Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 | 5:36 p.m.
We are down to the final three episodes and six remaining contestants of “Top Chef” in New Orleans on Bravo, but we won’t know if our Strip darling cheftestant Shirley Chung makes it to the finale in Maui just yet.
Tonight, Shirley is tested in a Quickfire Challenge based on culinary legend Jacques Pepin’s favorite dish of Dover Sole with artichoke and asparagus. She gets 35 minutes to re-create the master’s techniques — and it might win her another immunity to continue onward.
The six chefs still standing are divided into two teams of three for the Elimination Challenge to make meals representing French and Spanish cultures.
Chef-owner Julian Serrano (Picasso at Bellagio, Julian Serrano at Aria) is a guest judge along with Emeril Lagasse and Tom Colicchio; all three men have multiple restaurants in Las Vegas.
All I can reveal about tonight’s episode is that it’s a very emotional episode, and you’ll wince when you see Shirley in tears. You also will recoil at a surprise challenge to hunt down discarded food in the Dumpsters of the French Quarter to produce an extraordinary dinner that Emeril can safely put on the menus of his NOLA restaurants.
The only other secret I can reveal as we reach the finals is that my longtime Hawaii chef pal Sam Choy will be a guest when the judges get tangled in a tie and host Padma Lakshmi says it has become the closest finale in all 11 seasons. The bragging rights of being Top Chef and a $125,000 prize are at stake.
You can meet Shirley at chef Rick Moonen’s Jan. 19 dinner at his Rx Boiler Room in Mandalay Place to benefit hospitalized food critic Max Jacobson when she presides over the cocktail hour with a unique hors d’oeuvres meat station.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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