'Top Chef Masters' recap: Bugging Out
The chefs parade in to find a bunch of edible plants on their serving table. Curtis tells them, "For today's quickfire, we're going back to our roots -- literally." He points out the aloe leaves and salsify that you can find in the wild, then starts unveiling the other ingredients of the challenge, including horned worms, darkling beetles, crickets, Canadian night crawlers, and scorpions. All of them have lots of vitamins and/or proteins. The winning chef gets $5,000 for their charity and immunity. Their 20 minutes starts... now!
It's a mad dash for the ingredients. George makes it clear where he stands when he says, "If there's a bug that turns up in my apartment, I'll kill it." He and Celina both decide on an Asian approach, though her protein is crickets. John decides to grill his scorpions, apologizing along the way for forcing bugs down his brother Richard's throat. Naomi thinks this is nothing new since she grew up in the Pacific Northwest. Alex compares it to the first time that someone cracked open an oyster -- and wasn't that gross? Meanwhile, Hugh plans to win for the first time with a cricket batter and a sunchoke and carrot puree. Mary Sue struggles to mask the flavor of beetle by making a spicy Thai flavored salad. Long story short, most people are frying the s*** out of the bugs.
Once the time ticks down, Curtis returns and admits he's never been so nervous about a meal. He welcomes Ruth England and Michael Hawke, hosts of Man, Woman, Wild. First up is Naomi's tempura fried night crawlers with elderflower and herb salad. Ruth thinks it's among the grossest things she's ever eaten, but Michael calls it outstanding. Next are Hugh's fried crickets with sunchoke and carrot puree with blood orange vinaigrette. It passes with flying colors. Celina's soy crickets with salsify salad is salty enough, but the legs make it scratchy going down. Suvir's Himalayan jungle and market salad with live hornworms is considered a copout. John's grilled scorpion with smoked poached egg and oyster root passes, as does Mary Sue's Thai sunchoke salad with toasted beetle vinaigrette. Traci's salad with chipotle-dusted scorpion is fine, but her aloe vinaigrette is too bitter. Floyd's omelet of night crawlers, amaranth, and roasted shiitake strikes the judges as a classic. Alex's angel hair with beetles and flowers is admired for its contrast in textures. Unfortunately, George's hornworm and coconut soup with lime, lemongrass, and arugula flowers is considered awful.