Top Chef Masters
Would You Like Fries with That

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Previously: The chefs each lost their bag of tricks when a challenge forced them to abandon fat and calories for the contestants of The Biggest Loser. The pressure hit hardest amongst Hugh Acheson and Suvir Saran, who had beef over beef. In the end, Suvir went home for making a subpar veggie burger. Eight chefs and $100,000 remain.

Curtis Stone welcomes the chefs to their quickfire challenge. The chefs immediately notice that their ingredients are priced at cents per pound. With that, Curtis tells them they're tasked with creating an appetizer whose value is $1 or less. Everyone scoffs like a fairytale villain at this nonsense demand. And yet they have only 20 minutes to win $5,000 and immunity, so they get to it. Floyd Cardoz is familiar with this type of challenge because he came to the United States from India with only $100 in his pocket. He immediately abandons onions (48 cents per pound) in favor of cheaper ingredients like couscous. Celina Tio decides she can make carrot soup quickly and cheaply apportioning most of her money to lime and shrimp. Hugh thinks he's sunk when he loses an egg worth 18 cents. Alex Stratta, who's working with calamari, reminds us, "You can cook the best food in the world, but if it's over a dollar, you're done." Mary Sue Milliken opts for an inexpensive salad, though she refuses to taste the bacon for fear that she won't have enough. Kind of like when you know your parents will say no to something, so you just don't ask them. Naomi Pomeroy reminds us how stressful this experience is and emphasizes shaving her ingredients (cherry tomatoes, asparagus) as thinly as possible to get by.

With that it's time's up, utensils down. The chefs retire to another room while Curtis meets up with the judges, Rico Gagliano and Brendan Newnam from NPR's The Dinner Party Download, who've sampled everything from dirt to Korean barbecue. First up is Celina's spicy carrot soup with lime-pickled shrimp, which the judges deem impressively delicious and worth $15 or $20. They think Mary Sue's bacon, lettuce, and tomato salad with celery seed vinaigrette is clever but too salty because of the bacon. Naomi's asparagus and bread salad with cherry tomato and lemon vinaigrette is fantastic. The bitter radicchio is perfectly paired with the Lyonnais salad with bacon, frisée , and poached egg in Hugh's offering. They wonder why they don't have chefs like this all over America. Likewise, Alex's squid with garlic, olive, and almonds passes with flying colors because of its flavorful spice. George Mendes' similar grilled calamari salad with cucumber, tomatoes, and almonds is deemed underwhelming and lacking a "kick of super-awesome." The judges like Traci des Jardins' chicken paillard with asparagus, lemon, and brown butter. Finally, the fricassée of shrimp and asparagus with beef and tomatoes that Floyd presents is a hit for its moistness and lingering spice.

The judges convene to catalog their favorites and least favorites. Despite its elegance, George's grilled calamari didn't fly. Likewise, Mary Sue's overly salty BLT salad didn't impress. On the flip side, Alex's spiced squid succeeded with its different textures, Celina's carrot soup wowed them, and Naomi's grilled asparagus salad was rich and excellent. But who will win the five grand and immunity? It's Naomi, for her asparagus panzanella, who takes home the money for Seed Savers Exchange.

Curtis is vague about the elimination, only saying that they're taking a road trip and will each feed up to 100 customers. They'll each be responsible for a main dish and side and must keep in mind that their diners won't have any utensils. Traci says, with those criteria, the event could be anything from a black-tie cocktail party to an amusement park.

With that, the chefs head to Whole Foods with 30 minutes and $300. Alex is familiar with this sort of situation, saying, "Worst case scenario, I'll make ceviche with some corn chips." Hugh, on the other hand, seems particularly lost because his worst-case scenario involves slaw -- not exactly a utensil-free dish. He jokes that, if people ever eat slaw with their hands, "it's done in private." Traci opts for a burrito, and George goes with pork loin skewers.

The road trip begins as the chefs pile into their cars. In their hearts, they hope for proper cooking equipment, but as the beach approaches, they get increasingly apprehensive. They finally reach their destination: Farmer Boys. Curtis tells them it's a fast food restaurant where everything is fresh made to order. They'll be taking over both the inside and the drive-through. Alex wonders why he chose salmon, and Celina realizes that her food is not exactly car-friendly. Curtis tells the chefs that their window to prepare a main and a side is five to seven minutes. They will work in two shifts, with half of them working the drive-through and half of them working the main restaurant, then they'll swap.

As the chefs run to their posts, Mary Sue tells us she used to work in fast food. Speed is not her concern so much as prep time. She fears that if she can't prep properly, she'll never get a rhythm. Likewise, Celina's first kitchen job was at a Bennigan's, which she thinks will benefit her. While Floyd decides to go with an Indian street food, George decides to charge ahead with the clam dish he previously envisioned. Alex switches his lettuce cups to a fish taco and there's some discussion of semantics as the clock ticks down.

For the front of the house, Naomi volunteers to run the drive-through window first while George expedites, Floyd mans the tables, and Traci takes orders and mans the cash register. In the back of the house cooking is Celina, Alex, Mary Sue, and Hugh. It's immediately busy, and Alex takes issue with George's ability to expedite. For his part, George essentially thinks this challenge is below the chefs.

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