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Top Chef: Masters 3 – Ep 8 – She Blinded Me With Science


Elimination Challenge – Display how science and cooking are intertwined. With a scientist as a lab assistant, take five scientific principles and make a dish out of it, while demonstrating the property. Chefs must use lab equipment to cook and will serve to high schoolers. Padma joins Bert, Stone and the return of Ruth after several weeks missing in action.

Lab Assistants – I thought they should get a little attention:
Elasticity – Carlin Hsueh – A UCLA nanochemist. All I know about nanotechnology I learned through Star Trek’s Data.

Viscosity – Heidi Bednar – A UCLA physical chemist, and perhaps the best looking one on the planet.

Acidity – Carolyn Tepolt – A Stanford evolutionary biologist. The Velma to Heidi’s Daphne.

Emulsion – Augustine Urbas – An MIT polymer physicist. He used vinaigrette to show how an emulsifier can help combine liquids. Foreshadowing.

Maillard Reaction – Michael Klopfer – A US Irvine experimental physicist. The Reaction is basically how meat gets brown when cooked.

Unibrow got the first pick and went with emulsion, which is weird. I thought the clear choice was to do the meat browning because…well…you can cook really good meat. Instead, Floyd gets it with the third pick, and Mary Sue’s eventually winning dish was the fourth selection.
Beast chose pizza for the stretchy cheese affect and pizza dough (something used in the demo). Mary Sue went for dessert, in one of the few times that this plan worked in Top Chef history. Floyd had the best idea, I thought, by showing how you cook meat and get it to brown from heat, while serving a second dish, cooked below the heat threshold that does not turn brown. Watching Mary Sue and Beast attempt to deep fry in Bunsen burners added some fun to the challenge. I thought Traci’s plan seemed wise, but what the hell do I know.

Mary Sue – Viscosity – Dulce de Leche Churros, Chocolate Mousse and Spiced Café de Olla – Ruth and Padma raved about the demo, and Bert gave the churros high marks.

Unibrow – Emulsion – Fried Okra Salad with Tomato, Fennel, Bacon and Green Goddess Dressing – Unibrow and Bert get into it about whether the mayo was broken or not, right there at the table. It was here that you know Uni was in tons of trouble. They get into it again at critics’ table, and Bert calls the mayo an afterthought. Ruth tells him it was just the obvious way to go – translation…boring. Padma thought the salad was a mess.

Traci – Acidity – Tuna Carpaccio and Ahi Tuna Tartare – Stone tells her it too was obvious to go with lemon juice and raw fish. Ruth wishes she had used different flavors and shown a better demo, and while her dish was smart, it was just dull. Padma suggested she could have used several different kids of citrus instead of the old lemon juice standby.

Beast – Elasticity – Fried Pizzetta with Mozzarella, Salumi and Green Olive Marinara and Calzone with Truffle, Mozzarella, Chanterelles and Arugula, Balsamic Gelee – Bert thought she had too many things going on and thus a muddled demo. Padma said the gelee and cheese combined to make the calzone soggy. Stone thought the demo was weak.

Floyd – Maillard Reaction – Spice Crusted Beef, Mushrooms, Asparagus and Fried Potatoes and Beef Shabu-Shabu – Bert thought that Floyd’s grandma would approve of the dish inspired by her recipe.

So Mary Sue wins, Unibrow goes home, and we are two steps away from the end.

Quickfire Hits
• Bert delivers the ultimate That’s What She Said Moment of the night. When referring to Padma’s comments about Beast’s calzone – “God, it’s true. That melted gelee really did spurt in your mouth in the most unpleasant way.”
• Unibrow’s friends were afraid of radiation in the 70s and so no microwave. I wonder if they have cell phones now.
• Beast has no microwave in her restaurant. Boy, I hope nothing needs defrosting. Or reheating.
• Mary Sue was unsure how to make the bread not be too tough. And yet never thought of putting it in the microwave?
• Traci wanted crispy bacon. In a microwave. That’s like asking for gourmet ice cream from the Good Humor Man.
• Stone warns never to cook bacon naked. I am sad to report, that the man speaks the truth. And I leave the story RIGHT THERE!
• Mary Sue wanted to show liquid friction. This is going to be the name of my band.
• Unibrow should burn all of the photos of him wearing a bandana around his head. And Beast could throw in her 80s hockey chick hair photos too.
• ESPN could follow the liquid race with a supermarket relay where meat gets tossed down the line, such as the Floyd to Unibrow to Mary Sue show in Whole Foods.
• Was it me, or was Padma flirting with Floyd just a bit? Or maybe I’m just projecting my deepest darkest desires. To have Padma flirt with me, that is. No offense, Floyd.

Next Week – Beast is yelling at some guy I assume to be her dad. There are graduations. And some random soldier makes Floyd cry. Which may be the strangest combat technique.

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