Dana Cowin is awesome. She is very levelheaded, kind, and knowledgeable about food. She does an amazing job of bringing a delicate and eloquent hand to food criticism. What she also brings is an immense level of pressure. She is one of the most important and influential gastronomes in America. She has the ability to lift you to stardom or tear you down to nothing. Most chefs are highly aware of this when they meet her. So have to cook for a dinner she is hosting is intimidating to say the least.
I do feel as if there was at least a bit of gamesmanship played by Ed during the dialogue about the menu, but all of the chefs were ultimately responsible for deciding to prepare one dish a piece. All of them felt edgy about doing only one, so I was surprised the chefs felt caught off guard by Tom’s request for an additional item, and that Ed, with immunity, was the only to go out on a limb and plan on that second one. But I will also say that all of the chefs did a good job for persevering and pulling off what were great dishes; it’s rare to have such minimal negative criticism from the judges.
Ed pulled off what was one really good dish, and one dish that blew the judges away, the banana fritters. By focusing on really impressing the judges and wanting to do a stellar pair of dishes he was able help give himself an ego boost, which will probably help give him a little extra push heading into the last challenge. Hopefully he won’t get overly comfortable and lose sight of the goal. Now Kelly really did do a good job; it just came across like her two dishes were just a little shy of the refinement of the other chefs, just by a hair. I would imagine that getting to the penultimate challenge and heading home has to be especially hard. You traveled to the finals and didn’t get to play in the champions round. Now we are down to just three, and that means we get to see who wins the title next week!
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