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By People Staff
Updated September 03, 2009 12:00 AM
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Credit: Bravo

On Wednesday’s Top Chef, the remaining cheftestants were enlisted for a challenging — and patriotic — task: Cook a meal for over 300 members of the U.S. Air Force and their families with whatever supplies, foodstuffs and cooking equipment they could find in the kitchen at Nellis Air Force Base.

It was tough task, sure, but ultimately a heartwarming one that found the group pulling together as a team. Still, as always, someone was sent packing at the end of the super-sized episode.

Quickfire: This week’s guest judge should have been pretty familiar to loyal Top Chef Masters viewers: It was L.A.-based chef Mark Peel, and he presided over an “out of this world” potato challenge. (Padma‘s words!) The contestants had to produce a delectable potato dish from one of the seemingly zillion varieties of spuds sitting in the kitchen. Peel dubbed Jennifer Carroll the winner for her mussels with a potato cream sauce but gave honorable mention to Ashley Merriman, whose gnocchi almost didn’t get cooked in time after Preeti Mistry accidentally filched her boiling water.

Speaking of Boiling … : Mike Isabella hasn’t exactly played his issues with female chefs close to the vest — and last night he was at it again. After Jen C. nabbed her victory, he lashed out. “It’s favoritism to me at this point,” he said. “But I don’t care. I’ll get her!”

Elimination: So, the remaining contestants split into seven teams of two chefs — with Jen C. acting as head chef. Each team devised a dish using the rather scarce — and often canned — food they found in the kitchen. With Jen C.’s watchful eye, the chefs stayed on task despite the fact that pans and burners were limited. When it came time to serve their buffet, the line wrapped around the building and diners seemed to enjoy their meals overall.

Winners: Most inventive, Michael Voltaggio and Mike Isabella took slab bacon and cooked it slowly, braising it as if it were pork belly, which they served in lettuce. The taco-like dish, which was Voltaggio’s sole creation, impressed the judges and earned him the win. Isabella didn’t fare as well after deciding to make a second dish, a shrimp salad, that the judges felt was undercooked.

Losers: So, the judges called Isabella back to chide him. Worse, though, was Team Pasta Salad: Laurine Wickett and Preeti Mistry. While Padma approved of the concept of a vegetarian option, ultimately Preeti was sent home for the uninspired dish. –Brian Orloff

Tell us: What did you think of this week’s episode? Did you agree with the judges? And do you think it’s Jen C.’s game to win at this point?Bravo