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.
Padma sends Tre and Hung to bring back Clay, Dale, Howie, and Brian. I feel so bad for Howie because I think he's a really good chef who just didn't manage his time properly. The four losers stand in front of the judges to take the heat. Starting with Brian, Padma asks him if he knows why he's there. Brian admits that he made his dishes too complicated for the time allowed and got carried away with his "dueling snakes." Okay, so now the Medusa and the eyes and the venom are having duels? Sure, why not? Colicchio wonders why he fried them. "They're FRIED, because I knew they had the elasticity to handle the fry, although the snake got a little tough on me," Brian says, practically shouting at times. Here's where Padma gets her inner Bourdain on, "You say they held up well against the frying, I actually think ANYTHING holds up well against frying." Padma starts to wiggle her head back and forth, giving attitude for some reason, "You could fry my TOE and batter it well and it would taste good." Colicchio chuckles, briefly closing his eyes. I think he's sort of embarrassed that Padma is talking about battering something after the fry, which would just be weird and gloppy and wrong. I wonder how many hits it would take for Padma to want to eat her own fried toe. Colicchio thinks Brian should have kept his stuff on the bone. Brian's response? "I SCORED them very NICEly and WHAT I WAS TRYING TO GET (his voice is actually echoing around the room) was I was trying to expose the ribs on them and I spent a little too long on that. And it came out nice, but the problem is the ribs didn't come exposed like I wanted them too because I was going to have the dueling ribs up here…" Okay, are they dueling ribs or dueling snakes? I cannot follow his train of thought. His eyes are all crazy and his voice is so very loud and I'm just sort of scared now. Bourdain dings him for dithering over his decisions.