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Meals on Wheels

The chefs serve Habitat for Humanity volunteers from food trucks.

By Monica A. Reyhani

Hello my little empanadas! Man, I really want empanadas after watching this episode, but we'll get to that. It's "Doomsday in the Stew Room" after the first elimination. Padma enters the Stew Room to issue the chefs' first Quickfire Challenge. 

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At this point, the chefs are tired, confused, cold, so, so cold -- just kidding -- it's hot hot hot in New Orleans. But everyone seems rather emotional for only having completed one challenge so far. Stephanie even calls Patsy a "pansy" for crying in front of hte judges (though not to her face.) 

The first Quickfire Challenge is to make one of New Orleans' signature dishes -- gumbo! They'll have all night to cook and 15 minutes the next day to finish.

"Is gumbo like a veloutee base?" Aaron asks. Oy.

We discover a lot of things very quickly.

1. Carrie is going to incorporate her mother-in-law's Trinidadian background. Risky!

2. Nina is not making a roux. Risky!

3. Justin is doing a super-traditional gumbo. Risky!

4. Michael's first gumbo attempt is a bust, so he throws itout.

We learn real things, too, though. Jason's mother died when he was three and named his restaurant, ELA, after her. He's going to incorporate his Polish roots into his gumbo. Michael had cancer at a very young age and he's ready to keep fighting. Get 'em, Michael!

After not much sleep, the chefs get to the kitchen the next day.

"Bowl! Bowl! Bowls!" Easy, Bret. Bret admits he hasn't worked in a kitchen in awhile, and it's starting to show.

Did I forget to mention that the chefs aren't only making of New Orleans' most beloved dishes, but they're also making it for one of the city's most beloved chefs?! Leah Chase, Chef/Owner, Dooky Chase. I will admit that I didn't know much about Leah Chase before this episode, but she is obviously one sassy lady, and I love a sassy lady. She wore a hot pink chef's coat for G-d's sake! 

[record scratch]

"You want me to put the whole head in my mouth?" Yes, Padma.

After thoughtful and direct critiques from Leah, Carrie is crowned gumbo queen and receives immunity. Go, Carrie!

No rest for the weary as Padma presents the Elimination Challenge: the chefs will cook for Habitat for Humanity volunteers… on food trucks! Shirley owns a food truck -- excuse me, a giant paper weight -- so not sure if that gives her any sort of advantage. The chefs are split up into four groups and quickly select their concepts. Alll of them seem like fairly run-of-the-mill food truck concepts: Mexican, seafood, Mediterranean… 

After team members figure out what they'll all be doing, they go back to the house and Michael treats them to a crawfish boil. I know they all seemed a tad annoyed by Michael's tour guiding last week, but these are the moments they're going ot remember: moments like enjoying a proper crawfish boil by a New Orleans chef... and Jason commenting on his looks while he smokes a cigar. 

The next day, the chefs get to it, and they all do fairly well. I've noticed that the chefs always bring their A-game when they're cooking for a good cause… or Charlize Theron.The Yellow Team kills it with Carlos and Aaron's tacos, Carrie and Aaron's empanadas, and Travis and Brian's ceviche. Those tacos looked enormous, and according to Tom were "muy bueno." Ultimately, Carrie gets the win for her exceptional empanada dough. That girl is on fiiiiire! She also taught us a fun trick: to roll out your dough with an ice-cold bottle of wine instead of a rolling pin to keep your dough cool and together.


Since your wine bottle will be covered in flour after, you should probably just go ahead and drink it. That's my chef tip.

The Green Team's mediterranean offerings were also well-received. And despite some issues with Bene feeling unheard, the Red Team was safe as well. We'll see if the chefs pay more attention to him next time.

Ultimately, the Blue Team's offerings had the most flaws. Bret served a cold ceviche with a hot element. Patty's tomato was out of season and had no place on her tuna slider. And Jason made his salmon hand roll ahead of time so he could shmooze the crowd. Jason ends up going home and vows to slay his competition in Last Chance Kitchen. Looks like I won't have to defend Jason's cocky comments every week here! So, there's that., After a weak premiere, Patty seems to be skating on thin ice. Hopefully she can turn it around.

Tell me: did Jason deserve to go home? Which truck would you frequent?

Until next week, Have a Nosh!

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