Top Chef Masters: Blinded Me With Science

E: Okay, I flat out loved this episode.  An edible science fair!  How cool is that?

M: Sooooo cool.  But honestly, I’m a little sad to say that I liked it in concept more than in execution.  Plus, the critics annoyed me yet again.  But we’ll get to that later…  on to the Quickfire!

E: Cooking in a microwave isn’t the most fascinating Quickfire ever, but at least the Elimination challenge made up for it.

M: I thought the funny thing was how foreign a concept the microwaves seemed to them.  I mean, we’ve seen what they can do with small amounts of time in some of the Quickfires, but still, if you’ve got hungry kids who need a snack, do master chefs always heat up the oven or stove?

E: Yeah, I had no idea it was such an atrocious monster; I think it’s quite handy for reheating.  Do chefs not reheat things?  Except Mary Sue’s tea?

M: Apparently not.  And come on, no Hot Pockets?  For shame!

E: Oh, M.

M: Admittedly, I like comedian Jim Gaffigan’s Hot Pockets bit better than I like Hot Pockets themselves, but they were quite handy when I was a broke college kid.  Let’s move on.

E: Now, in defense of the challenge, I’ve never tried to cook an egg in one, so I can understand them being upset about that.  Then again, it’s a good place to make bacon. At any rate, after the comediennes (Frangela?  Whatever) have judged the Quickfire, giving Hugh the win, Curtis sets up a panel of five scientists.  The five remaining chefs choose between five different scientific principles: elasticity, emulsion, maillard principle, viscosity and….

M: …thermal breakdown.  No, wait, that’s Castrol Motor Oil.  The last one was acidity.  Sorry, continue…

E: With the help of the scientist who explained the principle, each chef must prepare a food experiment to demonstrate said principle.  They can only cook using scientific equipment (bunson burners, beakers, etc) which proves quite tricky.  Most everyone rises to the challenge and gets excited about – check out Floyd, who went to grad school for biochem.  And Mary Sue’s churros with the sauces to demonstrate viscosity?  Impressive.  I will say, I thought Naomi (and her doughs with varying amounts of gluten) was going to do much better than she did.

M: Honestly, I thought just about everyone was going to do better.

E: The kids seemed to be really getting into her explanation, she worked super well with her squint, and she had lots of different interesting examples of elasticity.

M: The problem was she had a bunch of things that had differing levels of elasticity, and then she kind of just laid them out.  It was better than Hugh, however, who totally just tweeted it in (FYI, I’m coining a new phrase there.  We don’t really use snail mail any more, at least for anything other than bills, so mailing it is is kind of a lost saying.  I think replacing mail with tweet is culturally appropriate, if not necessary!).

E: Okay.  I tend to hear “phoned it in” more than “mailed it in” but I think it’s a fun attempt.  Let’s see if you can make it happen!

M: You know I’ll try!

E: So, now that we’ve arrived at the judging portion, I’m going to emphasize how much I miss Jay Rayner.  The much vaunted new critic made her – what, 2nd? 3rd? – appearance, but seemed barely there. The editor’s fault, no doubt, but still.  She made me miss Gael Greene, and after last week’s squicky oversharing, that’s a feat.

M: I agree.  I think it was Ruth Reichel’s second appearance, and ***SPOILER ALERT*** she sent Hugh off to pack his knives again.  Odd.

E: Well, we’ll get there, but I don’t think that was her fault.

M: Oh, no, it was entirely his this time.  Not sure about week one.  Anyway, back to the judges.

E: Now, I miss the old judging panel something fierce, but I like Curtis Stone.  He’s much more of an interesting presence than Kelly Choi ever was, so at least in this season of disappointing judges, at least there’s that.

M: I didn’t mind Kelly Choi, but she didn’t bring much to the show, either.

E: Really great hair and a pleasant speaking voice.  Massive contribution.

M: Um, if you say so.  Now Curtis, as a chef himself, brings a lot more understanding and knowledge to his commentary.  And a fun accent…

E: Yep.  And he’s cute, though that doesn’t set him apart from Kelly. Anyway, I’m sorry to see Hugh go, I really am,  but he totally deserved it.  Was there even any question of who the knife-ee should be?  I felt so bad for his scientist, but the dude was lazy.  I had to laugh when the scientist snarked about Hugh not having any curiosity.  I hope Hugh looks back at that and learns from it.

M: I think in some ways it was a failure on both their parts.  Hugh wasn’t open to it, but the scientist didn’t do anything to engage Hugh, either.  Hugh, as we’ve seen, can be adventurous and curious if he’s interested.  The scientist just needed to tie it into something Hugh was actually interested in.

E: I don’t know, I thought the scientist guy tried pretty hard to challenge him.

M: Perhaps a bit.  And don’t get me wrong, even if there was some failure on the scientist’s par, ultimately the elimination was entirely Hugh’s fault for checking out.

E: Well, right.  What’s the science buddy going to win?  Nothing!  Hugh’s the one in a competition, but he gets all “ew, it’s school stuff, I’m not paying attention.”  Stupid is as stupid does!  Which is to say, he is clearly not a stupid person, but he sure acted like it.

M: As sad as it was to see him leave, he deserved to go. However, the judges continue to baffle me.  James Oseland’s insistence that Hugh’s mayo was broken was aggravating in a way only The Ose can be.

E: Oh God.  It’s broken, no it’s not, it’s broken – give it up, already!

M: Seriously.  Even more so, though, their complaint about Tracey’s acid-explaining ceviche being too simple, when I thought it was a perfect example, while Naomi’s multitude of elastic foods were too complicated, they were just wildly inconsistent.  I even rewound it a couple times to make sure that I was hearing them correctly, and they were completely contradicting themselves.  Very annoying.

E: Yeah.  Not cool.  They really made very little sense.  The thing about Tracy’s ceviche, right, is that I bet anything it’s not easy to get high school kids to eat it.  But it’s a fantastically perfect example of her concept.

M: Exactly.  And since we agree, and we’re still way behind and all, now’s the perfect time to leave the rest of the critiques and praises for the last few episodes.  On to the next one!

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