The agents probe the death of a chef during a cooking competition. The investigation uncovers an array of suspects, from the chef’s rivals to his estranged wife.
The CBI team is called to investigate the death of chef Jeffrey Barge during a cooking competition at an exclusive restaurant. Jeffrey’s colleagues grudgingly admit he was a genius in the kitchen but complain that he was difficult to work with. Initial tests indicate that Jeff was the victim of ricin poisoning administered in his food or drink.
The agents talk to Jeff’s estranged wife Abigail (Dina Meyer, ‘Starship Troopers’), who reveals that her husband was an alcoholic. Sensing that there is something amiss, Jane asks: “What else are you hiding from us?” Abigail admits that Jeff had been sober for the last two weeks but that he began behaving erratically just before died. Jane suspects that Jeff suffered a relapse and heads to Jeff’s apartment. His hunch is proved right when he finds a bottle of gin in the toilet cistern. “What better way to poison a drunk than through his drink?” he asks.
Test confirm that the ricin was in the gin, and Jane rounds up Jeff’s rival chefs and begins to bait them. When he accuses one chef of having poisoned the gin, the look of relief on another’s face suggests to Jane that she is the culprit. “She’s the one!” he declares, and the chef, Hannah, is hauled down to the station for questioning. She admits that she wanted to beat Jeff in the competition and that she encouraged him to relapse but insists that she did not kill him. “I bought him the gin,” Hannah says. “But I have no idea how the ricin got in there.”
When the agents learn that Jeff spoke to his colleague Eliza on the night he died, they pay a visit to Jeff’s restaurant. Eliza is unperturbed, explaining that she and Jeff simply talked about their menu, but the case then takes an unexpected turn when Eliza is mugged outside the restaurant. Lisbon overpowers the mugger and identifies him as Kevin Barge, Jeff’s brother.
Kevin explains that he tried to steal the restaurant’s takings from Eliza to pay off Jeff’s debts to a loan shark. The agents pay a visit to a slippery character called Sean Horlick, who vehemently denies murdering the chef. “Why would I kill Jeff?” he asks. “You don’t off someone who can pay you back.” Horlick does provide a new lead, however, by making the team believe that Jeff was having an affair with someone from work.
Jane returns to the restaurant kitchen to pester the staff once more. Telltale signs lead him to suspect that a chef named Julia was Jeff’s lover. Forced to admit the truth, Julia explains that Jeff abruptly ended the affair. “I loved him, but he was a drunk – better left alone,” she says. In the interrogation room Julia begins to act strangely and asks for a glass of water. Lisbon and Jane are stunned when she suddenly keels over and dies.
The autopsy reveals that Julia has also been poisoned with ricin. Cho suggests the murderer may be a jealous partner. “We’ve got two dead married lovers. I’d say the killer’s a spouse,” he declares. His theory appears to be borne out when the team visit Abigail’s apartment and find castor beans, which can be used to make ricin, but a bemused Abigail denies murdering her husband and his lover, claiming that she did not even know of their affair.
Jane comes up with a plan to flush out the culprit which involves the use of red pepper. Will his devious ploy succeed?
Jane and the team face exposure to a deadly toxin when a scientist is murdered at a high-security biological research facility.