Since I was not in the episode, I cannot really speak to how the food tasted, but it did seem that the winning and losing choices were justified. Lia's shrimp looked beautiful. It was well conceived and well communicated alongside the dishes of her teammates. Camille, Sara and Dale definitely had a hard time under the circumstances. Their predicament was the trickiest of all, and one we have seen before on the show, as very few contestants have professional pastry training. They could either choose not to do a dessert and risk being penalized because the meal would seem incomplete, or attempt a course none of them had real experience in executing.
Unfortunately, in the restaurant industry and therefore in this game, no points are awarded for effort. We must judge on the product set before us -- and, in this case, it was clear that their pineapple trio did not make the cut. Camille is a lovely and talented chef, but the judges agreed that her upside-down cake was a failure. I wish I had been there to say a proper good-bye. I know everyone will miss her. This particular challenge, including Camille's dismissal, is a perfect example of how we must focus only on the food, regardless of who is cooking. The questions of what we base our decisions on, and whether or not a contestant's personality comes into play when we're deciding who wins and who goes home, were asked by viewers on my blog last week. As I have explained before, none of us have any significant contact with the contestants off-camera, and we do not see their interaction in or out of the kitchen until long after it all takes place. In the course of shooting the show, we learn a little about each of them through a question and answer session at the Judges' Table and through their food. But our job is to judge the food set before us, based on how well the chefs have followed the rules of the Challenge, and how the food tastes and looks.
Of course, there have been times when we wished someone had done better so we could keep them on longer (I imagine Camille's departure was one of those times). On the other hand, there have been moments when we have wanted to eliminate someone based on their attitude when they've come before us. However, this does not happen, as we all realize that bringing our personal feelings to the Judges' Table would compromise the integrity of the show. At times, it can be a difficult thing to do, but that is the job -- and what an exciting job it is!