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On last night’s episode of Top Chef: New Orleans, F&W’s own Dana Cowin sparked some controversy with her Quickfire Challenge, which centered around her least favorite food trends. Each cheftestant drew a knife labeled with a trend that, according to Dana, was past its prime: kale, bacon, egg on top or smoked. The challenge: Make Dana love them again. The stakes: One chef would get immunity, another would go home.
One chef down, the group headed to iconic New Orleans’s restaurant, Commander’s Palace. There they sampled four of the restaurant’s signature dishes: Shrimp and Tasso Henican, Black Skillet Seared Speckled Trout, Veal Chop Tchoupitoulas and Strawberries Three Ways. Of course, this is Top Chef where no great meal goes unpunished. Head chef Tory McPhail broke the news that the Elimination Challenge would be to precisely recreate one of the dishes. While some chefs proved themselves to be expert “shadow chefs” (a term we learned last night from Shirley Chung), others were thwarted by the Creole-centric challenge. For those playing F&W’s Fantasy Top Chef, here are the points earned and lost by chefs last night.
Nina Compton: +2 for being a Quickfire favorite for her quail scotch egg on confit potatoes. -1 or mis-plating her okra on Michael Sichel’s plates. +3 for coming in on top of the Elimination Challenge for her perfectly cooked shrimp. Total points: 31.
Justin Devillier: +10 for winning the Elimination Challenge and maintaining his New Orleans cred with his perfect beignets, which Hugh Acheson said he would like to eat every day for breakfast. Total points: 29.
Shirley Chung: +1 for figuring out Padma’s “tell” for when she likes something (she goes back for another bite). +3 or winning the Quickfire Challenge with her rice congee with a shirred egg. Total points: 29.
Stephanie Cmar: +2 for being a Quickfire favorite for her pasta with candied bacon and fried sweet potatoes. +3 for coming in on top of the Elimination Challenge with her strawberries, biscuit and beignet. Total points: 24.
Travis Masar: +1 for taking the time to inspect the underside of the plates at Commander’s and marveling at the fact that they have their own plates. Total points: 20.
Michael Sichel: -1 for throwing okra off the plates Nina had wrongly plated rather than just placing them elsewhere. Total points: 19.
Aaron Cuschieri: -5 for losing the Quickfire and going home for his overly salty fried kale. Total points: 18.
Carlos Gaytan: -3 for being in the bottom of the Elimination Challenge for his overly blackened, tasteless trout. Total points: 15.
Louis Maldonado: +1 for an adorable phone conversation with his son who told him that he loved him and no longer needed to use Pull-Ups. -2 or being in the bottom of the Quickfire Challenge for his barely smoky smoked trout. -3 for being in the bottom of the Elimination Challenge for his severely underseasoned trout. Total points: 13.
Bret Pelaggi: -2 for being one at the bottom of the Quickfire Challenge for deciding to serve Dana kale salad even though she specifically said that she didn’t want kale salad. -10 for losing the Elimination Challenge with his under-seared veal chop. Total points: -2.
Here are the chefs whose points did not change this episode: Sarah Johannes (28), Benedetto Bartolotta (16), Brian Huskey (18), Carrie Mashaney (37), Nicholas Elmi (17) and Janine Booth (16).
While last week’s winner, Carrie Mashaney, is still on top, Nina Compton is catching up! Our condolences to those who were rooting for Aaron Cuschieri or Bret Pelaggi. If there are still free agents left, it’s time to redraft using F&W’s updated roster.