The self-proclaimed sharpest, smartest guy in Hell's Kitchen is gone. The self-proclaimed gum on your shoe is gone. The self-proclaimed cook is gone. In short, Tom is gone. And the teams are gone from the kitchen, back to the dorms. Virginia complains to the other cooks about Sara's duplicity, while Rachel tries to come to grips with her worst service yet.
The next morning, the teams return to Hell's Kitchen. Chef Ramsay invites them to sit at a table featuring a high quality, gourmet buffet. At least it appears to be. Little do the chefs know, all of the dishes are fake. Chef Ramsay informs the teams that he's prepared fondue, pate, caviar and a bruschetta kabob. But in reality, the dishes are spray cheese, ground hot dogs, catfish eggs and TV dinner kabobs. Chef Ramsay wants to test each cook on their palate.
The cooks eagerly dig into each plate and, of course, when Chef Ramsay asks how each dish is, the cooks offer raves about the flavor and texture. Not one cook offers a negative word. Scott comes out with the real ingredients and it's time to break the news. The cooks are humiliated. Chef Ramsay ridicules their palates, then presents the next challenge: another taste test.
Rachel will be sitting out to even up the teams, with the losing team responsible for cleaning up the absolutely filthy kitchen. Keith and Maribel are blindfolded, and the challenge is underway. In each round, the cooks will be presented with four foods and asked to identify each one. Chef Ramsay starts them out with a boiled potato. Both nail it. Next is seared tuna. When Keith gets a whiff on the spoon before him, he moves his head, reluctant to open his mouth. Chef Ramsay finally shoves it in, much to Keith's displeasure. After a taste, Keith guesses poached salmon, but Maribel gets it right. The third item is oregano and both cooks miss it. Last is pear chutney, an item they've been using for weeks. Maribel guesses spicy mango, but Keith gets it right. The score is 2-2 after round one.
Facing off next are Virginia and Heather. The first food is sea urchin. Virginia calls it fish stock and Heather goes with turbot. Second is chicken, which both women get correctly. They also get hot dog, the next dish. Round two ends with Swiss cheese, which only Virginia identifies. Heather guessed parmigiano-reggiano. The score is now 5-4, red. Sara is all too quick to gloat about Heather's 2-for-4 performance.
The challenge comes down to the final pairing, Sara and Garrett. Garrett is fully confident that he will go 4-for-4. The first food is scrambled eggs. Both cooks get it. After the first tasting, Sara raves about her superb palate. Second is fresh spinach. Garrett has no problem with this item, either, and Sara handles it as well. The next food is kiwi. Garrett guesses that it's pear, which means Sara can end the challenge with a correct guess right here. But plum, her offering, is not a correct guess. The blue team trails by a single point as Chef Ramsay spoons up the final dish, braised shortrib. Garrett goes with turkey, which isn't even close. Not even the same animal. The red team wins, so they'll be treated to a photo shoot with TV Guide.
The ladies pile into a limo as the blue team shuffles into the kitchen. After sitting overnight, pots and pans are absolutely caked with grease and grime. As the blue team scrubs away, the red team is pampered with professional makeup and champagne. On Scott's orders, Garrett runs champagne over to the studio so he can see just what the blue team is being treated to.
The next day, the teams scurry about the kitchen doing prep work for the evening's service. The blue team is supremely confident that they will win tonight. Moments before the doors open, Chef Ramsay gathers the teams together, as usual. He implores the teams to complete a service for the first time. Trying to get a jump on the tickets, Heather tries to start some pasta. But Chef Ramsay catches her, and says if she ever tries to start food without a ticket again, her days in Hell's Kitchen are over. Garrett tries to boost her spirits, but Heather just wants to be left alone.
Chef Ramsay calls out the first tickets in each kitchen and the teams get to work. Rachel's pan catches fire and she burns the first duck of the evening. On the other side, he samples Heather's first risotto and immediately rejects it. He complains that it's bland, solid and bitty. Heather agrees that it's "a little crunchy." While Heather struggles with her starters, Chef Ramsay's pep talk in the red kitchen seems to be working. Starters are flying out of their kitchen and diners are pleased with the flavors.
