Top Chef Masters Recap: Flunking Out

How'd they get her on this show? Photo: Nicole Wilder/Bravo

Our five remaining cheftestants enter the kitchen looking weary (PTSD from last episodes Guantnamo-style sensory deprivation, perhaps?), and Curtis is already smirking because he knows hes about to make them do something stupid. Were in a kitchen full of cutting-edge equipment, he tells them, but too bad, so sad they wont be able to use any of that for this Quickfire. Instead, theyll be cooking breakfast in ten minutes using only microwaves!

I have a line of food that is microwavable, says Floyd (we know you do), but I have never cooked eggs in a microwave. So hes never heard of an Egg Wave? But Floyd isnt the only one using eggs. Almost everyone else is using them, too, along with bacon, chanterelles, and spinach. Seriously, four of the dishes they come up with are variations of each other, but its the producers fault for constantly coming up with challenges that yield homogeneous results. Only Mary Sue thinks outside the box with a warm goat-cheese-and-avocado sandwich with bacon vinaigrette, which is not breakfast food, but gold star for effort.

For no reason at all, the Quickfire judges are comedy duo Frangela, whom you might remember if you used to spend your Friday nights misguidedly watching Best Week Ever. Like many comedians, they say nothing funny at all, and the only good thing they do is ask Curtis to take his shirt off. (He does not oblige.) Curtis advises the ladies never to cook bacon naked. And never use a meat grinder naked, too! Floyd adds. Lets leave the dumb jokes to Hugh, shall we? Anyway, Hugh wins because he baked an egg in a microwave and made it look pretty.

Then, because recipes are a lot like formulas, five scientists come out to explain the elimination challenge. Theyre all really smart people working on things like nanotechnology and experimental physics, but theyve been called here to explain food-related concepts like emulsions and acidity. (Is this more insulting for the chefs or the scientists?) Hilariously, the chefs will be paired with the scientists to create a dish and a presentation that reflect a certain scientific principle for an edible science fair to be attended by high schoolers. And they can only cook with beakers and Bunsen burners! This is going to be bad.

Traci wants to make ceviche to demonstrate acidity (bad idea); Naomi wants to make little pizzas to demonstrate elasticity (huh?); and Mary Sue wants to drizzle different things on churros to demonstrate viscosity (seems kind of weak, but whatever). Meanwhile, Hugh is getting schooled by Augustine, the polymer physicist (total star of this episode), on how to do his emulsification presentation. Appropriately, they get along like oil and water, and we see a pic of high-school-era Hugh in Ray Bans and a red bandana to show that he was too cool for science, even though his not-so-cool memory of that age is, I liked drinking a lot of coffee and hanging out.

Its time for the edible science fair and the kids flock to Mary Sues churros station while giving Tracis ceviche the side-eye. The judges critics show up and OMG ITS PADMA! Who tricked her into coming on this mess? Also, Ruth is back and James is wearing a bow tie and suspenders, so theres that. And then, possibly the worst thing weve ever seen, all the food is served in petri dishes. Padma eating out of a petri dish is something that could only occur on a show of this caliber.

The whole segment is really boring because theres a lot of repetition and more focus on the presentations than the food. Naomis presentation is laughable because shes making it up as she goes along and somehow tries to relate mushrooms to elasticity. Floyd looks likes hes set to win because his beef prepared various ways nimbly shows off why meat browns and looks scrumptious as well. Hugh looks set to lose because his fried okra salad has broken mayonnaise running all over it.

The critics sit at an actual high school science lab table to discuss what just went down. James is surprised the food tasted good because of all the crap hes eaten this season, and Padma wonders what she is doing there. Even though Floyd should win, Mary Sue takes the prize. James proves himself a man never to be questioned on the issue of emulsion, because he attacks Hughs broken mayonnaise relentlessly. Traci gets guff for using lemons for acidity. Naomis soggy calzones come under fire. That melting gele really did spurt into your mouth in the most unpleasant manner, says James. Yeah, he went there.

In the end, Hugh is dismissed for his dismal mayo. Its too bad, seeing as he was able to hold everything together since returning after his first elimination, but ultimately everything broke apart. Get it? Okay, well stop now.

Next week: Naomi screams at some guy! A homecoming dinner for members of the military! Floyd makes a guy cry! Floyd cries!