With the finale just one week away, the stakes are especially high for the remaining five home cooks. Ted points out that Team North still has its two team members, whereas the others don't. Michael jests, "As we know, two is always better than one." Alex begs to differ: "There's only room on that podium for one winner." By the end of this episode, one cook, and possibly one mentor, will be going home.
"This challenge will be your hardest yet," Ted tells the cooks. They'll have to work with ingredients that stump even chefs. Stephanie's been given quail. She's using one of Michael's techniques to ensure the birds aren't overcooked: first steaming and then frying them. "We are in a better place today, me and you," Michael tells her. Stephanie says she's learned her lesson from last time: "Never argue with an Iron Chef."
For the challenge Ben's ingredient is chicken livers. "My main concern for Ben is he's been in every single Pressure Cooker," says Cat, so she's telling him to concentrate on ensuring that the livers stay pink inside and that the mousse he's making is super creamy. Unfortunately, it turns out too liquid-y, and Cat has to jump in.
Christina got scallops, which are hard enough to cook but just as hard to remove from the shell, so Alex shows her a technique using a spoon. She's making bacon-stuffed scallops so there's "a little surprise when you bite into your scallop," says Christina. She doesn't let the fact that she's never prepared scallops before intimidate her.
Marc's working with baby octopus, a protein that can easily suffer from being undercooked and chewy. "I've only lost three times on Iron Chef," says Michael, "and one time, it was Battle Octopus." So there's redemption in it for him. Marc is pressure-cooking the octopus to ensure that it's tender. For a Mediterranean twist, he's serving it with hummus.
Sheri must work with Arborio rice, and she's chosen to make a risotto, which isn't coming out as expected, leaving her worried and Tyler nervous. So he swoops in to check on the progress. "It's amazing to be with somebody for five weeks, and he knows me so well," says Sheri once Tyler's put her back on track.
Knowing that the five remaining cooks have lasted these five weeks, judge Marcel Vigneron tells them, "I'm expecting to see something amazing and taste something delicious." As the judge goes in for a taste of Ben's chicken-liver mousse, Ben hopes he can impress Marcel: "He's a big idol of mine because he does a lot of very creative things with food that I try to do and I'm trying to learn."
"Right off the bat, I can tell you that I love the presentation. Very simple, very rustic," says Marcel. Even though he likes the fried liver, the mousse has a slightly grainy texture. He sends Ben to the elimination round, saying, "I think you can cook better than this." Ben thinks that from now on he should just skip the group challenges, since he's always in the Pressure Cooker.
Marcel is impressed with the flavors in Stephanie's quail dish and tells her she's safe. Upon tasting Marc's dish he finds that the octopus has good texture and a nice char, and calls it his favorite dish so far. "Since you were able to put the octopus in the pressure cooker and treat it properly," Marcel tells him, "I'm actually gonna keep you out of the Pressure Cooker." Team North celebrates their entry into the finale.
Sheri presents her risotto to Marcel, who commends her for its "fantastic texture," which the butternut squash accentuates. However, he thinks the addition of dates and apples came off as an afterthought and "the date almost takes away from the creaminess." He ends up sending her to the Pressure Cooker. Tyler vows that he and Sheri will put forth their "absolute best effort" to stay in the competition.
Christina brings her mentor, Alex, to tears as she presents her dish, admitting how overwhelming the competition is for her: "I'm kind of doing this adventure almost for ... everybody else who would want to try something like this and is afraid to," she says. Marcel calls the scallops "elegant and classy," and he likes her cocktail. Even though he considers the dish over-seasoned, he calls it safe for Christina.
For the Pressure Cooker challenge, the cooks must fillet a fish and cook it. Before the round starts, the mentors demonstrate, but during cooking they can't even touch a knife. As soon as Sheri starts to mangle her Arctic char, Tyler rushes over to coach her. "It is so difficult for him not to take the knife right out of my hands," says Sheri, but she manages to get a good fillet.
Cat notices Ben is making the mistake of trying to cook his fish in the glaze, which is meant to go on later. As soon as it starts to burn, she runs down to redirect him: "You need to cook it almost done before you start putting a glaze on it," Cat warns him. Ben is grateful she stepped in when she did.
Marcel loves the "vibrant colors" of Ben's dish but points out a negative: "I can see where you, to use the term loosely, butchered it," he tells Ben. What he loves about Sheri's fish is the crispy skin, unlike Ben's, but upon cutting through he sees that Sheri cooked only one side, and he finds the texture mushy. "You guys did not make this easy on me," Marcel tells them.
Marcel chooses Ben's dish as his favorite, which means Team South goes on to the finale but Sheri and Tyler must leave the competition as Team West is eliminated. Sheri reflects on her journey: "Tyler was able to tap into a part of my soul that has been gone for a really long time," she says, "and it was amazing that not only did that part come back, but it came back tenfold."