Howie tells us, "It's one thing if I screw up for myself, but it's another thing if I screw up somebody else's chances of doing something great so that kind of puts a lot of extra pressure on me." That's almost a perfect symmetry to something he said during the frozen Rocco challenge: "I don't mind if I go home for my screw-up, but I'll be damned if I'm gonna go home for somebody else's inability to work as a team."
All of a sudden, there's just ten minutes to go, and Casey freaks out a little bit. This is where Dale says, "When Casey's focused, she's focused, but if she's out of sorts, she's a mess." Food is plated for the first course and carried out by servers.
Padma reminds us they are in Chicago, which is Dale's hometown, which means he has a lot of supporters there. Thanks, Padma. I don't know what we'd do without you.
The judges arrive and seat themselves. In addition to Colicchio, Ted, Gail, Padma, Rocco, Michelle, and The Todd, we also have one of the Brians showing up as a guest judge. Padma in a dub-over says, "And a special thanks to Brian, who can give us his unique perspective as a former contender for the title." Unique perspective, multiple perspectives -- it's all the same thing.
The cheftestants follow their plates out and take in the panel of judges. Hung is the first to explain his version of fish and chips, which is composed of raw hamachi drizzled with olive oil "and a touch of love," thin fried slices of fingerling potatoes dusted with preserved plum powder, and a tomato-sherry vinaigrette. That "touch of love" thing is spreading it a tad thick, Hung. Speaking of thick, Dale says his foie gras mousse is served with slices of raw Chioggia beets, donut peaches, a ras el hanout gastrique, and baby arugula. There's also lemon, thyme, peppercorn, and pistachios in there, but I'm not totally clear how. Also serving foie gras first, Casey explains that her seared version has been marinated in mirin and is accompanied by a citrus and honey reduction on top of some sous-vide Gala apples along with a cinnamon-scented scallop and lemon-poached celery.