Author Topic: Top Chef Masters  (Read 9729 times)

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Offline TexasLady

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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #25 on: June 26, 2009, 07:41:04 AM »
Thank you apskip for your always insightful recaps.  :-*

I missed the last show but using the ingredients they were given, sounds like they all did a great job using their protein. (My mother used to cook tongue...wish she'd had a good recipe!)  :lol:

I'm really enjoying Top Chef Masters. It's much more interesting and I'm also appreciate the judging on the show. I'm burned out on Tom Colicchio and his biased comments.
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Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #26 on: June 26, 2009, 12:39:57 PM »
Texas Lady,

You know from my prior comments that I prefer Top Chef Masters. However, I think regular Top Chef is pretty good too.

Offline TexasLady

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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #27 on: June 27, 2009, 07:14:31 AM »
 :hugs: I know you love both. I would love to see Tom and Stefan and Fabio go head to head.  :tup:
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Offline TexasLady

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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #28 on: July 01, 2009, 05:45:58 PM »
Note: The Fashion Show is being shown tonight. (Looks like it will repeat tomorrow night too, but you might want to check your DVR or Tivo.

Tonight:

IT'S IN THE CARDS
The remaining designers are challenged to create loungewear to complement designer Fernando Sanchezís top selling luxury robes. The winning creation will be sold at Saks Fifth Avenue and that designer will have an advantage in the elimination round. Questioning their fate, the contestants are whisked to a Tarot card who predicts their future in the competition. They come to find that this experience will have more of an effect on their resulting design than they originally imagined. The winning design will be available for purchase on BravoTV.com. Vivienne Tam sits in as guest judge.

http://www.bravotv.com/schedule
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Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #29 on: July 02, 2009, 07:05:08 AM »
I was disappointed when I discovered last night that Top Chef Masters was only reruns last night, no new episode. To think that BRAVO did this so loungewear designs could be highlighted. A rare misstep for BRAVO!


Offline TexasLady

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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #30 on: July 02, 2009, 08:34:59 AM »
I was disappointed when I discovered last night that Top Chef Masters was only reruns last night, no new episode. To think that BRAVO did this so loungewear designs could be highlighted. A rare misstep for BRAVO!

I don't understand it, tonight is even worse for programming, unless you want to watch endless reruns of Grease.  :groan: (:;)
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Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #31 on: July 09, 2009, 09:57:49 AM »
The fourth preliminary round of Top Chef Master competition had these master chefs:

Anita Low - chef/owner of Annisa in New York City
John Besh - remowned Cajun/French chef from new Orleans, owner of August, Luke and Domenica plus La Provence in the suburbs
Douglas Rodriquez - chef/owner of OLA in Miami and New York and initiator of Nuevo Latino cuisine
Mark Peel - chef/owner of Campanile in Los Angeles plus other restaurants, a Mediterranean cuisine expert

My prediction is that John Besh has the highest nationwide reputation and therefore I expect him to win.

The charities they are supporting are:
Anita - SHARE, women's breast cancer support
John - MAKE IT RIGHT Foundation of New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina victims
Douglas - Ayuda for the Arts, supporting hispanic arts through a scholarship fund
Mark - Doctors Without Borders


Kelly Choi introduces the Quickfire by stating that the series of reliving past extraodinary ones will redo one from season 3, cooking an egg to perfection with one hand tied behind their back. Chefs have 25 minutes to create something interesting for the judges panel of Gail Simmons, Terry Reish from an egg ranch and Monica May, restauranteur. A no-fingers mitt is put on the non-chosen hand to take it out of play.

Mark states that his father had only one arm, so he observed how to cook that way early in life. anita needs help from John to execute her slicing eggshell tops off maneuver.

Mark - will be making fresh duck egg pasta (quite difficult in kneading step with only one hand) with olive oil cream sauce
John - trying the very simple approach of a slow-cooked egg with a topping of asparagus
Anita - in the shell, soft boiled egg with the top sliced off with shiitake mushrooms, truffle oil and oyster sauce
Douglas - corn cake arepas, scrambled eggs and ham
John checks the oven about halfway through and discovers that 450 degrees wass not hot enough to cook the eggs in time. He had 4 servings planned, but now has to focus on only one, heating it on the top of the stove to cook it. He ends up with a complete failure of a dish.

The judges score the above dishes as follows:

John 0.5 (and he was happy to get above zero)
Mark 2.5
Douglas 3
Anita 5

So, Anita will be the chef to beat in the Elimination Challenge. It involves mystery night cooking for Neil Patrick Harris and some of his actor friends and will be at the Magic Castle, a Los Angeles prviate club that requires an invitaiton from a maigican. Max Maven, a famous magician and mentalist, comes to the Top Chef kitchen to ask the chefs to pick a card out of 52 by drawing from a deck containing 48 blank cards and 4 with one word each. Astonishingly, they only pick the one-word cards. Those words are:

John - Surpise
Mark - Mystery
Douglas - Spectacle
Anita - Illusion

Chefs go to Whole Foods and spend $250 to create a meal for about 9 people. They have 2 hours to prep, followed by 1 hour to setup and finish at the Magic Castle kitchen, much smaller and less elaborate than Top Chef's.  Tom Colicchio makes a kitchen visit during prep time with no particular purpose other than obsevation. He distracts the chefs briefly. Why bother?

John knows that he needs to really impress the judges. He is down 4.5 points to start and has to get an average of above 1.1 points per judge above Anita from each judge plus the composite guest judge average. He goes all out and develops a complicated 3-part menu as follows:
Hoseradish creme fraiche Sorbet prepared tableside using liquid nitrogen with the help of Neil Patrick Harris, over Salmon Roe salad
Salmon Tartare with Cauliflower Blini
Tempura Fried Lobster wrapped in Smoked Salmon

Mark - Tai snapper in parchment, garlic mashed potatoes and leeks, with shrimp/lobster stock and lime, accompanied by scallion oil and Dassai sake

Douglas - going all out, particularly with flaming coconut shell for visual impact. His meal is Duck 4 Ways:
Oyster Ceviche with Duck broth (otherwise, it would summon up that famous phrase "Where's the Duck?)
Empanada with Figs and Foie Gras
Duck Breast with Butternut Squash
Duck Confit Soup with young coconut in flaming shell

Anita - Daikon with Kumba Caviar; steak tartare shaped like a Sea Scallop, "sand" made from Rice Kripies to create a visual seascape, shellfish broth

So Mark and Anita are trying for simple and John and Douglas are going over the top. Who succeeds?

