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Recap: 'Top Chef Masters,' Season 5, Episode 1

Recap: 'Top Chef Masters,' Season 5, Episode 1


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And so we begin!

The premiere episode of Top Chef Masters' fifth season introduced us to more under-the radar chefs than previous seasons’ superstar showcases, but it’s still clear that there’s a deep well of talent here. Here’s the lineup of chefs that will be competing for $100,000 for the charity of their choice this season:

Franklin Becker, The Little Beet, New York City
David Burke, David Burke Townhouse, David Burke Prime, David Burke Primehouse, New York City
Lynn Crawford, Ruby Watchco, Ruby Eats, Toronto
Odette Fada, Formerly of SD26, New York City
Neal Fraser, BLD, The Strand House, Neal Fraser & Co at Vibiana, Los Angeles
Jennifer Jasinski, Rioja, Bistro Vendome, Denver
Douglas Keane, Formerly of Cyrus, Sonoma County, Calif.
Jenn Louis, Lincoln, Sunshine Tavern, Portland, Ore.
Richard Sandoval, Richard Sandoval Restaurants, Los Angeles
Bryan Voltaggio, VOLT, Frederick, Md.
Herbert Wilson, Sushi Samba, Las Vegas
Sang Yoon, Father’s Office, Lukshon, Los Angeles
Sue Zemanick, Gautreau’s, New Orleans

David Burke is likely the most easily recognizable name in the list, from the assortment of restaurants bearing his name in New York, with Michael Voltaggio running a close second thanks to his second-place finish in Top Chef behind his brother, Michael. But there’s really not a dud in the whole bunch: Sang Yoon runs two of Los Angeles’ hottest restaurants, Douglas Keane’s restaurant has two Michelin stars, and two of Becker’s sous chefs (Mike Isabella and Kevin Sbraga) went onto Top Chef glory.

To add a little more spice to the proceedings (and to drive "second screen engagement," surely), each chef has chosen a sous chef to bring along, who will be competing in competitions aired only online. If the sous chefs do poorly it’ll work to the contestants' disadvantage; if they do well, it’ll work to their advantage. The sous chefs got to work, but we only got to see a few seconds of their challenge before being directed to watch the rest online.

While they cook, Stone informed the chefs that they’d be skydiving into their Elimination Challenge. They got two hours of cook time if they decided to jump, but only an hour if they choose to drive instead, a deal that Burke jokingly called "blackmail." Every chef except for Keane decided to jump, but ironically Keane’s sous chef, Drew, ended up winning the off-screen challenge, providing him with immunity.

The skydiving seemed to go off without a hitch, and I must admit it was pretty awesome seeing Burke and all these other chefs about as out-of-character as possible. But with the adrenaline still pumping, it was time to cook.

The chefs sprinted down to their bare-bones stations, where they had to use the same ingredients that were used by their sous chefs in the earlier challenge. Several of the chefs discovered that they didn't have sharp knives, however, which was the disadvantage that their underperforming sous chefs earned them.

Here were the dishes served to the panel that included Gail Simmons, James Oseland, Lesley Suter, and a parachuting squad:

Franklin Becker: Olive oil-poached halibut with creamed leeks, onions, and scallions
David Burke: Shrimp with smoky white bean hummus, warm vegetables, and candied lemon vinaigrette, topped with arugula salad
Herb Wilson: Grilled mango-cucumber butter and red pepper gazpacho (which was supposed to be topped with a fried oyster that didn’t make it onto the plate)
Lynn Crawford: Maple-marinated beet salad with bacon and egg vinaigrette

The judges were impressed with Lynn’s salad, and found David’s shrimp too "shrimpy" and too heavy on the hummus. Franklin’s halibut was a little bland, but they loved the flavors that it came with. As for poor Herb, they were disappointed that they only got a sauce, even though it was tasty.

Jenn Louis: Clams with bacon, lemon, and fregola sarda, and cabbage salad with lemon vinaigrette
Sue Zemanick: Mahimahi and pepper escabeche with roasted corn and tomato basil butter
Bryan Voltaggio: Aromatic roasted carrots with pine nut praline, arugula chimichurri, and golden raisins
Sang Yoon: Spice-rubbed pork with Vietnamese caramel gastrique and fresh chiles

A lot of Jenn’s clams didn’t open, but what they got tasted good. The pork that was cooked well (a lot of it was undercooked) tasted good, and Bryan’s carrots were full of flavor and "sexy," according to Oseland. Sue’s was a good example of down-home Southern cooking, but seemed a little held-back.