Keith begins to take control of the blue kitchen, offering leadership and direction. And that team starts to send appetizers. At the same time, the success of the red kitchen is undone a bit as a starter is returned because it was topped by a black hair. In the blue kitchen, Heather is trying to redeem herself by helping Garrett on the meat section. But all she succeeds in doing is getting in the way and throwing Garrett off track.
The red kitchen continues moving backwards when Chef Ramsay discovers that a quail appetizer has been overcooked. He calls the entire team together and asks them all to sample the quail. They all agree that it's overcooked and burnt. He angrily sends them back to start a new one. Chef Ramsay accosts Rachel and asks if she truly thought he would send out such a dish. When she has no answer, he pulls her into the stockroom and asks if she wants to go home. Chef Ramsay tells Rachel he can see the hunger in her eyes, but she needs to pull everything together before it's too late.
Things are going well in the blue kitchen, as they've served half of their tables. But then a fried oyster appetizer comes back after a diner's complaint that it was too breaded. Chef Ramsay calls Keith forward to examine his dish, and Keith petulantly complains that he didn't send it that way. Chef Ramsay screams at him to calm down and stop acting like a child. Then he implores Keith to step up and bring back his leadership from earlier, because Garrett and Heather are cooking like donkeys.
In the red kitchen, Rachel sends two Wellingtons to the hot plate, but they're both rare, not medium as requested. Rachel claims she sent undercooked meat because she was afraid to tell Chef Ramsay the truth about the cooking time. Chef Ramsay is perplexed, wondering if his earlier chat with Rachel has already been rendered useless. Back in the blue kitchen, Chef Ramsay asks to see the quail that's being cooked. But only one bird is in the oven, not the two shown on the ticket. Garrett complains in private that Heather's efforts are sending him to pieces. Chef Ramsay pleads with the blue team to stay focused and finish the three tickets that stand between them and a full service.
The red kitchen is gaining steam and sending out entrees. Chef Ramsay rails at the blue kitchen to pull together their last dishes, but the meat, vegetables and sauces are all independent of each other. Nothing is coming together at the moment. But Garrett manages to serve the lamb sauce with the last dish and all of the blue entrees have officially been served.
The red kitchen only has a few tickets left, but Rachel has just overcooked two medium Wellingtons. She stares at the gray meat in frustration, then decides to paint the meat with some red sauce to give them a more medium glow. She sends the doctored filets to the hot plate. Unfortunately for Rachel, Chef Ramsay can judge a meat's doneness by touch. Actually, just about any halfway decent chef can do the same. So Rachel's chances of pulling off this gambit are about as slim as her chances of sticking around much longer.
Chef Ramsay touches the meat, sighs, and calls Rachel to the hot plate. He tells Rachel the meat is barely edible, then shuts down both kitchens in frustration. Before the chefs leaves, Chef Ramsay pulls Keith aside for a chat. After criticizing the immature eye rolling and his spoiled attitude, Chef Ramsay asks Keith if he knows just how talented he is. The problem is, nobody has nursed it properly. Chef Ramsay makes it clear that once Keith ditches his attitude, he's going to shine.
With the teams assembled, Chef Ramsay has to choose a winner. Heather raises her hand to speak. In a brief, rambling speech, she gets out her thoughts that the entire blue team was below par tonight, that they all should be up for elimination, and although she didn't perform her best, she doesn't feel she was the worst in the kitchen and shouldn't be going home. Keith scoffs. In private, he derides Heather's false bravery in speaking up and criticizes her for trying to weasel out of trouble.
After laying into both sides, Chef Ramsay announces that the red team has lost. He compliments Virginia for bouncing back from the brink of elimination and asks her to nominate two teammates for elimination. Fully aware of her own horrendous performance, Rachel sits down with Virginia and helpfully reminds her of Sara's sabotage efforts from the previous night. In private, Sara reminds us for approximately the 50th time that the show isn't about making friends, it's about winning.
When the teams reconvene in the dining room, Virginia nominates Rachel because she let the team down that evening. When asked for her second nominee, Virginia launches into a long-winded retelling of Sara's trickery from the other night, then goes ahead and nominates Maribel. Chef Ramsay calls the women forward and then eliminates Rachel.