Kwame Onwuachi's duck dish

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Episode in one paragraph: Awkwardness is a spectrum. If one end of it is Marco Rubio robotically spewing rehearsed soundbites in response to criticism that he’s a robot who only spews rehearsed soundbites, the other end of it is chefs freestyling rhymes to M.C. Hammer as they rap about the Vietnamese lettuce wrap that they whipped up in 30 minutes. In the quickfire challenge, Isaac Toups play on shrimp and grits was… wait for it… TOUPS LEGIT TO QUIT. Isaac picks up immunity with the win. For the elimination challenge, chefs chose historic periods from around the world (Han Dynasty China, Gold Rush-era San Francisco, Vikings, etc.), spent a few hours doing research at the San Francisco Public Library, and then headed to the kitchen with three hours to prepare a dish. This is one of the trickier kinds of tests: If a chef is slavish to what something historical is supposed to taste like, they can get dinged for not doing a modern interpretation. But if they blow off history altogether, judges will crush them for ignoring the challenge. In the end, Amar Santana’s classic French roasted squab won while Karen Akunowicz’s soba noodles from the Empire of Japan had too much Chinese influence and she was sent home.

D.C. Performances: Shaw Bijou’s Kwame Onwuachi made up for some bad quickfire rapping by doing a near-perfect Chinese duck with only four ingredients. But Ripple and Roofers Union chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley’s Indian dish landed her on the bottom, mainly through some almost fried paratha bread, which should have been softer. Was she in danger of going home? Probably not. But if you’re going to have a less-than-great performance, it’s better to do it before the field gets too small.

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

Confidence rating (out of 10): 7. Onwuachi looked really strong and showed he could adapt when his test duck came out way too rare. MM-B, despite the stumble, remains one of the favorites to make the final. Could we get two D.C.-ers in there?

Photo via Top Chef