The judges are Gael Greene, James Oseland, and Gail Simmons subbing for Jay Rayner. Kelly Choi says "it was a magical evening." A reference is made by Gail to John's dish being successful, but adds not the best.  John indicated that his approach was to use techniques that he knows but is not know for(liquid nitrogen the perfect example). Douglas says that he used techniques that he was famliar with, but got asked how many times he had previously set coconut shells on fire. He responded "several."

The judges scores were (NPH for guest group, G for Gael Greene, J for James Osener and S for Gail Simmons):

John - NPH 2.5 J 3 G 3 S 3       Subtotal 11.5  Total 12
Mark - NPH 4 J 3.5 G 4.5 S 4    Subtotal 16  Total 18.5
Douglas NPH 3 J 2 G 2.5 S 2.5 Subtotal 10  Total 13
Anita NPH 4.5 J 4 G 4.5 S 4.5   Subtotal 17.5 Total 22.5

Anita wins the $10,000 check from Lexis for SHAPE. Her humility and lack of flamboyance are refreshing. She was steady-Eddy throughout and her skills were the right ones for the victory. She joins Hubert Keller, Suzanne Tracht and Rick Bayless in the group of 6 finalists, 2 yet to be determined.

Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #32 on: July 16, 2009, 12:20:36 PM »
This is the 5th of the 6 preliminary rounds to determine the 6 winners who will compete in the Champions Round. The chefs in round 5 are:

Nils Noren - VP (he calls it head chef) at the French Culinary Institute. He is playing for Friends of the FCI (I expect that means French Culinary Institute)

Lauchlan Patterson - He is chef/co-owner of Fasca Food and Wine in boulder CO. He is playing for the Denver Children's Hospital, which provided exceptional support for the care of his 16 month old daughter.

Rick Moonen - chef/owner of Rick RM Seafood at the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Resort. He is playing for the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fisherman's Association.

Michael Chiarello -  chef/owner of Bottega Restaurant in Napa Valley CA and owner of vineyards. He is playing for Clinic Ole, the same one Cindy Pawlclyn introduced us to in an earlier round.

Chiarello has by far the highest profile and is best known. I expect him to win. I want to note for the record that BRAVO is now going deeper with the "product placement" concept. We have been spared of this for most of Top Chef Masters but it evident last night. Two of the guest diners later are contestants in past BRAVO Project Runway competitions. Also the judges for the Quickfire about to happen are the star and crew of the BRAVO TV show "Flipped Out" which conveniently also had a regular ad.

The Quickfire is to select any one from about 20 items on a multi-tiered platform and use that as the main ingredient for a dish. They have 45 minutes to cook. They draw knives, Michael picks fishsticks first. Lauchlan picks a regular hot dog, Rick a corn dog and Nils fried shrimp.

Rick's food, a little on the elaborate side, could not finish cooking his seafood corndog and be plated with Asian slaw in the allotted time. His dish was slated to be a seafood hot dog with a slaw. In the real world the diners wait for Rick to finish but in Top Chef Masters non-production results in a 0 score and the potential to be starting the Elimination Challenge 5 points behind. Here are the rest of the dishes:

Lauchlan - Tomato Prosciutto soup with pork sausage (note: it had a slightly different name but this is what it was)

Nils - prawns, chorizo, lobster stock sauce

Michael - swordfish meatballs with fisherman's sauce

The judging occurs and Kelly reports that "Flipping Out" has awarded points as follows:

Rick - 0 (and great disappointment that they had passed up seconds of other dishes in anticipation of his)
Lauchlan - 3
Nils - 3
Michael 4.5

So Michael is clearly in the lead starting the Elimination challenge and Rick is probably in a "you can't get there from here" position.

ELIMINATION CHALLENGE

Kelly states that each chef has to prepare mini-portions of an appetizer, main course and dessert for 100 diners (Heavy Top Chef fans) without any help. They have $1000 and 60 minutes to shop, 3 hours to cook that evening and 1 hour to prep the next day before serving.

The menus developed are:
Rick -
Opakaka and Barramundi w/ Yuzu, Avocado and Grapefruit
Brandade of scallop and shrimp, fennel salad and truffle oil vinaigrette
Lemon Panna Cotta w/ ginger, macadamia, coconut and pineapple

Nils -
Scallop and Swordfish Potato Cream, w/ Apple infused with curry Oil and chives
Smoked Salmon and Scallops w/ Napa Cabbage, chorizo, broccoli puree, Madeira reduction
Chocolate Goat cheese Ganache w/ cara cara orange gel, Lapsang Sauce w/ smoked tea

Lauchlan -
Fritta Esotica (Pineapple fried in oil and wrapped in speck)
Grilled beef short ribs w/ anchovy parmesan vinaigrette and horseradish and a little lettucve leaf
Strawberry frangipani tart w/ yoghurt semifreddo

Michael -
Shave Brussels sprout salad  w/ citrus vinaigrette, truffle oil and Marcaro almonds
Prawns  w/ rice flour, chili, garlic oil
Basil gelato, balsamic marinated strawberries, chocolate creme fraiche

Michael reported that his gelato had not frozen 20 minutes before the end of the cooking period. All chefs used their servers to help plate this food, which was allowed under the rules. Nils had time left at the end and volunteered to help Rick scooping avocado.