Odette Fada: Cold roast lamb with cauliflower and anchovy salad
Jennifer Jasinski: Orange-ginger marinated skirt steak with pickled cabbage and fried ginger
Douglas Keane: Kombu-cured scallop with hon-shimeji mushroom tsukemono
Neal Fraser: Pork meatball with cavolo nero, faro, and pickled fresno chiles
Richard Sandoval: Beef tiradito with cauliflower, apples, and salmon with aji Amarillo beurre blanc

Odette’s lamb was "surprisingly delicious," according to Simmons, but they didn’t care for Douglas’ dish, even though they were impressed by what he was able to accomplish. Richard’s dishes were a bit of a mishmash, and the beef was undercooked (the chimichurri was the best part). Neal’s meatball wowed just about everyone, and the size of Jennifer’s skirt steak was a bit of a turnoff, even though they liked the fried ginger.

Bryan, Neal, and Odette were all called into see the critics, and they were told that their dishes were the critics’ favorites. Odette won the challenge (and $10,000 for Doctors Without Borders), confirming that cold lamb chops can still be delicious.

David, Herb, and Richard were on the bottom, and were given the opportunity to defend themselves. Richard’s meat was almost raw and the two proteins worked against him. David was OK with the ingredients, but the shrimp was overpowering (even though they were impressed that he deveined 40 shrimp with a butter knife). And as for Herb, well, he didn’t get the main protein on the plate.

In the end, Herb got the boot. The fact that he didn’t get his oysters on the plate did him in, because this early in the competition you can skate by even if what you serve isn’t a showstopper. If you leave the main protein off of the plate, well, that’s a dealbreaker.

With episode one all said and done, it’s pretty obvious that this season is really anyone’s game. These early episodes don’t provide much in the way of character development yet, but it’s fun to see this hodgepodge of chefs at the top of their game begin to navigate what’s sure to be a minefield.


'Top Chef' All-Stars Los Angeles Recap: Episode 5&mdash'Bring Your Loved One to Work'

The chefs must recreate a dish based on a description provided by their loved ones and challenged to create and sell a signature product.

We’re already a quarter of the way through this season of Top Chef and the old adage "too many cooks in the kitchen" has never been more true than it is in this week’s episode in which the cheftestants are tasked with working with their loved ones to create dishes and products that speak to their unique story.

We find our cheftestants in the breakroom, the Red Team still smarting over their loss in the farmers market challenge. The chefs are looking forward to moving on after last week’s drama between Lee Anne and Brian M. over Lee Anne’s under-seasoned crudite. Things still seem tense between the chefs but they decide to hug it out. “We’re prepared to move on from this,” he says.

The next day the chefs walk into a somewhat dystopian, empty Top Chef kitchen where they find smartphones at each cutting board. Eric bravely picks up a phone and realizes he’s got an incoming call. Turns out it’s his wife, Janell, on the other end of the phone. Nini looks so confused as her Mom says hello and Karen is beaming as she says hello to her sister. Each chef receives a call from one of their loved ones and catches up with them for a quick minute before Padma Lakshmi enters the kitchen and tells them that they have to hang up𠅋ut they’ll call right back. Our cheftestants find out that their loved ones weren’t just calling to catch up, they’re going to be part of a cooking challenge. Uh oh.


Recap: Top Chef Masters Season 5 Episode 3

The Sous Chefs made sausage, and didn’t know that they had to leave the Real Chefs enough protein to make a dish. So…Quickfire Challenge! Thirty minutes to make something delicious out of scraps. Carcasses, fat, bones, and some chefs have more than others. Amelia Posada and Erika Nakamura are owners of the butcher Lindy & Grundy and judges for the Quickfire. Neal made ricotta with pork and duck sausage, and David is pissed because it’s from his menu. Douglas made duck breast, and Curtis finds it too fatty. Lynn made a carbonara with fresh pasta. The judges find it very rich. Sue made charred pork, and Curtis is having trouble finding any. Bryan made venison over granola, which, what? David pressed prawns that may have needed more salt. Sang made spicy pork, which the judges call “ballsy” in its simplicity.

