Top Chef: Southern Showdown

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Greeted with crawfish and Emeril Lagasse, the four remaining chefs were appropriately welcomed to New Orleans, the location for the final challenges. But they weren’t the only ones getting the New Orleans experience – three previously kicked off chefs were welcomed back to compete in a crawfish quickfire for a chance of rejoining the finalists at stake. Jamie, Jeff and Leah gave Emeril their best crawfish dish for he would choose who would get another shot at becoming Top Chef.

He chose Jeff, whose dish of crawfish and grits is pictured above. Compared to Leah’s crawfish soup and Jamie’s pancakes with crawfish cream sauce, Jeff seemed to have the most authentic knack for cooking with New Orleans’ flavors. And seeing as how he hails from closest to the N’ola region, it only makes sense.

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But the caveat of Jeff joining the final four was that in order to move on to the final three, he had to win it all. That’s a lot of pressure but I think he was just grateful to be there. And mind you, he deserved to be there. I honestly thought he put up an incredible fight to Carla’s winning meal with his fried oyster and sausage dish, crawfish and pot de creme, and especially his cucumber mojito. All three of those dishes looked and sounded killer (if only I could taste them). So needless to say I was impressed with Jeff’s comeback.

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According to the judges, these past few episodes Carla has made an even bigger comeback. Cooking with soul in a place that thrives on soul food is working to her benefit. I would maybe even predict that she’ll give Stefan a good run for his money for the season win. I mean, the girl won the whole challenge by not even serving an alcoholic cocktail – very impressive Carla.

But speaking of Stefan, this episode, this season rather is one close call after another. The minute Jamie was kicked off I decided I wanted Stefan to win the whole thing because out of everyone left he’s won the most consistently. But apparently this episode his gumbo faltered and with a direct comparison to Hosea’s gumbo, Stefan was in the running to go home.

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But thank goodness he didn’t. As much as I’m sad Fabio went home, I knew that Stefan was probably the better of ‘team Euro’ to go through to the finale (given that Hosea wasn’t an option to kick off at this point). Not to mention, Fabio’s pasta dish was a little out of place. He did listen to the rules but in a world of crawfish and gumbos, I’m not sure artisan homemade pasta is welcome. Poor Fabio, I know we all still love him for his character.

On to the finale!

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EPISODE 13 RECAP:

Official Episode Title: Finale Pt. 1

Guest Judge: Emeril Lagasse

Challenges: Quickfire - 3 Former contestants (Leah, Jamie and Jeff) had to cook a dish with crawfish for Emeril in 30 minutes.

Elimination – Recreate a dish from Eric Ripert’s seafood restaurant Le Bernardin.

Winner: Carla Eliminated: Fabio (and Jeff)

Chefs Remaining:  Carla, Hosea, and Stefan

For a list of ALL the Top Chef episode recaps on Chew on That blog, click here.

Photos courtesy of BravoTv.com.

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