Marcel and Frank meticulously plate the duo of salmon tartare and beets. Marcel breaks his arm patting himself on the back for how "on point" their service was. God, he's sounding more and more like Stephen with each passing moment. The first course is served. Marcel and Frank come out to explain their dish, which looks fairly stunning, I must say. Marcel says, "We did a salmon tartare with avocado and red onion, and we also did a salmon mousse with chives on top and the beets are sliced thinly, and lastly we have beet greens on the top. I hope you all enjoy it." There's also a rice cracker of some sort on top. Jennifer talks about how lovely it looks to her table. Michelle criticizes the dish, "To put something sweet -- like the beet, without a lot of texture -- with salmon, that doesn't have any texture, it's not the greatest combination." Cliff and Sam get their dish ready. The plates go out with Sam and Cliff following. Sam explains their two "tiny tastings." "The first was seared scallop with a confit of Serrano ham. The second was seared foie gras over an oyster mushroom crostini finished with a fig gastrique." They get applause. Sam tells us how well he and Cliff worked together and that he was very proud of their dish. It appears everyone liked it, even the judges. Ted Ilan tells us that as he and Michael were plating their paella, everyone came over to see how they could help them. See, that's nice. I like that. It's like when people help each other hem on Project Runway. The third course of seafood paella with soft shell crab is served. Michael tells us, "We were, like, so stoked on our dish. It was so tight. I talked up at Camp Glucose and I described the dish and it didn't work out and I ended up on the chopping block, so I was like, 'Ilan, you take this one.'" I want to know what Michael's on that makes him smile all the time. Ted Ilan explains their dish of lobster, shrimp, and mushroom paella with fried soft shell crab. "Enjoy," is all Michael says as they leave. The dish is enjoyed, although Michelle says, "They went a little saffron happy." The executive chef at Social, Joseph Ojeda, thought it was interesting how Ted Ilan and Michael chose to bake off the paella to get it crispy. Jennifer Coolidge thinks everything has been amazing and impressive so far.
As Mia and Betty get their duck NOTpoleon ready, we see Frank slicing up duck breast for them. Scary and intense, but helpful. Mia tells us that Betty really wants height on the plate and is really concerned with making it visually appealing, whereas Mia was more worried about taste, "I thought it was going to be a bad idea to put all that pastry on the plate especially since we were doing the mashed sweet potatoes, but part of being a team means compromise." She's speaking in the past tense. Why must I be so cynical to wonder if Mia blew against the pastry only after the results were in? Betty calls out a request for someone to help them with the duck. We can see Cliff's hands plating and garnishing. Sam also seems to be helping. Sam tells us, "The puff pastry had no business being there, it was strange. It was almost embarrassing to have those plates go out." The plates are served, and in the ballroom, Betty claps her hands frenetically and shrieks, "Greetings!" Betty explains they have a pan-seared duck breast with a balsamic-merlot reduction sauce, sweet potatoes, pan-sautÃ©ed green beans with preserved lemons, butter, and fresh thyme. She doesn't mention the pastry. Mia tells us she was so proud of their dish, "That duck was delicious." Right off, Gail notices that the duck is overcooked and explains to her table of food professionals that duck should be very pink inside when properly prepared. Michelle doesn't get the huge piece of puff pastry that's three times the size of the duck. "Well, the duck should be the main event in this dish and it's just noooot," Padmadala drones. I used to do this thing when I played a tape in my tape deck where I would hold onto the spinning things and slow down the tape. I did it to Bread and Jam for Frances, Peter Pan, and Eula Mole in Fable Forest and now, Padmadala sounds like I'm doing that to her every time she opens her mouth.