The least favorites are Lynn’s carbonara and Sue’s charred pork. The judge’s favorite dishes are Neal’s pork and duck ricotta, and Sang’s spicy pork. And the win goes to Sang, again.

For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs will be cooking for the cast of Days of our Lives, who have just taped their twelve millionth episode. The chefs will be divided up into three teams: sex, greed, and murder. Because Lynn’s Sous Chef won her challenge, Lynn has immunity and gets to choose which story line she wants to cook for…and she picks “sexy.” Chef Sang, Franklin, and Bryan’s Sous Chefs were the worst in the kitchen, so they have a plot twist to be revealed later. Oh, but twist! The teams aren’t teams so much as competitors.

Prep, prep, prep, and the three Real Chefs whose Sous Chefs screwed up receive various time penalties relating to soap operas—thirty minutes in jail, thirty minutes in a coma, there’s even an organ player, and thirty minutes being the murder victim in a crime scene. Unfortunately, the time penalty may have done Sang in as he fails to get all of his elements on the plate.

The cast slithers onto the set, and Curtis is still the most handsome person in the room. Murder is first on the menu. Jennifer made seared and murdered duck. Odette made poison mushroom ravioli. Sang cooked chicken liver meatball. Odette’s presentation falls flat, and Sang’s chicken skin is salty. After murder comes sex. Franklin prepared salmon and crab. Neal made scallop ceviche and snapper. David cooked lobster scramble with toast. Lynn made bacon wrapped duck breast. Neal’s snapper completely overwhelmed the rest of the dish, David tried too many things and once and the flavors get lost, and Lynn’s dish is way too rich. Finally, greed. Bryan cooked turbot with seafood concentrate. Sue made a few crabs. Douglas also has a crab dish, but with shrimp. Bryan’s dish is too salty, and Douglas’s sauce is “confused.”

The favorite dishes are from Sue, Jennifer, and Franklin. The winning dish was prepared by Jennifer, who “muuuhdehhed the competition.” The least favorite dishes were from Douglas, Lynn, and Odette. Since Lynn has immunity, that leaves Douglas and Odette on the chopping block. Odette’s ravioli lacked flavor and was generally too subtle. Douglas then starts to blame the dislike of his dish and Odette’s oozy egg yolk on the unsophisticated diners, which is an interesting thing to do in front of, oh, I don’t know, the judges who were also the diners! His food is just too intense for most people. And Odette is going home, which is a shame because Douglas is kind of a dick and she seems super sweet. But, what do I know. I can’t taste the food.

Next week, Curtis makes out with some chick who I hope is his wife.

Follow Top Chef Masters season 5 on Twitter: @BravoTopChef / #TCMasters


Top Chef recap: Recipe for Disaster

Happy Thanksgiving, TV Watchers, and welcome back to another EW-branded Top Chef recap. Why did I decide to brand this TV Watch? Well, because last night’s episode was chock full o’ product placement. Swanson. Butterball. Top Chef The Cookbook. Last night’s lackluster episode was seemingly stuffed (heh) with more advertising than cooking, which is why it mostly failed to impress this recapper. (Maybe the producers were banking on low ratings for the holiday?) Either way, perhaps more disappointing than a boring episode is seeing a favorite contestant get ousted during a boring episode, but I’ll make sure to stuff enough turkey and mashed potatoes in my mouth today to get over my post-Richard sadness.

But let’s start at the beginning. I felt like I had a bit of déjà vu last night, because the episode began just like last week’s: There was another European love fest between Fabio and Stefan, and Ariane — who many of you rightly nicknamed Debbie Downer — once again began talking about how her nerves are bringing her down (wah, wah, wah). But, my friends, we’re not the only ones assigning nicknames: according to Richard, the chefs call Fabio Kid Italian, Dr. Chase Don Johnson — obviously Richard avoids Fox while channel surfing — and Leah, well, apparently Boobs McGee isn’t flattering enough, so they just simply compliment her rack when she’s not around.

