It sure was an emotional episode this week. Before that, the chefs had to make a dish using the food supply on a ferry cruise to Ellis island. They had no idea how long the trip would take, which would be scary. If they made something too fast, it could get cold before they get there … but they were more worried about finishing in time when they were all in a cramped space with only really a microwave and lots of processed food. Carla was the only one to use the fresh oranges aboard and won the quickfire.
For the elimination challenge, the contestants needed to make a dish that represents their background. To do that, the producers had a genealogist research each of their family trees. And who better to give them this history than their loved ones? Tiffany, Mike and Antonia got their moms and Carla and Richard got their spouses. They haven’t seen each other in weeks and weeks, so it was a heartfelt moment for all the contestants — especially Richard, whose wife was very pregnant at the time. Still, the winner of the challenge gets into the finale and wins a Toyota Highlander Hybrid, so they still all had their game faces on.
They each find out some really interesting things about their heritage. Carla’s descendant was a soldier in the Civil War. Richard finds out he had a chemist in his family generations ago along with a butcher. And it turns out Antonia and Mike are distantly related. Considering how much they’ve butted heads this season, it’s pretty funny. Actually, Mike seemed to be a lot nicer to her in this episode; it was good to see him be not such a pain.
This is the first time I’ve ever seen so many contestants do so well. Antonia’s braised veal looked scrumptious. Mike’s gnocchi were light and fluffy. Carla’s cheddar biscuits were the perfect accompaniment to her braised pork shoulder. Richard’s fried marrow bone was a hit with his short ribs. Probably the biggest feat of the night was Tiffany winning over Tom with her okra — an ingredient Mr. Colicchio normally abhors! Every dish had compliment upon compliment from everyone. When the judges started to mention mistakes, each criticism felt like a stretch. For instance, they said Antonia’s veal was a tad too salty on its own … well, that’s why you eat it with everything else!
Actually, Antonia was the winner this week … considering hers was the dish I wanted to try the most, I approve of this decision. Mike also moved forward to the finale in the Bahamas. Then, the producers (or at least Padma) did the cruelest fake-out in the history of the show. “Richard, pack your knives … you’re going to the Bahamas!” You could tell it actually upset him, but in the end being able to move forward made him forget being pissed off. Still, not cool Top Chef! Not cool.
So, who did go home? No one. That’s right, everyone was so good that they’re all going to the big finale! This was actually what Antonia’s mom suggested as they were eating everyone’s food at dinner. I guess mom knows best, huh? Three women in the finale is pretty cool, but having most of my favorites from this season in the finale is even cooler. Right now, I think it’s between Antonia, Carla and Richard. What do you think?