Some chefs are still reeling from CJ getting sent home so soon, while those that joined him in the bottom three are seeking redemption this week.
The Quickfire Challenge sees the competitors cooking for viral author Marilyn Hagerty (she who wrote a glowingly positive review for Grand Forks' new Olive Garden restaurant). The delectable Padma looks endearingly uncomfortable in front of the senior citizen, clearly out of her element with both her judge on the challenge and what is basically an extended product placement for artificial sweetener Truvia. Oh, and stay tuned for the Toyota commercial in the second half of the episode!
The competitors are charged with creating a sweet and savory holiday dish with one caveat: only one knife is available for all the chefs to share. These kinds of hurdles never seem to lead anywhere, the chefs improvising with the edges of other utensils and cookware, so really why do it? It ultimately doesn't factor into anyone's dishes, with each of the chefs tapping into their childhood or family life for inspiration. Brooke goes with an old-fashioned "homey" dish which unsurprisingly wins over the old-fashioned judge.
Chris Pratt ("Parks & Recreation") and Anna Faris ("Scary Movie") pay a visit for the Elimination Challenge. Yes, Pratt is just as charming in real life as he appears on the NBC ensemble ("You guys took a hit of acid before this too?"). The actors are hosting a homecoming with family and friends in the area, and who better to cater the shindig than our "Top Chef" contestants? The good news is, the chefs overall bring back the quality that was apparently lacking last week.
The challenge finds John Tesar cooking for former mentor/boss Rick Moonen, who serves as a guest judge this week. Despite getting high marks from the man he expected to be his harshest critic, Tesar narrowly loses out to Brooke who takes home the rare "Top Chef" doubleheader win (and OMG a Toyota Prius!).
This was an above average episode, where the only bad mark against it was the lack of reality television drama, as the series is typically at its best when it blends the sterling cooking with the excitement of egos clashing.
Final Grade: B