"I'm not trying to put blame on you, Nikki," says Dale, clearly trying to put blame on Nikki, as Padma tries to unravel ultimate responsibility for the little turd blossoms. Dale argues that he didn't produce the dish, and that he wouldn't serve the dish, although he was the cheeser. While it could be claimed that the mushrooms were Nikki's dish (and Dale does try), there were obviously too many cooks in the kitchen (haha), and the fact the no one tasted them before they were served (a task that should probably have fallen to Nikki, as the primary force behind them, or Dale, who added the final ingredient) is pretty unacceptable. Always taste your food, people!
With enough time wasted trying to finger a culprit, Colicchio moves on to the other stinkers, starting with Stephanie's crab. "I wasn't pleased with my dish," admits Stephanie, probably saving herself a lot of attack by striding right in and fessing up to her mess. She made the mistake of pre-mixing the salad, rendering the final product much to watery, despite the clearly-communicated hour of final prep time at the zoo. Valerie's not at all starry-eyed about the blinis either (although she keeps calling them buh-linis, which is annoying) -- she knows that pre-making them was an error, which makes choosing to do them in the first place, given that she knew the circumstances of the event, an error as well. Ah, but there were bigger problems than the "soggy and soft" blinis themselves. Colicchio thought the rutabaga overpowered everything else because it was undercooked (that's the second too-raw rutabaga in as many weeks, so let this be a message), while Gail counsels that Valerie should have included something to tie "the blinis to the root vegetables on top." But there was, counters Valerie -- "a fennel mascarpone cream." News to me, says Gail, who tasted only "dry and crunch." Gail and Colicchio put Antonia on the spot by asking which chef she would hire if she were served these dishes as part of a job interview. She hesitates only momentarily before choosing, emphatically, Stephanie.
As the bottom six await the final verdict, Valerie expresses displeasure that Antonia (who is looking a bit smug), threw her under the bus "considering she didn't even taste my dish." Well, sure, that would have been nice, but after Valerie's only dish (Stephanie also made the banana bread, remember) got totally massacred by the judges, and after Valerie clearly wasn't the most engaged team member, it's hardly surprising. Padma, apparently back from whatever planet she went to during the entirety of the judging round, confirms that they've honed in on the mushroom, the crab salad, and the blinis as the worst dishes. Yes, thank you very much, you did. Like four times.