I think it's tough because it sounds like truffles really call for simplicity. What was it they said about Kevin's dish? That it would have been better if all he had served were the onions, truffles and other non-meat portions of his dish?
So simple and, based on the reactions, maybe even vegetarian, would have been the way to go.
But it's such the antithesis to how these chefs usually think. They're afraid if they don't do something extra to differentiate their dishes from something the judges have had before, then they're not doing enough. It can be their failure when they aren't required to highlight a specific ingredient but when highlighting an ingredient is a requirement? That's it.
That was the impression I got too. Bryan's dish was excellent but it was "classic" while Melissa's was more unusual.
I don't think selecting who wins a challenge is favoritism unless we're talking the finale. Who loses? Yes but not who wins. I thought Bryan would win too but I knew Melissa and Bryan would be the final 2.