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Offline TexasLady

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Top Chef Masters Season 2
« on: March 18, 2010, 08:54:57 PM »
The season premieres April 7, 11/10 C time on Bravo.


Top Chef Masters Season 2

Bravo's highest-rated first season competition series, Top Chef Masters is back for Season 2. Once again the judges' table will be turned, and viewers will see what happens when world-renowned chefs compete against each other in a series of weekly challenges and revert back to basics. Only one chef will make it to the finals to compete for the title of "Top Chef Master" and a prize for the charity of their choice.

Food journalist Kelly Choi returns as series' host, alongside renowned restaurant critic Gael Greene, culinary expert James Oseland and food critic Jay Rayner who are all back on the Critics' Table. Top Chef series judge Gail Simmons will also serve as a judge this season on Top Chef Masters.

Each episode of Top Chef Masters holds two challenges for the chefs. The first is a Quickfire Challenge which tests their basic abilities.  Each quickfire challenge will be judged by a blind taste test and a five-star system, similar to fine dining reviews.

The second challenge is a more involved Elimination Challenge designed to test the versatility and invention of the chefs as they take on unique culinary trials such as working with unusual and exotic foods or catering for demanding clients. The food will be tasted and evaluated by the judges and a wide range of tasters for whom the challenge is aimed, whether it is patrons at a five-star restaurant or a room full of hungry kids – the food has to appeal to the diner as well as the critics if the chef is to survive.

Source: http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef-masters/season-2/about

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Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2010, 08:56:53 AM »
TopChef Masters 1 was really interesting.  Hosting by Kelly Choi is low-key. The personalities of the competing master chefs, who are almost all very gregarious and outgoing and interested in marketing themselves and their restaurants, come out better than any other chef competition reality show. I plan watch and write about each episode on this thread.

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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2010, 03:48:16 PM »
TopChef Masters 1 was really interesting.  Hosting by Kelly Choi is low-key. The personalities of the competing master chefs, who are almost all very gregarious and outgoing and interested in marketing themselves and their restaurants, come out better than any other chef competition reality show. I plan watch and write about each episode on this thread.

Excellent!!   :hearts:
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Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2010, 07:28:37 PM »
Here is the latest on Top Chef Masters 2:

Among the 22 competitors are six returning chefs from Top Chef Masters 1:
Graham Elliot Bowles
Wylie Dufresne
Ludo Lefebvre
Rick Moonen
Mark Peel
Jonathan Waxman

Here's the entire list of master chefs competing:
Jody Adams - Rialto Restaurant, Cambridge, Mass.
Govind Armstrong - 8 oz Burger Bar, Los Angeles, Calif.
Graham Elliot Bowles - Graham Elliot Restaurant, Chicago, Ill.
Jimmy Bradley - The Red Cat, New York, N.Y.
David Burke - David Burke Townhouse, New York, N.Y.
Wylie Dufresne - wd~50, New York, N.Y.
Susan Feniger - Street, Los Angeles, Calif.
Debbie Gold - The American Restaurant, Kansas City, Mo.
Carmen Gonzalez - Chef Consultant, New York, N.Y.
Maria Hines - Tilth, Seattle, Wash.
Susur Lee - Madeline's, Toronto, Canada
Ludo Lefebvre - Ludo Bites, Los Angeles, Calif.
Tony Mantuano - Spiaggia, Chicago, Ill.
Rick Moonen - Rick Moonen's RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nev.
Mark Peel - Campanile, Los Angeles, Calif.
Monica Pope - t'afla, Houston, Texas
Thierry Rautureau - Rover's, Seattle, Wash.
Marcus Samuelsson - The Red Rooster, New York, N.Y.
Ana Sortun - Oleana, Cambridge, Mass.
Rick Tramonto - TRU, Chicago, Ill.
Jerry Traunfeld - Poppy, Seattle, Wash.
Jonathan Waxman - Barbuto, New York, N.Y

Among the changes for this season of Top Chef Masters is Food and Wine Magazine's Gail Simmons transitioning to a regular spot as judge, alongside returning Gael Greene, James Oseland, and Jay Rayner, and host Kelly Choi. Among the guest stars and judges, meanwhile, Mekhi Phifer, Matt Groening, Hank Azaria, Andrew Zimmerman, Jason Lezak, Lynne Curtin, Alexis Bellino, Tamra Barney, and the cast of Modern Family.

I find the list of master chefs not very inspiring, the list of judges OK (they all did a reasonable job in TCM1) and the guest stars and judges totally undistinguished. Where are the culinary experts in the judge list?

Top Chef Masters season 2 premieres April 7 at 11pm before moving into its regular 10pm spot the following week. I predict it will probably be a good season but not as scintillating as Season 1 was.


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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2010, 09:11:49 AM »
I just wonder, will they have to cook in a dorm room again?  :lol:
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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2010, 03:27:55 PM »
I just wonder, will they have to cook in a dorm room again?  :lol:

This is going to be telecast on BRAVO, Andy Cohen is almost certainly in ultimate charge and you know Tom Colicchio had a lot to do with the planning of tasks for this show. I am certain that there will be several way-out tasks that will stretch these master chefs to the limit.

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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2010, 03:40:47 PM »
I'm sure! I really do think that was the hardest task they had to do and the chefs came through with flying colors. No kitchen, no stove per say, few utensils and yet they did produce a wonderful meal. Amazing really.
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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2010, 07:12:04 AM »
It's been All Quiet on the Western Front, but I finally have some news on top Chef Master, which premieres tomorrow night at 11pm (not in the time slot starting 10pm like it used to be):

The first episode brings together six of the lesser nationally known master chefs in this competition-
Ana Sortun (Oleana)
Govind Armstrong (8 oz Burger Bar)
Jerry Traunfeld (Poppy)
Jimmy Bradley (The Red Cat)
Susan Feniger (Street)
Tony Mantuano (Spiaggia).

 Love is in the air as the Masters are challenged to evoke their sensual side using known aphrodisiac ingredients in the creation of a sumptuous meal to suit couples on a first date.

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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2010, 11:19:12 AM »
Each of the 6 chefs competing in tonight's telecast has done a video of their restaurant kitchen at http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef-masters/season-2/videos?collection=Bonus+Clips

Here is a summary of that information:
Tony Mantuano, Spiaggia (Italian cuisine, Chicago overlooking Oak Street Beach - temperature controlled wine storage area for the oldest and rarest vintages, cheese storage area also temperature controlled, display of pastas fresh-made that day, the Grill, explanation that any dish can be accompanied by a 5 gram slice of Alba Italy fresh truffles for $85 extra.

Susan Feniger, Street (meaning inspired by street food), Los Angeles - she is hyper throughout this; she appears to be the world's most serious proponent of the rubber band concept as her menus are bound that way; Street has a big menu but a tiny kitchen except for its wood-burning oven; customers waiting at a counter can see through relatively small windows into the kitchen; there is an outside patio with a fireplace and umbrellas to shield the tables there.

Jimmy Bradley, the Red Cat (classic Mediterranean cuisine), Chelsea  - is proud of his bar with Colombian cocktails; the back dining room showcases artists whose work is on the walls; there are 100 seats total; the food stations are salad, appetizers, fish and meat (sounds like a traditional, Gordon Ramsay-approved concept); there is an ice cream machine and a big oven in the basement; the logic Jimmy uses to make decisions is "what would the Pilgrims (1620 vintage) do?" as he values local produce, fish and meat; he apparently holds a John Coltrane Smoking Swine Roast periodically (I guess he likes jazz); he is the mentor of TC1 winner Harold Dieterle.

Jerry Traunfield, Poppy, Capitol Hill neighborhood, Seattle - he turned part of a parking lot into a 600 square foot spice garden, which produces fresh herbs summer and effectively results in dried spices year-round; he focused on the decor including cabinetry, 1960s chairs, walls, mobile and live floral displays


Govind Armstrong, 8oz. Burger Bar, Los Angeles - casual atmosphere featuring burgers, cocktails and microbrews; communal table seats up to 8; outside patios total 16 seats; a custom blend of various beefs is aged for at least 24 hours in a Himalayan salt locker

Anna Sortun, Oleana  (Eastern Mediterranean cuisine), Cambridge - her cuisine uses lots of spices; her focus was on decor, particularly the onyx tables; she led a tour of the grill, sautee station, back prep area and bar
« Last Edit: April 07, 2010, 12:21:15 PM by apskip »

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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2010, 06:09:21 PM »
I recommend a trip to the BRAVO Top Chef Master 2 website as there is a lot of videos there. Each Quickfire win is worth $5K to the designated charity and each Elimination Challenge win is worth $10K for that charity plus the right to be in later rounds. all losers in the 4 preliminary rounds should be eliminated so that it will probably be (although I am not sure) only 4 competing in the final rounds. I deduce this from 22 master chefs competing and 6 in the first round. When you divide through, you get 3 2/3 rounds, so two later preliminary rounds will have 5 chefs only. There may one or two wild-card entrants from an additional round determined by criteria I have no idea of at this time, but stay tuned. The winner of the title of Top Chef Master will bring home $100K to his charity and receieve some personal gifts.

If you dig deeply enough you can find information on to night's premiere episode. the contestants were listed in my post above. Here is what I know:

The Quickfire will be in Los Angeles' Chinatown. the 6 masters each draw a colored apron and those that match are on the same team. This makes it:
Anna and Jerry
Susan and Tony
Govind and Jerry

Some additional info which emerged about selected competitors in tonight's round are:

Anna was a candidate for the 2010 James Bread Foundation Chef award. Jerry was the 2000 James Beard Award winner for Best American Chef: Northwest and Hawaii and went to the semi-finals. Jimmy was Harold Dieterle's (and it you don't know who he is go way back to the Top Chef 1 threads) mentor. Tony was President O'Bama's favorite chef in the Chicago area.

there was a lot of hoopla (for the cameras I expect as nobody could be like this in their own kitchen) on some of these videos:
"we're going to raise the roof."
"the ultimate cooking competition (that actually is probably right but rick Bayless beat them to it with his title of top Chef Master).

the only chef I have seen on TV before is Govind Armstrong, who was both a Guest Judge on Top Chef and a competitor in TCM1. I am going to pick Jerry Traunfield for the win tonight.


