The guests and judges arrive. Not sure why they couldn't provide cater waiters for each chef to help serve; Michael is particularly overwhelmed as his complicated dishes probably have complicated plating needs.
Padma heads over to Bryan's table first with fellow judges Colicchio, Gail, and Chiarello. Bryan introduces his dishes: his protein dish was fig-glazed short ribs, celeriac purée, wax beans, and wild arugula and his vegetarian dish was goat cheese ravioli, delicata squash purée and bronze fennel. The judges start with the ravioli, which they think has perfect texture, but needs salt and pepper. They think that the ribs also need some seasoning, because it would have elevated the flavors.
Michael is up next, and drinks the Kool Aid, saying that he's totally going to cook local food from now on. He introduces his dishes to the judges: his protein dish was turnip soup with foie gras terrine, poached pear, and glazed turnip and his vegetarian dish was vegetable pistou, heirloom tomato coulis, 63 degree egg, and fennel. The judges like the egg dish mostly, but Tom thinks that the egg flavor overwhelms the vegetables and Chiarello suggests that the vegetables were cut too small. Padma also feels like her egg wasn't served properly, and is thus too watery. They love the flavors in the foie gras dish, but Chiarello points out that the sauce overwhelmed the foie gras, which should be the star of the dish.
Kevin explains that, when catering, he's always concerned with impressing the diners as well as the judges. His protein dish was grass-fed brisket with pumpkin polenta and marinated root vegetables, and his vegetarian dish was roasted beets and carrots with carrot top puree and San Andreas cheese. Gail loves the colors in the vegetarian dish, and Padma is impressed by the complex seasoning. Padma calls the brisket "ropy," and Tom and Gail agree. Gail loves the polenta, but Tom can't get over the "tinny quality" of the beef.
Jen interviews that she's happy with all of her food, and the duck has a strong flavor, but she likes it. She introduces her dishes: her protein dish was grilled duck breast (but she ended up not grilling it because the coals weren't hot enough), braised duck legs, squash purée, and foie gras vinaigrette and her vegetarian dish was Chèvre mousse with honey mushrooms, braised radishes, and basil. She's also the only one to mention wine pairings with her food, which seems obvious. The judges think the vegetarian dish is a bit salty, but that it uses the seasonal ingredients well. Tom likes the strong duck flavor, and Chiarello likes that she used all of the parts of the duck. So no complaints about Jen's food! She's a shoe-in to make it to the next round, right?