Angelo's group has John, Tiffany, and Kelly. Angelo explains that he's from a small town in Connecticut, and he's making char with bacon froth. I hate him more now because he's using bacon (trendy) and froth (trendier). Then he says that he can control every single flavor in his dishes like it's an orchestra. God, I want him to colossally fail. I hate his smug little face.
John explains that maple flows through the trees in Michigan. Well, maple is a type of tree, and sap is what flows through those trees. And I have to say, when I think of Michigan (and I lived there for two years), I don't think of maple. Cherries? Wine? Vernors ginger ale? Check. Anyway, weirdo John is making a maple-based dessert, which he knows is a risk, but he thinks it will work and he thinks he can win.
Kenny's team is Tracey, Ed, Lynne, and Stephen. Tracy jokes (I hope she's joking) that Stephen is from a hick town and probably doesn't know how to cook. Tracey? She's a stoner. She's totally got the stoner laugh. Kenny, we finally discover, is from Colorado. Is he from South Park? Can he make chocolate salty balls?
John is having problems with the ovens, Specifically, he burnt the macadamia nuts and hasn't even cooked his puff pastry yet. He and Tracey clearly burned one before the competition started. Meanwhile, Jacqueline is running out of time and decides not to strain her puree. This will be important later. You know it's important because, with seventeen contestants, they barely show anything, so if they show it, it's important.
The chefs arrive at the auditorium and start setting up. Jacqueline discovers that her mousseline is grainy, so she decides to try to cook it again and hope it smoothes out. That seems like a bad idea. Maybe blend it again. Whip it into a different dish? She doesn't have much time, but man. The guests start to arrive and the food is served.
Then the judges arrive. They are Tom, Eric Ripert, "the luscious" Gail Simmons, and Padma. Did Padma just call Gail fat? I think she did. So Amanda is first up, and she gives them all a lesson on California cuisine (which I'm sure they don't need) and introduces her dish: red snapper Carpaccio, clementines, sencha oil, daikon, and caraway gelee. It looks horrible. It looks slimy and there is pepper and orange chunks and yuck.
Arnold explains that he's from Nashville and his mother is from Thailand, so he married the two cuisines and made Kaffir lime and basil cake, palm sugar Anglaise and "Myint" (his last name) julep. Kevin is from south Jersey, so he made a Pennsylvania lamb, Meyer lemon and pistachio marmalade, and spring onions. And Jacqueline made a duo of Hudson Valley chicken liver and port wine mousse. She explains that she went light on the fat. Um, isn't chicken liver fatty by nature? Why would you make a light version? Gail is surprised too, and Jacqueline says that she used egg white as a binder. Sounds flavorful, except minus the flavor part.