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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2010, 11:32:14 AM »
The Master Chefs competing in TCM2 for 2 slots from each preliminary round in the 8 person Champions round (actually multiple rounds to pick a winner) are (please forgive the slight puffery in many of these, those left after I deleted the worst examples):

Tony Mantuano
Regarded internationally as an influential culinary force, Chef Tony Mantuano is the chef/partner at Spiaggia, the only four-star Italian restaurant in Chicago. Awarded the 2005 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Midwest, Mantuano worked in several Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy before opening Spiaggia in 1984 to critical acclaim, and has since gone on to win The Chicago Tribune’s highest culinary prize, The Good Eating Award, and named a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 1986. His other ventures include Mangia Trattoria in his hometown of Kenosha, Wisconsin and as the chef/partner of Terzo Piano at new The Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago. Mantuano’s first cookbook, The Spiaggia Cookbook, was lauded by Food & Wine magazine as one of the top 25 cookbooks of 2004. In 2008, Mantuano co-authored Wine Bar Food with wife Cathy, which was the inspiration for WINE BAR FOOD outposts at the 2008 and 2009 U.S. Open Tennis Champions. He has also made numerous television appearances and has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and Food & Wine and is a frequent contributor to local Chicago television and radio stations. In addition to his 2005 honor, Mantuano’s Spiaggia also received James Beard Foundation nominations for Outstanding Restaurant in America in 2006 and 2007 and for Outstanding Service in 2008 and 2009. The Mantuanos were honored with the keys to San Martino in the Italian region of Molise (the ancestral home of Cathy Mantuano) for serving authentic Italian cuisine to President Barack Obama, a long-time guest who celebrated his presidential election victory at Spiaggia in 2008.
Competing for: Feeding America

Govind Armstrong
Raised in Costa Rica and Los Angeles, Govind Armstrong is one of the nation’s brightest cooking stars, noted for his commitment to market-driven California-style cuisine. Creator of the Table 8 brand of restaurants, Armstrong is currently the executive chef and owner of 8 Oz Burger Bars in Los Angeles and South Beach.  Armstrong began his culinary training at age 13 at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago restaurant in West Hollywood. He is the author of Small Bites, Big Nights and has been featured in People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” issue, Bon Appetit, Gourmet, O: The Oprah Magazine, along with appearances on  Oprah, Top Chef, Iron Chef America, and Today.
Competing for: National Kidney Foundation

Jerry Traunfield
After graduating from the California Culinary Academy, Jerry Traunfeld served as executive chef at Alexis Hotel in Seattle and as a pastry chef at Jeremiah Tower’s Stars in San Francisco.  After spending over 17 years honing his skills as executive chef of The Herbfarm, Traunfeld went on to open Seattle-based restaurant Poppy, named after his mother. The 2000 James Beard Award winner for Best American Chef: Northwest and Hawaii, he is the author of The Herbfarm Cookbook, The Herbal Kitchen: Cooking with Fragrance and Flavor, and has appeared on Martha Stewart Living, Better Homes and Gardens, The Splendid Table, and a host of other television and radio programs.
Competing for: International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

Anna Sortun
Cited as one of the country’s “best creative fusion practitioners,” Seattle-born Ana Sortun graduated from La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine de Paris before opening Moncef Medeb’s Aigo Bistro in Concord, Massachusetts, in the early 1990s. Following stints at 8 Holyoke and Casablanca in Harvard Square, she opened Oleana in 2001, immediately drawing raves for dishes that The New York Times described as “rustic-traditional and deeply inventive.” Awarded the Best Chef: Northeast” honor by the James Beard Foundation in 2005, her cookbook SPICE:  Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean was published in 2006 and has become a best-seller. Her husband’s farm, Siena Farms, provides Sortun’s restaurant with all of its fresh produce and is named after their daughter. Her most recent undertaking has been Sofra Bakery & Café in Cambridge, which offers a unique style of foods and baked goods influenced mostly by Turkey, Lebanon, and Greece.
Competing for: The Farm School

Jimmy Bradley
The chef-owner of two popular New York City restaurants — The Red Cat and The Harrison — Jimmy Bradley presides over neighborhood joints that have become destinations for guests from around the city and the country. A purveyor of straightforward, occasionally irreverent, food and contagious conviviality, all of it wrapped up in an attitude-free package, Bradley has helped contemporary diners rediscover the intrinsic value of classic Mediterranean cuisine, reinterpreted for a modern American clientele. He earned features in New York magazine, Food & Wine magazine, Bon Appetit and The New York Times, as well as appearances on Today  and The Martha Stewart Show among others. His cookbook was published in 2006.
Competing for: "water" charity

Susan Feniger
Susan Feniger is well known to Angeleno’s as 1/2 of the popular "Too Hot Tamales" along with her longtime business partner Mary Sue Milliken. Almost 30 years ago, the two chefs opened CITY restaurant; next came Border Grill in Santa Monica CA and Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, and then the Latin themed Ciudad in downtown Los Angeles and the Border Grill Truck. With the opening of Susan Feniger’s STREET in Hollywood in 2009, she launched her first solo venture to reach her dream of creating a unique restaurant inspired by the authentic flavors of street food.  A veteran of 396 episodes of "Too Hot Tamales" and "Tamales World Tour" series, Feniger also co-authored five cookbooks with Milliken--City Cuisine, Mesa Mexicana, Cantina, Cooking with Too Hot Tamales, and Mexican Cooking for Dummies. She has been on the board of the Scleroderma Research Foundation for 17 years, spearheading a mission to find a cure for scleroderma, a life-threatening and degenerative illness, by funding and facilitating the most promising, highest quality research, as well as placing the disease and the need for a cure in the public eye.  Feniger also serves on the board of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center.
Competing for: Scleroderma Research Foundation

My Guess at the Lineup for ep.2: all 6 repeaters from TCM1, talented nationally famous chefs who did not make it past the preliminary round of TCM1 but have been given a second chance at redemption. Who will redeem themselves?

Jonathan Waxman
Working as a successful chef, restaurateur and author, Jonathan Waxman has graced such prestigious kitchens as Chez Panisse in Berkeley and Michael’s in Los Angeles. Waxman went on to open his own restaurant in New York City – Jams, as well as the famed Washington Park.  Today, Waxman is the chef and owner of Barbuto in Manhattan's West Village. His first cookbook, A Great American Cook, was published in 2007. Giving back is important to Waxman and he works closely with many charities including City Meals on Wheels. He currently lives in Manhattan with his wife and three children.
Competing for: Meals On Wheels

Ludo Lefevbre
After training in France for 13 years at Restaurant L’Esperance with Marc Meneau, Restaurant Pierre Gagnaire, Arpege with Alain Passard. and Le Grande Vefour with Guy Martin, Lefebvre moved to Los Angeles to work at L’Orangerie. He was promoted to head chef at the age of 25 and made L’Orangerie one of the top-rated restaurants in California, receiving the Mobil Five Star Award. Lefebvre then moved on to Bastide where he also received the prestigious Mobil Five Star Award. Lefebvre was a nominee for the James Beard Foundation “Rising Chef Award” in 2001 and released his first cookbook, CRAVE, a Feast of the Five Senses in 2005. Always the rebel, Lefebvre has created a guerilla style "pop-up" restaurant event called LudoBites that currently takes place at different locations around Los Angeles. LudoBites was honored in the Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold's 99 Most Essential Restaurants List for Los Angeles. He gave it a place in the Top Ten Dishes of 2009 and identified it as a dining experience that "may fundamentally change the way we look at restaurants." Note that I remember him negatively as a boastful, conceited individual in TCM1. Let's see how time has mellowed him ( I am betting not at all).
Competing for: C.H.A.S.E. for Life

Rick Moonen
From 1994 to 2005, Moonen earned 3 stars from The New York Times  for his work at Oceana, Molyvos, and rm in New York City. Moonen was the executive chef at the Water Club and his passion and vocalization of sustainable seafood practices led him to publish Fish Without a Doubt in 2008. Sensitive to consumers’ home cooking needs, the cookbook is intended to serve as inspiration to chefs for their cooking choices. In February 2005, Chef Moonen opened his multi-level restaurant Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
Competing for: Three Square

Wiley Dufresne
Wylie Dufresne is the chef/owner of New York’s highly celebrated wd~50 restaurant. The Lower East Side eatery was awarded a Michelin star in 2006, which it has retained through 2010.  The James Beard Foundation nominated Wylie and wd~50 in the following categories: 2000, Rising Star Chef (while Wylie was the chef at 71 Clinton Fresh Food); 2004, wd~50 for Best New Restaurant; 2008 and 2009 for Best Chef, New York City.  wd~50, whose ownership is shared with chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and restaurateur Phil Suarez, acquired its unique name from the combination of Dufresne’s initials and the restaurant’s street address.
Competing for: Autism Speaks

Mark Peel
Mark Peel has been the Executive Chef and owner of the award-winning Campanile restaurant in Los Angeles for 20 years. The 20th anniversary milestone was reached in 2009, the same year his book New Classic Family Dinners was published. The book was selected as one of the top 10 cookbooks of 2009 by Amazon and one of the top 25 cookbooks of 2009 by Food & Wine  magazine. Mark also recently opened two new establishments, The Point (a casual cafe in Culver City) and The Tar Pit. The Tar Pit combines Chef Peel‘s passion for market fresh food with the excitement of artisan cocktails. For The Tar Pit he has partnered with Audrey Sanders, of the Pegu club in NYC. Mark also is co-founder of La Brea Bakery. Peel began his career working under Wolfgang Puck at Ma Maison. He did stints in France at La Tour d’Argent and Le Moulin de Mougins. He then worked at Michaels and at Chez Pannisse. He moved back to Los Angeles when Wolfgang Puck asked him to be his chef de cuisine at his new restaurant, Spago. Peel also helped open Chinois and Spago Tokyo. He also co-authored two other cook books with his former wife, Nancy Silverton, Mark Peel & Nancy Silverton At Home: Two Chefs Cook for Family and Friends and The Food of Campanile. Peel has five children and is married to TV host, comedienne, and blogger Daphne Brogdon.
Competing for: Doctors Without Borders

Graham Elliot Bowles
After his culinary education at Johnson and Wales University, Graham Elliot Bowles began his career by working at The Mansion on Turtle Creek, a five diamond/five-star property in Dallas, Texas. This was followed by a move to Chicago where Bowles had the opportunity to work at the famed restaurant Charlie Trotters for the next three years, as well as work alongside Chefs Rick Tramonto and Gale Gand as the Chef de Cuisine of Tru. A stint at The Jackson House Inn & Restaurant in Woodstock VT earned him a spot as one of Food & Wine Magazine's Best New Chefs of 2004. Bowles returned to Chicago for Chef de Cuisine of Avenues at The Peninsula Hotel. During his four years leading the kitchen, he became the nation’s youngest four-star chef with three James Beard award nominations.  In May 2008, Bowles opened Graham Elliot in Chicago, a "bistronomic" restaurant combining four-star cuisine with humor and accessibility,  with wide critical acclaim. In Summer 2009, his passion for music led him to be the Culinary Ambassador at Lollapalooza, a three-day music festival, where he cooked for both the public as well as backstage for the performers. In the Spring of 2010 Bowles plans to open Grahamwich, a  branded sandwich shop in the River North area of Chicago. Note: he did better than I expected in TCM1 so maybe he can earn some money for my favorite charity.
Competing for: American Heart Association

My Guess for the 3rd preliminary round:

