Matthew is serving first. His manicotti is adorable with its little Parker House roll sides. He presents the faux pasta to the gathered palates of Michael Cimarusti, John Sedlar, Sang Yoon, Suzanne Goin, Hubert Keller (nice of you to show up, Hubert!), Judge Johnny and, of course, Cat Cora who must have officially changed her name to Iron Chef Cat Cora, because that is all anyone calls her. The "manicotti" is crème fraiche cake with mascarpone ricotta mousse, strawberry compote and basil gelee. The judges think it looks great, but the texture is only so so. They feel that this far in the competition you have to go that extra step and add texture. Have they had manicotti lately? Based on my experience with the dish (served on a paper plate in a Formica-lined fellowship hall at a Lutheran church) texture it's not really part of the concept.
Next up is Chris' beef Wellington (I feel like there could be a real doozy of a Ruth's Chris' Steakhouse joke in there, but the apostrophes unsettle me and now I'm avoiding eye contact with it) ANYWAY. Chris' Beef Wellington is made of puff pastry, chocolate mousse, raspberry jam and salted caramel. It looks great what with the puff pastry being made out of puff pastry. Gail tsks tsks over the British origin of the dish, but Judge Johnny has been spending some quality time on Wikipedia and announces that the dish was named for the Duke of Wellington after defeating Napoleon, but its roots are French. Once that was settled, everyone got down to the business of enjoying the dish and remarking on how clever it was of him to use puff pastry for puff pastry.
Orlando's paella is next. He made a coconut and saffron rice with a tuile to look like a mussel, compressed plums to stand in for the seafood and roasted beets for the chorizo. The judges note that the rice is broken, which is a thing that can happen I guess? Please don't ever come to my house for dinner, Gail! They are mostly impressed by the effort, although they are divided on the use of beets as faux-rizo.
Last up is Sally's Cuban sandwich, which looks pretty good with its brioche bun, cream cheese mousse and strawberry caramel gel for ham. She also made sides of plantain chips and faux-tato salad. The judges find the look of the dish transporting, but they aren't impressed with the cream cheese mousse because it is "messy" which is VERBOTEN. Do you know how expensive Johnny's suits are? I don't actually. But Johnny is a fancy boy and the mousse is messy and just will not do. However the dish sure is pretty, so maybe that is enough. Thus endeth the final service before the actual finale.