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Brooke's been at home with her blonde son and sous chef husband running her two restaurants. She's depicted as less in the kitchen, doing paperwork and being a mom, but she does make a pig ear salad and --SHOUTOUT--we made it our photo of the day! Brooke, it's Za-GAT but whatever. The salad looks pretty good. Sheldon's daughter thinks he's gonna win and Brooke's husband thinks she'd gonna crush - whoever it is.
And they're back in the Top Chef coats. Let's do this. Who do they think won Last Chance Kitchen? Sheldon would be surprised to see Josh. Brooke would be surprised to see Carla or Josie. They both kinda think it's gonna be Kristen. And it is. Welcome back, Kristen! Turns out she de-throned CJ after six straight wins and then knocked out Josie, Stefan, Lizzie and Josh. Yeah, girl!
The semi-finals are taking place at Craft in LA. They're in Tom's house now. Service opens in three hours and the three of them will be his chefs. They're each responsible for an appetizer, entrée and dessert. Tom will be in the kitchen expediting, while Hugh Acheson and Emeril will be checking on them. Fun!
Sheldon immediately grabs the spot prawns and quail. Kristen's doing tuna. Brooke may do beets or she may do short ribs, she can't decide. Brooke says quail doesn't sound like Sheldon and it's cray for him to stray from his comfort zone at a time like this. But it's a new Sheldon is back in LA. He says he may not have been cooking from his heart in the last few challenges in Alaska but now he's rebooted and he's ready. He takes off his blue hat and puts on his red hat. He's back and he's here for blood. Hugh comes into the kitchen to talk to Brooke who's now making sweetbreads. He tells her to bring something out of left field. Tom talks to Kristen who says she's trying to simplify. She thinks she crushed Last Chance Kitchen where she only had thirty minutes because she didn't have time to overthink it. Emeril's advice for Sheldon, "taste, brother."
Padma walks in with guest judges John Besh, Martin Yan, Hugh Acheson and Emeril. It's time. First courses, go:
Sheldon serves spot prawns with court bouillon, radish and Asian herbs. Delicate, perfectly cooked. Check. Kristen walks out with a chestnut veloute with duck rillette and brussel sprouts. Pretty good, Hugh says you would never see a rillette by itself and that it needs some acid. Someone needs to make a supercut of Hugh Acheson's faces at this meal. Brooke ends up with a crispy veal sweetbread salad with kumquat, beets and mustard. Padma loves the intensity of flavor and Martin Yan says there are a lot of surprises. Hugh says she could've cleaned it a little more and sliced it a little thicker but basically, she killed it.
Kristen serves seared ahi tuna with veal, mustard jus and meyer lemon puree. Very good but the meyer lemon is a little harsh. Hugh thinks it’s a little safe. Oh, Hugh. Brooke brings out braised short ribs with parmesan sauce, nettle puree and squash dumplings. Again, kills it. The flavors are great. Emeril loves the nettle. A random dude thinks it’s the most flavorful by quite a bit. It's fun to see Brooke spinning out of control in the kitchen, Tom yelling that she's behind and then kicking ass at judges table. Sheldon serves roasted quail with pine nut puree, garam masale and tangerine. Well, Brooke was right about Sheldon's quail. The judges all think he lost his Sheldon-punch. Hugh says, "this is not Sheldon, this is another chef in Sheldon's hat." He wants the old Sheldon back and so does Emeril. Emeril says he's been brainwashed. Oy. TAKE OFF THE RED HAT.
Brooke's brown butter cake, whipped goat cheese and blackberry sauce is another hit. She's got this one in the bag. Kristen serves curry chocolate with cashews which is basically just a bowl of chocolate. Padma likes the flavor but Hugh says it's not a great idea. In the kitchen, Kristen knows that was embarrassing. Hugh tells her it was like "a badly thought out, over-done pot de crème." #Hugh. Sheldon serves white chocolate mousse with apple and fennel. The flavor combo and the idea is good but raw fennel is way too overpowering.
There's no official semi finals winner but it's safe to say Brooke wins. Kristen did very well, but it was a little too simple and her dessert wasn't complete. Sheldon's food was good but it wasn't Sheldon. And it wasn't Sheldon-level good. So--it was clear since he brought out the quail--Sheldon's going home. The lesson here: let Sheldon be Sheldon. And wear your blue hat.
Brooke and Kristen will battle it out next week in the finale. Do you think it's Brooke's game or does Kristen have a shot?