The sixth finalist eliminated from the competition, Emilia, a culinary instructor, battled herself perhaps just as much as any rival in this contest, as she struggled to fully and genuinely portray her personality in presentations. In the end, a too-risky performance in which she mimicked her rivals cost her the title.
"Stepford." That's how Matthew described Emilia on Day One of the competition. From then on, she tried to justify her fun-loving attitude with how she came across. "We need warmth," Giada told her. "People are going to be really surprised," Emilia said later. "I am lovable and funny as hell."
After a day of work in the studio, the finalists headed to Triunfo Creek Vineyards for the Week 1 food festival, and Emilia could hardly contain her excitement. "All the nerves I had that were screwing up my camera challenges completely disappeared the moment I started cooking," she wrote in her scrapbook.
The struggles Emilia experienced in the earliest episode continued into Week 2. In the leftovers challenge she spoke of her "spice class" point of view, but ultimately she was still seemingly rigid in her delivery. "You still didn't smile enough," Bobby told her. "I want you to have fun."
Unfortunately for Emilia, the problems only worsened in the second episode's baking challenge, as she ran out of time and had just moments to set up her station and plate her polenta cake. "My bakeshop is totally an abomination," she admitted. "I want to smile. I want to be warm, but my disappointment is showing." The judges, too, realized her errors, as Bobby noted, "This is a bad choice today."
Though Emilia's dish of Thai mussels may have been the eighth and last plate selected for tasting in the social media trends challenge, her offering was nevertheless sampled by Bobby and Giada in the Episode 3 Mentor Challenge, and Bobby found it simply "really good." Her presentation was strong, too, much to her delight. "My presentations are getting better and it feels amazing," she said.
It was girls versus boys in the Star Challenge dinner party with guests Sunny Anderson and Geoffrey Zakarian, and it was up to Emilia to deliver an incendiary dessert. "What the boys don't understand is that we work really well together," Emilia wrote in her journal. Sure enough, the Committee was indeed pleased with the ladies' decision to theme their dinner.
At the July 4th cookout, Emilia made do with a last-minute ingredient switcheroo that left her with chicken thighs. She was focused on selling her spice point of view with tandoori-inspired skewers, but the judges are disappointed that it lacks the necessary boldness. "I want more flavor from the tandoori chicken," Bobby said. "When you advertise something as spicy, it should be spicy."
It was all about pairs in Episode 5 when finalists swapped their favorite ingredients with a partner's choice ingredients, then tasted and described the dish their teammate made. Though Emilia was conflicted as to how critical she should be of Arnold's scallop-harissa dish, she said, "I came to win" and spoke honestly about how she felt. "I think you describe all the components beautifully," Giada told her afterward.
The teamwork continued in the Star Challenge at Los Angeles' Patina Restaurant, where the cast worked in pairs to fuse their culinary points of view on a single plate. "So I just got paired with Jay and I couldn't be happier," Emilia wrote. "Today is going to be awesome." And indeed it was. The Committee was wowed by her performance with Jay, and guest judge Anne Burrell said, "They did seem like they were having a good time."
In what would ultimately be Emilia's final week of the competition, she was tasked with making a pizza with "kicked-up flavors," according to special guest Duff Goldman, and for her that meant a samosa-inspired pie with chocolate sauce. While the panel appreciated the flavor in Emilia's pizza, her presentation showed her reverting back to her old teacher-focused ways. "Here's a tip: Loosen up, girlfriend," Michelle joked.
"You took big risks. I admire that. But unfortunately to us it came off as mean-spirited," Bob told Emilia before she learned that she'd be leaving the competition. "I know that I took a big risk, and you know what, this sucks. I wanted to be the last chick," she said, reflecting on her elimination.