Onto the quickfire challenge, which was judged this week by chef extraordinaire Ethan Hawke. Oops, I mean the Chicago-based Grant Achatz, a pioneer in molecular gastronomy in cooking. For the challenge, our contestants were instructed to pull knives that sported various numbers: 168, 188, 72, etc. No, the numbers didn’t refer to how many times Dr. Chase brushed his locks Marcia Brady-style that day. Instead, the numbers corresponded to a page number featuring a recipe in the Top Chef Cookbook (Product Placement No. 1!). The chefs were told to put their own spin on the recipe, but the producers wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to gain some extra cash through product placement let our chefs off that easy. After they had already begun to cook their dishes, Padma and Grant told them they had to make a soup from the ingredients in their recipes — but, of course, they would provide the Swanson broth (Product Placement No. 2!).

The result? Not all that bad. Our top three were Jamie, who turned deconstructed falafel from season 1’s Miguel into a chickpea soup Leah, who managed to cook a balanced dish out of a difficult-to-work-with ingredient, white asparagus and Daniel, whose ham and egg soup — created from the ingredients for black forest ham and egg bundle by Season 2’s Betty — was so tasty, Padma interrupted Grant’s praise to say ”I like ham and egg soup!” It was kind of like a kindergartener doing show-and-tell (or maybe we can credit her sudden bout of voice immodulation to overexcitement at the ability to make a Seuss-ian reference?). In the end, Leah came out the victor. But all our chefs’ dishes must have been fairly well-made — or perhaps Grant was feeling the holiday spirit? — because our guest chef neglected to name a bottom three.

NEXT PAGE: Melissa rocks out

Immediately following the quickfire, the chefs were told they would have to cook a Thanksgiving dinner for their elimination challenge. Since Leah bagged the quickfire win, she was allowed to choose her teammates: Jamie, Stefan, Melissa, Fabio, Radhika, and, of course, her maybe, sorta fling Hosea. Dr. Chase, Carla, Alex, Eugene, Ariane, Daniel, and Richard made up the other team. Of course, there was a catch to the challenge: Our chefs would be cooking for some famous faces! Daniel immediately figured Donald Trump would be the guest diner (”This Thanksgiving dinner is gonna be HUGE”), but instead, a TV monitor in the kitchen revealed their real clients: the Foo Fighters. That’s right, I said the Foo Fighters. Because, although they roll in boatloads of cash, the band has been on the road so much that they’ve ”had some pretty questionable Thanksgivings,” according to frontman Dave Grohl (by ”questionable” I’m going to assume he doesn’t mean his Thanksgivings were akin to a night in Richard Cole’s hotel room). Of course, it’s also questionable to serve Thanksgiving dinner during the summertime — when Season 5 was shot — but regardless, our chefs were pumped about their challenge and audience, especially Alex: 𠇞very chef wants to be a rock star. And we’re actually cooking for rock stars right now. So that’s pretty cool.”

The contestants were then led to the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester to see the site of their next service. Perhaps the Foo Fighters were hopeful that the chefs would just whip up some Hot Pockets for dinner, because the contestants learned they would have to cook the entire meal using, for the most part, only GE microwaves and toaster ovens (Product Placement No. 3!). Good thing the Foo Fighters have simple palates — two of their favorite foods are bacon and chocolate-covered frozen bananas. While shopping for their ingredients, like a Butterball turkey (Product Placement No. 4!), this season’s cheftestants — who I can only assume are searching for deeper meaning as they are constantly labeling themselves (Team Euro, Team Rainbow) — decided to name their teams. Leah’s team adopted the title of Team Sexy Pants, regardless of Rod Stewart’s curious absence. As for the other team, they labeled themselves Team Cougar, or, as I will refer to them the rest of the recap, the Team That Shall Not Be Named, because seriously, that overused — and borderline offensive — term went out with David Cook’s American Idol crowning. (Really, they should be Team Sour Grapes: Not only did they have attitude about not being chosen by Leah, but Daniel also flipped the bird to Team Sexy Pants, a move that was in poor taste.)