The 100 diners and judges came, sampled, discussed and rated. The judges get a round of questions with each chef. There weren't s many comments as usual, perhaps due to the time spent putting the actual serving/tasting scenes on-screen. James stated that cooking oil and pineapple were a bad combination. ONe of the fans stated that Michael's main course was greasy. Then there is feedback from the judges after the scores are announced and before they decide their scores. Here is the outcome of this competition(D for diners, R for Jay Rayner, O for James Oseland and G for Gael Greene):

Nils D 3.5 R 3 O 4 G 3.5  Subtotal  14 Total  17

Lauchlan D 3.5 R 3 O 2.5 G 3.5  Subtotal  12.5  Total  15.5

Rick D 4 R 4.5 O 4 G 4.5  Subtotal  17  Total  17

Michael D 4 R 4 O 3.5 G 4.5  Subtotal  16  Total  19.5

So Rick had the best scores for the Elimination Challenge, but Michael was close enough to easily win the overall round. Clinic Ole will get the $10,000 check.



Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #33 on: July 22, 2009, 10:44:53 PM »
Top Chef Masters telecast its final preliminary round (of 6) tonight. By the end of this episode the slate for the Champions Round starting next week will be complete. Who will join Hubert Keller, Suzanne Tracht, Rick Bayless, Anita Lo and Micahel Chiarello in that round? We'll know soon enough.

The competitors are:

Jonathan Waxman - eminence grise of American cooking and mentor of Bobby Flay at Jams in the 1980s; chef/owner of Barbuto in New York City. He is playing for City Meals on Wheels, which brings meals to the homebound.

Michael Cimarusti - chef/owner of Providence in Los Angeles. He is playing for Grameen Foundation, which fights international poverty.

Art Smith - best known as personal chef for Oprah Winfrey and proponent of southern cooking, he is chef/owner at Table 52 in Chicago and Heart and Soul in Washington DC. He is playing for Common Threads, which he co-founded and which teaches children about food and arts

Roy Yamaguchi - his flagship restaurqant is Roy's in Honolulu and there are a total fo 37 Roy's around the globe; he is known for his Hawaiian fusion cuisine. He is playing for Imua Family Services, which provides support for special needs children on Maui and Lanai.

This gets started with a bang on the Quickfire Challenge, which is to shop with $20 for ingredients from one aisle only at the Whole Foods closest to the Top Chef kitchen. The chefs draw knives to deteremine who gets which aisle:

Michael - baking
Roy - pasta and Italian
Jonathan - internaitonal foods
Art - beans and rice

I expect that the most experienced chefs (Waxman and Smith) will be vying for the crown at the end.

This gets started with a bang on the Quickfire Challenge, which is to shop with $20 for ingredients from one aisle only at the Whole Foods closest to the Top Chef kitchen. The chefs draw knives to deteremine who gets which aisle:

Michael - baking
Roy - pasta and olive oil
Jonathan - international foods
Art - beans and rice

Jonathan claims he will not use cans or jars and he brings $24.01 of other items to the register, having to delete one to reach $20. The judging will be by three Whole Foods employees, Peter, Becky and Pam. How lucky can they get? Also double product placement for Whole Foods. Cooking starts and Art and Jonathan, the two oldest of this group of chefs, both cannot fathom how the top to the pressure cooker goes on. It is very interesting to me that with time pressure, great chefs use pressure cookers. I bet they seldom do that in their own kitchens but they don't have the same type of time pressure there.

The dishes are:
Michael - whipped chocolate parfait with ginger  syrup
Roy - pasta with a fried egg and Asian flavors
Jonathan - mint, lentil and roasted pepper salad
Art - multigrain risotto w/ crispy rice salad

The results are:
Michael 5
Roy 4
Jonathan 3.5
Art 4.5

The Elimination Challenge involves a mystery box. Each chef buys with $200 and places in the box (destined for one of the other chefs and they know who) 11 ingredients from which that other chef has to use at least 7 to create a meal. The spirit of camraderie here is exceptional. These chefs take the attitude they want their competitors to look almost as good as they can, so they choose interesting and easy to work with ingredients that facilitate fine ciusine. By the luck of the draw Michael get the box created by Jonathan and vice-versa. Roy gets Art and vice-versa. The only grousing I heard was that Michael was not given fish to complement the meat he did get.

The box Art receives contains cheddar cheese, corn, white sweet potato, green beans, tomato, mushrooms, chicken (for which he is thankful since his signature dish is fried chicken), mangoes.
The box Roy receives contains mahi mahi, short ribs, purple cauliflower.
The box Jonathan receives has pork chops, purple cauliflower (they must have been in season), regular cauliflower, 2 oranges, something like Swiss chard, onions, celery root, black truffle.
The box Michael receives contains lamb T-bone, onions, that ubiquitous purple cauliflower, kumquat, arborio rice, portobello mushrooms, greens, ginger, sunchoke, broccoli rabe

They have 2 hours to cook. The guest judges will be local culinary students.  Their dishes are:

Michael-loin of lamb, sunchoke puree, purple cauliflower, broccoli rabe, orange sauce (not enough time for all plates to get it)
Jonathan- pork sausage and chop w/ cauliflower, celery root puree and black truffle
Roy- short rib kalbi and mahi-mahi
Art-fried chicken 2 ways (regular crispy, thigh smothered) w/ lemongrass and garlic, green beans, mango pie

Joanthan says tht he would never use more than 3 ingredients in his own kitchen. The permanent judges leave and the culinary students give their scores. The judges get the special Q&A period with the chefs. Roy claims he is not an improviser, which is needed for this type of competition. The judges ask Jonathan about the plates. He correctly tells them to focus on his flavors and not something that he had little control over.

The scores (C for culinary students, S for Gail Simmons, O for James Oseland, G for Gael Greene) were:

Jonathan C 4.5 S 4 O 4 G 4 Subtotal 16.5 Total 20
Roy          C 3 S 3 O 2.5 G 2.5 Subtotal 11 Total 15
Michael    C 2.5 S 3 O 3.5 G 3.5 Subtotal 12.5 Total 17.5
Art           C 5 S 4.5 O 3 G 4.5 Subtotal 17 total 22

Art wins. His Commons Threads gets the $10,000 check. The others get nominal amounts for their charities.

So we are ready for the 4 or 5 weeks of Champions Round  competitions. It should be interesting. The chef I know the least about, Suzanne Tracht, was very impressive in winning her round. However, I think a wily veteran like Hubert Keller will win this. The person I would like to see win is the one who I have learned the most from watching his Mexican cooking show, Rick Bayless. I see Anita Lo, Art Smith and Michael Chiarello all as fine chefs but I don't see any of them winning.

