Top Chef Masters
Date Night

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If Food Be the Music of Love...

Previously: Seven cheftestants presented their wares to Maroon 5 for tour bus challenge. Traci des Jardins came out on top, and Alex Stratta struck a bad chord with the band. Six cheftestants and $100,000 for charity remain!

It's another day, another quickfire for the cheftestants, who immediately notice their stations are outfitted with head phones, nose plugs, and blindfolds. Yep, it's a blind taste test! Each cheftestant has to identify up to five ingredients with his/her senses, and the cheftestant to identify the least ingredients will be out each round. As always, the winner gets $5,000 for his/her charity, though immunity is no longer on the table.

The first round is taste. The cheftestants have one minute to identify a bevy of ingredients, including water chestnuts, Worcestershireire sauce, cashews, papaya, and mustard greens. Curtis Stone tells the chefs to remove their nose plugs and write down what they think they just tasted. Then he presents them with the actual ingredients. Three out of five cheftestants got water chestnuts, though Floyd Cardoz thought it was jicama. The rest of the ingredients are similarly vexing to the chefs, especially Mary Sue Milliken, who only guessed one of five ingredients correctly. Still, she did better than Floyd, who's out after the first round.

The next round is smell, and the cheftestants have 60 seconds to identify epoisses cheese, hot sauce, root beer, rice vinegar, and mayonnaise. Mary Sue thinks this round will be her strength. Hugh Acheson jokes that he just wrote down things that he wanted, including coffee. After the round, Traci is eliminated.

The next round involves the sense of touch, and the cheftestants must identify okra, gummy bears, arborio rice, blackberries, and chayote. Hugh, who is a father of a six- and an eight-year-old, is at least confident that he got gummy bears right. Indeed, he proves most successful this round. On the other hand, Celina Tio and Naomi Pomeroy were both least accurate and are both eliminated.

The final round revolves around sound, and the first cheftestant to identify three ingredients correctly wins. The first challenge is Rice Krispies with milk, which no one gets. Next up, Hugh is a split-second ahead of Mary Sue in identifying the sounds of breaking celery. Both of them miss the sound of eating potato chips, though Hugh is quick to recognize when Curtis shucks an oyster. Hugh handily recognizes the sound of buttering toast and wins the challenge and $5,000 for Wholesome Wave.

For the elimination, Curtis tells the cheftestants they're going to examine the relationship between food and love. As such, they will have a date night for movie producer Chris Aagaard and his girlfriend Victoria, to whom he's going to propose that night. Each cheftestant will be responsible will be responsible for one course of a six-course meal in which the courses symbolize an important moment in the happy couple's relationship. Chris presents some photos of Victoria and himself to the cheftestants. They were friends first, as was Floyd with his wife. He tells them about the time they saw the marquee for Paris Je T'Aime, which inspired the first gift he ever gave her -- a bracelet that read "Je T'Aime." Says Hugh, "This is poignant... and makes me throw up in my mouth." Chris also says that they have some food-related traditions, like getting beer and pretzels at sporting events, trying out sushi together, and eating salmon, which Victoria convinced him was chicken. He says for his birthday, she got him a red velvet cake, and for her birthday he got her an apple pie.

Chris takes his leave, and the cheftestants divvy up their tasks. Naomi wants to do "something French" with chicken. Traci volunteers for dessert. Floyd thinks he can make watermelon look like tuna. Mary Sue suggests that Hugh makes onion rings that look like bracelets and snarks, "Don't say I never did anything for you, buddy."

The gang heads to Whole Foods with 30 minutes and $200. Hugh thinks his meat and veg approach is going to appeal to this non-culinarily minded couple, especially the edible bracelet that Mary Sue suggested. Naomi worries that leaving chicken on the bone will be a romantic misfire. Traci worries that she's in over her head in planning a dessert, but she knows it's "her turn" to give it a go.

The cheftestants have two hours to prep, and Mary Sue has put extra pressure on herself by preparing mussels and clams -- two foods that Chris has never eaten. As Naomi braises her chicken, she says she's less concerned that her dish is pretty as long as it's flavorful and has a lot of heart. Floyd prepares his Kama Sutra shrimp, which look like they are hugging each other (in a sexy way), and tells us about his courtship with his wife, whom he knew for several years before they got together. He proposed over an expensive steak dinner they really couldn't afford, so now they always remember that night when they have steak. Hugh says he's known his wife since he was 11 years old, so romance was out of the question when they met, unless he made their peanut butter sandwiches with the heart-shaped cutter. The ladies laugh about how they knew their husbands for years before they proposed and, thus, weren't surprised. Mary Sue actually married her business partner's ex-husband. Scandal! As the preparation ends, Hugh worries that both he and pretzel-making Celina are taking a risk with their dishes. Likewise, scale problems spell trouble for today's pastry chef Traci.

The next day, the cheftestants file in with an additional 2.5 hours for prep and cooking. Traci immediately starts the day behind and decides to skip her red velvet cakes. Likewise, Mary Sue cuts off the top of her thumb, which slows her down considerably. After 20 minutes of prep time, Curtis enters the kitchen with some news. He tells them Chris and Victoria's moms will be watching the lovebirds' dinner from a monitor in the next room. Also judging will be Curtis, James Oseland, Gail Simmons, and Gael Greene, New York magazine critic and author of Insatiable: Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess. Gael's best advice to stay in a romantic mood? Try not to drink too much.

With that, everyone gets a taste of Floyd's Kama Sutra black pepper shrimp with watermelon, lime, and mint. Oseland and Greene appreciate how romantic it looks, but Curtis and Gail think it's aggressively spicy. Next, Floyd helps Celina prepare her soft pretzel with pale ale cheese sauce and frisee salad with mustard vinaigrette. Though the other cheftestants think the dish is disjointed, Victoria loves it. Oseland deems Celina's dish "junior high romance" while Floyd's "was, like, full-on college romance."

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