Marjorie Meek-Bradley's roasted lamb saddle with artichoke purée, artichoke barigoule & roasted squash, tomatoes and olives

Episode in one paragraph: San Francisco was the perfect place for the season to wind down before heading off to a Vegas finale, as the show took advantage of two really great venues: The Presidio and the now closed Fleur de Lys. At The Commissary, chef Traci Des Jardins’ restaurant on the converted base, Miami chef Jeremy Ford won a toast quickfire challenge (we’re not making this up) while Amar Santana and Carl Dooley ended up on the bottom and had to duel in a sudden-death quickfire to avoid elimination. Carl’s crudo barely edged out Amar’s pan-roasted bream and he was sent packing. In the elimination challenge, the chefs decamped for chef Hubert Keller’s Fleur des Lys to cook what was billed as the last meal in the legendary restaurant. Jeremy continued his hot streak, winning a ticket to the finals with a classic pommes soufflées. Meanwhile, Ripple’s Marjorie Meek-Bradley’s lamb saddle, artichokes, and tomatoes dish was good enough for her to advance, too (although the judges did put her through the ringer for not cooking the lamb on the bone as they would have liked). With Carl and Isaac Toups left, the judges sent home Carl for an ambitious foie gras preparation that needed 3 days, not 3 hours.

D.C. Performances: With Shaw Bijou’s Kwame Onwuachi getting sent off last week for using frozen waffles in a fast-casual concept (and choking up head judge Tom Colicchio), it was up to MM-B and she came through. As with other times that she has been in the bottom, she never really appeared to be in jeopardy. Out of three D.C. contestants, one gets into the finale. In a field of 17 cheftestants, that’s pretty good.

D.C. wins: Quickfires, one (Meek-Bradley). Elimination challenges, four (Meek-Bradley, 2; Onwuachi, 2). Last Chance Kitchens, two (Garret Fleming).

Confidence rating (out of 10): 8. You’d have to rank MM-B’s biggest competitors in the two-part finale in this order: 1) Jeremy, the winner of Last Chance Kitchen, 2) either Carl or Amar as the episode left you hanging, (see below), and then 3) Isaac, who has miraculously hung in all season. She’s been rock solid. Can she pull out that one amazing meal? We like her odds.

Photo courtesy Bravo