While Naomi and Traci both served marvelous food, both suffered slightly. Traci’s demonstration of the effects of acid on food was executed well, but she took a too-obvious route with her ingredients, going straight to lemon juice and its visually arresting ability to rapidly denature the proteins in seafood. (Her plate of tuna two ways was, however, impeccable — the shaved artichoke had a beautiful, woody flavor against the bright citrus.) Naomi may have served a pizza pocket, but it was certainly the tastiest pizza pocket I’ve ever had, even taking into account the unfortunate inclusion of gelée in her mini-calzones, which melted immediately and turned her carefully prepared dough into a gooey mess. Unfortunately, her demonstration of elasticity put a little too much burden on the audience: Instead of fully explaining elasticity and what it means for flavor and mouthfeel, Naomi relied on touchable props. Very fun to poke and prod, but they were insufficient to really express this scientific concept.
These four dishes were all marvelous; even with the limitations placed on the chefs’ equipment, they rank among the tastiest I’ve tried all season. Hugh’s fried okra salad, however, was another matter entirely. It was, quite simply, a wan dish, one that conveyed his concept of “emulsion” almost as an afterthought. Even if the herb mayonnaise on my portion hadn’t been broken (sorry — it was, it really was), it still would have been an underwhelming demonstration of the concept. Hugh was not having a good day — in fact, I think he hadn’t been having a good couple of episodes. Bright, effervescent, talented Hugh had been fading; he’d become, just as he’d insinuated that he might in Episode 1, the Black Swan. It was, sadly, time for him to go home.
James Oseland is the editor-in-chief of Saveur magazine.
Just a couple of reactions. First, I don't see why the ceviche demonstration was too obvious -- for a bunch of kids that would be a mind blower that you can cook without heat in this way. I thought it was smart and no criticism should be leveled there, especially if her food tasted good as you say. Second, we need to get to the bottom of this mayo breaking issue. James, it seems you cling tenaciously to your opinions even in light of explanation ( tomato water giving the illusion of breaking), and perhaps that unwillingness to listen combined with your sour expression throughout Hugh's presentation are what really had him grumpy.
Yes, it was time for pompous, lazy ass Hugh to go! He was lucky he remained in the game as long as did - since he was eliminated in episode 1.
OPEN LETTER TO TOP CHEF MASTERS:
It would be lovely to see these talented chefs actually cook their food in a functional kitchen with functional ingredients. Typically a curve ball within a challenge includes something like cooking outdoors at a campfire, or limited use of utensils, or incorporating an exotic ingredient.
This season you guys have these contestants (who are simply playing for charity fundraising) working in absolutely RETARDED conditions! The fast food restaurant? The RV? The bugs? The microwave? And now, limited to only the use of lab equipment??
Dudes, we do not want to see these chef's creativity and work lost on a MICROWAVE. It's starting to look a lot more like "Hell's Kitchen" than "Top Chef Masters" around here.