« Last Edit: July 23, 2009, 07:38:19 AM by apskip »

Offline TexasLady

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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #34 on: July 24, 2009, 11:35:38 AM »
I can't wait to see how they determine the Master Chef. I'm loving this show. Thanks as always apskip for your fine review!  :-*
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Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #35 on: July 30, 2009, 09:09:52 AM »
The Champions Round has begun, with the first competitions between Hubert Keller, Anita Lo, Suzanne Tracht, Art Smith, Rick Bayless and Michael Chiarello. It was interesting to see the same camaraderie develop as from the chefs in each preliminary round. Art Smith says that he has been in the restaurant business directly for only 1.5 years while his competitors have been in it for decades. First was a Quickfire challenge, a relay race to complete 4 common kitchen tasks. Knives were drawn to determine the teams, which were Art/Michael/Suzanne vs. Hubert/Rick/Anita (note- when you have finished reading this post come back here and look at how the individuals on these teams fared in the elimination challenge; it's instructive). Teams were given 1 minute to decide who would do which task. Tom Colicchio, who you know as producer has been hovering throughout, was brought in to judge this.

The first task was to open 15 oysters, Suzanne vs. Hubert. It as close, with Suzanne finishing ahead.
The second task was to dice 4 large onions, Art vs. Hubert. Art kept the lead he started with.
Third was to cut up 5 chickens, Michael vs. Anita. Anita blitzed this and opened a big lead going into the final task.
The 4th task was to whip egg whites to a firmness that allows the bowl to be turned upside down for 5 seconds and not drip anything down. That requires excellent separation of the whites from the yolks first. Rick was quick and he brought the challenge victory to his team. For doing 2 tasks Hubert earned an advantage for the elimination challenge. The outcome was that the members of the winning team get 5 points each and the losers get 4 points each.

Moving right along, the master chefs are each asked to cook their own signature dishes for a friendly meal with the others. Anyone who has ever seen regular Top Chef knows what is coming. Somehow this will tie into the Elimination challenge although it is not clear exactly how. Those signature dishes are:

Hubert Keller- Lobster and truffle cappuccino with corn madeleine

Anita Lo - Seared sea scallops with potato puree and bacon, sea urchin and mustard greens

Rick Bayless - Rack of lamb and black pasilla chile with mission figs

Art Smith - Seared grouper with hearts of palm, trumpet mushrooms, and meyer lemon

Michael Chiarello - Fennel blasamic quail with mostrocotto mostrada, sauteed greens, and roasted apples

Suzanne Tracht - Chopped sirloin with green peppercorn sauce and fried egg


So these chefs cook these dishes and all enjoy eating them. Kelly Choi arrives, so they know something is up. She tells them that the Elimination Challenge is to improve on a dish of their colleagues, which if you think about it is pretty cheeky since these dishes have been developed decades ago and refined continuously. The guest judging will be by "incredibly influential" individuals. The normal regular judges are there.

Hubert's advantage is to pick the dish he wants to "improve." It is Anita's, so she gets to "improve" Hubert's dish. Knives are drawn and Rick gets Michael and vice-versa. Suzanne gets Art and vice-versa. The first task is 45 minutes and $300 to shop for ingredients at Whole Foods. The next morning cooking is for 2 hours. Then 13 plates of each dish are served. It will be to an illustrious group, one eliminated chef from each of the preliminary rounds:
Elizabeth Faulkner - who has comments selected for airing on just about every dish
Ludo Lefevbre
Michael Cimarusti
Christopher Lee
Mark Peel
Rick Moonen

You know that Kelly Choi got the 10th plate and Ttom Colicchio probably the 11th, but who got the other 2? This will have to be one of the mysteries of life.

The "improved" dishes are:

Hubert Keller - Seared scallop with cream of sea urchin over fingerling mashed potatoes.

Anita Lo - Corn chawanmushi, champagne gelee and lobster biscuit sandwich (she mockingly refers to it as "soup and sandwich")

Rick Bayless - Quail with parsnip and proscuitto stuffing over wild greens, cooked with pancetta

Art Smith - Ground lamb scotch egg, sweet potato fries, and tomato tart

Michael Chiarello - Rack of lamb stuffed with fig mostrada chick peas and fried rosemary

Suzanne Tracht - Roast grouper with gnocchi, peas, bacon, and parsnips.

Art is concerned about cooking the egg properly. Suzanne is understandably concerned that grouper is so touchy that it must be cooked perfectly to taste right. When it is served, the guest judges have a lot of criticism about the grouper being overcooked, possibly due to Suzanne finishing early.

Jay asks Michael if he cared more about what Rick Bayless thought than the critics thought. Michael agreed that it was how he thought about this. Art reiterated his fears about the egg. Throughout all of this Suzanne appeared remarkably low-key, even more that usual for her.

The final ratings(C for Chefs, O for James, R for Jay, and G for Gael) were:

Art -      C 3  O2.5  R 2.5 G 3 Subtotal 11  Total 15

Anita -  C 4.5  O 4.5  R 5  G 5 Subtotal 19  Total 24

Hubert -C 4  O 4  R 4.5  G 4  Subtotal 16.5  Total 21.5

Rick -     C 4.5 O 5  R 4.5  G 4  Subtotal 18  Total 23
 
Michael -C 3 O 3.5 R 4 G 4 Subtotal 14.5  Total 18.5

Suzanne - C 3  O 2.5 R 2.5  G 2.5  Subtotal   total 14.5

Anita has teh highest composite score, so Anita's charity SHARE gets another $10,000. Suzanne loses and is eliminated. She is told to "pack her knives and go." She has her regrets about not taking her time. She stated she would come back tomorrow and do the same  dish - with another fish.

This is top-notch entertainment. Watching these chefs cook anything is a pleasure, with their signature dishes the pinnacle of their achievement. The "improved" versions were interesting even if not really improved. My only regret is that I was not invited to eat each of these fine dishes.

