To compete with Stephanie's cake, Lisa's got a black Thai rice pudding with lime and mango crème, taro and coconut. Said cake is, officially, a ricotta pound cake with tropical fruit and banana crème, while Richard rounds out his menu with his favorite dish of the evening, banana scallops (which have treated him well, if often) accompanied by bacon ice cream.
Gail, in a charmingly dismissive tone, wonders about Lisa's "chip issue" (which, with chips in three of four courses, had crossed my mind as well), and Colicchio explains that "she subscribes to the whole sort of Asian use of some kind of crunch in every dish." Barber finds that to be a minor problem in a "really exciting dessert." Zagat wants more, although it takes April a few bites before she is able to call it "interesting." For Barber, Richard's dessert works as "an example of his playfulness pulling through in the end," although Ripert more cryptically offers that one must first focus on flavors before indulging one's playfulness. And Stephanie's pound cake? "Nothing special," thinks Zagat. April compliments its moistness, but Ripert labels it "unrefined and slightly evvy."
After Gail announces that she'd been looking forward to this meal, Colicchio sums it up: they all grew, they're all winners, Richard's intellectual and edgy, Lisa's true to herself, and Stephanie tends toward a "homey spin," all of which will make for an interesting night at judges' table. The cheftestants reappear in the dining room, to a round of applause and words of thanks from Padma, before she sends them away to wallow in anxiety.
More yammering from the judges about the season and the meal and that each cheftestant delivered what they expected, complete with missteps -- oh, just get on with it already! First stop, Richard, who maintains that everything went okay in the kitchen, and that he hopes it was successful for the diners. He wanted "an explosion, flavorwise" for the scallop opener, to wake up the palate, and seems surprised when Padma mentions more than one verdict of under seasoning. It was indeed bland and just needed some salt and pepper, offers Colicchio -- sad to see someone of his caliber tripped up by something so simple. Lisa chose the shrimp, the bold sauce, and the combination of textures because they all appeal to her. Colicchio calls it "a very assertive first course -- it was very hot." Intentional, or a mistake? Intentional, reveals Lisa -- hot and spicy, just like her. Ted enjoyed the beautiful, square-cut potato chips. Stephanie was shooting for something "springy" with the white and green asparagus, along with the truffle vinaigrette for acid. A "beautifully presented dish," offers Gail, praising the perfectly cooked snapper. Ted pipes up with his approval, followed by Padma, who appreciates that Stephanie achieved richness of flavor with still maintaining a light feel to the dish.