The dishes: Whether it's because they were wowed by the quality of the artisan goods they were handed, or because they couldn't fathom why anybody would want rose water or cardamom flavors on their plate, the chefs played it safe with their dishes. The entries included a burger, meant to showcase the pickles atop it; a chocolate tart; fried cheese curds; duck with cabbage and pork with grits.
The drama: The dishes were so uniformly disappointing that Tom Colicchio rescinded the promised grand prize, declaring immediately after service that nobody was deserving of the $10,000 reward. (He also plugged Top Chef Kitchen, but - as a contestant said in a later scene - who understands what that's all about?) But the ubiquitous badness didn't spoil the fun: Six minutes before the end of the show, the judges were still fighting over which dish was the worst.
The triumphs: None.
The debacles: Padma despised Stefan and Brooke's duck, which she called "a dessert with duck in it." Tom hated a pork and grits dish prepared by John Tesar and Josh Valentine: "It really was the worst dish I've put out in 30 years," Tesar confided to the camera. But it was CJ and Tyler's burger-on-a-crumpet which provoked the most outrage from the judges. How bad was it? When CJ tried to save his hide by pointing out the problems with another dish ("it was diabolical, it was a travesty," he said of the chocolate tart), judge Hugh Acheson snorted. "Uh oh," he said. "Your burger was even worse."
The losers: CJ and Tyler, of course. Judges variously described the burger as overcooked, soggy and gross.
The future: Next week, the contestants check out Collections Café and mingle with movie stars.