The next day, the teams have three hours to cook before the diners start pouring into their restaurants. Mary Sue encounters a hiccup when she can't find any unsweetened chocolate. She decides on a quick fix by dissolving sugar into the recipe, but she knows it will affect the texture of her cake. While the others are stressing, Suvir remains cool as a cucumber, rhapsodizing about what it is to be a master, including taking on every challenge as best you can.
The challenge begins, and Traci thinks Mosaic has a leg up because their staggered reservations will make service easier for the chefs. Sedlar admits that Leela's timing has to be perfect to execute their communal seating plan. She greets the judges, along with guest judge Danyelle Freeman, food blogger and author of Try This: Travel the Globe Without Leaving the Table. Their orders go in, and Hugh still worries about his overly large scallop. Floyd thinks things are running smoothly both in front and back of house.
First up: Traci's warm bread salad with artichokes and burrata, which the judges think is clean, vibrant, and represents the best of California cooking. The reviews aren't so good for Hugh's scallops with grits, leeks, peppers, and pancetta. They notice its humongous size and think it's overwhelmingly salty. Next up, the judges love George's salmon confit with saffron-fennel puree and smoked potato puree, even though he's a scallop-sized ball of stress back in the kitchen. They're equally impressed with Floyd's spiced braised short ribs, but opinions are split on his oat risotto. The meal ends with Mary Sue's signature chocolate cake with lemon puree and Suvir's berry and pear cobbler with a buttermilk biscuit. The judges love the tart spiciness of Suvir's cobbler but think Mary Sue's cupcake-like cake is too moist and dense. Oseland says it might as well have come from the supermarket.
The judges meander over to Leela, where they have to wait to be seated. Naomi defends her plan to seat all the diners at the same time, but Curtis is unconvinced. In the back, stress is high and communication is low.
Naomi serves the judges Alex's celery root, potato, and spinach fricassee, as well as Currence's sweet potato and peanut soup with spicy chicken liver mousse. While Alex's fricassee passes with flying colors, Reichl thinks Currence's soup is too spicy and will blow out the flavors of everything to follow. And then the judges wait... and wait... and wait. They finally have to call over to Naomi to make sure the next course is actually coming. She comes up with a line about how they're timing everything to perfection, but it's obvious they're in the weeds. Sue's Alaskan halibut and scallop with glazed pearl onions, artichokes, and pesto beurre blanc finally arrives, along with Sedlar's rack of lamb with jicama, three-apple, and lime salad. The judges think Sue's plate is beautiful but verges on hotel food. They deem Sedlar's lamb overly rare and are disappointed to find a label on one of the apples in his salad. Finally, Naomi serves her flourless chocolate torte with Grand Marnier and bruléed vanilla meringue, as well as Celina's pistachio cake and honey semifreddo. Everyone is blown away by Naomi's torte, but they find Celina's plating problematic and difficult to eat all together.
Naomi thinks the service righted itself by night's end and is grateful that the diners are voting, not just the judges. On the other team, Suvir thinks Leela was run like a banquet hall, while Mosaic resembled a Michelin starred restaurant. Oooooh, them's fightin' words! Over all, all the chefs were surprised that this competition has proved to be such an uphill battle from the get-go, and no one is willing to bet on their team winning. Well, they don't call it a challenge for nothing, guys.
Judges' Table. Curtis calls Team Leela out first. Curtis tells them the critics preferred Mosaic, but reminds them that the diners' votes were the only ones that counted. Thus, Leela won. Well, shake my hand with your right and slap my face with your left! Now to the best dish. Between Naomi's chocolate torte and Alex's fricassee, Alex gets the edge. And $10,000 for his charity. He reiterates that it's an extra-meaningful win since he himself is a cancer survivor.
Now for Team Mosaic's unfortunate fall. The judges call in only Hugh, for his aggressively salty scallops, and Mary Sue for her spongy chocolate cake. Hugh acknowledges he took a chance that didn't pay off. Mary Sue admits her tried-and-true dessert wasn't as tried or true as she thought and basically makes a lot of excuses as to why her cake was dry and off in texture. They go back to the stew room while the judges duke it out. Reichl calls this turn of events "heartbreaking," especially because none of the dishes was a disaster. Hugh is irritated because he thinks others played it safe. Which is, arguably, what Mary Sue tried to do and failed.
The judges have reached a decision: Hugh is the first chef to go, though he'll still get a donation to his charity Wholesome Wave. Hugh is even-keeled about the ouster, saying he's learned a few things and earned some money for charity along the way.
This season: Christina Hendricks, a surprise proposal, armed forces, Biggest Losers, blind tastings, and the infamous bug-cooking challenge. Season's eatings!