Debbie Gold
A James Beard Award winner and four-time nominee, Debbie Gold has led Kansas City’s The American Restaurant to national recognition as its executive chef.  Initially studying restaurant management at the University of Illinois, Gold received her professional culinary training at L’Ecole Hoteliere de Tain L’Hermitage in France. After apprenticing for two years at Michelin-starred restaurants across that country, she returned to Chicago to hold positions at such reputable venues as Charlie Trotter’s, Everest, and Mirador. Although Gold took a hiatus to begin her successful restaurant venture 40 Sardines, she returned to The American Restaurant as the executive chef to once more lead the locale to a host of honors, including consistent AAA Four Diamond and Mobil Travel Guide Four Star ratings.
Competing for: unknown at this time; check back later

Jody Adams
Jody Adams is a James Beard award-winning chef with a national reputation for her imaginative use of New England ingredients in regional Italian cuisine. Her four-star Rialto restaurant in Cambridge has been named “One of the top 20 new restaurants in the country” by Esquire magazine and “One of the world’s best hotel restaurants” by Gourmet. Beginning her culinary career as a line cook at Seasons restaurant, she went on to open Hamersley’s Bistro as sous-chef and then served as executive chef at Michela’s in Cambridge, where Food & Wine listed her as “one of America’s ten best new chefs.” Soon thereafter, Adams opened Rialto in Harvard Square, induction into the Nation’s Restaurant News Fine Dining Hall of Fame and other honors. Adams has been featured in The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Bon Appetit. She also has a strong commitment to hunger relief and is known for her loyal support of The Greater Boston Food Bank, Share Our Strength, and Partners in Health.
Competing for: Partners in Health

Maria Hines
The 2009 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef: Northwest, Maria Hines sharpened her culinary skills at fine restaurants from coast-to-coast before becoming a sensation as executive chef of Earth & Ocean in Seattle in 2003. Named one of Food & Wine magazine’s best chefs in 2005, the Ohio native truly established herself as a national dining force when she opened her certified organic restaurant Tilth featuring New American cuisine. Only the second restaurant in the country to receive the Oregon Tilth organic certification, The New York Times named Tilth one of the country's top 10 best new restaurants in 2008.
Competing for: PCC Farmland Trust

Rick Tramonto
Rick Tramonto is executive chef/partner at world-renowned four-star and Relais & Chateaux restaurant Tru, in Chicago. Tramonto is also culinary director of Tramonto’s Steak & Seafood RT Sushi Bar and Osteria. He received a bevy of awards and honors including the James Beard Foundation for Best Chef: Midwest Award, Robert Mondavi Award for Culinary Excellence, Food & Wine magazine's Top 10 Best New Chefs 1994, Outstanding Service Award from The James Beard Foundation, Four-star Mobil and Wine Spectator Grand Award. Tramonto started his culinary career in Rochester N.Y. at Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers in 1977, and has gone on to work with some of the masters: Pierre Gagnaire, Michel Guerard, and Alfred Portale. An accomplished cookbook author with six titles to his credit, his 7th book will be released in Spring of 2010: Rick Tramonto Steak with Friends. Tramonto has a number of television appearances that include Oprah, Today, Iron Chef America and a judge on Top Chef.
Competing for: Feed The Children, through Gregory Dickow Ministries

Susur Lee
Hailed by Zagat as “a culinary genius,” Susur Lee emerged from 15-year-old apprentice in Hong Kong to become a worldwide leader in Asian fusion cuisine, blending traditional Chinese dishes with classical French techniques. In 1987 Lee opened his 12- table Lotus restaurant in Toronto, earning rave reviews from The New York Times, Art Culinaire, Gourmet and Food & Wine magazine. Lotus ran successfully for a decade before Lee left for a "re-energizing" period in Singapore, serving as head chef and consultant. Returning home to open Susur in 2000, Lee has since launched Shang in Manhattan, Zentan in Washington D.C.  and Lee, a second restaurant in Toronto. Lee is a sought-after guest chef across the globe and has been featured on numerous media outlets. A noted philanthropist, he contributes regularly to the James Beard Foundation, cancer research at Spinizolla in Boston and the Null Foundation, which provides scholarships for underprivileged students to attend culinary school.
Competing for: Andre Agassi Foundation for Education

My Guess for the 4th preliminary round:

Monica Pope
Named 2009’s Best Chef at the Houston Culinary Awards, Monica Pope is a 2007 James Beard Award Nominee for Best Chef: Southwest and the owner of t’afia and Beaver’s in Houston. The only Texas woman to ever be named a Top 10 Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine, Pope first learned to cook from her Czech grandmother and earned her Chef’s title from Prue Leith’s School of Food and Wine in London. After working in Europe and San Francisco, Pope returned home to Houston to open her first restaurant, the critically acclaimed The Quilted Toque.  Soon after opening Boulevard Bistrot in Houston, Travel & Leisure hailed her “one of the most ingenious restaurateurs around.” t’afia has been featured in Gourmet, O: The Oprah Magazine, Bon Appetit and Fortune.  She recently published digital cookbook Eat Where Your Food Lives (available at www.ChefMonicaPope.com) and is currently working on a cooking memoir entitled Eating Hope (and Other Things I’ve Had to Stomach).
Competing for: Recipe for Success

Thierry Rautureau
Known affectionately as “The Chef in the Hat,” French born Thierry Rautureau is the owner of Rover’s Restaurant in Seattle. Raised on a farm in the Muscadet region of France, this James Beard Award-winner for Best Chef in The Pacific Northwest began a cooking apprenticeship in Anjou, France at age 14 before training at top culinary locales across that country. He eventually found himself working for Jean Claude Poilevey at La Fontaine in Chicago before heading to Los Angeles’ The Regency Club and The Seven Street Bistro.  Opening Rover’s in 1987 after a chance visit to Seattle, Rautureau has been featured in Gourmet, Zagat’s, USA Today, and every major metro-Seattle publication that covers dining.
Competing for: Food Lifeline

Carmen Gonzalez
Puerto Rican native Carmen Gonzalez has been a prominent figure in American dining for over 20 years.  Opening the nationally recognized Miami-based Carmen the Restaurant in 2003 (hailed “One of the Best New Restaurants in America” by Esquire magazine), Gonzalez has been recognized with many honors including the Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence from 2004-2006; AAA’s coveted 4 Diamond Award in 2004 and 2005; a 2006 mention in Zagat’s America’s Top Restaurants; among others. Gonzalez has been featured in The New York Times, Miami Herald, Food &  Wine magazine and Bon Appetit, as well as appearances on The Martha Stewart Show, Today and MGM Latino.  Gonzalez’s greatest passion comes from community outreach efforts, involving herself for many years with Share Our Strength, the James Beard Foundation, Chef Carmen Cooks for a Cure, and Feeding the Mind Foundation, the latter two of which she founded.
Competing for: ASPCA

David Burke
Owner of David Burke Townhouse, David Burke at Bloomingdales, Fishtail by David Burke, Burke in the Box, David Burke Prime, David Burke’s Primehouse, David Burke Las Vegas, and Fromagerie, Burke is one busy chef.  Trained at the Culinary Institute of America and in France under esteemed chefs Pierre Troisgros, Georges Blanc, and Gaston Lenôtre, Burke was America’s first recipient of France’s coveted Meilleurs Ouvriers de France Diplome d’Honneur for excellence in American cuisine by age 26. Burke’s other accolades include Japan’s Nippon Award of Excellence, the Robert Mondavi Award of Excellence and the CIA’s August Escoffier Award. Burke was inducted into the 2009 James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America. He is a ntoed culinary product inventor (GourmetPops, Flavor Sprays & Flavor-Transfer Spice Sheets)and author of cookbooks Cooking with David Burke and David Burke’s New American Classics.
Competing for: Table to Table

So, who has the best chance to win each preliminary round and who will win the Grand Prize?

For prelim round 1, my guess was that Jerry Traunfield would win, but we already know from last night's ep. 1 that it was Susan Feniger and Tony Mantuano that moved ahead to the Champions Round.

For which round the TCM1 repeats are in, I expect Jonathan Waxman to win a close victory with whoever his partner turns out to be.

For what I marked at guess at ep. 3 and ep. 4, I have no real knowledge of any of the 10 chefs competing in those preliminary rounds, so I decline to nominate anyone.




« Last Edit: April 08, 2010, 12:56:57 PM by apskip »

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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2010, 08:34:26 PM »
TCM2, ep. 1
As usual in the BRAVO reality show style, Top Chef Masters (TCM) first episode started with some material designed to highlight the varying personalities of the competing master chefs. However, host Kelly Choi wasted no time in getting right to it, as the time of such top-level chefs in quite valuable. She asked each one in turn to open the lid on a pot and see what was inside. It was red, green and blue colored aprons and the two Reds (Tony Manuano and Susan Feniger) became a team for this episode, as did the two greens (Jerry Traunfield and Anna Sortun) and the two blues (Govind Armstrong and Jimmy Bradley). See above for biographical info on each of these chefs. Kelly announced that a Quickfire victory would be worth $5K to a winning chefs' designated charity, an elimination challenge win was worth $10K, the Grand Prize for top Chef Master 2 is $100K plus the title. Something not announced, but which can be inferred from later scoring results, is that the Quickfire results no longer count toward the final total. The Elimination Challenge score by itself was the final determinant on who went on to the next round.

Kelly told them to jump into their Lexus (subtle product placement, as always on BRAVO, but hey they have several good programs that survive as a result). They were told they were going to recreate a famous Top Chef Quickfire in Chinatown Los Angeles. Now, those of you who are veteran viewers of every Top Chef episode ever (all 80 of them so far through the end of the TC6 season) know that the TC2 was the only season in Los Angeles and there were no Quickfires in Chinatown nearer than 2.2 miles. That one, the Sushi Quickfire for ep.2 filmed in the dark while this TMC2, ep. 1 was in sunlight. I was not able to put it all together while watching this episode.  So what are those wily Top Chef creators and producers trying to do? Well, they are borrowing a Quickfire from elsewhere and, to obfuscate and otherwise hide their intent to give this Quickfire maximum impact, they have transposed the infamous TC1, ep. 10 Gas Station Quickfire to a nondescript gas station in Chinatown. The master chefs were completely befuddled until Kelly told them what the Quickfire really was: a test of their ability to get creative with junk food to make a tasty dish that could still be served to quality-conscious diners. I don't remember if the specific constraints were specified other than 45 minutes to cook, but for the original version it was $20 in quarters for ingredients (to which Kelly stated that very limited us of TCM kitchen staples was allowed). There is no Guest Judge per se but the rock music band The Bravery, used to food on the road, will be the Guest Critics for the dishes. I have not heard of them but Jimmy considers them a favorite of his.

Jerry and Anna select pork rinds, Clamato juice (clam and tomato mix) and rice cake. They made crispy rice cakes with "Clamesco" (a takeoff on Italian Romesco sauce, a combination of almonds, pine nuts, and/or hazelnuts, roasted garlic, olive oil and a red pepper analog).

Susan and Tony focus mostly on bread, bananas and maybe maple syrup. It is no surprise that their dish is maple bread pudding with caramelized bananas.

Govind and Jimmy select Slim Jim's and Cheeto's (they missed the "flaming HOT on the label). They made super spicy Cheeto Mac and cheese with grilled Slim Jim's and tomato soup.

