After a week of glorious freedom, it was weird sitting back down to watch the chef’testants in Top Chef Masters dwindle once more. But with so few chefs and barely any drama, the show is running full steam ahead and jumps straight into the challenge.
Seeing the chefs scoff at commoner appliances and ingredients is nothing new, but this Quickfire challenge was cruel, unusual and delightful to watch. With only 10 minutes on the clock, the chefs had to make a breakfast using only a microwave to cook.
And the dish has to be served warm. And the dish has to be actually cooked in the microwave.
So everyone rummaged for eggs and bacon to work their microwaved magic. Guest judges were the comedic duo known as Frangela who hit on Curtis a little too much for everyone’s comfort. Curtis also offered the tip, “Never cook bacon naked.” Wise words to live by.
Mary Sue continued her trend of bouncing between top and bottom (that came out wrong) and disappointed everyone with her goat cheese and avocado on a baguette with bacon vinaigrette that got too soggy and too chewy when microwaved.
Traci tried to do too much and presented a beautiful dish that simply didn’t have enough food with her oeuf en cocotte with chanterelles, bacon and bananas with lime. The serving of a yolk in the egg shell was adorable but two egg yolks is hardly a breakfast.
Floyd embraced the microwave and originally tried to make a soufflé that turned into a chanterelles, bacon and spinach omelet with grilled tomatoes. I don’t know how he made grilled tomatoes but the omelet was moist and delicious.
But Hughibrow took his third eccentric Quickfire win (along with bugs and the sense test) with his baked egg with chanterelles, bacon and tomato. I still have no idea how any of these dishes were made in a microwave only though.
Since cooking is a science, the cruel masters forced the chef’testants to show it literally – by doing a cooking science fair! Each chef got paired up with an actual scientist to make a food that represented a science concept. Then Floyd dropped the bombshell that he happens to have a Masters in Bio-Chemistry. Good lord, how is that even fair? But another twist was made – all the cooking had to be done with induction plates and Bunsen burners. Anyone else think the Top Chef kitchen’s gas line broke and they didn’t want to admit it?
The science fair went well with a completely lack of edible volcanoes. Some high school kids ate the food and the camera guys only interviewed the hot ones of course. A pleasant surprised though was Padma returning to guest judge. I forgot how much I missed her. But since we’re down to the final five chefs, all of them were summoned to the Critic’s Table.
Floyd was commended for his genius method of showing off the Maillard Reaction – the process that browns meat by serving beef two-ways. His beef shabu-shabu was fully cooked, but looked bright red while his spice crusted beef with mushrooms, asparagus and fried potatoes showed off the concept beautifully. Serving it in a Petri dish was adorable too.
But amazingly, he didn’t get the win as it was snapped from underneath him yet again by bi-polar Mary Sue who wowed everyone with her display of viscosity by serving dulce de leche churros with chocolate mousse and spiced café da olla. So Floyd continued his streak of almost winning.
The remaining three chefs though were all disappointing in their own ways. Naomi’s use of elasticity and plasticity was cute, but the calzone with truffle, mozzarella, chanterelles and arugula with veal and balsamic gelee crossed the line from elastic to soggy. Plus her display of different dough and cheeses was uninspired.
Traci did a pathetic attempt at showing acidity by taking the easy way out with a tuna carpaccio and an ahi tuna tartare. The idea was to show how marinating versus drizzling changes the fish, but of all the acids to use – lemons are the most obvious and uncreative.
But the biggest disappointment for everyone was Hugh’s attempt at emulsion with a fried okra salad with tomato, fennel, bacon and green goddess dressing. The breading on the okra was compared to sand and then a long argument ensued about whether or not his mayo had broken.
And so Hughibrow the undead scourge of second chances was told to pack his knives yet again and go home. Will he be back? Probably, you can’t keep a good “villain” down. Next week people are yelling and something involving the military happens.