Wow – Down to the Final Four

Wow – Down to the Final Four

Stephanie Izard puts her money on Carla.

Wow down to the final four. I am sitting on the couch getting ready to watch tonight’s episode and really have no idea what to expect. It is always anyone’s game as one little mistake can make all the difference. I just want to find out who I am cooking with in Aspen this year … think I will just write tonight’s blog as I get closer to finding out.

I was just in New Orleans myself, and it is a great town. The locals are so proud of their city and heritage and of course of the cuisine. Emeril Lagasse has made a huge career with his Creole cooking and it would not have made sense to have not had him in the finals. 

A Top Chef first of course … the last three kicked off are given a chance to come back and compete for the finals. It is a great opportunity for Jeff, Leah, and Jamie, though I really would not want to have to get kicked off twice. Leah makes a gumbo, pretty gutsy with Lagasse around. Jeff goes with grits and crawfish which seems pretty simple yet delicious. Jamie’s dish looks the most original and tasty to me, big fan of corn pancakes, though the judges really have their poker faces on with this one. 

Not a lot of explanation from Chef Lagasse for his choice, but Jeff is the lucky man who has to win the Elimination Challenge to move on.

No way! I was in Mardi Gras World during my visit. It is an amazing place where all of the floats get to hibernate. Here comes the car again. When Richard won the car in Puerto Rico, we felt like we were on The Price Is Right. A good-looking guy got out of the car as it pulled up and walked towards Richard. Unsure if this was a local chef that I had not yet met, I wondered, did Richard win the car or the hot guy?So two dishes and a cocktail, one dish of which must be influenced by Creole cooking. I am sure all of the chefs have learned from past seasons and studied up on the regional cuisine. It is always a bit tricky to impress the locals though, especially in New Orleans. I was never a huge fan of the food down there, until my last visit. There are bold flavors with just the right amount of spice. 

OK gonna have to just watch for a bit … way too much goin on.

OK so Carla was making me the most nervous. There are some great oysters down there but I have never had them in a stew. Happy to see there were no pre-shucked oysters around as they are much better freshly shucked. Then came the non-alcoholic beverage. I was thinking, there has got to be someone in that city who likes virgin beverages. Turned out she really pulled it all off. The stew was a big hit and her beignets sounded delicious. A freshly fried beignet with great flavor is hard to resist. Plus the fizzy cocktail was refreshing and delicious. I think my money is on her.

Stefan seems full of himself as always. It has never really bothered me since he has proven to be a talented chef, but this episode is different. The smoking thing does though … going out for a smoke in the middle of a challenge? WTF. His attitude altogether seems elevated from how it was the rest of the season. I would have thought that after watching himself on TV for weeks, he would have lost a bit of the attitude. Seeming like it may be his downfall. His beignets had good flavor but did not take the time to fry them to order. He also did not take the time to make his roux as dark as the judges would have liked.  Jeff  really put forth a great effort as he seemed to do throughout the season. His fried oysters looked delicious and the crawfish dish was one of the favorites of the night. To top it off, his cucumber mojito was the top cocktail of the night. I could go for one of those right now for sure. No matter what the outcome, he should be proud of a strong finish.

Fabio goes for it by baking fresh bread. With the short amount of time they were given, it was pretty impressive. His pasta dish looked like something I would love, but it seems like it did not have much New Orleans flare and spice. His Maque Choux looked delicious but did not seem to really impress the judges. I actually like the new faux hawk, but it looks like this may be the last we see of it.

Hosea’s gumbo seemed to really impress the locals and the judges. He took the extra time to get a very dark and richly-flavored roux that is what the dish is known for. I thought it was also nice that he was cooking some crispy catfish to order with a great balance of flavors and a bit of tobasco to cut through the rich beurre blanc. I will have to agree with Lagasse about the Hurricanes down there. The heat alone is enough to melt your ice before you are halfway through. 

Congrats Carla! She is really proving to be a strong contender which I would not have guessed from the beginning of the season. Jeff was so close to getting another chance, but he had a great near-comeback and really left on a strong note. 
I was pretty shocked about Fabio going home. Even though Stefan was my pick from the start as the next winner since he has proven to be a strong chef, his performance in the last challenge and then especially tonight has made me second-guess this thought. He just did not seem to put one hundred percent into his cooking in this semi-final round, and his attitude was irritating as sh*t.  

Really have no idea what will happen next week. I would think that being in the bottom will push Stefan in the final round to really show what he has got. Even still, Hosea and Carla are going to be hard to beat.

Wish I had the inside scoop …

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