It was fascinating to watch these proud master chefs watching and listening to be closed circuit TV the comments from the Guest Critics. I think BRAVO and the producers of the Top chef Masters series did a good job in inventing a new term (Guest Critics) to clarify their real role. The one member of the Bravery with a real culinary background faded into the background and let him bandmates give their less-qualified opinions. They really ripped a number of aspects of the 3 dishes much harder than I thought would have been warranted. It was fun to watch the masters react to what they regarded as (and probably were) unwarranted criticism of their dishes. The scoring by the Guest Critics was Susan/Tony 4, Govind/Jimmy 3.5, Jerry/Anna 3. Susan and tony each won $5,000 for their charity. Kelly announced that the teams would work together again for the Elimination Challenge. Tony was a bit apprehensive because he regards Susan's style as very different from his own, but later in this Challenge he felt he had won bragging rights on how well their teaming had worked out.

The Elimination Challenge was to create a duo of dishes appropriate as an aphrodisiac for the first date of what looked like about 7 couples. Teams were given $350 and 45 minutes to shop at the local Whole Foods.

Here are the dishes:
Govind/Jimmy - roast lamp chop he recommended to be sensuously eaten by hand with cauliflower couscous and pomegranate reduction; a duo of lamb, lamb Carpaccio seared slightly on one side with a baby arugula and herb salad;
Jerry/Anna - caramelized duck breast with fresh lavender flowers grown in an herb garden, reed cabbage; crispy duck leg in vermicelli with orange blossom and cinnamon smoked almonds
Susan/Tony - black pepper shrimp and scallops (she admitted the shrimp were a little overcooked as a result of the physically hot black pepper sauce poured on them maybe too soon; homemade pasta filled with I believe they said Taleggio cheese, mushrooms and truffles

There was a range of comments from the regular Top Chef Masters Judges Gael Greene(GG, nationally known food critic), James Osener(JO,U.S. food critic), Jay Rayner (JR, London food critic and author). Oseland found the shrimp good but the Taleggio overpowering. Raynor thought the Susan/Tony dishes did not mesh well but it was a very tough challenge. Greene rated it “earthy sensuality added to a fabulous dish (that sounds like a great score coming from her)" and thought the combination of shrimp, scallops and pepper sauce was excellent. Raynor rated this team’s dishes together as a great first date meal.

Osener thought the lamb carpaccio was going to be challenging for him to eat, but was shocked at how good it was. He also loved the couscous, which he rated the best single place item cooked in this challenge. Raynor liked the breast of duck, Greene did not like the combination of the 2 lamb dishes and Raynor responded that it was not a fatal flaw.

Osener rated Anna’s sauce as perfect. He did not like the duo in combination. He used the disparaging reference “she’s in pajamas and he’s in a tuxedo.” Someone stated that they loved Tony’s homemade pasts. I bet they did. If it is good enought for President O'Bama then it is good enough for TCM Judges.


The first date individuals participated to the extent that their average score for all such diners was given equal value to the vote of one judge. The final scoring was:
                           JO            GG         JR           Diners      TOTAL
Govind/Jimmy      3               4            3,5             3              12.5
Jerry/Anna          3.5            3.5         3                4               15 
Susan/Tony        4               4.5          4               4               16.5 

Susan and Tony each win their $10,000 and they go to the Champions round. The other 4 all pack their knives and go home in true top chef style. The losers took that a lot better than chefs ever eliminated in regular Top Chef episodes.

I was not as satisfied with TCM2 ep.1 as I was with the entire TCM1 season. The specific dishes made in this telecast were not ones that could easily be appreciated without actually eating them much more so than the typical dishes. I would have gone in the first episode with tasks that resulted in more visually appealing food. I will continue to "Watch What Happens" as BRAVO recommends. I will also say that I liked Kelly Choi's matter of fact style better than Padma Lakshmi's more unctuous one in regular Top Chef. Tony has the last word: Susan and I will have to compete against each other and I regret that.

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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2010, 12:25:27 PM »
Fans of TCM will find it returning to the 10pm EDT/PDT time slot. I expect it to remain there after he premiere last week one hour later.

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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2010, 07:52:19 PM »
TCM2, ep.2

This episode had a lot more 3 colorful personalities and zip in it. Thierry was caught on film trying to go up the down escalator and he also threatened to kill any chef who would otherwise beat him because he wanted his charity to win the $100K. The Quickfire was judged by none other than Kelly Choi, who cited eating at many fine restaurants and sometimes just wanting something simple but elegant. Carmen says the best way to judge a restaurant if to order the simplest thing on the menu. The Quickfire Challenge is to create a marvelous grilled cheese sandwich in 20 minutes. The chefs get right to it, although Carmen cut her finger and had to bandage it to keep going. The dishes presented to Kelly were:

Carmen - Italian Baguette with Manchego Cheese, Olive Oil, Garlic, Cilantro, Lime Juice
David - Triple Cream Cheese with Proscuitto, Almonds, Tomato & Rosemary
Marcus – Grilled Gruyere, American Cheddar Cheese with Gazpacho, Salad w/ Crouton
Monica – Feta and Farmer’s Cheese w/ Dates on Raisin Walnut Bread with Basil, Cilantro and Mint Salad w Orange Blossom Honey Dressing
Thierry – Grilled Taleggio+Goat Cheese w/Olives, Harissa, Julian Pear, Pine Nut and Baby Arugula Salad
Kelly’s comments on those dishes were:
Carmen- use of herbs really nice; simple
David- prosciutto but too many elements onthte plate
Marcus- exemplified his World Cuisine offering
Monica- felt like eating grilled cheese in Marrakesh
Thierry- loved your Harissa but wanted more Taleggio
Monica’s dish was rated the Winner by Kelly. That gave her $5000 for the charity Recipe for Success courtesy of Lexus and also the first pick and exclusive use of a protein selected at Whole Foods.

The Elimination Challenge involves creating soul food to cater the birthday party for 125 guests of TV celebrity (E.R.and Lie to Me are mentioned) Mexhi Phifer. Just 125 of his closest friends, including actor Don Cheadle. Chefs have 45 minutes and $400 to shop at Whole Foods and then 1 hour that night to prep. The next day, there will be an additional 2.5 hours to finish the prep. The party was happening at the Rooftop Lounge of Bond Street at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The chefs have to cart their packed prep items from the Top Chef Masters kitchen, but the camera catches a large tray left behind inadvertently. When the prep starts and the master chefs unpack, Carmen discovers that she left the critical stew component. She had to go back, which in Los Angeles traffic took 90 minutes. In her absence, Thierry, Monica and David all pitched in to peel and cook her yucca; they burned a little but it apparently came out edible. Marcus refuses to help as he wanted to focus on his own dishes. As BRAVO says,“Watch What Happens.” Carmen planned out all her adjustments on arrival back at the hotel kitchen and executed them well. How good can her dishes be under the circumstances, which Carmen summarized that it’s been a horrible day?  If after she unpacks she can’t get something decent to present, she stated that she would withdraw from the competition.

The guest of honor arrives and the guests mingle, eat and then have to rate the food. The Diners’ consolidated score gets the same weight as one Top Chef Masters Judge. The dishes finally presented were:

Carmen – Oyster and Hot Sausage Stew over Yucca and Bacon Mash with Cilantro, Corn
David - Sweet Potato Custard with Green Beans, Corn and Crab BBQ, Pickled 
  Watermelon Rind, Hush Puppies, Cornbread
Marcus – BBQ Chicken w/ Mac+Cheese, Collard Greens cooked in coconut milk, Cranberries, Capers
Monica – Shrimp and Grits Mac+Cheese Style with Smokin' Okra, Pickled Green Beans, 
  Tomato Jam, Salad
Thierry - Moroccan Spiced Pork Shoulder, Farro, Roasted Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts
  Slaw, Harissa

Carmen pronounced herself “Confident, but there can always be an element of surprise.”
Monica believed that “the guests loved my food” and that fourths and fifths being requested will carry the day. Marcus said essentially the same thing. Both could win, as two master chefs will go to the Champions round and win $10K each for the top 2 places in this Elimination Challenge. The critics arrive and weigh in with their comments.
James Oseland says “Monica has given us a deconstructed shrimp and grits.”  James Raynor stated that “her food is an acquired taste which I really haven’t acquired“. JR said that the sauce was too aggressively sweet and tasted as if the chicken was constructed to flavor the sauce. Gail said that it was the most soulful dish. However, the judges agreed that the shrimps were undercooked (would that have happened if she had not helped Carmen?).

Marcus told Mexhi that he cooked from the soul and I thought they had the most chief guest/master chef affinity. JO said that “Marcus’s mac and cheese is a diet buster and it’s very good.” Monica accused Marcus of being the man . JO said the collard greens were the “most complicated of my life.” Gail:”It’s a lot of flavor in there; it was a bold taste.” JO gets the last word: “Marcus’ greens were too fussy.”

Carmen was asked why no mash. She responded that she had to make adjustments due to the time available and the yucca burned. .” Carmen substituted for the lack of mash by thickening of the stew; this concept worked to perfection. JO stated that it is a gumbo and not really an oyster stew (who cares if it tastes good and there was no specification restricting it to be a stew?; I think BRAVO is just throwing in random comments in an attempt to obfuscate who will win). He also missed the “starch in this dish.” Despite Gail stating that “it didn’t really need the mash.” JR says there is “real power in this dish.” JR said he wanted this on his tongue. Gail Simmons got in a sly “I’d like to see that.” Using Whole Foods sausage instead of making it (which she obviously did not have time to do) was criticized, so how heavily will the judges deduct for that?

David heard JO state “the hush puppies are spot-on.“ Gail said “the watermelon rind is the highest point of the dish“. David thought his crab and custard were well-balanced, but the judges did not agree. JR said it just did not work. JO has the most outrageous remark: “it was too baconlicious for me.”

Thierry got some positive comments from Gail about his farro. JO: it’s porkilicious. Gail and JO and JR: loved the Brussels Sprouts slaw. The raw corn and onions in the salad were numbingly raw according to JO. He stated that there were too many flavors on the palate. Thierry admitted that he tried to get 7 on it.

                          Gail        JO        JR    Diners   Total
Carmen                 4         3.5         4          4       15.5 she wins and it is cited “the most
  amazing Top Chef comeback ever.” She wins $10K for the ASPCA and goes to the
  Champions Round
Thierry                 2          3            3          3         11 he was a disappointment and leaves
David                   2.5       2            2.5       3         10  he is the first to “pack his knives”
Monica                3.5        3           3           3.5      13
Marcus                 3.5       3.5        3.5        4.5      14.5 he beats Monica and gets the
  money for UNICEF Clean Water and the invite to the Champions Round

BRAVO is trying to make incredible drama out of this relatively mundane release of judges scoring and I don’t like it. It’s obviously not the way it would have happened in real life if they had not arranged the scores presentations into a specific order. Are the producers trying to out-do Hell’s Kitchen and the FOX Network? They had the results arranged so that the winner was announced first, then working their way through the lowest 2 and finally focusing on the real drama between Marcus and Monica. There is not a shadow of a doubt about it: Monica believes she was prevented from doing her best because she elected to help Carmen and Marcus did not, focusing on only his own food. Monica is really hurt that she has lost to Marcus. Carmen is also really upset, so Marcus could find his food in the Champions Round impacted by sabotage or mysterious events because there are those (myself included) who believe he did not deserve to finish 2nd if it was an even competition. For Marcus to make a value judgment and give himself a huge edge was beyond the pale in my opinion. I hope he is the first one out in the Champions Round. I wish I were invited to be a Guest Judge with special powers for that.

