Hotel Montelleone – Jeff is still wearing his chef outfit as they tear into the gift bags. At Emeril’s Delmonico restaurant the Final Five toast each other and then enjoy a nice meat plate. That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Jeff reminds us that he has to win, Fabio reminds us about his ailing mother, Carla describes her mood as being quiet and reflecting on her family, Hosea reminds us that Finn gets on his nerves, and Finn says this is a competition, not a “butt rubbing contest.” That would most likely be on VH-1.
Daybreak – The Five go to the Mardi Gras World warehouse, which looks like the place where old Seals and Kroft puppets go to die. The elimination challenge – cater the Annual Masquerade Ball at the New Orleans Museum of Art. They must each make two dishes and a cocktail – hmmm, didn’t expect that – and one must be a Creole dish. Emeril reminds them that New Orleans cooking is a blend of French, Spanish and African-American cultures. Hosea says that it is all about the flavor of the food and letting it slowly simmer.
They will cook for five hours in Emeril’s restaurant and then have one hour to set up at the museum. Emeril suggests that they bring their technique. I suggest that they bring an extra whisk, Hosea! But that is for later. If Jeff wins, then two of the Final Four go home. If someone else wins, Jeff and another chef go home.
What else is on the line? IT’S A BRAND NEW CAR! Part of the chefs’ Showcase Showdown. It is a Toyota – so clearly Top Chef wants Detroit to fail. Fabio jokes that they should hold the key for him. Oh Fabio.
Commercials – That Millionaires on the Matchmaker show is really hot. How can you have money, be gorgeous, and in need of a reality show to find a mate?
After the Emeril “commercial” – he has turtle meat in his freezer! – we learn the menus for each one of them”
Hosea – Duck, Andouille (come on show, now you are piling on), and Chicken Gumbo. Pecan-crusted Catfish (my other food allergy!), and a Hurricane with Grand Marnier and Rum. I know the hurricane is a popular local drink, but part of me cringes when the word hurricane is used in relation to New Orleans.
Carla – Oyster Stew. Shrimp & Andouille Beignet. OH MY GOD! I get it, I made a bad Heroes joke weeks ago and the reality gods are rubbing my face in their sausage! And a non-alcoholic Cranberry Spritzer. Because when you think of Mardi Gras, you think of non-alcoholic spritzers. And Carla only learned to shuck oysters a week before and now has over a 100 to do. Even I know that steaming them will open them, Carla!
Finn – Duck and Rabbit Gumbo with Grits. I just had to change what could have been a rather embarrassing typo! Apple Beignet and a Black Cherry & Rum Cocktail.
Jeff – After Hosea teases him about having to win – Jeff’s deadpan response, “I heard about that” – he tells us that he is making sausage from scratch. Fried Oyster with Sausage, Crawfish Pot de Crème and a Cucumber Mojito.
Fabio – Hosea nails him that it wouldn’t be a Top Chef without a fauxhawk! HA! Somewhere Richard and Dale are smiling. Sausage and Rabbit Maque Choux with Grits, Crawfish & Crab Stew with Caserecci Pasta, Muffuletta Bread and a Bell Pepper Martini. Fabio thinks he is good chef and great host. He is right about that.
Hosea and Finn are each making gumbo and that battle seems to be motivating to Hosea. He says that gumbo all comes down to the roux – flour and fat cooked together for a long time until it is black. He thinks that Finn’s Achilles Heel is that Finn thinks he has it in the bag. On cue, Finn leaves the kitchen for a smoke. Jeff is amazed that Finn is not making his own sausage. Finn comes back and makes sausage jokes. Hosea tells him to stop wasting time.
Tom’s tour. He asks Fabio about any Creole experience in Italy. Fabio says that he is comfortable with the ingredients and is adding some Italian flavor to it. Jeff is confident and knows that he has to make it count. Finn is making a dessert and Tom is surprised. Finn’s confessional, “it’s an effing dessert, please” means that he is just tempting fate. The Top Chef streets are strewn with bodies of contestants that lost on desserts. Tom is surprised by Hosea’s roux and takes note of Carla’s shucking problems.
Tom tells us that he isn’t sure how Fabio’s dish qualifies as Creole. He thinks Jeff’s Southern roots will help. He validates me with his confusion as to why Carla is not steaming the oysters. He think Finn is getting too cocky and that Hosea’s roux will make or break his dish.
Fabio needs a cutting board! Jeff needs a blowtorch. I need sailing networks! Or so my Facebook “Your name” needs Google trick tells me. Check it out. The chefs pack things into coolers and Carla says she has everything done except the oysters! Not done yet!!! She says she’ll have to MacGyver it. What? Open them using a paper clip, chewing gum and an old pair of pantyhose?