The Contenders
#6) Brian Huskey (28): Brian had a disastrous episode last time around, but this week, he was able to redeem himself a bit with a summer squash and zucchini tagliatelle dish that involved poached oysters. He clearly has a very creative mind and is among the most skilled chefs in the kitchen, but at some point, he’s going to need to kick it up a half step to start landing in the top.

#7) Stephanie Cmar (26): I have no idea who Stephanie was praying to that kept her out of the bottom three, but she definitely needs to stick with that strategy. The judges hated her dessert, thanks largely to the cream cheese and whipped cream separating. Tom thought it was so bad he assumed there must be a kitchen disaster story behind it. The truth is she’s just not very confident with desserts. If all goes according to plan for her, that’s a problem she can worry about in the finals.

#8) Nicholas Elmi (24): Nicholas has talked earnestly about his dishes every week, but had trouble making something early on that would wow the judges. This week, his initial concept did not turn out well. Instead of panicking, Nicholas took his problem in stride and was able to create an epic funnel cake dish that landed him in the top three. One dish is not enough to move someone up to the top of these rankings, but we’d like to see Nicholas continue on an upward trajectory. Tune in next week to see if he’s a one hit wonder or a potential contender.

#9) Sara Johannes (22): Sara was one of the only competitors this season that started out strong but has been faltering recently. This week, she didn’t time manage well and created one of the only first course dishes the judges were absolutely repulsed by. Her lamb was poorly seasoned, and to make things worse, it wasn’t cooked nearly enough. Her poor execution landed her in the bottom three. Regardless, I’m more worried about her confidence level. She’s seemed frazzled recently, and she really needs a top dish to get that momentum going again.

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