In the black jacket we have Stefan Richter giving us that classic Stefan charm. The only thing that matches his cockiness is his amazing skill in the kitchen.
Chris 'CJ' Jacboson, or "The Big Ceej" and he is known, recently opened his first restaurant, Girasol, to rave reivews -- it's gonna be a tall order to take him down!
It's Stefan's retirement, so there's a lot on the line for this battle! Will this be a fond farewell, or will he be packing his bags with one more defeat?
CJ won the knife draw and decided Stefan would go first -- will his strategy pay off?
Stefan decides to use his mother for inspiration for this challenge -- creating a smoking dish. In only 30 minutes? No one said 'Duels' would be easy!
Curtis points out that you don't necessarily have to smoke the dish -- just highlight smoke. Good call Curtis! No wonder you're a judge!
Stefan dedicates this dish to his mom, who was a chef for 40 years, and apparently ate chefs like CJ for breakfast.
CJ wasn't exactly sure what he was cooking, but landed on pike-perch hoping to start off with basic deliciousness and infuse the smokiness into the dish.
Stefan feels like he has this challenge in the bag -- he should, it is his challenge after all!
Getting smokey flavor in a short time can be difficult, but Stefan has some tricks up his chef's coat. . .
After the judges taste this smokey challenge, it's CJ's creativity that beats out Stefan's classic dish. But this is only round one!
CJ's challenge is all about butts -- but Stefan swears he's not an ass, just confident! Just look at that pose, oozing confidence! But unfortunately, tenacity wasn't enough, and CJ took the win.
Shailene Woodley stopped by for the final foraging challenge and shared her love of nature with our contestants -- who knew that in addition to making movies, this stylish lady loved wandering the wilderness for herbs?
This might be CJ's dream challenge, but that means it has a lot more to lose. When you don't win at your own specialty, it's kinda a bummer. . .
Stefan is ready to get back to the basics and Shailene agrees -- you really understand the simplicity of cooking when you forage.
Next Shailene and Curtis stop by to see what the Big Ceej is cooking up -- will there be a fault in his dish?
Joining our judges for dinner is Los Angeles food editor Lesley Suter -- a perfect person to judge these two California chefs!
The first course of this final challenge seemed to go to Stefan -- between judges saying it felt like a hug and Lesley feeling seduced by the Finnish chef, it seemed he definitely had risen to the top.
In the end, The Big Ceej pulled out a big win, sweeping the entire Duel. Mazel CJ and see you at the finale!
But after two more courses, the judges had a tough decision on their hands. Gail thinks it's the closest match-up in Top Chef history!