When we return, Whitney's chicken is still sitting there on the floor. "She dropped the chicken," Joe says, for those of us who lost all cognitive sense during the commercial break. Hey, better than choking it, am I right? Anyhow, Whitney gives us a recap of all the hardships she's had to endure up until the very moment the chicken landed on the floor -- leaving school, leaving her family, yadda yadda -- and how she's not going to give up now. "I just buckled it up and went into overdrive," she says, along with other clichés I really don't feel like transcribing. And so Whitney whips up an entirely new country-fried chicken while her friends and love ones whoop and cheer and otherwise carry on. Wouldn't you know it -- she manages to get it done in time.
Now comes the tasting, which will be done well out of sight of the peanut gallery. Whitney and David will present their courses one dish at a time, starting with their appetizers. David presents the judges with his sea scallop ceviche and cream of pea soup, but tells the judges not to eat them together since they're such contrasting flavors. If they're not meant to be eaten together, Gordon asks, not entirely unreasonably, why are they being served together? Because David doesn't know what the hell he's doing? "It's not an appetizer," Gordon says. "It's two courses on one plate." Well, that too. After some not terribly encouraging coughing noises from the judges, we deduce that David probably put more jalapeños in that ceviche than he really should have. As for Whitney's crispy corn cake with black-eyed pea purée and turnip green pesto and shrimp, Joe frets that the shrimp may not be thoroughly cooked. So far, this competition seems to be hinging on which contestant is less likely to make the judges frantically dial up the poison control hotline.
While the contestants get their entrées, the judges debate the relative merits of the appetizers they've just choked down. Joe sort of likes the heat in David's ceviche, though Gordon seems unconvinced, what on account of the near-lethal levels of jalapeño in the dish. Gordon's also puzzled as to what the pea soup was doing there if he wasn't supposed to eat it with the ceviche. During all this talk, Graham seems to have gone to his happy place. And what of Whitney's appetizer? The purée's a delight, and everyone likes the corncake, but oh, that undercooked shrimp. "Highs and lows," Gordon says, which seems a charitable way of putting things.