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These two ladies are equally tough, fierce and competitive in their own right. Jen's got a sharp tongue, but it didn't come out to play tonight as much as it did on Top Chef and Top Chef All-Stars. And as you saw, Nyesha is a little more calm and collected, putting her competitive energies into what she's doing with her hands and the plate in front of her.
Jen played to her strengths when choosing sea urchin. They're not easy little suckers to open and clean -- but she knows her way around the spikey urchin and put up perfectly cleaned tongues with a gorgeous rich, buttery flavor. She deserved that win. Tell you what I loved most about this challenge though -- Jen really showed off her heart of gold when she lent Nyesha a hand with opening the urchin. See, she's sweet underneath that trash talk! I don't know many competitors that would take time out of their own prep to help a rival out. Unfortunately Nyesha's lack of experience with the whole process of opening, cleaning, and serving sea urchin revealed itself when I bit into it to discover a certain sandiness and grittiness.
Nyesha revealed her claws tonight when she dished out that bacon and eggs challenge -- Bam! That's a real sore point for poor old Jen. As I said in the ep, "Nyesha's fighting dirty." Bacon and eggs is an absolute crowd favorite and can be so simple on a Sunday morning, but this is Top Chef Duels so the ladies knew they needed to Bring. It. On. Nyesha knocked this one out of the park for me with the soft, runny egg and crispy julienned bacon, potato, and scallion. I know what I'm whipping up this Sunday morning. So we're on an even playing field now -- one win all.
The Brooklyn Nine-Nine cast was lots of fun. I've got to say that Andy Samberg is one funny son of a bitch, as is the writer, Dan Goor, who is a very witty guy. You can tell a lot of the brains behind these incredible shows come from such an incredible writer, not to mention Melissa and Stephanie and everyone else at the table.
We were one divided bunch over the "culinary crime" dishes; seafood and cheese is gonna have that polarizing effect. There was some dispute around the table, especially from Daniel Boulud and Wolfgang Puck, who almost came to fistycuffs over whether the blue cheese worked with the raw tuna. I had to side with Daniel Boulud -- I just couldn't understand why you would serve blue cheese that smells like feet with fish. They're just such different things. It's safe to say that Nyesha really took the spirit of the "culinary crime" to new levels -- you're off to the slammer for that one Nyesha, ha! Jen kind of got away with it by putting a little Parmesan on top of the scallop and turned it into a nice crust. Safe was probably the only way to go with this one.
Both chefs did a great job with the steak challenge, but fell down a little with their donuts. I didn't like either of their desserts particularly but we are talking about two incredible chefs and either of them would be awesome in the finale. Jen managed to outshine Nyesha with a couple of her dishes. She has quite a lot of attitude and you can see it when you give her feedback -- her face turns red and she just doesn't like it! During the episode, it came up that she has been arrested a few times, and you know what, I am not surprised. That one is feisty lady!!! I can't wait to see some of that fire and vigor during the finale. Congrats Jen!
As usual, a great night of food for us to trial and pick apart, these chefs really threw their personality into each dish. The finale is brewing, not long to go. We already have a killer line up with still a few more to join.