Offline TexasLady

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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #36 on: July 30, 2009, 10:00:49 AM »
Quote
Anita -  C 4.5  O 4.5  R 5  G 5 Subtotal 19  Total 24

Hubert -C 4  O 4  R 4.5  G 4  Subtotal 16.5  Total 21.5

Rick -     C 4.5 O 5  R 4.5  G 4  Subtotal 18  Total 23
  

Final 3 perhaps??

This was a wonderful episode. I agree with you apskip, I wish we all could sample their food.
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Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #37 on: July 30, 2009, 11:18:57 AM »
I can't predict this beyond having stated that I hope Rick Bayless wins because I have learned the most by watching his Mexican food /cooking show.

I expected Suzanne Tracht to do very well and she is the first out. I don't think we can conclude that Michael Chiarello and Art Smith are any less worthy than Anita, Rick and Hubert. I think that just like in the Amazing Race the luck of the draw in the final episode will determine the winner, so it could be anyone who gets to the final 3 cookoff in 3 weeks.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2009, 07:14:37 PM by apskip »

Offline TexasLady

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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #38 on: July 30, 2009, 01:25:04 PM »
I can't predict this beyond having stated that I hope Rick Bayless wins because I have learned the most by watching his Mexican food /cooking show.

I expected Suzanne Tracht to do very well and she is the first out. I don't think we can conclude that Michael Chiarello and Art Smith are any less worthy than Anita, Rick and Hubert. I think that just like in thet amazing Race the luck of the draw in the final episode will determine the winner, so it could be anyone who gets to the final 3 cookoff in 3 weeks.

Finishing too early was her downfall. It occurred to me, they should stagger the star/finish time so that each one can get their food out when it's at its best.

Some of the challenges have been worse than others. Cooking in a dorm room was probably the toughest.
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Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #39 on: August 06, 2009, 09:24:02 PM »
It's round 2 of Top chef Masters Champions Rounds. We lost Suzanne Tracht last week. WHO will be next? At the beginning, Anita Lo lets slip that the prior round was 24 hours previous. This is nothing that any serious observer does not already know, but it is the first time I have seen it confirmed by a Top Chef contestant. The remaining master chefs enter the kitchen to note a large pile of French (or Freedom if you want to be arcane) Fries and Hamburgers. They presume correctly that the Quickfire challenge will be about hamburgers. Kelly tells them it's the Ultimate Gourmet Burger challenge to match TC3 Ep. 9. The cheftestants got 30 minutes while the master chefs are given one hour to cook, probably due to vastly higher expectations about their end products. I saw Waygu beef available for the chefs to use.

Here are the approaches taken:
Hubert- has a $5000 foie gras and Kobe beef burger in his restaurant due to pairing with Chateau Petrus 1995 wine, but elects to go with a simpler burger that is a big seller (1000 per day?) in his restaurant
Michael - a 2.5 pound burger that will feed multiple people
Rick- is going Mexican (what a surprise) with a rib-eyed burger with a side of 3 different guacamoles
Anita - cheese soup with burger bits is continuous trouble for her but she knows there is no turning back from what happened to others' scores that did not finish and serve something
Art - going for southern comfort food

The actual dishes are:
Rick - cheese fundido burger w/ 3 different guacamoles on the side
Art - Cornmeal Hoecake Burger w/ Fried Green Tomatillos, Coleslaw
Michael - "Hamburgese Enorme" with Truffle Manchego Potato Chips
Anita - cheddar cheese soup w/ burger bits, ketchup crouton and bacon fried onion rings
Hubert - Beef and Roquefort Cheeseburger with Caramelized Onions and rustic Yukon Gold Potatoes

The diners evaluating these burgers were Spike Mendelssohn (TC4 cheftestant), Morgan Spurlock (creator of the movie "Super Size Me") and Sang Yoon (chef owner of Father's Office which serves a lot of burgers in Santa Monica CA)

The Quickfire scores were:
Hubert 3
Art 3.5
Rick 4
Michael 4
Anita 1.5

Anita was in big trouble with 2.5 points to make up against each of the 2 leaders and 2 points against Art Smith!

Moving on to the Elimination Challenge, it was feeding the friends and family of singer/actress Zooey Deschanel. She is a true Vegan, with no meat, dairy, fish, eggs, glutens or soy allowed. What is left? Vegetables and fruits plus some gluten-free products apparently make up the majority of vegan ingredients. Zooey wants to enjoy something tasty without violating her dietary restrictions. That removes most potential ingredients these master chefs may have wanted to use and means that the dishes will be heavily constrained. Michael states "think of all the things you love to cook... and just say no...It's all about Nos. It's off-putting to say the least." Let's see how they do in this extremely difficult environment.

Here are the dishes the master chefs chose to make. Each one had to select one course of a 5 course meal finishing with desserts. Art volunteered for dessert although he has little expertise in that area. The other chefs were in the order of most refined (Hubert) to boldest (Rick) based on the strength of the resulting flavors. The dishes were:
Hubert Keller - White Gazpacho with Grapes and Vanilla Oil, Timbale of Avocado and Asparagus, Roasted Beet Salad
Anita Lo - Spicy Grilled Eggplant with Lentil Salad and Cashew Sauce
Michael Chairello - Quinoa Pasta with Salsa Verde and Gremolata, Tomatoes, Crispy Basil Leaf
Rick Bayless - Corn Tamales with Chile-Braised Beans, Braised Greens, and Glazed Mushrooms
Art Smith - Strawberry Champagne Soup, Strawberry Rice Ice Cream and Almond Brittle

Art elected to buy rice milk rice cream  to make a strawberry variant of it. This drew strong criticism from the permanent judges, particularly James Oseland. He was praised for making almond brittle with no butter, which is very difficult. Anita's use of heavy oil for marinating the eggplant backfired on her, as did her heavy use of one color - brown.  She serves the same dish succcessfully in her restaurant Anisa but combined with yoghurt to intensify the flavors. Michael found a gluten-free quinoa to use as the pasta that combined with a heavy tomato presence. Jay tried to nail him for using store-bought pasta, but Michael simply said that it would have been a poor priority for him to make what others make better.  He was right and didn't get dinged for that. Rick and Hubert just seemed to roll on.

