Top Chef
Maui Wowie

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Carla Sparks: B+ | 67 USERS: C-
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The chefs get to watch the initial deliberation in their Hawaiian stew room. Louis, they agree, had a lot of gusto, but cooked unevenly overall. Gail tries to be very kind to him. They seem to really like Nicholas's dish, even with that controversial jalapeƱo. They also liked Nina's dish and her layered flavors, but Tom thinks the spice overpowered the dish a bit. They loved the flavors of Shirley's tender pork dish, but agree that it's a little sweet. Now that all the chefs feel like shit, Padma calls them in for a face-to-face conversation.

It's four on four, and Padma reminds them who's really in charge. They ask Shirley about her dish first, and she lies a little bit saying she wanted to showcase how "sweet Maui made me feel, like so happy." Nice save, Shirley, but maybe not nice enough. Gail congratulates Louis again for the ballsy choice to cook opah in front of Sam Choy. They all applaud his gutsiness but that's about it. Nina seems to be going well, even as Padma says "I can see how the heat level may have been a bit much for some of the guests." Nicholas managed to balance his complex dish, they tell him. Emeril commends them all on a great season.

Back in a private deliberation, the judges all agree it has been a great season and none of the dishes were bad. It appears Louis is the clear choice to go first, and the other spot is still up in the air. Nicholas presented a very thoughtful, component-rich dish. Shirley needed a little more acid and Nina's dish was "almost too powerful." So it's between Nina and Shirley for that second spot, and the other will compete with Louis for fan favorite.

Emeril announces that Nicholas is, of course, the winner of this challenge. He will move on to the real finale with an advantage. He cannot claim sabotage any longer. Tom says everyone deserves to move on, but that just can't happen. Louis is sent home to pack his knives first. He was clearly too nice to play ball anyway. Padma, almost with tears in her beautiful eyes/stars, tells Shirley to pack her knives and go. She really feels it, that Padma Lakshmi. We will miss Shirley, but Nina really busted her ass to get in the finale. She'd better beat Nicholas. Oh my god, next week Padma rises from the ocean in a bikini. To quote Uncle Jesse, have mercy.

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Top Chef

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