As Season Four accelerates toward the finale, it's great to see all of the long-forgotten faces in the credits -- Valerie Who? -- before getting down to business with the remaining seven chef-testants. Stephanie, tweezing away at her eyebrows, expresses sadness that Nikki went "down in flames" for eschewing leadership of and contributing substandard fare to the Italian wedding feast (after a decent showing in the Common Thread challenge). Whatever, she totally deserved the ax (I can't believe she made it as far as she did). Now if we could just get rid of Spike. Repeating the opening vignette mantra, Stephanie explains that (join in the chorus, everyone) the remaining chefs are good, and the competition will continue to get harder.
Richard, who apparently sleeps fully dressed (including his infuriating pink shoes), perches on the side of his rumpled bed, rubs his eyes, and reminds the audience at home that, prior to a few hours of sleep, they were up for more than 40 hours straight, and are about to wade right back into competition. Everyone's still exhausted and, according to Spike, Dale's still a bitch. Spike, doesn't understand Dale's "asshole," I'm-not-here-to-make-friends approach, and thinks it will follow and haunt Dale at some juncture of his career. I think Spike's deluded pot is calling Dale's kettle black. Also, he might want to consider cleaning up his bottle-strewn nightstand. Dale just wants to get away from the drama, the emotions, and the tension that emanates from his housemates -- they all think he's being a dick, he says, and he just wants some peace and quiet. To find it, he'll focus on the task at hand, and not on anyone around him.
Andrew seconds Richard's observation that everyone's still fatigued after the wedding challenge -- except for him. Still enjoying his long-lasting, Cialis-style culinary boner, Andrew's got a fire in his belly that's egging him on to either stab someone or make some amazing food. Well, enjoy that feeling while it lasts, my friend.
All nine towering feet (and hopefully as many inches) of Season Two studmuffin Sam Talbot have joined Padma in the kitchen for the Quickfire. "Tall dark and handsome, and he can cook -- sign me up," says Antonia. The line starts here, sister. Sam's rocking nouveau-military chic with a structured olive jacket, t-shirt and jeans, while Padma's chosen an understated off-the-shoulder, asymmetrical midnight blue number. Sam will be acting as guest judge today -- based on what accomplishments I'm not entirely sure (although eye candy is justification enough) -- for a challenge that restores the oft-maligned salad to glory. Dale believes that making salad can be as difficult as roasting a perfect filet or crafting the perfect sauce -- "its finesse, its vision" -- as Sam encourages the gang to put some "sexy back" into salads. Paging Jen and her erect asparagus! For Andrew, a strong salad isn't just a bunch of vegetables thrown onto a plate -- it has to be creative. He's the proud recipient of today's Young Visionary Award.