Tommy and his bow tie the size of America are really happy to be in the top seven, we learn before tonight’s mystery box challenge. Up come the lids and it’s coffee. “Damn fine coffee,” Christina Tosi adds. Our chefs have an hour to make a “stunning coffee-inspired dish. Ready to put some pep in your step?” With that they’re off, though Stephen’s all, “Coffee? I drink it but very rarely do I do anything else with it.” So on those special occasions, what are you doing with it, buddy?
Graham Elliot says coffee dishes generally are sweet though you can go savory, but he’s expecting the former. Claudia’s confident, Stephen’s confident, Derrick is very confident—though do you expect anything less from our alpha male?—and he’s brought out his dessert guns. His regular guns are out, too, since he’s sans sleeves, as is tradition. While Derrick stirs a pot of raspberries, Graham stirs the proverbial pot by asking how Derrick is handling the rivalry with Stephen. (Answer: just fine, thank you.) Most are making dessert and most are sticking to their roots. Time is called and the top three are chosen.
First up, with a finesse in plating, is Derrick, who is obviously stoked. “Derrick annoys me, but I gotta give him the credit he deserves. That guy can cook,” Stephen tells us. Aww. That’s nice. Derrick’s caramel latte panna cotta, with raspberry sauce and spun sugar, looks sublime. It’s edible art in a glass. “It’s dessert, so it’s like the encore of the concert,” Derrick says, though I’ll let it slide since he hasn’t done one of these trite rock analogies in ages. Gordon declares the coffee to be the hero in the glass, and, “for the first time in this competition, I’d change nothing.” Graham heaps praise, Christina finds it “overall amazing, thought it could’ve been a little more tart.” Just give the guy his win, Christina.
Hetal is called next and this is “maybe a redemption” for her. She’s ecstatic about her dense coffee chocolate cake with espresso whipped cream, which she thinks “you’ll want to shove right in your face.” Graham abstains from that behavior, though he says it’s tasty but could’ve had more coffee flavor. Gordon disagrees, calling it “bloody delicious.” Last up is Nick, who’s yet to emerge victorious in a mystery box challenge. His vanilla coffee cake with coffee mascarpone and a crumble of espresso beans on top floors Christina, who lavishes the praise before rudely inquiring if this is “a fluke.” C’mon, Christina. Did you not have enough coffee this morning and you’re a little grumpy? Gordon thinks it’s so brilliant, Nick gets a high five.
The winner will be Derrick, Derrick thinks. He’s sure his dish is worlds beyond the other two. “I have a restaurant quality dish. It’s an undeniable win,” Derrick tells us. Which makes it all the more funny when Nick gets the win. Derrick, you hath been denied, homie. Nick compares his victory to “that girl in the club you just can’t get to, but I finally got to her and she’s talking to me.” …Mmkay.
For the elimination challenge, things will work differently tonight, Gordon says, but don’t they always this late in the competition? Nick won’t choose what the others will cook because the judges already have. It’s a summer party platter comprised of chicken wings, shrimp skewers, sliders, tortilla chips with salsa and guac, and pigs in a blanket, all made from scratch. Gordon assures us this simple comfort food is far more complicated to make than it looks, adding that “your tray has to look exactly like our tray.” It’s impossible to pull off alone, we’re told, so they’ll be in teams of two. Guess who gets to pick the teams. If you said Nick, you get a cookie.
Of this newfound power, his fellow contestants should “100 percent should be worried,” Nick says. Now we learn this is the tag team challenge, “just to add more misery,” sighs Stephen. Nick immediately pairs Derrick with Stephen and I immediately smile broadly. “If Derrick talks back, I’m going to crush him,” Stephen vows. Next, Nick pairs Katrina and her gaudy blue bow headpiece with Tommy and his gaudy white bow neckpiece. It’s just so much bow without any presents. At this pairing, which displeases both, Tommy thinks the shade Katrina’s throwing is like she’s “just been paired with Count Dracula.” For those keeping score at home, that means Hetal and Claudia are coupled up, and I kinda feel like they’ll do well together.
NEXT: The team that fights the most will surprise you.