Each week we'll watch Aragona chef Carrie Mashaney represent in the show's New Orleans season. 

She's so happy with that broccoli! Until judges' table. Photo courtesy of Bravotv.com.

Previously, on Top Chef: Dunkin’ Donuts! Asparagus foraging! Dookie jokes!

We’re down to eight chefs! Everyone rejoice.

This episode’s quickfire features big-haired special guest Questlove, drummer of hip-hop band The Roots, and Padma inexplicably dressed like a referee. Since Questlove’s own restaurant Hybird—which, in an awkward twist of things that Bravo couldn't have been pleased with, actually shuttered last month—specialized in drumsticks, the challenge is to create a dish using that piece from one of the various birds on the table. Our Carrie gets squab—not her first choice, she points out—and serves it marinated with fig mostarda; there are turkey legs and goose legs and teeny, tiny quail legs.

And she wins! Carrie gets immunity, which means everyone in Seattle is that much less interested in whatever happens next. 

The elimination challenge: “For your elimination challenge, we’re sending you back to school,” says Padma, funny because not all of the chefs went to school in the first place. They’re tasked with cooking lunch for 500 freshmen at Louisiana State University’s freshman orientation, using only the ingredients and equipment in the dining hall. I lived off Cherry Coke and Cheez-Its in college, so this ought to be interesting.

After a claustrophobic night spent in the dorms and a campus tour by the peppiest coeds any of us have ever seen, the chefs divide up who’s cooking where—Carrie gets saddled with the cold station, taking one for the team since she has immunity. The prep for this challenge is shockingly uninteresting, save for Carlos stressing about where he’s going to cook his tilapia and Justin talking up how awesome he is (he’s not).

Service starts—complete with lunch ladies!—and there are obvious hits and misses. Carrie’s station is a wasteland. To no one's surprise, college kids aren’t super excited about what appears to be blanched broccoli and yogurt sauce. You can almost see the tumbleweeds blow by. “It’s not my fault kids are stupid and don’t eat their broccoli,” she says. The chefs that stick closest to what college students would typically eat seem to garner the most positive feedback.

At judges’ table, Carrie gets called out for her weak veggie dish; the judges wonder if she phoned it in because she had immunity. They call Stephanie’s grilled cheese, which she actually served in a bowl of tomato soup, a mess, and Justin’s shrimp dish bland.

The winner: Shirley! Her roast beef was cooked perfectly, and she plans to give her Toyota Rav4 prize to her mom for supporting her all these years. Awwwwww.

The loser: Justin! Proving once and for all that his reality and his ego should really have a talk.

The line of the night: “I don’t really make a bed at home,” says Carrie. Her husband really is a keeper.

Minutiae:

  • There’s a live tiger on LSU’s campus? My college mascot was a tiger, too, and the closest we got was a creepy decades-old furry costume.
  • You know you’re old when you comment about how young college students look. Now get off my lawn!
  • Was this not one of the dullest episodes in Top Chef history? Wow. 

Next week: It’s a Nick vs. Carlos showdown, in what appears to be a seafood challenge. 

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