The Zooey group submitted their ratings below for the dishes (shown next to Z), James is O, Jay is R, and Gael is G:
Art     Z 3 O 2.5 R 1.5 G 2 Subtotal 9 Total 12.5 these are awful scores, lowest ever given out on Top Chef Masters 
Anita Z 1.5 O 2.5 R 3 G 3.5 Subtotal 11.5 Total 13 she overcame a 2 point Quickfire deficit with dishees rated 2.5 more
Rick   Z 3.5 O 3.5 R 4 G 4 Subtotal 15 Total 19 another solid performance by Rick
Michael Z 4.5 O 4 R 4.5 G 5 Subtotal 17.5 Total 22 the winner
Hubert Z 4 O 4 R 3.5 G 4.5 Subtotal 16 Total 19

Michael wins another $10,000 for tthe Ole Foundation and Art Smith has to pack his knives and go home.

Offline TexasLady

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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #40 on: August 07, 2009, 03:09:05 PM »
I really liked this challenge although I don't know if the right person was sent home. It was a toss up.

They all have such pride in what they make, you can see the disappointment with their food not being up to their own high standards.

Thanks as always apskip for your recaps!  :-*
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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #41 on: August 07, 2009, 03:51:07 PM »
I observed that these master chefs were not having a good time with this elimination challenge, unlike the prior ones. The onerous dietary restrictions imposed by Zooey Deschanel really crimped their style. Although it was a good test of creating quality food under adverse conditions, they might have been better off feeding Zooey the raw carrots which are the staple item of her normal food intake.

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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #42 on: August 13, 2009, 01:39:10 PM »
Welcome back, culinary fans (I am one too). This episode will make the final elimination before the Final 3 compete next week to deteremine the winner. I continue to be impressed by the demeanor of these master chefs, but some fraying at the edges was evident last night. The challenges were particuarly difficult, even for some of the very best chefs in the world. Kelly introduces the chefs as:
Anita - Asian fusion expert
Hubert - classic French and helathy cooking expert
Michael - Czar of italian cuisine
Rick - the Mexican food expert

The Blindfold Taste Test is used on both Top Chef and on Hell's Kitchen with great success. To highlight the tasting kills of these chefs, what could be more appropriate? That's what the producers thought and they were right. The chefs tasted 20 ingredients. Only a selected group were shown, with each chef having 2 correct choices not shown.

Michael correctly identifies peanut butter, corn, oregano, coconut water and hummus (5 total) and has a score of 7.
Hubert correctly identifies peanut butter, ketchup and maple syrup (that's 3 total) and has a score of 5.
Rick correctly gets chervil, pappadom, chervil and smoked paprika (that's a total of 4) and has a score of 6.
Anita correctly gets pappdom, ketchup, almond and dashi (that's a total of 4) and has a score of 6.
Ingredients that apparently were not identified correct by any of these chefs were hoisin sauce, mascarpone, maple syrup, shiso and mango(which means I wrote down 17 of the ingredients and the other 3 never made an appearance). Michael wins 5 points, Rick and Anita 4 each and Hubert 3.5. They also will pick for the upcoming Challenge in the order of points, meaning Michael goes first.

Kelly introduces this Challenge but conveniently does not mention a few things critical to it (like the unexpected twists which will happen in the middle of it to test these chefs' resourcefulness, adaptability and ability to react to sudden change). It will be a buffet for 200 Hollywood insiders inside the SLS Hotel. The first step is to "hire help" as they do not expect (unlike last week) the master chef to do all this themselves. The available help is introduced as 12 of the former cheftestants from the first 5 seasons of Top Chef. The group includes one winner (Ilan), one second place finisher (Richard Blaise), one charmer (Fabio Viviani) plus other above-average chefs. The master chefs were given 2 mintues to interview each chef. They took drastically different approaches. Michael elected to test agility and speed by actually testing them. He also asks each chef to pronounce his name; this is actually a good test as those more famliar with Italian cuisine would know how to do so properly). As Betty said a little later, "nobody wants to work for Michael." However, everybody wanted to work for Hubert. Rick formed a bond with Richard Blaise and his molecular gastronomy. What surprised me most of the picks was that Ilan Hall did not get picked until the third round; his new restaurant The Gorbals in L.A.  deliberately does not fit any genre, but Ilan was a Spanish chef before winning TC2. The final two picks are Spike (no surprise as he is hard to work with and Michael says "there's no way in a million years that Spike could ever work in one of my kitchens") and Betty because she may not have fared well against all the other Top Chef competitors. The actual picks go:
Michael - Fabio Viviani(a fine Italian chef who can pronounce Michael's name correctly)
Rick - Richard Blaise (because Richard in addition to being a fine chef and molecular grastonomist is a wiz at the use of Liquid Nitrogen)
Anita - Jaime Lauren (because Jaime had worked for Anita early in the annals of Annisa)
Hubert - Antonia Lofaso (4th place in Top Chef 4 and a fine all-around chef)
Michael - Brian Malarkey (seafood chef)
Anita - Dale Talde
Rick - Alex Eusebio (he wanted a chef familiar with Mexican cuisine and Alex was the closest to that available)
Hubert - Elia Aboumrad (pastry chef)
Michael - CJ Jacobsen
Anita - Ilan Hall (Top Chef 2 winner)
Rick - Betty Fraser
Hubert - Spike Mendelssohn

So food purchase at both Whole Foods and Restaurant Warehouse begins simultaneously. Half of each team is sent to each place. As Anita says, "there was no time to put together a grocery list." CJ had Michael go straight to the fresh fish counter at Whole Foods to get the choice of the best before any other team thought about it carefullly. There is $2000 to spend and 45 monutes to do so. Then cooking takes place over 3.5 hours. The next day everything will go to the hotel kitchen and another 2.5 hours final prep time will be available. There is insufficient capacity in the refrigerators for eveyrone's food. Micahel believes that Anita's sous chefs have monopolized some of what should be his. He and Dale get into the beginning of an altercation. Dale challenges Michael, who "eats 3 Dales for breakfast every day" but is smart enough to realize that the only no-loss strategy is silence in response.

