Preeti and Laurine: Pasta salad with broccoli, peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts
Jesse and Ron: New England clam chowder with roasted corn
Hector and Robin: Three-bean chili with roasted chicken
Eli and Kevin: Georgia-style braised pork shoulder and potato salad
Mike V.: Braised pork belly with soy-mustard sauce and peanuts
Bryan and Mattin: Roasted beef strip loin with mushroom demi-glace and cauliflower gratin
So apparently they're going to have dessert later. The judges sit down and discuss how difficult it is to cook for such a huge crowd. The judges think the beef strip is good, but they think the pasta salad is too salty and uninspired. Seriously. I could come up with that recipe, and I'm not very creative and tend to just make things I've eaten before. The chicken chili has "authentic flavors," and a bunch of the airmen agree. The chowder is good, and Padma wonders about eating it in the heat. Tom points out that they're eating chili too but Gail thinks there's a difference between spicy food and heavy foods made with cream. I tend to agree, although you can make lighter chowder. Doesn't sound like they did that, though.
Everyone is in love with the Southern braised pork and potato salad, and Mark Peel can't give enough praise to how much it tastes like something he would eat at home. One of the troops refers to Mike V's dish as "a whole lot of scrumptiousness wrapped up in lettuce" and Colicchio is awed that they thought of braising what is essentially a slab of bacon. The judges are puzzled that the same team produced the Greek salad, since that kind of sucks. Obviously, they don't know yet that the team members worked alone on each dish.
The judges get to the bread pudding. They think it's a little dry, but it tastes good and rich. And they all agree that Jen did really well as executive chef. I wish they had talked more about that; it seems like it was a difficult role to take on, and she did it with grace. Wow, I might have kind of a girl crush on her. Overall, the judges are impressed with the dishes, and you do have to admire how much higher the skill level is this season than last. I mean, only the pasta salad stood out as poor, and that was more because of a lack of imagination and not a lack of technique.
The chefs clean up and kind of discuss amongst themselves how they did. Jesse interviews her concerns about serving chowder on a hot day, and how she would have liked to make gazpacho but there was no blender. Eli whispers to Kevin that their flavors were spot on, and you can't say that about all the dishes. Eli seems kind of calculating where Kevin just kind of seems like, "I'm going to cook the best food I can and let the chips fall where they may."