Spike's eggs Benedict involves a poached egg with bacon, mushrooms, and lemongrass sabayon on a crouton, accompanied by some figs with what looks like some blue cheese and perhaps a bit of citrus. Lisa's incorporated a lobster tail into hers, so she will win, and she's also used toasted "halla" [sic], spinach, mache, hollandaise, and bacon. Oh, and an egg. Either of those would do wonders for a hangover, which Bourdain nails as he advises using just such criteria for judging. Lisa wins for putting everything together in one easy-to-eat pile of richness, and for an egg that is, according to Padma, "poached slightly better."
Dale flips it with a sweatband and New York strip steak with candied peppercorn, parsley puree, bok choy and a bunch of other stuff that, when combined, looks like a miniature, oddly-designed village. Manuel makes a run for the border, sporting the colors of the Mexican flag with sirloin with mushroom ceviche and scallion cilantro sauce. Rocco likes Dale's dish for "taking chances," while Colicchio downgrades Manuel's otherwise fine dish for being "too greasy," and Bourdain thinks he went "overboard with the sauce."
Ryan's Chicken Whatever -- a concoction of chicken cutlets with lemon-potato gnocchi and warm herb salad -- actually looks quite tasty (and I am a believer in the adage that a roasted chicken is the test of a chef), but there is not a caper in sight. Valerie sees the opportunity, referring to her dish as more "traditional" -- chicken breast with orange demi-glace and a potato and haricots vert salad -- but that doesn't seem right either. At least there are some capers on her dish, although Ryan's definitely looks better. Colicchio chides Ryan for using bread crumbs, and they both get slammed because they "didn't make piccata" -- thank you, Rocco. But it's Ryan that ends up on the chopping block, for the sin of the crumb -- how awful, since "I've been cooking since I was eleven years old." Oh, I'd forgotten.
Erik's Pepper jack cheese soufflé with avocado crème fraiche, black bean puree, and salsa; or Zoi's rice pudding soufflé with candied figs and fennel, and an espresso with Pernod? It's not a hard choice -- as soon as the plates hit the screen, the winner is obvious. Erik's dish is just a mess, and he topped what's supposed to be a light and airy puff with a mess that includes tortilla chips. And it's not just the soufflé itself -- the colors on the plate (or at least on my TV) make the whole thing even less appealing. Zoi's wins in the looks department, but, when Bourdain asks warily, "Have either of you guys made soufflés before?," you can tell they're both going to get some crap. Apparently they both taste okay, but -- shades of piccata -- they aren't soufflés. Zoi's sweet soufflé ekes out a win.