We all know the rest of the story: the spill site was eventually capped, but the damage remains to be seen. For example, we don't yet know the effect on Bluefin Tuna. Bluefin Tuna spawn in only two places on earth -- the Gulf is one of them -- and unfortunately, their eggs were being released right as the oil began gushing into their spawning ground. We don't know the full extent of that upon the larvae, but it was not good. Already under extreme duress from overfishing, the Bluefin is now in grave danger, its outlook for the future seriously compromised.
The episode made very clear why the dishes fell into the top and bottom categories as they did, so I won't rehash them here. What I'll say about Richard's dish, though, is as follows: I am a fan of pairing meat with fish. It works when it's in balance. Here, this was a fish dish, first and foremost: the point of the challenge was to feature and honor the Gulf seafood. Richard chose to pair it with a bit of pork, which was a great choice. Pork is fairly neutral, which is why it makes great BBQ and spare ribs. It has a lot of fat (when it's a good cut and not that lean crap from Smithfields), and thus it carries flavors well, so if you use just a small amount for earthiness in your fish dish, it can do a lot to complement the flavor of the fish. This has been done the world over: think of clams with chorizo in Spain, or a classic trout, pan-fried with lemon and a bit of bacon. The meat makes for a great garnish by adding a touch of smokiness. It really works when, as Richard did, a chef uses the right ratio between the meat and the fish. Try it at home, and let me know how it goes.
And, finally, a note about Dale: it's hard now to see any of our chefs leave, and it's too bad that Dale had to go. He's a great chef, and it's really good to see how he's matured. We all appreciate that he was able to hold up a mirror and examine himself in it when he watched Season 1 and saw what he'd projected at that time. It's impressive that he made an effort to change what he saw; his hard work was reflected in what he brought to the current season. His insightful comments in his exit interview further reflected that growth. It was a pleasure to work with Dale this season. I wish him all the best moving forward from here.