Dragged to the top deck, the cheftestants are given glasses of Champagne -- Howie's face is so done with all this shit -- and toasted and applauded by everyone. Brian says, "The fact that all of the guests on the boat are giving us a huge round of applause…I'm feeling very successful." No, honey, all the guests are drunk -- they'd applaud if someone fell overboard. However, Padma reminds them that when they get back to shore, they have some "serious business" at Judges' Table.
Judges' Table. In the back, Howie announces, "I just want to say that I thought every dish was good and I don't give a fuck what they say." That's really nice and team-like, Howie, but I think the "not giving a fuck" part is why you're going home. Brian adds that he got compliments on every dish in the dining room. At the actual Judges' Table, Michael declares that the dishes -- as a whole -- were uninspired and flat with no pop. (Or Snap and Crackle, for that matter.) Dana adds, "I was amazed at how every single thing came out on some sort of bread." NOT TRUE! Hung's centuries-old salmon mousse was on CUCUMBER ROUNDS! Attention to detail, Madame Editor. Going first to the highlights, Michael says, "Well, I think that Casey's dish looked and tasted good." Did you note that there's something odd in his trailing off tone that implies there was a "but" coming? However, we never hear any more of it. The judges also all liked CJ's seafood sausage. They disliked Dale's flavorless, runny yogurt cream puff/gougère thing and Colicchio damns one of Howie's dishes by announcing he has a problem with people calling things "cigars." "It's unappealing," he adds. Yeah, but it's also common. Dana declares that Howie's mushroom tartlet "tasted like mud." Colicchio muses over Brian as leader and wonders why he didn't "edit" the Challenge better.
All the cheftestants are pulled in front of the judges for questioning. Brian is first under fire and he says that they covered all the basis and thinks it all worked out "very well," and the reason why they didn't serve the dessert was because it didn't meet their expectations. Totally dropping the dessert issue FOREVER, Colicchio wants to know if there was ever a discussion about the wisdom of doing one or two dishes. (That, of course, was CJ's point during the initial brainstorming.) Brian admits there was a discussion and explains that people who thought they could handle two dishes were allowed to do those two dishes. Padma puts in, "You are the executive chef of this team, so you would have had to judge whether these things were appropriate…" Brian contradicts her, "I am not the executive chef of seven chefs, I was the leader. These are all chefs, these are not my sous chefs, these are not my line cooks." He makes a good point, which might be why Colicchio comes down on him for "splitting hairs," and informs him that being a leader means making the hard decisions. Colicchio points out how it is clear that Brian "clearly thought" that doing two dishes was a mistake, so why would he let another teammate do it? Did Brian "clearly" think making two was a mistake? I mean, I know he only did one himself, but I sort of got the impression during the brainstorming that maybe Brian thought that piling up on more dishes was better. Turning to Sara, Colicchio says, "You chose to do one dish, why did you choose to do only one?" Sara contradicts him and says she actually did two, but the dessert was chosen not to be served. "Okay, the second dish was in combination with Casey," Colicchio dismisses and then asks Sara why other chefs chose to do two dishes. "We wanted a variety," Sara says. Dana agrees that they did plan the menu for variety, adding, "But eighty percent were served on bread [HA! She heard me!] -- was that something that you thought about…?" Brian says that when you have thirty minutes to shop, you take some shortcuts. Michael says that he had a problem with how colorless the presentations were. Of course, the camera has trained in on Howie's stubbornly pursed lips and jowls for this statement. But before getting to him, we get to experience the Hung Defense. Colicchio asks Hung how long he's been cooking. Hung does some quick math in his head and says, "Since…eighty-nine…?" Colicchio leaps, "Your hors d'oeuvres -- that salmon -- was right out of that era." "Yes," Hung admits immediately, "It was very classic. That's something you would find at a lot of parties, it's been done for the last three hundred years." Wait, WHAT? I'm sorry but I have to do some investigation of that claim.