By People Staff
Updated January 22, 2009 12:00 AM

The eight remaining chefs have officially made it halfway through the competition. That means nerves are getting the best of some, and for others, like Leah and Hosea, so is the guilt.

In the kitchen, Steven Starr, owner of Buddakan and Morimoto, was introduced as the guest judge. Before launching into the night’s Restaurant Wars, the contestants had to do a tasting for Starr in the the Quickfire Challenge. They had 30 minutes to cook something “signature” and sensational. The two winners of the challenge would then lead their teams in Resto-Wars.

Leah initially picked snapper but chucked it for Asian-inspired poussin inspired by her Filipino mother. Fabio opted to embrace “lunch” with a filet mignon sandwich, which Starr equated to “cheese steak”– much to Fabio’s horror. Jamie went for “seasonal, local… ” but admitted she wasn’t trying win, knowing that the leader of Restaurant Wars usually goes down in flames. Meanwhile Radhika wowed Starr — and won the challenge — with a pan-seared cod that melded a fusion of “global” flavors. Leah came in second. Radhika and Leah headed up two restaurants: Sahana and Sunset Lounge, respectively. And the cheftestants were split up as follows:

Sahana: Radhika, Jamie, Carla and Jeff Sunset Lounge: Leah, Hosea, Fabio and Stefan

The teams had 24 hours to conceptualize and shop and six hours to prep. But not before Leah celebrated with Hosea … entangled on the couch!

The chefs went shopping for d cor and ambiance, then they planned their menus. There was a lot of attitude (Stefan), a lot of nerves (Radhika) and a lot of sexual tension (Hosea and Leah)! The lovebirds finally made out (throwing caution and their significant others to the wind) to a soundtrack straight out of Boogie Nights. Top Porno, anyone? The morning after, the not-so-secret couple experienced regret and remorse, and their team worried it would interfere with the big day.

The menus were set: Sunset Lounge Menu: Egg roll, sashimi, short ribs, coconut curry bisque, seared cod, chocolate parfait, panna cotta.

Sahana Menu: Curried carrot soup, grilled scallop, braised lamb shank, seared snapper, baklava, chocolate cake, frozen yogurts.

Over at Sunset, Leah was distracted by her growing sense of guilt. She says she’s never cheated on a boyfriend before. Making matters worse, her cod was impossibly challenging to cook well.

At Sahana, Carla’s desserts looked lousy. As team leader, Radhika didn’t offer her any help or direction. Stefan’s desserts were equally daunting but teammate Fabio was cocky and confident. He threw out the line of the night: “I run the front of the house, we can serve monkey a– in empty clam shell, and we gonna win this one.”

It didn’t get better for Radhika during dinner service. She underwhelmed the judges with her description of the dishes. And when the judges got up and left, she didn’t even notice. As for the food, Starr didn’t love the snapper: “I don’t like fish floating in liquid… that’s where it comes from.” And Carla’s desserts were inedible.

Over at Sunset, despite the judges’ lukewarm reception to the egg roll/amuse bouche, they were dazzled by Fabio’s charm and warmth. But no amount of charm could make up for the real stinker of an entr e–Leah’s cod, which was practically raw, served with a salty sauce that tasted “like a pickle.” They sent it back — a chef’s nightmare.

At Judges’ table, Sahana lost, primarily because the guests voted that way. The desserts failed miserably, and Carla’s excuse of “I gave it LOVE” was way too touchy-feely for Tom. However, Radhika’s meekness and poor leadership skills turned everyone off. “She seems beat down,” said Tom. Down — and out, as the judges sent Radhika packing. –Alyssa Shelasky

Tell us: Do you think Radhika should have been sent home over Leah and Carla?

Virginia Sherwood/Bravo