I thought Kelly did a super job of handling the Quickfire by herself. It's simple, so why not save the money by using Kelly and the regular judges for Quickfires and apply it to get better Guest Judges.

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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2010, 05:30:08 PM »
On Wednesday, April 28 at 10PM ET/PT, Bravo's "Top Chef Masters" turns up the heat when the master chefs must cook for their toughest critics yet - the cast and crew of the hit TV series "Modern Family." Competing to make classic dishes a bit more "modern" are five top chefs including: Debbie Gold (The American Restaurant), Jody Adams (Rialto Restaurant), Maria Hines (Tilth), Rick Tramonto (TRU) and Susur Lee (Madeline's).

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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2010, 10:42:57 AM »
I owe this thread some recaps. Maybe sometime this week.

The creator of Top Chef Masters, lurking in the background of the show but not often on camera, is Tom Colicchio. He just was named the James Beard Foundation Award winner for the nation's best chef in 2010. Here is the Washington Post article by J.M. of the Associated Press:

Top Chef' judge Colicchio named top chef for 2010

-- "Top Chef" judge Tom Colicchio passed a quickfire challenge of his own Monday when he was named the nation's top chef by the James Beard Foundation.
Colicchio, whose numerous restaurants include Craft, Craftsteak and the recently opened Colicchio & Sons in New York, was named outstanding chef during an awards ceremony that is considered the Oscars of the food world. It's an honor for which he'd been a finalist seven other times since 2002, the same year the organization named Craft the nation's best new restaurant.
Though Colicchio drew many accolades early in his career, he rose to prominence in 1994 when he and partner Danny Meyer opened Gramercy Tavern, which earned Colicchio three stars from The New York Times and several Beard awards, including best chef in New York City in 2000 and outstanding restaurant service in 2001.
Colicchio's cookbook, "Think Like a Chef," earned him a Beard cookbook award in 2001. More recently, he's become known for his role as the lead judge on the Bravo television series, "Top Chef."
The award for outstanding restaurant went to an equally epic name - Daniel Boulud's Daniel restaurant in New York, one of only a handful to get four stars from The New York Times. Boulud, who has restaurants around the world and is known for his contemporary French cuisine, has won multiple previous Beard awards, including best restaurant service for Daniel in 2009 and outstanding chef in 1994.
The James Beard awards honor those who follow in the footsteps of Beard, considered the dean of American cooking when he died in 1985. The awards ceremony was held in New York, where the Beard Foundation is based.
This year's outstanding service award went to Chicago's Alinea, where chef-owner Grant Achatz is known for his ultramodern, often deconstructionist approach to cooking. He is considered at the forefront of the so-called molecular gastronomy movement. Achatz received the Beard Foundation's outstanding chef award in 2008.
The outstanding restaurateur award went to Keith McNally, whose New York restaurants include Balthazar, Minetta Tavern and Pastis. Best new restaurant went to chef Michael White's Marea, which serves the seafood-rich cuisines of Italy's coastal regions.
Rising star chef of the year went to Timothy Hollingsworth at Yountville, Calif.'s much-lauded The French Laundry.
The Beard Foundation also named its top regional chefs around the country, including Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park for New York City (considered a separate region) and Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier of Arrows in Ogunquit, Maine, for the Northeast.
Other regional winners were: Koren Grieveson of Avec in Chicago (Great Lakes region); Jeff Michaud of Osteria in Philadelphia (Mid-Atlantic); Alexander Roberts of Restaurant Alma in Minneapolis (Midwest); Jason Wilson of Crush in Seattle (Northwest); David Kinch of Manresa in Los Gatos, Calif. (Pacific); Michael Schwartz of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink in Miami (South); Sean Brock of McCrady's in Charleston, S.C. (Southeast); and Claude Le Tohic of Joel Robuchon at MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas (Southwest).
The organization's Lifetime Achievement award went to Ariane and Michael Batterberry, the founders of Food & Wine and Food Arts magazines.


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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #16 on: June 09, 2010, 08:57:09 PM »
TCM2, ep.3 Pub Food

The chefs competing in this episode are all Top Chef Masters losers who were eliminated but quite close to those moving on. During this entire episode the love/hate relationship between Rick Moonen and Ludo Lefebvre is on display before the cameras. Rick is usually getting the better of their exchanges, which occur because Ludo is a constant whiner and complainer.

The Quickfire was a classic from season 2 episode 4, pairing beverages with specific dishes by creating dishes to go specifically with a given Stolichnaya cocktail. The cocktails selected and dishes created and presented were:

Graham Elliott Bowles – - Coriander Mule; Crudo of Black Cod w/ Edamame and Red Onion Salad
Jonathon Waxman – Lemongrass Mojito; Pork Tenderloin and Poblano Stuffed Shrimp w/ Avocado Butter
Ludo Lefebvre - Nutmeg Apple Mojito; Roasted Pork Chop w/ Rosemary, Thyme and Garlic
Mark - Ginger Figgle; Mussel Custard with Kaffir Lime and figs
Rick Moonen - Forest Fruits; Cream Biscuit Berry Shortcake
Wylie Dufresne - Russian Tea Room; Arctic Char with Lentils, Bacon, Crispy Potatoes and Lemon Yogurt

Jonathon went with small bite-sized portions and was done 20 minutes (out of 45 minutes for this task) before everyone else. The judges for this Quickfire were The Real Housewives of Orange County's Alexis Bellino, Tamra Barney and Lynne Curtin, along with critic Gael Greene. Jonathon Waxman’s dish was rated 5 star and all the rest 4 star.

The Elimination Challenge was to create exceptional dishes that are derivations of those typically found in English pubs. Dishes were assigned by random knife draw.  The chefs have 32 hours to prep and then show up the next day at Tom Durgin’s Irish Pub, where the kitchen is tiny. Mark is having trouble with the oven, so he cranked up the temperature and ended up ruining his Yorkshire Pudding. The dishes presented were:
Graham Elliott Bowles – Free Form Steak and Kidney Pie, Roasted Beef Tenderloan, Chanterelle Puree and Bacon-Kidney Vinaigrette
Jonathon Waxman - Shepherds Pie with Lamb, Mashed Potatoes and Parmesan Cheese
Ludo Lefebvre - Beef Tenderloin w/ Confit of Potatoes and Clarified Butter, Roasted Peanut Miso and Caramel of Guinness (for his assigned Irish Stew???)
Mark Peel - Toad in the Hole w/ Seafood Sausage, Onion Sauce, Lobster Broth and Mustard Greens
Rick Moonen - Chicken Fried Sable Fish w/ Lemon Confit Tartar Sauce, Twice Fried Potatoes and Fennel Slaw
Wylie Dufresne - Bangers, Smoked Mashed Potatoes, Onion Jus and Snow Peas

The Elimination Challenge diners were customers from that pub. The evaluations for the master chefs were:
                     Gail       Gael      JR      Diners     Total
Graham        3             3.5       2.5         4.5         13.5
Jonathon       4.5         5           4.5         4.5         18.5
Ludo             3            3           3            2            11
Mark             2.5         3           3            1              9.5
Rick              4            4           4            4             16
Wylie            3.5         4           3.5         3.5          14.5

The winners were Jonathon Waxman with his take on shepherd’s Pie.Rick Moonen’s Fish and Chips took second, so both move on to the Champions Round. Waxman won a total of $15k for CityMealsOnWheels.

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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #17 on: June 09, 2010, 08:58:12 PM »
TCM2, ep. 4 “Modern Family” Cast and Crew Meal

The Quickfire was a repeat of a classic one from Top Chef Season 2, episode 4, using knife skills to present fruit in a particularly appealing way. The dishes were:
Debbie Gold – pecan tempura stuffed w/ cranberries fig with persimmon and tangerine
Jody Adams – fig and walnut tart w/ pomegranate syrup and zabaglione (wow!)
Maria Hines - apple soup, grilled fig, fresh berries in a berry mousse
Rick Tramonto – herb and fruit shooters spilling out of a Versace cup and a card which reads “Take care of each other,” as well as apparently individual blessings for each critic
Susur Lee – fruit plate blackberry ravioli and Thai basi

This is a high-stakes Quickfire, so the winner goes automatically to the Champions Round, leaving only one other spot for the remaining 4 master chefs to compete for. The judges are Gail Simmons and renowned food photographer Stephen Hamilton. The scores are: Debbie 3.5, Maria 3, Susur 2.5, Jody 4, Rick 3.5. so it’s Jody picking up $5k for Partners in Health.
The Elimination challenge was based on modernizing the family meal. The master chefs visit Whole Foods first to spend $350 on ingredients. They have four hours to prep and cook Top Chef Masters kitchen before they serve the 125 members of the cast and crew of Modern Family on their studio lot buffet style. We learn that Susur walks around the kitchen with no shoes on. Susur says being a chef is like being a ninja: You have to be quick, and have to be free. “I feel like I’m a kung fu master.”
The dishes presented are:
Debbie Gold – “Pork chops and Apple Sauce” - Glazed Pork Loin with Apple Butter and Winter Squash Slaw, sauce of honey, ginger, garlic, lime, thyme, sage, soy and veal stock
Maria Hines – “Salmon with Mediterranean Flavors” - Sockeye Salmon w/ Sumac, Lemon, Paprika Potatoes and French Beans with Almond Milk
Jody Adams - Braised Chicken Thighs seared in oil w/ smoked paprika, anchovies, leeks, carrots, celery, chicken stock, and mushrooms, Semolina Gnocchi, Herb Salad
Rick Tramonto – “Gloria’s Greens and Beans” in honor of his mother - Truffled White Beans w/ Escarole and Grilled Sausage
Susur Lee – “Southeast Asian comfort food” - Roasted Chicken and Farce Curry w/ Polenta and Grits, Tomato Jam, Chili Mint Chutney

The diners were the cast and crew of “Modern Family”. One telling comment from one of them starts a debate about Jody’s dish: “which is the chicken and which the mushroom?” which makes it unlikely that she will win this. The judges’ evaluations were:
                        Gail     Gael     JR     Diners     Total
Debbie Gold      3         2.5      2.5        2.5         10.5
Maria Hines      3.5       3.5      3           3.5         13.5
Jody Adams      3.5       3.5      3.5        4            14.5
Rick Tramonto  4          3         3           3            13 
Susur Lee           5         5         5           4.5          19.5

The winner is Susur Lee, who moves on to the Champions Round along with Jody Adams. All the others are eliminated. Susur got the highest score ever awarded by the Top Chef Masters judges. He won $10k for the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education.

