Padma, Tom, Gail, and Paul Bertolotta sit at a table with Natalie Portman and her hipster friends. Robin is the first to serve. She made stuffed squash blossom, beet carpaccio, fresh garbanzo beans, and chermoula. Padma is super giggly and comments that she can feel her ankles swelling due to all the salt in the dish. Tom didn't get any garbanzo beans, so Paul shares one as everyone laughs. I think this group has been drinking. Natalie loved the visual appeal, but Gail thinks there was a salt issue, and Tom agrees.
Eli interviews that there's no hiding in the middle anymore, and you're either on the top or bottom. He serves confit of eggplant, creamed lentils, spring garlic puree, and radish salad with wild herbs. Natalie likes the texture of the eggplant, and the flavors in the salad. Paul agrees, but then notes that he had some lavender in his salad, and it was a bit overpowering. That would be like eating soap, which is also what Paul points out (and Padma and Natalie die laughing -- are they high?)
Michael V. is frantic just before plating, because he can't find his chopped hazelnuts, and he claims that he takes food more seriously than his opponents. And he thinks his food will confuse Natalie, but she'll still like it. He serves asparagus salad, Japanese tomato sashimi, and banana polenta. Everyone is confused by the banana polenta, but when they taste it, they love it. Gail isn't crazy about the big chunks of banana, and Paul is a little put off by the non-traditional polenta. Natalie calls Michael "Picasso," and Padma laughs that it's the second time someone has said that. She thinks the dish makes her happy and confused all at the same time.
Jen isn't happy with how her plate looks, because she has less food than her opponents, and she knows she's not safe in this round. She made charred baby eggplant, braised fennel, tomato coins with wild coriander and verjus nage. Jen adds the sauce at the table, and her hands are shaking so badly that the sauce goes all over. She doesn't know why she's so nervous, but the diners totally notice her shaking. Gail loves the sauce and Natalie jokes that it added some danger to the presentation. Gail worries that the dish isn't substantial enough and Natalie points out that vegetarians are often served dishes that feel like a collection of sides instead of an entrée. Another guest thinks this dish would have made a great side, alongside a steak, and Natalie laughs for twenty minutes. Doesn't she think that eating meat is like rape? That shouldn't be so funny. And by the way, there are about a million logical flaws in both her argument and Foer's book that I won't get into here, but it makes me sad because I think it's a good cause that people are going to dismiss now because of the wackjobs.