This week, Top Chef started with a bang. Jumping right in, Padma announced that the quickfire would be an elimination challenge. The tension in the room was palpable as contestants busted their bottoms to finish an excellent dish in a timely manner. Aaron unfortunately overseasoned his kale, causing it to be salty and “inedible.” It was no surprise that Padma sent him packing, but it is a bummer since he did well last week and has an impressive pedigree.

After the quickfire, Commander’s Palace head chef Tory McPhail invited the contestants to feast at his legendary restaurant. Most of the competitors were blown away at the offer, and everyone involved seem to love the special dinner. Following its completion, McPhail informed the competitors that they would be divided into groups and asked to recreate one of the items they ate.

Many of the competitors were none too pleased with the challenge, but nonetheless, they were all forced to plow in, though with far different strategies. Some of the teams worked on different components of the dishes together. Others didn’t even talk about their thought processes. Amusingly, the only course that the judges were at least reasonably happy with from top to bottom was dessert. Carrie, Stephanie, Justin and Sara all had at least a few elements on their plates that worked, and Stephanie and Justin grabbed top three slots, alongside Nina who cooked some spot-on shrimp. After much deliberation, Justin was given the victory, which he was very pleased about because of his respect for Commander’s Palace.

On the bottom of the equation, there were quite a few dishes the judges hated, specifically from the chefs who made blackened fish. For some reason, the competitors decided to split up their prep work tasks and all share the results, which led Carlos, Louis and Bret to all have extremely underseasoned and bland fish. All three wound up in the bottom and were given a pretty good tongue lashing for that mistake and the various issues each had with the actual cooking. Honestly, any of the three could have gone home, but probably because of his less than impressive history, Bret was asked to pack his knives and go.

The Top Chef Power Rankings are an ordered compilation of weekly lists put together by TV Blend writers Jessica Rawden and Mack Rawden. Each week after viewing the episode, they each rank the competitors in order. Nineteen points are given for a first place vote, and this week, five were given for a last place vote. Four competitors have already been eliminated; therefore, those people automatically occupy the bottom slots. Here is how this week’s voting panned out, complete with analysis on how the contestants might fare moving forward.

The Favorites
#1) Carrie Mashaney (37): Carrie had a pretty non-descript episode. She was in the middle of the pack during the quickfire, and while the judges seemed to like her dessert during the elimination challenge, she didn’t find herself among the winners’ pile. For most competitors, that would still be considered a pretty successful week, but considering her track record, it must have been a bit underwhelming.

#2) Nina Compton (36): Nina may not have ended up with the win this week, but she continued to be impressive, putting together Top 3 dishes during the quickfire and the final challenge. She’s got one win under her belt and has consistently been in the top three through the tenure of the competition. If she keeps cooking this way, she’ll be in this competition for a long time.

#3)Shirley Chung (35): Shirley won this week’s quickfire with her wildly inventive egg on top dish, which shouldn’t surprise anyone considering she’s been knocking at the door with high finishes since the beginning of the competition. Unfortunately for her, her elimination dish wasn’t quite so spectacular.

#4) Sara Johannes (30): Sara actually didn’t have a great challenge this week. She had trouble mimicking the popular dish she was given and the judges noted that she missed the white chocolate in the dish completely. Still, it was a middling mistake and she didn’t land in the bottom three for it. Otherwise, she’s been extremely competent and we’ll just keep on hoping this week is a blip.

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