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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #18 on: June 09, 2010, 09:37:13 PM »
TCM2, ep.3 Pub Food

The chefs competing in this episode are all Top Chef Masters losers who were eliminated but quite close to those moving on. During this entire episode the love/hate relationship between Rick Moonen and Ludo Lefebvre is on display before the cameras. Rick is usually getting the better of their exchanges, which occur because Ludo is a constant whiner and complainer.

The Quickfire was a classic from season 2 episode 4, pairing beverages with specific dishes by creating dishes to go specifically with a given Stolichnaya cocktail. The cocktails selected and dishes created and presented were:

Graham Elliott Bowles – - Coriander Mule; Crudo of Black Cod w/ Edamame and Red Onion Salad
Jonathon Waxman – Lemongrass Mojito; Pork Tenderloin and Poblano Stuffed Shrimp w/ Avocado Butter
Ludo Lefebvre - Nutmeg Apple Mojito; Roasted Pork Chop w/ Rosemary, Thyme and Garlic
Mark - Ginger Figgle; Mussel Custard with Kaffir Lime and figs
Rick Moonen - Forest Fruits; Cream Biscuit Berry Shortcake
Wylie Dufresne - Russian Tea Room; Arctic Char with Lentils, Bacon, Crispy Potatoes and Lemon Yogurt

Jonathon went with small bite-sized portions and was done 20 minutes (out of 45 minutes for this task) before everyone else. The judges for this Quickfire were The Real Housewives of Orange County's Alexis Bellino, Tamra Barney and Lynne Curtin, along with critic Gael Greene. Jonathon Waxman’s dish was rated 5 star and all the rest 4 star.

The Elimination Challenge was to create exceptional dishes that are derivations of those typically found in English pubs. Dishes were assigned by random knife draw.  The chefs have 32 hours to prep and then show up the next day at Tom Durgin’s Irish Pub, where the kitchen is tiny. Mark is having trouble with the oven, so he cranked up the temperature and ended up ruining his Yorkshire Pudding. The dishes presented were:
Graham Elliott Bowles – Free Form Steak and Kidney Pie, Roasted Beef Tenderloan, Chanterelle Puree and Bacon-Kidney Vinaigrette
Jonathon Waxman - Shepherds Pie with Lamb, Mashed Potatoes and Parmesan Cheese
Ludo Lefebvre - Beef Tenderloin w/ Confit of Potatoes and Clarified Butter, Roasted Peanut Miso and Caramel of Guinness (for his assigned Irish Stew???)
Mark Peel - Toad in the Hole w/ Seafood Sausage, Onion Sauce, Lobster Broth and Mustard Greens
Rick Moonen - Chicken Fried Sable Fish w/ Lemon Confit Tartar Sauce, Twice Fried Potatoes and Fennel Slaw
Wylie Dufresne - Bangers, Smoked Mashed Potatoes, Onion Jus and Snow Peas

The Elimination Challenge diners were customers from that pub. The evaluations for the master chefs were:
                     Gail       Gael      JR      Diners     Total
Graham        3             3.5       2.5         4.5         13.5
Jonathon       4.5         5           4.5         4.5         18.5
Ludo             3            3           3            2            11
Mark             2.5         3           3            1              9.5
Rick              4            4           4            4             16
Wylie            3.5         4           3.5         3.5          14.5

The winners were Jonathon Waxman with his take on shepherd’s Pie.Rick Moonen’s Fish and Chips took second, so both move on to the Champions Round. Waxman won a total of $15k for CityMealsOnWheels.

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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #19 on: June 09, 2010, 09:38:05 PM »
TCM2, ep. 4 “Modern Family” Cast and Crew Meal

The Quickfire was a repeat of a classic one from Top Chef Season 2, episode 4, using knife skills to present fruit in a particularly appealing way. The dishes were:
Debbie Gold – pecan tempura stuffed w/ cranberries fig with persimmon and tangerine
Jody Adams – fig and walnut tart w/ pomegranate syrup and zabaglione (wow!)
Maria Hines - apple soup, grilled fig, fresh berries in a berry mousse
Rick Tramonto – herb and fruit shooters spilling out of a Versace cup and a card which reads “Take care of each other,” as well as apparently individual blessings for each critic
Susur Lee – fruit plate blackberry ravioli and Thai basi

This is a high-stakes Quickfire, so the winner goes automatically to the Champions Round, leaving only one other spot for the remaining 4 master chefs to compete for. The judges are Gail Simmons and renowned food photographer Stephen Hamilton. The scores are: Debbie 3.5, Maria 3, Susur 2.5, Jody 4, Rick 3.5. so it’s Jody picking up $5k for Partners in Health.
The Elimination challenge was based on modernizing the family meal. The master chefs visit Whole Foods first to spend $350 on ingredients. They have four hours to prep and cook Top Chef Masters kitchen before they serve the 125 members of the cast and crew of Modern Family on their studio lot buffet style. We learn that Susur walks around the kitchen with no shoes on. Susur says being a chef is like being a ninja: You have to be quick, and have to be free. “I feel like I’m a kung fu master.”
The dishes presented are:
Debbie Gold – “Pork chops and Apple Sauce” - Glazed Pork Loin with Apple Butter and Winter Squash Slaw, sauce of honey, ginger, garlic, lime, thyme, sage, soy and veal stock
Maria Hines – “Salmon with Mediterranean Flavors” - Sockeye Salmon w/ Sumac, Lemon, Paprika Potatoes and French Beans with Almond Milk
Jody Adams - Braised Chicken Thighs seared in oil w/ smoked paprika, anchovies, leeks, carrots, celery, chicken stock, and mushrooms, Semolina Gnocchi, Herb Salad
Rick Tramonto – “Gloria’s Greens and Beans” in honor of his mother - Truffled White Beans w/ Escarole and Grilled Sausage
Susur Lee – “Southeast Asian comfort food” - Roasted Chicken and Farce Curry w/ Polenta and Grits, Tomato Jam, Chili Mint Chutney

The diners were the cast and crew of “Modern Family”. One telling comment from one of them starts a debate about Jody’s dish: “which is the chicken and which the mushroom?” which makes it unlikely that she will win this. The judges’ evaluations were:
                        Gail     Gael     JR     Diners     Total
Debbie Gold      3         2.5      2.5        2.5         10.5
Maria Hines      3.5       3.5      3           3.5         13.5
Jody Adams      3.5       3.5      3.5        4            14.5
Rick Tramonto  4          3         3           3            13 
Susur Lee           5         5         5           4.5          19.5

The winner is Susur Lee, who moves on to the Champions Round along with Jody Adams. All the others are eliminated. Susur got the highest score ever awarded by the Top Chef Masters judges. He won $10k for the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education.

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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #20 on: June 09, 2010, 09:38:39 PM »
TCM2, ep. 5 Wedding Wars

This is the beginning of the Champions Round. Two master chefs from each of the 4 Preliminary Round episodes made it here and they will face off with one eliminated each week until 3 remain. Then there will be a 3-way competition to determine the second Top Chef Master. After the Quickfire below, I will drop all last names in references to the master chefs.
The Quickfire is a blindfolded relay race in which the not-used-yet members of a team are blindfolded and cannot communicate at all with their prior teammates who have moved some recipe forward. There are 2 teams of 4 competing. The Red team of Carmen Gonzalez, Susur Lee, Tony Montuano and Marcus Samuelsson make Truffle Spiced Shellfish Broth. The Blue team of Jody Adams, Susan Feniger, Rick Moonen and Jonathan Waxman make Mussel & Scallop Stew with Orange & Fennel. The Blue team wins $2,500 for the charity of each team member.
A pair of late 30 somethings is getting married in San Juan Capistrano. The master chefs will be catering the food for the wedding out of mobile cooking units. The bride and groom state their likes and dislikes and the chefs are supposed to give them what they want. The bride wants either Asian or French plus Bananas Foster and the groom is meat and potatoes but definitely carrot cake. The Blue team gets to pick which one’s food they want to do and they go with the bride, which leaves the Red team with the groom. One serious issue is the wedding cake since in a past episode of Wedding Wars one team used a boxed cake mix, which was only marginally acceptable then and will not be OK for master chefs. Susur took on that unenviable task and added two additional desserts for variety. The teams split up and buy at both Whole foods and Restaurant Depot.

The wedding starts out with hors d’oeuvres courses. For the Blue Team the Hors d’Oeuvres were:                                                                                                                          Susan- Potatoes Bhajia with Mint Cilantro Sauce and Tamarind Date Chutney. The critics call it “perfection.”                                                                                               
Jonathan- Red Pepper Pancakes with Smoked Salmon, Caviar and Lemon Zest. The critics call it “Very very good” but “a little too big to be bite sized”.                                 Jody- Pancetta and Melted Raclette Tart. It has “crispness” and is “easy to eat”

The Red Team Hors d’oeuvres were:
Marcus- Lobster Roll with Asian Pear which the critics called “bright and rich,” plus a Honey Mustard Cured Tuna which they termed “sophisticated”.
Carmen- Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with Avocado Relish which the critics rated as just a crab cake.

The entrees and side dishes that were prepared were:
Carmen – she served as overall coordinator and only was able to make roasted corn salsa
Jody - Dijon Rack of Lamb w/ Rosemary, Farro, Autumn Vegetables
Jonathon – Roast Chicken w/ Tarragon Veloute, Cauliflower Puree
Marcus – Roast Beef Tenderloin with Grilled Onion Ragout and Pomegranate Sauce
Rick – Seafood Mixed Grill w/ Opah, Coho Salmon, Swordfish on Sweet and Sour Eggplant
Susan – Egyptian Semolina Cake with Berries and Cream
Tony – Flaming Ouzo Shrimp, Potatoes Au Gratin, Pasta with Tomatoes, Feta Cheese and Oregano
The critics say that Jody’s rack of lamb is spot on, Jonathon is “the Chicken Master” and Rick’s seafood is too sweet and overcooked. Susan’s Egyptian Semolina Cake with Berries and Cream was dry and Jody’s Bananas Foster with Candied Pecans and Rum Caramel Sauce was excellent.
The critics say that Tony’s shrimp dish is perfect and the au gratin potatoes are amazing, but his pasta was overcooked. Marcus’ beef dish was rated mushy.
Susur created 3 separate desserts: Croque en Bouche wedding cake, an Upside Down Raising Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce, a Chocolate Profiterole and Whipping Cream and the groom’s Carrot Cake. The first two are great, but the carrot cake is mediocre.
The bride’s team wins and will not be further evaluated. The evaluation of the elimination challenge for the losing team is by the diners and the critics:

                    Gael     JO     JR     Diners     Total
Carmen         2.5        2      2.5       4            11
Marcus          3           3       3         4.5         13.5
Susur              4.5        4     3.5        4           16   
Tony               3.5       4      3.5        3           14     

