Our troupe of chefs enter the kitchen still reeling over the Grand Canyon field trip. "What a filling!" says Thierry. Or maybe that was "feeling". Tricky French accent.
He also reveals he's feeling much more competitive now that he's won an elimination challenge.
Curtis announces the Quickfire challenge: create two versions of the same dish - one with meat and one vegetarian. Judging the dishes will be Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, otherwise known as the rock duo the Indigo Girls. They have 45 minutes to cook. Really? OK, so let's call this the "Relatively Quick" fire.
Chris is using portabello caps and steak, Takashi is pairing pork and tofu. Art is making two pot pies, explaining that "The crust is a cinch, because I know everything about a biscuit."
Patricia is making Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup), which is pronounced "fuh" but with her English accent sounds like "fer". She explains that the magic of Pho is in the rich, deep broth.
With less than nine minutes left, Art suddenly thinks he may have put some chicken broth in the vegetarian version of his pot pie. Oops.
Quote No. 1 of the ep, from Art upon realizing his faux pas: "Lord God Mother Joseph Jesus." He frantically rips the crusts of his dishes and begins again. Now THAT is a Quickfire.
Patricia wanted to wait until the last possible second to ladle the broth into her soups so that it had as much time as possible to develop flavor. Unfortunately, she waited until the second after the last possible one. Curtis barks that time is up before she's gotten one bowl of soup prepared. Wah wah.
The chefs settle down in front of the big screen to watch the judging. Amy (vegetarian) and Emily (not) make their way through the dishes. There is high praise for Takashi's agedashi and Lorena's arepas.
The ladies meet the chefs to announce the winner. They were bummed there was no broth in Patricia's "Faux Pho" (I am not sure if that's groan-worthy or brilliant) and she asks if they would taste it now, for good measure. They do, and Emily says that Patricia would have won if she'd gotten her broth in on time. Hello, insult? This is injury.
Takashi wins with his agedashi — winning him immunity and 5K for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief.
Elimination Challenge Time! Curtis introduces "Miss Las Vegas herself," Holly Madison. For the uninitiated (ie, my Dad): Holly Madison is the former girlfriend of Hugh Hefner, and shot to fame because of the reality show that followed her and Hugh's two other best girls at the Playboy Mansion. It's interesting to see that the "P" word is not mentioned once this entire episode.
Holly is hosting a poolside brunch buffet for 150 of her best friends. She demands that the dishes be served as passed canapes. Wait, what? She also notes that she does not like garlic or onions. Wait, what? No garlic or onions. Thierry's eyes bug out and practically scream "Zut alors!"
The team heads over to Whole Foods to get what they need. Quote #2 of the Ep, from Thierry as he sniffs a cantaloupe: "This butt smells like nothing!"
Lorena gets the unfortunate task of pointing out the chefs ride back to the kitchen in their Lexus RX's. Yes, we know.
Thierry announces he is making bechamel like one would announce a wrestling match. "Let's get ready toooooo BECHAMEL!"
Art is making a southern biscuit (shocking) with a turkey burger. He's using garlic and onions despite Holly's instructions. He insists that if you cook them down you can't really tell.
I appreciate that this is Top Chef Masters and thus these guys do not need to prove themselves, but it is getting kind of boring watching them all make their specialities week in and week out. I would really like to see Takashi make a biscuit and Art do some sushi. Let's mix it up, people!
Kerry throws some hot stuff in a blender like he's trying to be fancy and it ends up looking like a projectile vomiting accident. Whatever he's making, I don't want it.
Quote No. 3 from the ep, from Patricia: "When I pull my pork, I actually am quite happy with it, you know?"
As prep finishes, Chris steps in to help Art pack, and manages to bark at him like a schoolmarm regarding his saran wrap application. Art remains unruffled.
That night, the chefs are treated to an extraordinary sushi dinner at Blue Ribbon, and exchange war stories over drinks. It's truly entertaining to see them out of the kitchen, discussing knife accidents and their first jobs (IHOP, KFC, Bonanza). It's clear they are enjoying their cocktails and loosening up a bit.
Quote No. 4 of the ep, from Chris: "What happens in Vegas is obviously going to end up on television."
The pool party gets underway, bloody marys and mimosas are a-flowin'. Holly's "150 closest friends" look exactly like you might imagine they would. Lots of sunglasses and bared midriffs.
Curtis introduces Holly to the other judges. James Oseland is practically giggling when he meets her.
James compliments all the party ladies on their swimsuits and then insists on some beach bum named Warren take his shirt off, to wild cheering. Clearly the summer heat and mimosas are getting to him as he continues to fondle Warren. Whoa, James! Easy there, tiger!
James tears himself away from the six-pack parade and the judges sit down to try all the dishes. While they're discussing Art's biscuits, Curtis compliments the ginger and garlic flavors, upon which Holly royally Kirks out. "There's GARLIC? I said NO GARLIC!". Her reaction is as if she had been served the heads of small children. She is deeply upset because the garlic will give her "dragon breath" and everyone will hate her.
Patricia's pulled pork falls flat with everyone, including Holly. Chris' watermelon with tuna bacon wins high praise from the critics but Holly loathes it.
Service is done, and there is an extraordinarily awkward push up competition between James and one of the shirtless bohunks.
The chefs take a breather by the pool and Art bravely strips down to his little green Speedo, as the others look on. He says that he knows he's not a body builder but that he has successfully lost more than 100 pounds so he's proud of his body. More power to him — you go, Art!
Critics' table brings Lorena, Art, Takashi, and Kerry to the judges first with the favorite dishes. Krista Simmons raves about Lorena's bunuelos being both "crispity" and "crunchity."
Lorena takes home the prize for her bunuelos. She is ecstatic and wins 10K for the Alliance of a Healthier Generation.
Thierry, Patricia, and Chris head over to face the music. Francis Lam tells Patricia that the party was full of beautiful buns, but hers was not one of them. Rimshot! He later describes the bun as "a puck of stale grody." The judges are really broadening their vocabulary tonight!
Thierry gets asked to go home — truly a bit of a shock as it seemed like Patricia was the clear loser. The show really won't be the same without him, his comic moments were some of the best so far this season. Group hugs, the other chefs are clearly bummed out, especially Takashi. Au revoir, Thierry. Au revoir.
Next week: Dita von Teese talks about spanking and Lorena's Latin temper comes flying down on Patrica. Ay caramba!
Have any crispity crunchity thoughts? Holler at me on Twitter @operatornumber9.