Now it's time for the actual Judges' Table. They all agree that the level of the cheftestants is pretty high and it was fairly promising start for all of them. Talking about presentation, Colicchio says he really liked how Sara M. plated her black chicken with the claw. "REALLY?!" Padma busts out. Calm down, honey. Bourdain also liked that aspect of the dish and comments, "It tells me 'I am not a supermarket chicken.'" Yeah, so does the black skin, Tony. Bourdain tells Padma that a presentation like that has a certain amount of confidence in it, and at any rate, "You're lucky we didn't get the beak." Their favorite dishes came from Hung and Tre. Padma goes to retrieve the lucky two.
Tre is not surprised that Hung was called back with him. "This is gonna be the guy that's going to be right there next to me…I don't feel like anyone else in this competition can outcook me," Tre says. Padma tells them what they clearly already know, they are the top two. When the top two don't really react because they already know they are just That Good, Padma nearly shouts, "You can SMILE!" Who put a quarter in her tonight? Tre and Hung sort of smile. Padma tells Hung they felt his dish was very beige-y and asks him to react to that. Hung say, "I was happy with it -- not everything needs full color. Just because the color's not there…if the food is good, that's the final product. You may eat with your eyes first but it's your stomach, it's your mouth that is what tastes it." I think that means he disagrees with the judges. When they turn their attention to Tre, he says that he was really happy with his dish. Colicchio asks if they tasted each other's dishes. Tre shakes his head in admiration, "Oh man, I tasted his and I was just in love. I was just, like, wow. I mean, to me it just amazed me what he did with that geoduck." Hung snuffles a nasal and goofy, "Thanks!" back at Tre. Padma points out that both in season one and season two, the cheftestant who won the first Elimination Challenge also went on to win the whole shebang. "But no pressure!" Gail jokes. Speaking on behalf of all the judges, Bourdain says that they really liked both dishes, but Hung's food, while impeccable, was just missing that needed color. Tre, on the other hand, was more conservative with his approach but he brought color, flavor, and texture together impressively. Tre wins the challenge. Tre nods impassively. "As today's winner you get," Bourdain says and reaches under the table, "A stack of my collected works, all signed with obscene doodles inside. And next time we're in New York at the same time, I'm taking you out for late-night Yakitori and getting you savage drunk." Tre grins.