Carmen got the ax for not having enough food in the final presentations. Also, I am sure that

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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #21 on: June 09, 2010, 09:39:21 PM »
TCM2, ep. 6 Scary Surf and Turf

The Quickfire had the master chefs draw for a character from “The Simpsons” TV show and then prepare food that their character would eat. The assignments and dishes prepared were:

Jody – vegetarian Lisa; Cracked Wheat Salad w/Goat's Milk Ricotta, BBQ Beets, Baked Kale Chips
Jonathon – Bart; Spaghetti Bambino w/ Grilled Tomato, Ham and Cheese Sandwich
Marcus – Apu; Indian Tomato Soup with Rice, Chickpeas, Chutney, Melon and Nuts
Rick – Homer; Shrimp "Sloppy D'Oh!" (spaghetti w/ grilled ham, tomato and cheese sandwiches) w/ Truffle Chips and Beer
Susan – Moe; Millet Rice Crispy Treats w/ Peanut Butter Chips, Donuts, Mexican Hot Chocolate
Susur – Marge; created her image (hair, pearls, and all) out of purple potatoes (beehive hairdo) a pan roasted pork chop (w/ olive eyes and pretzel ears) and glazed grapes (pearls) in a mustard sauce.   
Tony – Chief Wiggum; Fried Bacon Honey Pizza Dough with Boozy Coffee

Tony had set the bacon fat aside and was planning to use it, but susur inadvertently beat him to it. The evaluators for the Quickfire were “The Simpsons” TV show creator, producer/writer and lead actor who does many voices. They gave the following scores:
Susan 4 Tony 3 Susur 3.5 Marcus 4 Jody 4 Rick 4.5 Jonathon 4. Rick is the winner. That gave him an advantage for the Elimination Challenge as well as $5k for his charity Three Square.

The Elimination Challenge involved selection of some exotic surf and turf creatures, including Giant Squid, Geoduck, Kangaroo, Goat, black chicken, Sea Cucumber (really a slug), Monkfish Liver and Duck Tongue. One choice must be from land and one from sea. Rick got a broken mousse making his dish and used Activa to repair it.

The dishes that were prepared for that were:
Jody - Sicilian Spiced Roast Goat, Geoduck and Chickpea Chowder, Homemade Harissa
Jonathon – Giant Squid Fritto Misto, Fried Duck Tongue, Fideo w/ Duck Tongue
Marcus – Geoduck and Kangaroo Sausage, Geoduck w/ Couscous, Geoduck and Kangaroo Tartare
Rick – Poached Black Chicken Mousse, Roulade, Monkfish Liver Torchon, Buttered Leeks
Susan – Marinated Sea Cucumber, Fried Sea Cucumber, Kangaroo with Juniper Sauce
Susur – Poached Monkfish Liver, Black Chicken Veldute, Black Chicken w/ Monkfish Liver
Tony - Crostino w/ Calamari in Zimino, Braised Goat Sauce, Goat Cheese Ravioli

The guest diners were Andrew Zimmern, Bill Esparza, Marc Moss and Eddie Lin. I guess they figured few could stomach these dishes but the icon of Bizarre Foods. Commentary on the dishes included criticism for not enough salt on Tony’s crostino and not enough goat in that dish.
 
The judges’ results were to rate the top 4 as Tony, Susur, Rick and Susan. Rick got 18.5 while Susur beat him with 19, again almost a perfect score. Susur wins $10K for the Andre Agassi foundation for Education.

                      Gael     JO     JR     Diners     Total
Jody                 3         2.5    2.5        2.5         10.5
Jonathon          3         2.5    3.5        2            11
Marcus            3          3       3           2.5         11.5

So Jody heads home

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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #22 on: June 09, 2010, 09:40:20 PM »
I am p[I predicted before the final episode tonight that it will be Susur for the win. with the courses completed, I still believe that.

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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #23 on: June 10, 2010, 10:43:52 AM »
TCM2, ep. 7 Tailgating

This Quickfire was to cook the leg of an animal in a delicious way for evaluation by Olympic Gold Medal swimmer Jason Leszak and critic Jay Rayner. The dishes prepared were:

Jonathon - Capellini w/ King Crab Leg, Jalapenos, Mint
Marcus - Confit of Frog Legs w/ Curry Broth, Crab Rice
Rick – Egg in A Hole with Roasted Octopus Leg and Béarnaise Sauce
Susan - Cumin-Cilantro Chicken w/ Pickled Tomatoes on Quinoa, Raisin Pilaf
Susur – Indochine Roasted Leg of Lamb w/Lamb Meatballs, Pine Nuts, Dry Cherry Sauce
Tony - Warm Crab and Potato Salad w/ Three Types of Coriander
 
The scores were Tony 3.5, Rick 3, Jonathon 3.5, Marcus 3, Susan 4.5 and Susur 4. Susan’s win got her a special advantage for the Elimination Challenge plus $5k for her charity, the Scleroderma Research Foundation.

This Elimination Challenge was a tailgating party for University of Southern California football game fans. Dishes prepared in the Top Chef Masters kitchen, cooked on a Weber grill in a parking lot and served to USC fans were:
Jonathon – NY Steak Tacos w/ Grilled Vegetables, Bordelaise Sauce
Marcus – Grilled Chicken and Shrimp Soup w/Grilled Vegetables, Couscous, a Burger
Rick – Chermoula Grilled Chicken w/ Baba Ghanoush, Spicy Slaw on Pita Bread
Susan – Skirt Steak Tacos w/ bordelaise Sauce, Black Bean and Corn Salsa, Roasted Pepper  Salsa
Susur – Korean Style Skirt Steak w/ Roasted Cauliflower, Austrian Dumplings
Tony - Grilled Pizza w/ Mozzarella, Tomatoes, Romano, Arugula, Prosciutto

Susan got an edge on the others by receiving a USC cap and apron to attract the masses to her booth. Susur did not understand the concept of tailgating (and had never been to a live football game before) until one of the other chefs explained it to him.

Jonathon’s stale tortillas caused his lower scores. Susan was scored down on the inappropriateness of her dumpling. Critics Jay and James disagreed on the dryness of Marcus’ burger. Gael says Susr’s beef we brilliant but his dumplings were “from outer space.” Comments on Rick’s food were quite positive. Tony’s grilled pizza got the lowest scores for its execution despite being a crowd-pleaser.

The final scores for the higher performance group were:
                        Gael         JO       JR        Diners      Total
Marcus               4             3         3.5            4          14.5
Susur                  3.5          3.5      4               4          15
Susan                  4            4          4               4          16 
Susan’s won an additional $10K for her charity.

The scores for the lower performance group were:
                         Gael         JO       JR       Diners       Total
Rick                    4             3          3            3.5          13.5
Jonathon             2.5          2          3            3             10.5
Tony                   2.5          2.5       2.5         2.5          10

Tony is eliminated. 

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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #24 on: June 10, 2010, 10:44:47 AM »
TCM2, ep. 8 Food of the Gods

The Quickfire was the classic “Name that Ingredient” where the chefs taste a sauce briefly and compete in a bidding war to guarantee how many ingredients they can correctly name its 29 ingredients. They are eliminated if they miss on any ingredient or fail to identify the nominated number of ingredients.

In Susur versus Marcus, Susur guaranteed 6 ingredients and named carrots, celery, onions, tomato, red wine vinegar, and oil. He was asked to clarify what type of oil and he picked vegetable, which got him the win that round. In Rick versus Susan, she guaranteed 6 and named onions, butter, salt and red wine. The actual sauce has white wine and red wine vinegar, so she’s out. Jonathon had gotten a first round bye. In the second round the sauce is Thai green curry and he faces Susur and Rick. Jonathon mistakenly identifies butter when, as he said, he should have said garlic. The finals was Rick versus Susur with a lobster sauce composed of 30 ingredients. Susr says lobster, Rick says sugar, Susur says garlic and it’s over because there is no garlic in that sauce. Rick won $5k for his charity, Three Square. The master chefs really do no better than those competing on Top Chef and facing the same test of tasting skills. It’s amazing to me how few the best in the business can effectively identify.

The chefs are told that they must stay in the kitchen for a special event. It proves to be the arrival of a birthday cake, since that day is Jonathon’s 59th birthday. It showed a figure representing him on a French alp, which is where is usually spends his birthdays.


The Elimination Challenge was to use divine inspiration to create food fit for Greek gods. Each chef drew a knife to determine which Greek god they got. They were:
Jonathon – Poseidon, king of the sea
Marcus – Ares, god of war
Rick – Hades, king of the underworld (which Rick accompanied by a moo-ha-ha laugh that was really devilish)
Susan – Aphrodite, goddess of love, beauty and sex
Susur – Dionysus, god of wine
The dishes prepared were:

Jonathon – Seared Scallops w/ Romesco Sauce, Cherry Tomatoes, String Beans, Mashed Celery Puree
Marcus – Cured Beef and Salmon with Apple Broth and Oyster Foam
Rick – Swordfish Crusted w/Flaked Garlic, Onions, and Poppyseeds, Crimson Potatoes, Daikon, Radishes, Parsnips
Susan - Coconut Jam Toast with Sweet Butter, Dark Soy, Fried Egg w/ White Pepper
Susur - Roasted Pork Loin Marinated in Chinese Wine, Croquette w/ Feta and Risotto, Santorini Olives

The critics find Jonathon’s scallops too salty in spite of a marvelous sauce. Rick’s swordfish was dry. Susan is criticized for doing just a sandwich although its individual components were fine.

Marcus and Rick are evaluated to be the higher performance group. Here are their scores:
                          Gail         Gael        JR        Diners      Total
Marcus                3.5           4             4             4            15.5 
Rick                     4.5          4.5          4.5           4.5         18 

Rick won $10k here, for a total this episode of $15 for his charity Three Square.

The scoring of the lower performance group was:
                    Gail     Gael       JR      Diners     Total
Jonathon        3          3           2.5        4            12.5
Susan             2          2.5        2           3.5         10
Susur              4          4          4           3            15

Susan was eliminated. She had spunk, but I think she went out at the appropriate place in this competition. It should be noted that Jonathon is now consistently in the lower performance group, which do not bode well for him.

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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #25 on: June 10, 2010, 10:46:08 AM »
TCM2, ep. 9 Improv

This Quickfire task was to pair up and to then switch cookbook recipes so that Jonathan was doing a classic recipe from Marcus’ cookbook and Susur was doing one from Rick’s cookbook and vice-versa. They each had 1.5 hours to prep and cook. In the middle of that period, Kelly came in to give them a serious twist. They were to stop and adapt what they were doing to preparation of a soup, which was more or less difficult depending on which recipe they started with. Here are the resulting final dishes:

Jonathon - Chicken Thai Curry Soup with Thai Basil
Marcus - Chicken Soup with Crispy Tortilla Chips, Avocado Goat Cheese Guacamole
Susur - Tunisian Fish Soup with Olives, Capers, White Wine, Cumin & Coriander Seeds
Rick - Scallop, Mussel & Pancetta Asian Style Cioppino

The scores were determined by critic James Oseland’s tastings: Jonathon 3, Rick 3.5, Susur 4, Marcus 4.5.

