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McPhail's Navy

Ep 3: The chefs attempt the "impossible" by replicating iconic Commander's Palace dishes for their creators.

By Monica A. Reyhani

Hello my little Veal Tchoupitoulaseseseses. That's a mouthful! 

How to Watch

Watch Top Chef on Bravo and next day on Peacock.

At the start of the hour, we find the chefs still in the Stew Room, post-Jason's elimination. Bret makes some comments about Jason, which don't sit well with Nick. This won't be the first time this episode where Nick reprimands Bret. 

Eventually we're back at the house, where Bret is hilariously doing what can only be described as Tae Bo with light weights. I want this on loop. He's obviously bulking up in case Nick eventually asks him to "take this outside." My money's still kinda on Nick.

But fight night will have to wait because it's time to head to the kitchen for the chefs' second Quickfire Challenge! But this isn't just any Quickfire Challenge --it's an elimination Challenge. Dun dun dunnnn.

Dana Cowin is guest judge and apparently has a lot of ideas about food trends that need to die. One of them was kale, which her colleague Gail Simmons is also over. Watch this:


Her list included eggs on top of things, bacon, kale, and smoking. I would probably add truffles to that list. I love me a truffle, but it's too easy. That being said, I made bacon chocolate chip cookie cake for a co-workers in-office wedding shower this week.

I wonder what Dana Cowin would think!

During the Quickfire Challenge, a few concerns come up.

1. Michael is smoking Justin out… literally. Michael is either oblivious that his smoke is in Justin's face, or he's doing it on purpose.

2. Stephanie reveals she's coating her pasta in bacon fat. Yesss. As the late, great Brittany Murphy said in her pivotal role as Tai in Clueless, "Mmm break me off a piece of that!"

3. Janine's worried about there pork being undercooked. (Spoiler alert: Phew! It's fine!)

4. Bret is worried. And making kale salad, which he was explicitly warned against.

5. Aaron worries his kale is overdressed and too salty.

Dana, Padma, and Emeril go 'round to taste th food. Michael wants them to taste his disdh, then guess his "trend" in a what-could-be-fun-but-comes-off-as-patronizing way, but he accidentally reveals  it before they're able to guess. Trust me, Michael -- it's better this way. 

In the end, Shirley's congee wins immunity, and Aaron's worst fears become true -- he goes home.

"That was fast," sys Nick. It sure was, Nick.

I liked Aaron and wish him well.

On to the Elimination Challelnge. I don't know about you, but this week's episode had me one click away from booking the next flight to New Orleans. I know each episode so far has featured some crave-worthy aspects to this city, but for some reason, this episode just did it for me. 

The chefs "relax" and enjoy a meal at the iconic Commander's Palace. As Travis innocently admires the fact that the restaurant has its own plates, James Beard award-winning chef Tory McPhail enters the dining room. His dining room. Chef McPhail presents the chefs with their task: to replicate a Ccassic Commander's Palace dish. Carrie, last week's double threat, deems the challenge "impossible." You know what would have been impossible, Carrie? If he revealed the challenge after you ate. Muhahaha. 

"Per usual, I feel like I'm going to vomit." Thanks for that one, Stephanie!

Shirley, who I gained a new respect for after noticing she finished her entire veal chop,  is apparently a "shadow chef," a chef with a keen ability to replicate dishes. She also had the keen ability to utter Elimiation Challenge locations before Padma does. Janine also has an advantage -- she owns the Commander's Palace cookbook! 

The chefs cook in groups based on their table partners, but each has to cook separately, which I get slightly confused by after witnessing one team sharing dish elements. Don't worry -- this will bite them in the arse later.

Another doozy comes in Bret's revelation that he's going to grill his chop right before service because the grill is too crowded. Ruh-roh!

The judges enter the restaurant, and in an adorable moment, greet proprietors Lally Brennan and Ti Martin. Paul Prudhomme is in the house, whose face I've only seen in my local market's spice aisle!

The proprietors start telling tales of their "discreet restaurant," while the chefs get anxious in the kitchen.

Nina has accidentally started plating on Michael's monogrammed plates (kudos to our production design department on those, by the way). So, Michael does what anyone would do and starts tossing her okra off the plates. Huh?

Louis asks Nick to taste the team's spice mix and Nick says not to add salt. 

[Cue foreboding music.]

Shirley can't find her beets and starts yelling at her fellow chefs to "come on!" and reveal where her beets are. "It has me questioning whether or no I took her beets on accident." Ha! Good one, Brian.

The beets are found and the chefs are ready to present. 

First group up is the team replicating Chef Jamie Shannon's Shrimp and Taso Henican, which consists of Bene, Michael, Travis, and Nina. While Bene's sauce is lauded, Nina's shrimp were impeccable and she ends up on top.

Next is the team replicating Chef Paul Prudhomme's Black Skillet Seared Trout: Janine, Nicholas, Louis, and Carlos, and they all have seasoning issues. And while Nick did tell Louis to leave the salt out of the mix, presumably they all would have added salt to their own dishes. Carlos and Louis were the worst, though, and end up on the bottom. 

Brian, Patty, Shirley, and Bret present Emeril's Veal Chop Tchoupitoulas, and as Bret knew, the lack of sear on his veal chop was a problem. Hugh goes so far to say that his veal seemed "steamed." Ouch!

But, could Hugh do better? He's willing to find out by challenging Tom to a cook-off. You in, Tom?... Tom?...Tom?

And finally there's dessert: Tory McPhails' strawberry trio. Justin's beignet is killer and Stephani'es biscuit is better than Coimmander's Palace's, according to Hugh. Ha! But he says it with that s----eating grin that reads "I sorta mean what I'm saying, but I'm also just giving you s---." Tom notes, quite astutely, that the chefs should have had the biggest issue with this course since, well, it's dessert and it's Top Chef, but this course was the most successful. Dana Cowin is a whipped cream whore, after all. (Her words, not mine!)

The desserts were so good in fact, Justin wins the whole thing! A new orleans chef winning a Commander's Palace challenge with a perfect beignet? That seems right.

Ultimately, Louis, Carlos, and Bret face the judges in the bottom, and the judges are confounded as to why Louis and Carlos's team didn't make their own spice mixes. They're safe, though, because Bret's veal was that unsatisfying.

Looks like Nick won't have to worry about Bret taking his couture space any longer. Bye, Brett!

Until next week, Have a Nosh!

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