Team Top Chef

The chefs head back to school as they create Elimination Challenge dishes inspired by scientific principles.

Jun 1, 2011

Hello my little Beakers, (and, yes, I mean the Muppet.)

I hope you all had a lovely week off, but I gotta say I missed the chefs, so I'm happy to be back here with you all! After reading Anthony Bourdain's The Nasty Bits this weekend and reading his position on the use of microwaves, salamanders, and the like in kitchens, seeing the chefs have to not just reheat food, but cook an entire meal in a microwave was quite interesting. I think if Real Housewife of New York Sonia Morgan can cook an entire meal in a toaster oven, these chefs should be able to whip something up a fairly spectacular breakfast in a microwave. I will admit I've never cooked an egg in a microwave, but my friends do. I don't really see the point if you have a stove available, but to each their own. Something I do cook in the microwave often, however, is onions. I love grilled onions. Onions and tomatoes are something that were always on my table at home, so when I requested them from my father one day a little too late in the cooking process, my dad told me to just throw a cut onion in the microwave. Basically the onion cooks in its own natural liquids. I do this all the time now. It's delicious! Try it! But I digress…

I also watched He's Just Not That Into You (Don't judge me) this weekend, so seeing Frangela felt appropriate as well. I have to say, they were harsh! I think these chefs would have almost rather cooked for Bourdain! Ultimately, Hugh and Floyd (who got a chance to plug his microwaveable meals from Fresh Direct!) found themselves on the top, but Hugh's baked egg edged out Floyd's omelette for the win.

Now, onto the perfectly nerdy Elimination Challenge. While most of the science we usually in the kitchen has to do with molecular gastronomy, I thought this challenge did  great job of showing how all cooking, even the most traditional, adheres to basic scientific principles. I also liked this challenge because I was pre-med for three years in college, sooo I'm no stranger to the chem lab. I also participated in more science fairs growing up than I care to comment on.

Before we break down the dishes, tell me: how awesome was the moment in the grocery store where Hugh and Mary Sue both helped Floyd grab his meat?! I think it showed how much respect these chefs have for one another. I wonder if the cheftestants on Top Chef would have done the same thing. I'd like to think they would have, but who knows, I've heard they're not there to make friends (wink.) 

Let's start with Traci's ceviche, which actually almost sent her home. Although the judges thought her choice of ceviche was too "obvious," I honestly couldn't think of a better way to exhibit how acid can be used not just as part of the cooking process, but as the entire process! I'm thinking, though, that if her ceviche was executed better, she wouldn't have been on the bottom, but who knows!