That evening in the middle of cooking, Kelly arrives with the first twist, supposed to be so outlandish that chefs have to really scramble. They have 30 minutes to pack up and have all cooking finished for the move to the SLS Hotel. Many items in the  middle of cooking have to be terminated prematurely. Also, Kelly says that the buffet site has been moved to the patio, which puts the food in the sun. That puts Anita's raw bar into serious jeopardy and Michael talks about the impact on mayonnaise-based items.

The next morning at the SLS the next twist happens. Master chefs have to cut one chef from their teams. Anita is actually happy to have the opportunity to get rid of Jaime. She remembered too late that Jaime has a reputation of being methodical (read slow) in opening oysters for the raw bar. Rick releases Betty, who he had planned ot oversee the table decorations (not an important task and one that can easily be jetiisoned). Michael says that Brian's work was already completed so it is not too hard to release him. Hubert does not have to think long about letting Spike go and keeping Antonia and Elia. The cooking and prep continues and the guests arrive.

One thing that I thought was a bit ridiculous was having Kelly "introduce" the judges to the master chefs at their stations. This was the 5th round that each master chef had seen these judges, so I believe they knew who they were. The actual dishes presented (many were there but not talked about) were:

Michael's Rustic Italian buffet -  3 different antipasto (including I think olive oil cake), prime rib of swordfish, risotto 3 ways including w/ shrimp, braised leg of lamb, 2 desserts

Hubert's 18 item buffet - fondant  of carrot, gazpacho, lamb, red beets with Conte(with an accent aigu) cheese, oysters, asparagus, I am not sure of this but thought I saw a grilled onion half with caviar and creme fraiche on top, 6 glaces(light ice creams served in a glass)

Anita's buffet with Asian sauces and condiments  - noodle salad, braised pork rib with pork stuffing, Diversey(as best I can tell a parkway in Chicago noted for its seafood restaurants) scallops, raw bar of oysters, clams, etc.

Rick's Mexian buffet - guacamole bar, tortilla soup, saute of shrimp, avocado ice cream made with liquid nitrogen by Richard Blaise (Rick says he is going to order his tank of liquid nitrogen when he gets home)

The judges proceeded to ask the master chefs lots of questions. Anita got the toughest, whether she had considered turning the seafood bar into something else (not stated but seafood soup would be the obvious choice). She said there was no time for such a decision, so she just forged ahead. James stated but not to her that the total range of food prepared by her was disappointing alhtough what she served was very good.Rick got air time to describe what Richard Blaise had taught him about the liquid nitrogen used to make the avocado ice cream. The weird texture of Michael's swordfish was questioned. He explained that a sous chef probably did not remember to cut it off the end as requested(aha - preferential food for the judges; I hate that). Hubert was not questioned much as the judges were rightly heaping accolades on his food.

The final verdict is the result of the usual process. Here are the ratings of the diners, O (James), R (Jay), G (Gael), subtotal and total:

Rick D 4.5 O 4.5 R 4.5 G 4 Subtotal 17.5 Total 21.5
Hubert D 3.5 O 5 R 5 G 5 Subtotal  18.5 Total 22
Michael D 3.5 O 3 R 4 G 4 Subtotal 14.5 Total 19.5
Anita D 3 O 3 R 3.5 G 3.5 Subtotal 13     Total 17

So Hubert overcame the disadvantage of starting 1.5 points behind Michael and 0.5 behind the other 2 master chefs and wins the $10,000 check for the Make a Wish Foundation and Anita goes home. That seems quite fair to me. I expect the main battle in the Final 3 next week to be Hubert vs. Rick, with Michael a distant third. However, anything can happen. The previews of next week were brief, but the facecs clearly evident were those of past Top Chef winners. Are they the panel of judges and will they replace the judges who have been at the core of Top Chef masters? Tune in next week for the Top chef Masters finale following the premiere of top Chef 6 (Las Vegas)

Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #43 on: August 16, 2009, 12:39:51 PM »
With Top CHef 6 preceding it with a 75 minute opening show, the Top Chef Masters finale will be on Wednesday night from 1015pm to 1115pm EDT.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2009, 06:18:17 PM by apskip »

Offline TexasLady

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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #44 on: August 16, 2009, 06:15:39 PM »
I have to agree, Michael a distant third with Hubert and Rick top two, Hubert the winner but we'll see. BTW, yes, the diners will be the past Top Chef winners.  :tup:
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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #45 on: August 19, 2009, 10:36:31 PM »
It's now official. And the winner is Rick Bayless with what thought was a well-earned menu and dish execution. Michael Chiarello was a close second, barely ahead of Hubert Keller in third. Rick wins status for Mexican cuisine and $100,000 for the Frontera Farmers Foundation.

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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #46 on: August 20, 2009, 02:48:27 PM »
The 3 master chefs arrive at the Getty Villa in the Pacific Palisades section of the City of Los Angeles. If it looked famliar, it is also the site for the famous J.Paul Getty Museum. There is no Quickfire Challenge. Their assignment is to cook the best 4 course meal ever using the following guidelines:
1. course 1 will be inspired by their first food memory
2. course 2 will be inspired by when you first wanted to become a chef
3. course 3 will be inspired by the opening of your first restaurant
4. course 4 will be inspired by where they want to go in the future
It is the story of their culinary life in 4 acts or the meal of their culinary career. Rick terms is "the story of our life on a plate". They agree that any of the three of them is capable of winning it. Michael predicts that the judging results for this episode will be the closest of any episode. I agree with him; logic says that 3 chefs this good will be very close in culinary talent and performance.

They are told that the guest judges will be Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons (all smart enough to get themselves dealt into this very special meal) plus the winners from top Chef 1 (Harold Dieterle), 2 (Ilan Hall), 3 (Hung Huynh), 4 Stephanie Izard  and 5 Hosea Rosenberg. Their 8 votes will be averaged and count as one score along with the regular Top Chef Masters votes.

