It's a tough call -- Rick mentions that Colicchio's words of wisdom ("It's a cooking competition") have been in his head all through the challenge, so he's trying to stay focused on the food, rather than on the personalities. The judges wrestle with whether Lisa's shrimp or Spike's scallops were the worst appetizers, because they were both pretty awful (although Rick saw a glimmer of hope in Spike's). They agree that Spike put much more work into his dish that Lisa did hers, but that the focus needs to be on the main dishes, since both firsts were atrocious. Unfortunately, Spike's attention to salvaging the scallops both failed and short-shrifted his tomahawk chop, which the judges agree did not showcase a great deal of effort. Ready the hatboxes, Spike -- you're going home.
But first, Colicchio praises the remaining five for making it through twelve Quickfires and Eliminations (I can attest that it's been grueling season). As the cheftestants join hands (it's Hands Across the Judges' Table!), Padma turns the floor over to Rick, who proclaims Stephanie -- "the one that really stuck out and really brought the whole thing together for me in both appetizer and entree" -- the big winner. She looks genuinely surprised, very local girl done good, and Richard looks like he wants to cry. Rick offers Stephanie a copy of his new cookbook, which will complete Stephanie's collection since she already has the other two, and which seems like a crummy prize until Padma throws in "your very own suite of GE Monogram kitchen appliances". Yes, please. GE? Are you there? I just mentioned your product -- can I have some too? Stephanie's pumped for Puerto Rico, where she'll land as the one to beat, and dutifully expresses gratitude for her GE Monogram appliances. Look, I just mentioned GE Monogram again!
Richard, with the favorite appetizer of the evening, and Antonia, with the favorite entrĂ©e, will be joining Stephanie in the Clintonian hamlet of Puerto Rico. The three newly minted and very excited finalists leave the kitchen for a group hug, leaving Lisa and Spike to get their asses handed to them. Before starting in on this week's performance, Colicchio offers a recap -- Lisa's been on the bottom at judges' table five times to Spike's seven, and that combined with the judges' recent comments should mean that so neither of them is surprised to be standing there right now. Colicchio feels that Lisa lacks drive and ferociousness "when it comes to some of the ingredients that you're working with and some of the things that you're doing". Plus, the shrimp dish sucked. Your talk contains passion and drive, but your walk, alas, does not.