Officially speaking, Stephanie's serving a mushroom and meatball soup with barley, and a root vegetable puree (butternut squash, celery root and apple) to be topped with a chive yogurt, and it comes in four separate plastic containers. Glad: 1, Earth: Zero. The cops like it in ways that range from "Better than McDonald's" to "It all comes together very well with the onions and mushrooms." The judges (Padma, Colicchio, Ted and Sam) give it high marks as well -- Ted enjoys its kick and its heartiness, and Colicchio finds the seasoning to his liking.
If looks don't lie, Antonia was right about Spike's lack of thought regarding his dish, an uninspired pile of chicken salad with grapes, jicama, and olives (but no mayo, which was smart), pita chips, and some poorly plated raw vegetables. I'm liking Padma's jacket here -- warm, soft yet tailored, golden brown, double-breasted, trimmed with white piping. One of the cops, fooled by Spike's ingenuity, points out that mayo was a no-no, but that the salad is good. Padma, of course, is a tougher critic. She labels it "pedestrian," while Colicchio picks up an entire lettuce leaf, a droopy slice of tomato, and a soggy piece of bread and registers his scorn that this is what Spike chose to do with three of the exclusive ingredients he chose. It's pathetic indeed -- Ted, for some reason almost stage whispering (maybe he's nervous in a room of men in uniform), thinks that if Spike had two hours to make chicken salad, then he probably had time to do something more interesting with the bread and the lettuce and the tomato, now jumbled in a sad pile that resembles the bottom of a deli tray that's been sitting a hot conference room all afternoon.
Dale's offering a lemongrass bison lettuce wrap with brown rice and an herb salad with mint, radish and cucumber. It goes over fairly well, and although Ted thinks it could have used more heat, he does like the colors, the texture and the flavor of the bison. Next up is Antonia's curried beef (with filet mignon), brown jasmine rice with cilantro and scallion, and fresh berries and figs with Concord grape syrup. The cops like the beef and the sauce ("whatever it is"), and the judges agree, with Ted proclaiming the beef well-cooked, and Padma the flavors "delicious." Sam almost leaps out of his seat as he agrees "one hundred percent." Before handing his dish over to Ted, Andrew wants to emphasize his commitment to health, which inspired him to devise a completely raw dish -- a salmon roll with parsnip-pine nut "rice" and pickled ginger wasabi. That is not a dish that will feed any hungry person who's not had gastric bypass surgery for lunch. Andrew manages to tell Ted that wasabi is good for ("helps prevent," I'll assume he meant) tooth decay before Ted makes a beeline to anywhere but there. One of the cops proclaims it "good, just messy," but for Padma it's "very strange." Ted thinks the flavor just wasn't good, and Padma observes that Andrew did not, as the rules stipulated he must, use a whole grain. So apparently this will be a challenge where the rules matter. You never know these days.