It's winners first again -- Padma calls Team Fire to the judges' table. When it's hugs time, Dale dives for Stephanie, and it looks for second like they won't show Dale hugging Lisa, because maybe he didn't, but then they show it. When Gail asks to parse who did what, Stephanie describes the shrimp (Gail: "Spicy, in a good way."), Lisa explains the bacon (pressed and glazed), and Dale doesn't get to say much about his salad. Praising each of them for deftly managing a different component, Colicchio says "it was nice to see that each one of those components really added to the dish."
One more thing, calls Padma. Ming's favorite chef will also win a five-day trip to Italy for two. Looks like Top Chef might have had to "buy" their way into the Meals on Wheels event. Calling it a tough decision, which in this case seems valid, calls Stephanie's shrimp "perfectly cooked," and liked the heat element from the sambal, compliments the acidity of Dale's salad, and tells Lisa that "the bacon with the miso created a new technique that I have never seen." We have a winner! Lisa's never been to Italy, so good for her for winning, and, despite the drama (and the fact that she was Team Fire's most contentious member), she managed to impress Ming, even if he is still wearing pants, although it would be pretty funny, and also possible, actually, for everyone behind the judges' table to be nude from the waist down.
Dale's not so enthusiastic: "She made bacon and she gets a trip to Italy?" Ha -- it's true -- she did make bacon, which is tough to screw up too badly. See, Dale, just how good bacon is? See, Dale, just when it touches your lips? Dale's not having it. "I'm bitter."
After enjoying a smattering of applause from her cohorts, Lisa, with some sort of cutting board or plaque or something, summons Earth (as Jen looks all squinty and mad on Zoi's behalf) and Water. Judging the losers starts with water, where life begins. Richard claims to believe that the salmon was "cooked well and it was moist." "Were you the one who cleaned the fish?" retorts Gail, and then Richard's bullshit fountain really starts working. "In what regard?" asks Richard, as if he doesn't know precisely what's coming. Padma, in a tone often reserved for delivering news of the death of a loved one, reveals that "half the people at our table had scales, including myself, and Ming." Richard has the gall to look surprised, and the judges grind him down by telling him just how many scales there were -- Colicchio? "A LOT." Padma wants to know if Richard was "happy with the texture of the salmon." Of course he was. Colicchio? "MUSHY."