May 19th, 2011
01:19 PM ET
It’s mid-May, but you get the feeling last night’s “Top Chef: Masters” was probably taped around Valentine’s Day. At least, that’s the only explanation I can come up with for the random “Date Night” theme.
Before that, though, we got a variation on the “name that ingredient” task for the Quickfire challenge. In successive rounds, the chefs had to identify five ingredients using only one of their senses. Lowest score in each round is eliminated.
In the taste round (which seems harder than you might think when you’re denied your sense of smell), Floyd doesn’t get a single ingredient right. He chalks it up to the fact that having to wear a blindfold, nose plug and headphones threw his whole balance out of whack.
Traci is knocked out in the smell round, and in the touch round, Celina and Naomi are eliminated while Hugh and Mary Sue correctly guess all the ingredients.
The final challenge is hearing. I’m not sure how you’re supposed to distinguish the sound of celery breaking versus the sound of any other vegetable breaking, but Hugh takes the win 3-0. No more immunity, though; it’s just money for his charity.
The Elimination challenge brings us back to Date Night, but with a very specific purpose. One lucky guy is using our master chefs to provide the ultimate meal to set the stage for a proposal.
It should be noted that Chris (the aforementioned lucky guy) makes host Curtis Stone (He Was On “Top Chef” That One Time) look like a giant. I’m not casting dispersions on Chris. It’s just a really funny visual.
The six-course meal that the chefs are planning will be based around Chris and his girlfriend Victoria’s relationship, so of course he needs to fill them in on some details. Cue touching stories about the contestants and their significant others. (Most interesting story: Mary Sue’s husband is the ex-husband of her business partner.)
Our non-romantic in the group is Hugh, who utters this bon mot as Chris waxes poetic about his lady love: “This is poignant… and makes me throw up in my mouth.” Well then.
The only moment of note during cooking time is when Mary Sue slices the tip of her thumb off. She mostly just seems annoyed at having to give up time to deal with this and how it might affect her cooking. (Not to beat a dead horse, but "All-Stars" Jamie? Hi, just wanted to make sure you were watching.)
Our critics for this round are James Oseland, Gail Simmons and Gael Greene, making her return after being a regular critic during the first two seasons of “Masters.” The only reason I bring it up is because during the meal, Gael recounts a fling that she had with Elvis Presley back in the day. Oh, Gael, please stick around.
The food all seems to go over well, and our happy couple certainly enjoys all of it. During the dessert, Chris asks, “If food is the way to a man’s heart, what’s the way to a woman’s heart?” Victoria’s answer: diamonds.
Dude, that’s when you pop the question! Perfect opening! But no, Curtis steps all over the moment, delaying the proposal so he can introduce Chris, and then speaking afterwards too. (She said yes, by the way.)
After all the lovey-dovey stuff was out of the way, it was time to get down to judging. Floyd, Mary Sue and Naomi have the critics’ favorite dishes, with Naomi’s braised chicken taking the win. Floyd was robbed. His kama sutra shrimp (they were hugging each other) was a brilliant presentation.
That puts Traci, Celina and Hugh on the bottom. Traci’s dessert was too dry; Celina’s soft pretzel and salad lacked cohesion; and Hugh gets dinged for making what he admits was a pedestrian meat and potatoes dish. There’s some back-and-forth about cooking down to the customers. While I agree with Hugh’s “if they’re paying the bill, I’ll cook what they want” attitude as a restaurateur, he has to know that it won’t fly with the critics as a viable approach to this competition.
In the end, though, Celina is sent packing. I thought she could have been eliminated any of the past several weeks, so it’s not really a surprise.
Sound off with your thoughts on last night’s episode below!
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