Next up, Celina's chicken frisée salad with pickled shallots and carrots and bacon vinaigrette divides the judges as to whether the vinegar is abrasive. Ruth thinks Hugh's filet mignon topped with mushroom espuma and a ring of crisp puff pastry missed the point of beef Wellington, in that it takes two ingredients the original marries beautiful and divorces them. Geoffrey jokes that that is an appropriate update.
The final three competitors will all serve dessert. As Naomi and Alex confidently plate their respective grasshopper pie and bread pudding, Floyd realizes that his mousse hasn't set, so he decides to spin it as fondue at the last minute. The gambit works on his grilled peppered pineapple, mango, coconut, and orange custard, and Geoffrey especially loves a surprise pecan at the bottom of the custard. They judges deem Alex's chai-spiced custard with pannetone crust and roasted apple salad too saucy and give mixed reviews to Naomi's chocolate mint soufflé cake with toasted kirsch marshmallow. Christina says her favorite of the night was Mary Sue's Japanese take on deviled eggs, and the nouveau ambrosia is what left a lasting impression for Geoffrey. They declare themselves officially converted.
During the bonus, we learn that Zen master Suvir spends a good chunk of time shotgunnin' varmints on his property. Um, okay.
Critics' table. Mary Sue, Floyd and John are deemed best of the night. They are all surprised and relieved, considering the risks they took. Oseland calls John's oysters re-Rockefeller "exquisite." Ruth thinks Floyd's riff on ambrosia was "irresistible." Curtis said he'd be proud to serve Mary Sue's egg in any restaurant. But who will win the 10 Gs for his or her charity? It's Mary Sue, who is also playing for Share Our Strength. Fifteen grand alone this week for that charity. Hoo-ah!
The happy times soon end, however, when Sue, Alex and Suvir are called back to see the judges. Harsh faces meet them, and Sue is interrogated why she was helping others at her own expense. They think her duck was disappointing and not modern enough. They turn to Suvir, calling his veal oversized and like shoe leather. Suvir says he couldn't cook his food properly because some of his fellow contestants pushed him aside like divas, though he doesn't name names. Alex remains confident in his bread pudding, but the judges agree that it didn't wow them.
The cheftestants return to the stew room while their food is discussed. The critics are disappointed that Sue fell short of her concept, though they agree her food tasted fine. Unlike Suvir's. But, asks Freeman, is it more important that he finished the task or that his food didn't measure up? Reichl thinks his reinterpretation was truly modern and could have been exciting if it had worked. But it didn't. And where does Alex's bread pudding fall on the spectrum. It was certainly too boozy, and Oseland couldn't finish it. But was it worse than Suvir's veal? The veal that garnered a "Blyuck!" from Oseland, I might add.