Top Chef Masters Exit Interview: Episode 8
In homage to molecular gastronomy, the chefs this week were paired up with a mad scientist of sorts to create a dish using the basic principles of science — and to cook using a chosen principle. I feel as nerdy writing this as James looks in his wardrobe choice of the evening.
With that, let’s find out who went home this week.
ES: How was it to be back after your first elimination, did you think and cook differently to play the game?
Hugh Acheson: No, you know I think after I came back I just relaxed a little bit and I just wanted to have fun doing it. It’s about food but I think the most important thing about the food landscape in America is to make food fun, I think that’s how we get people to eat better. I was a lot more at ease on coming back.
The episode was bittersweet — winning the microwave Quickfire challenge —- do you think it is accurate when people speak negatively of the appliance?
I don’t think it has a role in the professional kitchen, it cooks very strangely. I think it has a role in the home kitchen, green beans or asparagus. Just because it cooks from the interior it is a little strange.
The team effort in the grocery store, you and Mary Sue helping out Floyd. Has this comradery been typical on the show?
That was completely made up, we hate each other. Just kidding! You do what you need to do, nobody wants to be hindered by not getting to the check out in time, that would be dumb. In life I want to be known as the guy who helped everyone out when he could. I think Mary Sue and I knew Floyd was going to be in a time crunch and we wanted to help him out.
You didn’t seem to embrace the actual science of the elimination challenge, why was that?
I wasn’t reluctant to embrace it, I felt the challenge was a little bit silly in a lot of ways. My thing was meant to be the science behind emulsion and I felt we showed that really well in our demonstrations. The problem with a lot of 15-year-olds is that you don’t want to go over their head. Augustine, my scientist, was continually going over my head with his explanations and I’m a 39-year-old man.
Ruth Reichl referred to your dish as being “mailed in.” Do you think that was fair criticism?
Well it was from okrasalad.com and I ordered 70 of them the night before, they’re really fast with delivery so we did mail it in (laughing). Someone has got to go, I thought they were all good dishes. Some a little odder than others. Again it’s 15-year-old kids and the winning dish was churros. I love Mary Sue but I don’t know what to say. This whole notion of cooking down to people is such an absurd idea, you have to cook to a clientele and that’s what I was trying to do.
Who would you like to see win?
Of all the people the most formidable is Traci Des Jardins, I think she’s such a power house as a chef and such a great person. She does great work, I love what she does and love the person she is.