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Top Chef: Masters – Ep 9 – It Was Hawaii Which Killed The Beast

This family outing – surprisingly short, I was expecting them to be part of the Elimination Challenge – dovetailed into the introduction of four random people. The chefs first drew knives with the four branches of the military written on them. Mary Sue=Marines. Beast=Air Force. Traci=Navy. Floyd=Army. Then we met the four relatives of service members:
• Col. Dr. Bruce Nelson’s daughter. The Air Force doctor came out of retirement to serve. He is Hawaiian and really missed Hawaiian food.
• Cpt. Eric Palicia’s incredibly hot wife. This engineer served in the Army and is a big fan of steak, spinach salad, American cuisine and nothing very spicy. Tough draw for someone who’s a master of Indian cuisine.
• Cpl. Marlon Chajon’s brother. This Marine just came home to his family and is of Guatemalan origin. What a lucky draw for Mary Sue as the flavors of Central America are her wheelhouse.
• P.O. Philip Dersham’s wife. This Navy Petty Office came home to see his family, and young child who can now walk, and the news that he’s about to have another kid. He is a comfort food fan, meaning that Traci and her impeccable skills and training has to make meatloaf.

There was too much to show with the chef’s family and the party at the American Legion for the returning vets to have a trip to Whole Foods. So, boom, there we were with ingredients and prep. I instantly became worried for Beast when she revealed she was going to make raw tuna. While this is the national dish of Hawaii, this did not seem to be a raw tuna kind of crowd. She was so into the challenge, that for the first time she put on her chef jacket. Don’t mess with the karma that was working, Beast!

The best part was that all four chefs made meals that made the vet and their families happy. And that was the point of the challenge. It came down to nitpicks as a result. But before we get to the judging, Captain Eric (and that would make a great movie character – Captain Eric and his gorgeous wife) approached Floyd and thanked him for his work and offered to exchange coins, as per tradition. Floyd was very choked up and considered it to be his good luck charm. He turned out to be correct about that. “When you get a gift that means a lot to them, it should mean a lot to you.”

In the end, Mary Sue took home the win. Boy, remember in the early episodes when she was almost eliminated more than once? Now she’s rolling. The win was voted on by the families, so she really nailed this challenge. Of course, her meal was a lot more crowd pleasing than the others. The judges admitted that it was minor things that decided the elimination, and as a result Beast goes. She had a great run and impressed quite a bit – she is younger and more inexperienced than all of the other Masters and she pushed them to the limit. I would love to go to Beast and taste Naomi’s cooking one day.

Now we hit the Finale this week with Mary Sue, Traci and Floyd. Mary Sue may be a favorite due to her recent successes, but I think Traci is the one to beat. However, with so many references to Floyd’s lack of any wins, one wonders if he pulls out the biggest win of all in the end.

We shall soon find out.

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