Spike finally gets around to opening the bag of scallops, and discovers what everyone knew upon sight -- they're a mess. Torn and totally saturated with water, they'll be a bitch to sear, which is what Spike wants to do. Being a chef, he reasons, is about making lemonade out of lemons, as he unfurls paper towels and begins layering them with the scallops, hoping that they will drain and dry enough that he can make them presentable.
Colicchio arrives for his mid-prep eval, and starts with Antonia. She'll begin the evening with "a warm mushroom salad with artichokes and poached egg with bacon vinaigrette", followed by a bone-in rib eye. Spike's choice of tomahawk chops and scallops didn't really alter her plans, she explains, since, although she would have loved to work with scallops, they were frozen, and that's bad. Colicchio grins his agreement, and heads for Stephanie, who seems so engrossed in her work that she has trouble paying attention to and answering his questions. She does manage to articulate that she likes the challenge because it tests individual creativity. Richard confesses that he's nervous before elaborating on his dishes -- hamachi to start, followed by a beef tenderloin, for which the maturing Richard has a growing affection, garnished with potatoes, turnips, and red wine. Colicchio thinks the dishes sound "straightforward" for molecular gastronomist Richard, but Richard reminds Colicchio that he likes to "under promise over deliver" and alludes to some exciting twists. Colicchio's assessment of Richard's menu -- "playing it safe", according to Richard -- ruffles his feathers, apparently because he is playing it safe ("not smoking anything in a plastic bag") since they are cooking at a steakhouse.
Lisa will offer a "grilled and chilled shrimp", with a second course of "New York strip with spicy apple caramel and peanut butter whipped potatoes". Sounds cloying to me; Colicchio grimaces and then determines that Lisa's done this before -- she explains that the flavors work well together, and that the peanut butter offers a hint, as opposed to a mouthful, of nutty goodness. Colicchio's not entirely convinced -- his skepticism makes Lisa want to hide, and his parting "If it's good, it's good" probably doesn't diffuse her concern.