristen admitted that her dessert was an afterthought, and Sheldon almost didn't have the wherewithal to pull one off.
When Tom came in to expedite, he shouted at Brooke in particular to hurry up and fire more dumplings and re-plate food that had already gone cold. She looked distracted and dispirited, and said, "Bad day to have a bad day." The whole scene reminded me of something from a Gordon Ramsey show, only much more civil and fewer people being called "donkey"s and "donut"s. Tom was a great balance of supportive and stern.
The judges arrived with special guests John Besh, who suffered the unrequited lust of Malibu Chris (blech) and Heather Terhune (triple-blech), and Martin Yan, who starred in one of my favorite shows when I was a toddler, Yan Can Cook — although his catchphrase, "If Yan can cook, then so can you" turned out to be untrue in my case.
NEXT: May the best woman win?