Top Chef Masters: Date Night

E:  Ah, Celina Tio.  What’re you doing, giving the people what they want?  For shame!

M: I’ll have some choice words on that when we get to it, but for now let’s start at the top.

E: So let’s, then.  This was a brutal and crazy – but also funny – Quickfire.  I really liked the twist, that it wasn’t just a blind taste test as they’ve done before – it was a deaf and, er, smell-less one too. What a hoot, watching Naomi dribble Worcestershire sauce down her chin, and Mary Sue bomb an early round because her sense of smell is so vital to her sense of taste.  It kind of made me want to try some of the stuff, just so I could see if it was as hard as it seemed to be.

M: I loved it, too.  There were no issues of them not giving them a fair enough shake, be it time or other constraints, just a flat out test of their senses.  It was awesome, and  I especially cracked up at the rounds where people got none of the ingredients correct!

E: In the end, it was Hugh vs. Mary Sue…

M: …or as my kids would say, Hugh was versing Mary Sue…

E: …in the “sound only” round for the $5k and the sensory deprivation taste test title.  How shocked were you that neither of them got rice krispies in milk?  That was crazy, no?

M: Totally shocked!  Now, we were watching so we knew, but I agree complete with Naomi, that would have been my first guess, and I couldn’t believe neither of them were even close!

E: Clearly it’s too plebeian for such master chefs.

M: Clearly.

E: And Hugh wins with buttering toast.

M: Which is much more high class. Seriously, he didn’t get snap, crackle and pop, but he instantly got buttering toast?  That seemed savant-esque to me.

E: Up next, we have an Elimination Challenge to sigh for.  A Steven Zahn look-a-like…

M: …he even sounded kind of like him…

E: …named Alex wants to propose to his girlfriend, and the show’s going to stage a “date night” of 25 couples to divert her.  The six course menu should be all about the happy couple, and – surprise – both Moms get to hide back in the kitchen awaiting the momentous moment.  Say it with me: aw!

M: Not saying it with you on principle, but I thought that the moms being there was great.  I was wondering what kind of curveball they were going to throw when Curtis walked into the kitchen to interrupt them, but it wasn’t a curve at all, just a nice little gesture.

E: I was fascinated that the couple wasn’t more, erm, adventurous eaters.  You’d have thought the producers would go with foodies – but no.  I thought Mary Sue was taking an enormous risk going with a seafood stew when Alex told her he’d never even eaten shellfish.

M: I was surprised that the couple wasn’t foodies, that they weren’t at least more adventurous, and that that factored into the judging in a very negative way.  Again, we’ll come back to that.

E: Yes, it certainly was problematic.  By the way, one of my favorite bits of this was the chefs talking about when they met their significant others and how their proposals went down.

M:  That was such a fun segment, seeing the details of their personal life that we hadn’t been privy to before.  I will say, I felt bad for Naomi saying she wished she had someone willing to do this kind of thing for her.

E: Hugh met his wife when they were 11.  Aw!  That’s so stinking cute!  Floyd was also adorable talking about the close friend who became his wife.  And I cracked up listening to Mary Sue and Celina describing how they, at 15 and 6 years of living with their respective significant others, decided together to tie the knot.  After 15 years, a proposal won’t come as that much of a surprise!  Or then again, maybe after 15 years it really would!

M: Yeah, I’d think it would come as a total shock.  What changes after 15 years of not getting married that prompts you to “take the plunge”?

E: Yeah.  To me, the way a guy proposes can be a lovely surprise – but if you don’t already know that your significant other wants to get married (and to you) I don’t think you have much business proposing.  I can’t get over Mary Sue falling in love at first sight with her business partner’s ex-husband.  With the blessing – and match-making intent – of the business partner, no less!

M: Really, that was your take away from that?  Not that very openly gay Susan Fenniger previously had a husband… but that she was ok with Mary Sue marrying him?

E: I totally didn’t recognize Susan, and actually, I had no idea she was gay, but that makes the story make a lot more sense now that you say that…

M: I don’t know if I should be more or less disappointed in you now.  When Susan was on last season they went into some of her personal life, and she was playing for a gay rights charity, so clearly you spaced that AND that in the first episode this season they told us that she and Mary Sue were business partners.

E: Oh. Okay.  I guess there were too many people in that first episode for me to remember all their bios that clearly.  And I don’t remember Susan’s charity from last season, although that wouldn’t prove anything to me besides her open mindedness just on its own.

M: Except that the showed her with her partner. Regardless, this time only, I’m gonna let you slide.  Now, you know what wasn’t one of my favorite parts?  The entire dynamic of the “date” between Gael Green and James Oseland was odd, and then we got Gael’s TMI about her “encounter” with Elvis, which left me with a worse opinion of both her and Elvis.  Ewwwwwwww!

E: That could not have been grosser.  And not just because she’s old, but just the idea that she would be proud of having slept with Elvis – without a word on his part – just because she happened to be the only girl in the room.

M: Stay classy, San Diego.

E: Let me not think about that.  You know what was actually funny? The way the young woman essentially tackled pseudo-Stephen Zahn when he finally got down on one knee.

M: Well, she does have a pretty decent height advantage on him, it might have just been hard for her to bend down that far.  😉

E: Well, if she doesn’t mind, why should we?  Moving to the meals, I will admit, I think plating a pretzel with a salad was a bit of a mismatch.  But.  Our adorable lovers loved it!  They went crazy with joy!  Surely that ought to count for something?

M: I agreed completely with Hugh’s rant on this one.  Now, I don’t think he worded it in the best way possible, but they were given a challenge to cook for a specific couple.  Three people made dishes that were cooked specifically for that couple, and they ended up in the bottom three.  Sure, they might have made slightly better version of those dishes, which is why I thought it was ok that Celina was sent home, but ultimately they fulfilled the parameters of the challenge better than the other three.  Maybe the other three made dishes the judges liked better, but, to paraphrase Hugh, who’s paying the bill?  Argh.

E: I have to say, I don’t think Tom and Padma would have let that happen.  I wonder if I should blame Curtis for not keeping the judges in line?

M: Really?  I feel like Tom would have thrown it right back at Hugh that the food had to be better, no matter who he’s cooking for.  Or did you mean the way it was critiqued, not the argument?

E: I feel like Tom would have kept the assignment and the tastes of the couple more in mind.  Not that he wouldn’t have cared about the food being better, because of course he would. But he would have cared about the parameters of the assignment, and I feel like they pretty much tossed them out the window this entire season.

M: Well, I certainly can’t argue, and as we’re way behind, let’s end it there.

E: We’ll be back shortly with the next episode.

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