This Quickfire task was to pair up and to then switch cookbook recipes so that Jonathan was doing a classic recipe from Marcus’ cookbook and Susur was doing one from Rick’s cookbook and vice-versa. They each had 1.5 hours to prep and cook. In the middle of that period, Kelly came in to give them a serious twist. They were to stop and adapt what they were doing to preparation of a soup, which was more or less difficult depending on which recipe they started with. Here are the resulting final dishes:

Jonathon - Chicken Thai Curry Soup with Thai Basil
Marcus - Chicken Soup with Crispy Tortilla Chips, Avocado Goat Cheese Guacamole
Susur - Tunisian Fish Soup with Olives, Capers, White Wine, Cumin & Coriander Seeds
Rick - Scallop, Mussel & Pancetta Asian Style Cioppino

The master chefs got what appeared to be a night off by visiting a local improve theater group, the Groundlings. However, anyone who knows the quirkiness of Tom Colicchio, who has been designing these tasks out of the limelight, knows to expect anything. The mood of the chefs changed rapidly from “night off” to “on guard” when those at the improv were asked for words describing feelings, colors and a food ingredient. Combinations of those led to the following assignments:
Jonathon – Burnt Sienna, Depression Avocado
Marcus – Violet Pleasure Salmon
Susur – Chocolate (the color) Lust Peanut Butter
Rick – Red Anger Bacon

The Eliminaiton challenge task was to prepare a dish that related to all three assigned factors simultaneously. Dishes prepared for were:

Dishes prepared were:
Jonathon – Mesquite Grilled Chicken Breast, French Fries, Yams, Avocado w/ Grapefruit
Marcus - Confit of Salmon w/ Caviar, Shrimp, Sake
Rick - Pork Loin with Poached Oysters, Bacon & Spicy Kim Chee w/ Maudite Beer Susur - Chocolate Mousse Infused with Coriander, Caramel Peanut Butter Mousse, Chocolate Crumble

I consider the best line of the entire season to be when James Oseland complained that he got no epiphany of flavor from Jonathon’s French fries. Jay Rayner is quick on the uptake stating that when he asks for the epiphany-of-flavor fries at the drive-thru, he always has a hard time. Bravo!

Jonathon’s dish was criticized that, despite being the best “Chicken Roaster in the country” his food is not complex enough for this stage of the competition (essentially the same argument used to take Susan out).

The ratings of the elimination challenge dishes by the critics and the Groundlings as the featured diners were:
                         Gail      JO       JR      Diners     Total
Jonathon            3          2.5       3           3            11.5
Marcus               4.5       4.5      4.5         4            17.5 
Rick                   3.5        3.5      3           3.5         13.5 
Susur                  4          4         4.5        4.5         17 

So the eliminated master chef is Jonathon. I knew that Susur and Rick have been stronger performers, but I had hoped that Jonathon could make the finals by beating Marcus. It was not to be. Marcus won, giving him $10k for the UNICEF TAPP water supply project and important momentum going into the finale.

Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef Masters Season 2
« Reply #26 on: June 10, 2010, 01:58:14 PM »
TCM2, ep. 10, Finale

So Rick, Susur and Marcus are being driven to Los Angeles’ Union Station, where they are introduced to the idea of journeys beginning and ending over a breakfast. They are asked by Kelly to do the identical task that the 3 finalist of TCM 1 were given, to create a first course that reflects their first memory of food, a second course reflecting their experience when they decided to be a chef and their third course a reflection of who they are as a chef today.

The master chefs have 1 hour and $1500 to shop at Whole Foods and 4 hours that evening to prep. The chefs are well into their work when Kelly announced that she had a surprise for them. Usually that means a twist, but this time it’s all positive. The sous chefs from the primary restaurant of each master chef arrived to help them make their dishes even better. That is Duron Wong from Shang, Alan Sobel from RM Seafood and Michael Garrett from Aquavit. They operate at full speed immediately. Rick stated that they were cooking for a jury of their peers. Rick had some biting commentary about how he and Marcus are neat in their kitchen space, but Susur is a mess. That’s interesting, but it does not show up in the taste of the Susur’s food. Marcus had a near-disaster when his ganaches were still in the oven with less than 30 seconds to go on second course plating completion.

The dishes developed for the first course were:
Marcus – Lightly Smoked Char w/ Sweet Horseradish Shellfish Broth and Mashed Root Vegetables
Rick – Glazed Kushi Oyster w/ American Sturgeon Caviar, Hamachi and Live Sea Scallop Crudo
Susur – Royal of Steamed Scallop w/ Cantonese Black Bean Sauce, Dim Sum Shrimp and Crab Croquette

The dishes developed for the second course were:
Marcus – Salt Cured Duck w/ Foie Gras Ganache, Sour Tomato Jam, and Aged Balsamic
Rick – “Bacon and Eggs”-Braised Pork Belly w/ Poached Egg, Truffles, Gnocchi, Turnip
Susur – Tuna w/Wasabi Mousse, Pickled Cucumber, Artichoke w/Charred Sea Bream

The dishes developed for the third course were:
Marcus – Berberre Flavored Hamachi Meat Balls w/ Sea Urchin Froth and Wild Mushroom Couscous
Rick – Venison w/ Matsuake Mushrooms, Pear Butter, Stuffed Cippolini Onions, Brussel Sprout Leaves, Natural Jus
Susur – Lamb Thailandaise w/ Chiang Mai Sausage, Peanut and Green Curry Sauces, Mint Chutney, Polenta

This competition was as much about the ability of the chefs to articulate their own personal stories in food as to deliver the best food. Marcus talked about growing up in Ethiopia in a small village and then being adopted by Swedes and moving to a fishing village in Sweden when his mother died. In recent years, he has discovered that his birth father is alive in Ethiopia and gone to visit him. He decided to become a chef after success in cooking a duck as a youngster. He believes that his second dish combines the coastal traditions of Sweden with ingredients/recipes from the Ethiopian village his wife is from. His third course combines African traditions with fine dining. He focused on seafood, pickling and preserving and use of root vegetables.

Rick talked about going clamming from Queens with his father to Sag Hargor (Long Island) as a youngster, his experience eating bacon and eggs with muffins at Petrucchia’s house deciding him on cooking as a career and, despite recognition as one of the world’s best seafood chefs, use his classical French training so he can copmete with the best master chefs on meat dishes as well.

Susur talked about going to a dim sum restaurant with his father when young, deciding with the prompting of his first wife (who died in the Korean Air tragedy over Russian airspace in 1983) to try Japanese food and developing a taste for trying new food cultures as a result. He went back to Asia with his second wife to learn about the spices and also discovered the lamb sausage, peanut sauce and green curry sauce in Thailand recently on a trip with his children. Marcus added that his sister in Ethiopia wakes up early to go fetch a supply of water, emphasizing the importance of clean water.

So, their stories and personalities are interesting (and all that we as viewers can evaluate second hand) but what about the food that only the critics got to taste? The diners at this table in addition to Gail, James, Jay and Kelly are Tom Colicchio (the power behind the scenes of Top Chef Masters even though you seldom see him on camera), TCM1 winner Rick Bayless and TCM1 runners-up Hubert Keller and Michael Chiarello. They are very lucky to be sampling this meal. Rick Moonen commented that he lost in TCM1 to Michael Chiarello and in TCM2 Michael gets to help decide his fate. He also made sure the diners understand that he is taking major risks in not doing seafood to show that he can do New Zealand venison just as well. He got a question from Jay Rayner on how the import of venison by air squares with Moonen’s philosophy of sustainable seafood. Moonen says that when you are trying to win Top Chef Masters 2, you have to pull out all the stops and do whatever you as a chef need to.

Observations by the diners on course 1 are:
For Marcus – perfectly cooked, spectacular
For Rick – stunning presentation, perfectly cooked oyster, amazing,
For Susur – amazing, combination of chilis, oyster and black bean is great, taking dim sum to the next level


Observations by the diners on course 2 are:
For Marcus – ganache melting in center is brilliant; several want to know how he created this effect
For Rick – underdone, chewy, pork belly not braised long enough, simplicity magnifies any mistakes
For Susur – “it’s so punk rock”, broth extraordinary, not seeing the precise work characteristic of Susur, the tuna should have been sliced thinner

Observations by the diners on course 3 are:
For Marcus – odd in texture, falls apart more than you want, cauliflower is really good, sauce is briny to Kelly(who I don’t believe is voting)  but beautiful to Gail (who is voting); this is the controversial dish of this finale with radically differing views of it
For Rick – perfect, Rick has gone way outside of his box by taking risks with this
For Susur – sausage really well done, loved the flavors and he nailed the execution

Rick Bayless sums it up by saying that there are pluses and minuses for each master chef’s food and it is a very difficult one to decide who will win. At Judges Table, the judges question Marcus, Rick and Susur.

As the master chefs wait for the judging, Rick Moonen stated “there are no losers here.” Susur responded with his different perspective by stating “well, there will be two, right.”
Rick’s philosophy is that he has redeemed himself from his TCM1 performance by just being in the finale and cooking well. Even if he loses, he is satisfied. For Susur, nothing but the $100K will satisfy him.
 
The final feedback from the judges to the master chefs is:
Marcus – Gail says sweetness from the apple and celery root was genius; Jay said fish perfectly cooked; he said ganache started with tarragon and white port wine, then cooked at high heat
Rick – Jay says it was one of the best oyster dishes he had ever had, perfect flavors and perfect cooking; James says gnocchi were not right; Jay says pork belly undercooked; Rick responded that he took it as far as he could and then rolled the dice; Gail said it was beautiful; James said venison minimalist but it worked perfectly
Susur – Gail says black bean sauce was sweet with beautiful texture; Jay asked about the black paint on something and Susur revealed that it was squid ink; Gail said second course plate was off balance due to tuna and wasabi mousse; Gail said lamb so much flavor, sausage great spice; James found polenta weak but jay did not

The judges’ summary statements were:

James – Marcus’ 3rd course tartare was too tough
Gail – Marcus was true to the African roots of that dish
Jay – Rick’s first course and third course were fabulous, but the second course was not; Susur’s Thai curry was super; Marcus first course extraordinary

The final scores are:
                       Gail          JO         JR         Diners       Total
Susur                4             4.5         4.5            4             17
Marcus             4.5          4            5               4             17.5
Rick                  4             5            4               4             17

So Marcus wins a finale where the difference between him and the other 2 master chefs is judged to be about 6%. I believe this occured because the judges changed their opinions of one dish whose texture was questionable due to Marcus’ adamant statement that that is the correct texture for that dish despite the fact that it does not taste right “the first 6 times you try it.” Another factor was that both Susur and rick fell down somewhat on the execution of the second course.  So TCM 2 is history. It was good television, but not as good as TCM1 in my opinion.


 

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