First off, I would like to address the groundswell of opinions on the boards from my last blog. A large number of people, citing Dave's downfall in Season One, wrote in that Howie should have been eliminated from the first episode because he ran out of time and left off part of his dish, rather than Clay, whose dish - while awful -- was complete. Apparently, there's a group of scorekeepers out there who carefully tally the results from episode to episode, and frame them as inviolable precedent. The only way for me to address this is to explain that there are no hard and fast rules; As a judge, I need to reserve the right to stay in the moment and use my judgment based on the overall criteria and the ever changing scenarios before us.
I'm not suggesting that we throw consistency out the window -- that would be ludicrous, and would undermine the credibility of the judging process; rather that our audiences understand that with each new challenge, the context changes perceptibly. What may make perfect sense in one challenge with one set of competitors is less relevant in a challenge with different parameters. As judges we need to stay on our feet and evaluate the totality of the experience, without an anxious recap of all episodes past; we need to go by our gut of what is fair and truthful given the challenge at hand.