In what has been the best season of Top Chef Masters, the show stumbled a bit this week. The palate test Quickfire was oddly uninteresting, despite the fact that it was massively complicated. Stunning, I know. Meanwhile, the Elimination Challenge had a good concept – Date Night. The whole dating world really revolves around dinner and movies so this was a good idea – cook for a date night for 21 couples. Where it went wrong is the extra step that it took.
On my list of things that I hate – not the important list (Al Qaeda, Bernie Madoff, Rick Santorum), but the lesser list (kids put on leashes, bicycles in the middle of the road, Rick Santorum) – is public displays of engagement. I have no problem with public displays of affection (to a point), but asking someone to marry you is really a private thing and not something akin to dinner theater. So, grand restaurant displays, Diamond Vision messages, skywriting, awkward reality show moments, are all out in my book.
So having the chefs have to cook for a guy’s attempt to publicly declare that he wants to marry his girlfriend – and prove to all of the jocks that stuffed him into a locker in high school that he is perfectly capable of landing a woman much hotter than he really should – was a bit much for me. I mean it was like the hot elf princess in Lord of the Rings electing to marry Sean Astin’s hobbit. I mean, I am sure he is a nice guy and all, and has a wealth of vowels in his name, but it reminded me of this couple.
In addition, it was pretty clear who was going home the minute they served the meals. The elimination of Celina was a few episodes overdue and became perfectly clear the minute she served a pretzel next to a salad. I mean, let me repeat that. She served a pretzel with a salad. A pretzel. With a salad. That’s illegal in some states. I mean, it’s like when I’m trying to use up all the leftovers and I pair up random crap – fried chicken and baked ziti, pickles and fajitas, tuna casserole and pierogies. Seriously, I know that he said they liked getting pretzels and beer at games, but did that include a salad? How many hockey games do they serve salads? I’m sure they don’t even do that in San Jose. Bottom line – weird, freaky dish.
The weird thing about the Quickfire was that the task is often pretty cool in past seasons, but that was before they had to wear sensory depravations suits before being presented with palate tests. They all just looked so ridiculous as they tried to force papaya in their mouths. And I am not really sure what they were trying to prove by plugging up all of their senses and forcing the chefs to focus on one or two of these other senses, it was just, odd. The one part that I actually kind of liked was the hearing challenge and that’s only for the three interesting/amusing things that happened. 1) Unibrow totally nailing that Stone was shucking oysters (not a euphemism), 2) Mary Sue thinking that clinking ice was that challenge, and not the set up for the oyster challenge, and 3) neither of them being able to identify that the snap, crackle and pop is the trademark of Rice Krispies and milk, well, that’s crazy. Who can’t identify snap, crackle and pop? Next thing you know they would be unable to tell us who’s cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, or what Trix are for.
Oh, meanwhile, there was the return of Gael Greene. I am sure the temporary setback the show took this week has nothing to do with the return of one of the former judges. Especially since the highlight of this episode actually went to Gael. Not that it had anything to do with judging – although she did show more chemistry with Bert than she showed in two full seasons. It had to do with her Elvis sex story.
That’s right. Her Elvis sex story. Gael and her hats. Having sex. With Elvis. Part of me was disturbed, part of me intrigued, most of me amused, none of me aroused. Let’s just let Gael’s words speak for themselves:
”I didn’t have an affair with Elvis, I had an hour with Elvis. I was the only woman in the hotel room; he took my hand and led me to the bedroom. After, he said, ‘ah, can you order room service and order me a fried egg sandwich?’ This is probably why I became a food writer.”
Creepy. Funny. And complete with a fried egg sandwich.