Image credit: David Moir/Bravo
For the first dish, Kristen made a chicken liver mousse with frisee, mustard, prunes, hazelnuts, and pumpernickel, which went up against Brooke's crispy pig ear with chicory salad. While everyone liked Brooke's usual unexpected combinations, she had let CJ overcook the pig ears, while Kristen's mousse turned out velvety and classic. Kristen won this round unanimously.
Going into the second, scallop-themed round, Brooke was determined not to let someone flub her vision again. (CJ, ruining everything once again!). As was her theme of the night, Kristen kept the dish simple, simple, simple, whereas Brooke got ambitious. Brooke's seared scallop with salt cod puree won over Gail, Emeril, and Hugh, whereas Tom and Padma voted for Kristen's citrus and lavender cured scallop. Brooke squeaked by with that win, tying the score 1 to 1.
Like in any televised sports match-up, each of the competitors got a fluff reel. Judging from the footage, Kristen had the winner edit from the get-go, with the more touching story and the exciting come-from-behind trajectory.
Ewww, there's Josie! She's clapping! Wouldn't it have been the shocker of the season if Kristen had chosen Josie to be one of the finale sous chefs?
Brooke made a rookie Top Chef mistake in the third round: She created a dish in an effort to "redeem" herself for a past challenge. That almost never works! Leave your failed ingredients behind and move on — especially at such a crucial stage. Brooke surprised but mostly confused the judges with her Vadouvan chicken wings that they had to eat with saucy fingers. Not surprisingly, they all voted in favor of Kristen's more sophisticated celery root puree with bone marrow. The fact that Brooke compromised herself due to what she thought were the judge's expectations showed that she wasn't feeling confident tonight.
NEXT: My obligatory rant about the judging ... I didn't disagree with the result, just the overly one-sided delivery of it.