Kevin's mom and Mama Volt join the diners for the first course only. Padma asks their forgiveness for criticizing the food, and Mama Volt says that she lives in Vegas and knows where to find Tom. Bryan is kind of nervous to find his mother sitting there, since he made something he doesn't think his mom will like. Kevin knows his mom is outspoken, and worries she might say something embarrassing. Padma introduces the judges and diners: Tom, Gail, Toby Young, Douglas Keane (owner of Cyrus), Bill Terlato (Terlato Wine Group), Donatella Arpaia (owner of Eos, Mia Dona, Kefi, and Anthos), Stephen Starr (Starr Restaurants), Drew Nieporent (Founder, Myriad Restaurant Group), and Sam Nazarian (Founder and CEO, SBE Restaurant Group). Bryan interviews that this is a huge opportunity because any of these restaurateurs could give them their own restaurant if they're impressed by the food.
For the first course, Bryan serves "tuna noodle casserole" which is sardine, German butterball potato, heirloom tomato, shaved fennel, and Panko bread crumbs. Michael serves "broccoli reinvented" which is cream of dehydrated broccoli, spot prawn, and fried broccoli. Kevin serves "Chicken & Fixings" which is fried chicken skin, tomatoes, and liquid squash casserole
As they serve, Michael tells a story about how he was a picky eater as a kid and so if he ate his dinner every night, his mom gave him a trophy. Everyone laughs. They all try the food, and start out discussing Kevin's dish. Tom likes the squash, because of the nuanced flavors. With Bryan's dish, they think it's underseasoned, but his mom says that for her first time eating sardines, they liked it. Some felt that Michael's shrimp was undercooked, but others thought it was fine, and they all liked the crunchy broccoli. Mama Volt refuses to choose one of her son's dishes over the other, as it should be. With the first course over, the moms go back into the kitchen to say goodbye.
The second course is the mystery box course. Bryan made sous vide rockfish, kabocha squash with curry and Meyer lemon. Michael made dashi-glazed rockfish, sweet & sour crab salad with squash and Meyer lemon. Kevin made rockfish in duck fat, roasted squash, roasted matsutake, crab broth
They agree that Kevin's broth was amazing, but his mushroom was poorly done. Apparently (and I only read about this later), that type of mushroom is typically sliced thin and fried. I think Kevin looked at it like a portabella and tried to roast it like a meat, which just didn't work. Bryan's dish is, once again, underseasoned. Gail thought the dish was safe and uninspiring. Michael balanced the flavors well, and he's the only one who cooked the mushroom correctly.