February 18, 2009 09:54 PM by DA Southern
Top Chef: New York becomes Top Chef: New Orleans as the final four moved to “The Big Easy” for the crowing of this season’s winner. With Chef Emeril Lagasse showing up for the final elimination to determine the final three and a meal that will send home two to set up the final cook-off, we are bound to see interesting dynamics as Carla, Fabio, Stefan and Hosea pull out all of the stops for the next-to-last competition.
The arrival of the four was interesting as this year, over year’s past, you could feel that, outside the normal competitive spirit that embodies all chefs, these four genuinely liked each other. After all four proclaimed themselves the eventual winner, only Carla recognized her self as a dark-horse.
Padma was with Chef Emeril Lagasse welcomed them all to New Orleans and Padma announced that for the Quickfire, three former chefs, Jamie, Jeff and Leah, would be competing in the Quickfire. The big surprise was that the three chefs would have a chance to get back into the competition and were cooking crawfish for the opportunity.
Leah made Crawfish soup that seemed to impress Emeril as he commented on the ingredients. Jeff made shrimp and grits that seemed pretty typical but was definitely a regional favorite and Jamie made a crawfish pancake-like dish that was a bit different. Emeril announced that the chef that was his favorite was Jeff, which now gave him the chance to come in and win the competition out from under the four who originally made it at the last episode. However, to make it to the final competition, Jeff would have to actually win the challenge to stay in the final three.
The chefs had a dinner at the Emeril Delmonico restaurant and they all talked about how important it was to win the competition at this point of the game. Stefan was messing with Hosea to try to get into his head for the next challenge but Hosea refused to let him rattle him, or so he said.
The chefs were taken to a big warehouse filled with Mardi Gras paraphernalia and Padma and Emeril announced that the chefs would be catering a masquerade ball and that two chefs would be eliminated. Additionally, the winner of the challenge would win a Toyota Venza for their troubles and, as always, Fabio had a quip saying that his car was a piece of crap and that he needed to win the Toyota.
The chefs had a awakening as they saw the kitchen that was in Emeril’s restaurant and made the best of prepping their dishes as they were told they all had to have a creole dish in their menu. Hosea decided on a duck dish; Carla decided on an oyster stew recipe; Stefan went with a duck and rabbit creole concoction; Fabio was going with an oyster and Rabbit creole dish and Jeff was hoping his crawfish creole dish would impress enough to win it all.
Tom was in to chat with the chefs to see how they were doing, and after chatting with all of the chefs, he thought that that they all had some problems to work through as they prepared and that Stefan seemed the most relaxed, almost cocky, and Tom thought that it might be a downfall if he wasn’t careful.
With one hour to service, the chefs had the rather huge task of making sure they had all of the items set up with the appropriate heat going to the different dishes. Padma introduced the judges and the recently married Gail Simmons was back for the final stretch to pick the eventual winner.
The chefs all trotted out their dishes and all of them seemed to really go over big and it seemed that none of the chefs had failed at this stage. All of the chefs seemed to be really enjoying themselves with Carla coming off as very endearing to the chefs, especially to Emeril. Hosea was confident on his gumbo’s appeal and Emeril agreed saying he was right on the mark, even though Stefan said he didn’t like it when he tried it. With the chefs at their peak, it was hard to get a gauge on who was not really up to par in the eyes of the judges.
The chefs retreated back to couches but Padma quickly came in to retrieve the tired chefs. Padma announce that two chefs would be eliminated. The judges loved Jeff’s dishes and it looked as though they were pretty high on his overall creations. Fabio’s dishes seemed to not impress quite as much and Stefan was even taking a beating from the judges. Carla was on fire with the judges and it looked as though Jeff might just win himself a spot back into the competition. Finally Hosea was talking about his dishes and all of the judges seemed pretty high on his dishes, especially the fish and gumbo.
Jeff, Carla and Hosea were the top three and the judges agreed that the Europeans were in the bottom for the competition, with Stefan’s attitude really starting to grate on Tom’ nerves. It looked as though it was a possibility that both Europeans would be axed tonight if was solely based on the evening’s performance and, based on what the judges said, it would be very surprising if that were not the case.
Padma turned it over to Emeril as he announced that Carla had won the challenge, sending poor Jeff home, unfortunately. In addition to winning, Carla picked up her keys to the car and Tom announced that Hosea was also in the final three. Tom announced the end of Team Euro and Padma told Fabio to pack his knifes and go, which was slightly shocking, but with his history, it was not a mystery to see Stefan in the finale.
For the finale, the chefs will have to cook their best three-course meal and by the looks of it, it will not be pretty.
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Photo Credit: Bravo