So after a week off for no apparent reason, I forgot that Top Chef Masters was on this week. I know! With Amazing Race and Survivor completed, I got out of practice from having a week off, and had to rely on our old friend Mr. Itunes to enable me to watch this episode. And thankfully, I did, because it was a fun one!
Cooking is a science. If you’ve ever watched Good Eats on Food Network, you’d know that is the truth. By having the Masters’ cook a challenge based around science was inspired. Not only did they have to use a scientific property as inspiration for the dish, but they also had to do a demonstration showing why the dish represents that phenomenon. In addition, each was paired with a scientist to help them pull off the experiment, and had to present the dish and presentation to a group of students.
How can this get more fun?
Pairing Padma and Stone is the definition of equal opportunity ogling. In fact, the lame comediennes who judge the Quickfire try to get Stone to take his shirt off. Sadly, none of the students tried a similar trick with Padma. One thing is for sure – this episode was a whole lot prettier than most Top Chef eps.
I think the science experiment was a bit tough to follow for a challenge for some viewers, heck, it was even tough on Bert. But it was really cool that the five Masters got into the challenge, for the most part. Floyd revealed that he was supposed to become a scientist before he disappointed his parents and became a chef. Way to not embody a stereotype, there! Sadly, his dad never survived long enough to see how successful Floyd became in his chosen field. He took to this challenge, obviously.
Also, Mary Sue, Beast and Traci dove head first into the challenge and tried quite hard to embody the science and entertain the kids.
Meanwhile, the usually entertaining Unibrow seemed to clash with his scientist and managed to make a lackluster dish with a poor presentation. When showing emulsification it would probably be a good idea to show how you make the emulsifier. His scientist suggested such a course of action, and Unibrow shrugged him off. Worse, despite a bit of an argument with Bert about whether or not the mayo broke or not, he made a boring dish that really wasn’t all that good.
Mary Sue danced with the one who brung her by making churros and displaying the way liquids move with a simple, but effective vertical Petri dish liquid race. A competition I don’t expect to see covered on ESPN anytime soon. Floyd will either never win a challenge this season, or he is being set up as the winner. Despite his background and love for science, he still failed to beat Churro Lady Who Cooks In A Van.
Beast and Traci got dinged for the overly simplistic dishes, and boring concepts. Beast made pizza and calzones for elasticity, and provided what I thought was an interesting approach by presenting the ingredients to the students to touch and feel the elastic qualities. However, it failed to impress the judges, and more damning, the pizza and calzone weren’t really that good. One lesson learned in Top Chef – it is ok to make a simple dish, but when you do, you had better knock it out of the park. Traci’s plan for acidity was interesting – showing how you can cook with acid, and her display with tuna was logical. However, it was the obvious choice.
Unibrow did the worst job – a lackluster salad combined with a boring presentation. He had plenty of opportunities to do a better job – his scientist, Augustine, warned him that Unibrow’s plan to show emulsification through salad dressing was exactly what Augustine did in the intro. He warned him that if he was going to do it that way he should show the creation of the mayo. Augustine was a bit rude – hysterically so when he said Unibrow couldn’t be a scientist because he lacked curiosity – but he was right. The worst part, as relayed by Padma, all he made was a weak salad with some fried okra.