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Top Chef Masters Season 5 Ep 7 – That’s Nacho Cheese!

This week on Masters, I am reminded of a great, terrible joke I once heard, as told to me by my college sweetheart, who rarely told jokes. She’s now a teacher molding young minds, mere decades after warping mine. Here it is – A wife sends her husband to the store for cheese. He goes, but before he reaches the store, he sees a wheel of cheese rolling down the hill. He takes it and brings it home. His wife asks him what kind of cheese it is. He said he isn’t sure, but he thinks it is nacho cheese. She asks why. He said, there was a kid running after me yelling “That’s nacho cheese! That’s nacho cheese!” I took out the horribly racist part of that joke – which I didn’t recall as being especially racist until I Googled it to get the lines correct. Memories. Shattered.

Anyway, the QUICKFIRE CHALLENGE in this episode involves the aforementioned nacho cheese. But first, we get the results of the Jen/Sue cook off on the sous chef web series. It seems Jen and Jor-El have survived. Bye bye Sue. I was actually pulling for her, as she has shown a lot more personality in her moments on screen. At least Superman’s dad made it. In a bit of ironic foreshadowing, Neal suspects that Jen is overmatched in this competition. Remember those words later on.

Stone introduces the challenge with a shorter, less racist version of the cheese joke. He also introduces the guest – actress Ali Larter, most famously known as the super strong woman on NBC’s Heroes. A show with an almost perfect first season (crappy final 10 minutes), and three pretty terrible seasons afterwards. But Ali was always worth watching. So very pretty. Burke agrees. Fist bump, dude. She is also wearing the weekly purple shirt. Glad she got the memo. Five grand and immunity goes to the winner.

Masters’ nachos. How awesome does that sound? Doug turns his salsa into a shot. Ok, sounding less awesome now. At least to me. Sang talks about his background and how he grew up with many cultures’ cuisines – he “literally got to eat the world.” Nope, you didn’t. Unless your name is Galactus.

Neal is making pork rind nachos and Sang has turned his into a corn cake. Bot has re-interpreted guacamole and Burke has chosen to add some blood to his dish. Well, not exactly chosen.

The results – Ali thinks Neal looks like David Spade. Sigh. Actors. Burke left his comfort zone – probably while bleeding. Doug’s is interesting. Jen’s pretty dish has good texture. Sang’s isn’t really nachos. Bot’s is a sexy dish.

On the bottom – Burke and his traditional, bloody thrown-together nachos and Sang’s powdered mac and cheesy dust. On the top – Doug’s shrimp and shot, along with Bot’s guac which reminded Ali of her honeymoon. The winner? Doug. Again. And another five grand for the pooches.

Quickfire Dishes:
Jennifer
Neal
Burke
Doug
Bot
Sang

ELIMINATION CHALLENGE

We are going fishing. Not really though. Teams of two have to make a hot and cold seafood dish. However, they are shopping without the knowledge of what kind of fish they’ll be cooking. They will find out the next day when the fish delivery truck arrives. The teams are – Sang/Bot, Neal/Burke, and Jen/Doug. Rough one for Jen – she’s just back from near elimination and gets paired up with Immunity Boy.

We also learn that Neal once worked for Burke – and was recommended for the job by Jen! – and he slips right into his old habits as subservient to Burke. Sang/Bot have chose to do a smoke/BBQ theme, while Burke has chose a Mediterranean theme for his team. Jen has taken the lead – smart – and elected to combine the two parts of the dish into one. Sang fails to get wood chips – so there’s a bit of a problem there for the smoking process.

The next day, we have fish. Sang jokes about wanting sea horse. Now THAT’s a great challenge. Cook impossible food. Doug/Jen get first pick and take the John Dory. Wait? Dory? Is that the plot for “Finding Dory?” Yikes – just keep swimming, Ellen! Burke/Neal take the sea bass, and Sang/Bot settle for some sable.

Wait, Stone has the purple shirt again! What went on with him and Ali? Does his fiancé know about this?

The prep finds Neal praising his team’s lack of ego, which with Master Chefs, I don’t buy at all. Sang is making a seaweed immersion. Which just scares me a bit. Stone questions their choice of fish for what they are making. Sang is actually using Doug’s technique of using dashi to make the smoky flavor. I guess they do share a brain after all! Jen is using sliced plum as a barrier between the hot and cold part of the dish. That’s a much tastier way of keeping the hot side hot and the cold side cold. Despite what George Costanza says.

Our judges – Gail, Dr. Sweater, Lam and Stone. Gail flirts with Stone, because, well, he’s Stone.

Sang/Bot – Bot didn’t taste his partner’s dish. He should have. Stone actually spits it out. Capt. Sweater says it was lukewarm fish, not cold fish. Ew. Gail says he should’ve smoked it – if you only knew, Gail. Lam’s praise of the sea flavor may have saved Sang this week. As for Bot, they loved it. Le Gran Sweater actually said, “it is one of the smartest, most-realized dishes this season.” If Sang’s dish was better, Bot may have won this challenge.

Neal/Burke – Officer Sweater calls Neal’s a presentation mess. Stone can’t even cut the chewy, raw fish. Gail thinks Burke’s has 17 things going on, including greasy cous cous. She does think they did a better job connecting the two dishes than Sang/Bot.

Jen freaks out on the servers – demanding they keep the crispy fish out of the broth. Clearly they did. Jen/Doug – Secretary Sweater thinks the presentation is beautiful and a “wonderful juxtaposition” between the two elements. Stone thinks it was so well integrated that you cannot tell that it was made by two chefs.

Obviously, with that praise, Jen and Doug win. That’s another five grand for the pooches, and five for women. One of the other four is doomed – except for Bot. He’s safe. Sang’s was mushy, but the emulsion was good. Neal’s choice of serving an inferior tartare element was a mistake. Burke’s dish was just all over the map. I expected the dish that a judge literally spit out would be axed, but instead it was Neal and his bad tartare. Strange – usually inedible is the kiss of death.

Elimination Dishes:
Jennifer/Doug
Neal/Burke
Doug
Sang/Bot

Quickfire Hits
• Neal on Doug – He could take a rock and some Combos and make it good. I think they could all do that, and I want to see that challenge.
• Doug had a brain tumor ten years ago. Damn. Glad he’s ok. And I’m amazed his charity isn’t cancer research.
• At the chefs’ group dinner, we have a horrible Burke/Doug photo presented. And enough trash talk to make these guys blush.
• Sang’s mention about how sand gets everywhere and why he hates it. It makes me think of Anakin Skywalker and the worst scene in the history of Star Wars.
• Extra scene – The real Gidget. I didn’t even know there was a real Gidget. Is there a real Flying Nun too?

Next week – Wrestling, brutha.

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