Returning to the stew room from an elimination, all the chefs speak in hushed tones. Sara thinks she's "a gooch," which means that she's bad luck and every team she touches turns to boxed pasta -- average. Stephanie, who has had some great successes, feels good. She says winning is a happy feeling and she just needs to stay true to herself.
The next day, the chefs enter the kitchen and are greeted by Dr. John, who I only know from this show and for being dressed in many bangles. He's old, but looks like he was accessorized by the Disney Channel. Padma tells them this is not a dish challenge, but a hot sauce challenge. Dr. John says, "I know y'all gonna do a hip maneuver." Ha ha, what?
I've seen chefs make sauces before, but not condiments. This should be good. Padma says that hot sauce is revered in the South, and Dr. John adds that he can dig a "hip tang" to it. Why is he here? Brian thinks "hip tang" could mean some mix of acid levels. Dr. John explains that it's a blend of flavor nicety and tang nicety; once he hits it he can't quit it. OK, thanks for being weird.
Every chef grabs for the hottest peppers they know. Everyone is keeping an eye on Carlos, who is Mexican and not afraid of spice. He's mixing habanero with mango and other tropical flavors to achieve hip tang. Shirley is going Chinese-Mexican. Carrie is going Caribbean. Stephanie has no idea what she's doing. She is not a Quickfire kind of girl.
Justin says a sauce should not be so spicy that it loses its complexity, so he's adding anchovies. Brian has always wanted to create a line of sauces and this time he's making a green sauce. Nick had an ulcer when he was 20 (good god), so he doesn't know much about spicy. I feel like Nick should go soon.
Now, Padma and Dr. John are tasked with tasting a dozen different hot sauces and trying to tell the difference. Brian's green sauce is up first, with a mix of jalapeño, Serrano, lime and yuzu. Dr. John says hip tang is the main thing he's looking for. Padma lies, saying she understands. She is now acting as his translator, telling Brian that Dr. John likes the sauce after he says, "it's got a difference and that's a hip thing." This is such a crock of shit.
Shirley's Chinese-Mexican blend is up next. It's habaneros, serranos, ginger and pineapple. Dr. John proclaims it "off the hook, yeah." Carrie's Trinidadian sauce has some of that hip tang, but maybe not enough tang. Nicholas made a sweet and sour sauce with apricots, vinegar and coffee. Louis basically just put some chili peppers in distilled vinegar by the looks of it. Dr. John says he can't get a handle on it. I have gone from thinking this is complete bullshit to wanting Dr. John to give nonsensical feedback for every Top Chef challenge.