The chefs go shopping at Whole Foods(I bet they went to the one they have become used to rather than whichever Whole Foods is closest to the Getty Villa). They have to shop for ingredients in 60 minutes with $1300 (I calculate that to be over $100 a head for ingredients), then get 5 hours to cook that evening and 2.5 hours the next day. In between, the producers have a surprise for the chefs that thye hope will be appreciated. A diskette or tape plays to display sous chefs from the flagship restaurant of each chef. Laurent Pillard wishes Hubert well. Nick Ritchie does the same for Michael.  Brian Enyart does the same for Rick. The surprise is that each of them is there at Getty Villa to help their chef win. Now this is really appreciated because having good sous chef help can be critical and who could be more helpful than their usual sous chefs. A special ingredient arrives for Hubert(this is allowed for Top Chef so why not for Top Chef Masters), two large black truffles. Rick claims that use of truffles is just expensive and does not per se add anything special to a dish.

So, away we go with the thinking behind each course and the actual menu for that course:

1. the Alsatian pastry oven and its use to make Baeckeoffe, a traditional dish,is from Hubert's youth. Rick was inspired by his parents' barbecue restaurant. Michael was inspired by his Calabrese-born mother making gnocchi with a paddle out of dough.

Hubert - Alsatian lamb, beef, pork and potato stew
Rick - barbeued hickory smoked quail, "sour slaw"  w/ watermelon salad
Michael - duo of gnocchi, crispy potato gnoochi with fonduta and riccotta gnocchi with tomato sauce

2. Rick was inspired by a trip to Mexico where he was first exposed to Oaxacan black mole with cooking techniques that are unique to it. Michael talks about being from an immigrant family and wanting to give black to the Latino community. Hubert apprenticed at l'Auberge de Ville restaruant in eastern France and learned to make the dish below.

Hubert - salmon souffle, royal osetra caviar and riesling sauce,  choucroute flan
Rick - ahi tuna with Oaxacan black mole, plaintain tamale, grilled nopales
Michael - polenta w/ rabbit, asparagus, wild mushrooms, duck and rabbit liver spedini

3. Michael opened a new American cuisine restaurant in Miami. Rick and his wife opened Frontera Grill in 1987. Hubert wants to duplicate the key dish from his first restaurant.

Hubert - Colorado lamb chop wrapped in vegetable mousseline, vanilla-Merlot sauce inside bottom 2/3 of a potato and whole blanched garlic
Rick - achiote marinated cochinta pibil (suckling pig) cut into squares seared and served with pan juices, sunchoke puree, crispy pigs' feet, pickled red onion
Michael - whole fried (in peanut oil) ginger marinated rouget, mango salad, fresh wasabi, bottarga with arborial rice flower

4. Michael is inspired by the Napa Valley and is using cuttings from Napa Cabernet vineyards to accompany his dish. Rick wants to go toward rustic dishes, particularly those requiring precise temperature control. Hubert somehow is not asked about his inspiration.

Hubert - pan-seared sweetbreads w/ Perigord truffles on scrambled eggs and spinach, braised Wagyu beef cheeks w/ celery puree, pinot noir, lemongrass  and ginger sauce
Rick - arroz a la tumbaua w/ lobster, crab,squid, mussels, shrimp w tomato/jalapeno broth; chorizo "air" sauce, pickled jalapenos
Michael - brined short ribs, 5 onion cavalonero with a Savuer doily under his plate for James Oseland and essence of smoldering Napa Valley Cabernet vines

Comments by the guest judges primarily occur as each course is being consumed. Harold says that the Hubert's  sweetbreads are super overcooked, but James disagrees with him. Padma says vanilla overwhelming on Hubert's dish. Hubert's garlic edated by the guest judges; some like it and some don't. Padma says Rick's Mexican food needs to be credited for its complexity. Tom explains to criticism of Rick's seafood as overcooked that the length of time to serve each course may have thrown off Rick's timing and allowed the mussels to dry out. Padma is crazy about Michael's short ribs. Jay says that Michael is the master story teller (presumably meaning in person, not necessarily with his food). Tom metnios that Michael's Calabrese heritage is shared by him having a Calabrese mother too. The vote by the guest judges occurs with the judges convening elsewhere.

At Critics Table (to differentiate it from the guest judges), the permanent judges agree they have just eaten a very special meal, but know it is their job to grade the master chefs. They comment/question the food of each of those master chefs:

Hubert - "dense, rich, luscious"stew; James found the garlic raw, was surprised it was blanched 3 times; Gael says drunken with vanilla
Rick - reveals that his Oaxacan black mole has 27 ingredients and critics love it and tamales, Gael explains her prejudice against foam/"air" and criticizes anyone (including Rick) trying it
Michael - has a complicated creation presented for spare ribs, on rouget dish Jay mentioned olive oil not going with mango salad

The final scoring is:
Hubert - TC 4    O 4.5 R 4    G 4 total 16.5
Rick      - TC 4.5 O 4.5 R 4.5 G 4.5 total 18                   
Michael - TC 4,5 O4.5 R 3.5 G 4.5 total 17

So Rick wins Top Chef Masters. He claims special new status for Mexican cuisine in the U.S. He wins $100,000 for Frontera Farm Foundation. Hubert's efforts to influence the judges with black truffles fell short.

I found Top Chef Masters delightful. I know some viewers did not like the absence of chef commentary designed to bring down their opponent that is typical of Hell's Kitchen but seen often enough in regular Top Chef. I don't like that commentary and would like Magic Elves production company to show us more of the food prep and less of the personality B.S. I found top Chef Masters to be above all that, although Michael Chiarello did try hard but unsuccessfully to inject some.

Offline TexasLady

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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #47 on: August 20, 2009, 05:40:01 PM »
I loved the show, I liked the ending, but most of all I enjoyed watching professionals who are secure in their own knowledge and willing to lend a hand to their fellow chefs.

Good job all around, they are all winners.

Thank you as always apskip for another excellent recap!
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Offline shadia

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Re: Top Chef Masters
« Reply #48 on: August 21, 2009, 11:06:01 AM »
Good show. I was glad that Rick won. I hope there will be a season 2.


 

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