Silly names aside, the two teams got serious once they started cooking, and Eugene impressed by crafting a makeshift grill for his team. Dr. Chase, meanwhile, took the reins for the Team That Shall Not Be Named, taking on a side dish and a dessert, which would have been easier to execute if it weren’t for the rain shower that plagued our chefs during their service. But once the contestants jumped past that hurdle in time for the band’s arrival, the chefs were able to plate their dishes. And at service, there were plenty of hits and misses. Some of the highlights: Ariane redeemed herself with a moist turkey confit, Fabio showed his ability to adapt to different cultures through his pumpkin tiramisu, and everyone loved Radhika’s vegan stuffing just as much as Dave Grohl enjoyed mugging the camera. As for the chefs that were slightly off-the-mark: Richard crafted smores that looked and tasted unappealing — a difficult feat, if you ask me, Daniel undercooked his potatoes, and Jeff made a pumpkin mousse with berries that nearly made Padma spit her food out two episodes in a row. Though it was close, Team Sexy Pants ultimately won a chance to see the Foos’ ”gig” — thank you, Padma, for teaching us the kids’ lingo — giving us the chance to see some of Melissa’s dance moves, which were almost as crazy as Carla’s eyes. Combine the dance stylings of Seinfeld‘s Elaine, Romy and Michelle, and Thor, and you’ve got Melissa at a concert.

Back at the panel, our judges maintained that the teams were neck-and-neck, but then they pulled out a bottom three from the Team that Shall Not Be Named: Richard, Dr. Chase and Daniel. Ultimately, and sadly, Richard was the one to get the ax, thanks to an easy-to-make dish that fell just a bit too short. All I know is Jamie better start watching her back, because Team Rainbow is being picked off faster than a group of turkeys standing near Sarah Palin.

Tell me, TV Watchers, were you bored by the episode? Are you going to miss Richard? Do you wish the quickfire challenge were a little more challenging, being that they had Grant Achatz at their whim (I do). Would you eat a �rfait”? And finally, dear friends, Happy Thanksgiving!


‘Top Chef’ recap: Which of the 6 All-Stars earned a gold medal in ‘Colossal Coliseum Kaiseki’?

Last week &ldquoTop Chef&rdquo went to summer camp where 200 hungry moms brunched and munched while Bryan Voltaggio won his first elimination challenge of the season. Alas, Lee Anne Wong was done in by not checking the setting of the oven, causing her clafoutis to be steamed instead of baked. After the show she faced Kevin Gillespie in &ldquoLast Chance Kitchen&rdquo and lost in a battle involving eggs cooked three ways. What happened this week when the six remaining All-Stars headed to a coliseum to make a traditional Japanese Kaiseki meal in honor of the Tokyo Olympics, which have now been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic? Read on for our minute-by-minute takes on the 10th episode of Season 17.

10:02 p.m. After being on a hot streak with three wins and no low scores, Melissa King has landed on the bottom two weeks in a row. She says her “Restaurant Wars” loss threw off her game. Stephanie Cmar is in a funk as well: &ldquoI want to do better. In order to do better, my food has to taste better, and I haven&rsquot been able to achieve a win or even be in the top.&rdquo We learn her brother died a year and a half earlier because of his drug addiction, which “was absolute hell&rdquo for her and her family. But it made her stronger, and that is a big reason why she is in the competition.

THE QUICKFIRE CHALLENGE

10:04 p.m. Pastry super-chef Sherry Yard joins Padma Lakshmi in the kitchen. Karen Akunowicz knows Sherry is an amazing pastry chef — who we learn has served desserts at the Oscars, the Emmys and the Grammys. Yes, she has her sights on the Tonys, hoping to win an edible EGOT in the future. So Karen deduces this will be a dessert challenge &mdash a course that is not her strong suit. She’s not wrong. Padma assures them the challenge will be &ldquoa piece of cake.&rdquo Ha, ha. We doubt it.

10:06 p.m. &ldquoWe&rsquove seen what you guys can do with savory food. Now we want to see what you can do with desserts,&rdquo Padma says. Sherry adds, &ldquoThere&rsquos really no difference between an executive chef and an executive pastry chef. It&rsquos all about times, temperatures, tastes and methodology. So I&rsquom excited to see what y&rsquoall can come up with.&rdquo Padma tells them they will have a basic pantry available to them — dairy, powder, sugar and eggs. But there is a twist. In order to earn ingredients that add flavor to their desserts, they have to guess them correctly while blindfolded. That Sherry looks cute, but she definitely puts the devil in devil&rsquos food cake.

10:08 p.m. Each chef will have five minutes to taste 20 ingredients. Everything they guess right, they can use. But they don&rsquot have to use all the ingredients they win. The two chefs with the most correct answers will get an hour to cook. The next two chefs will get 45 minutes. And the two chefs who guess the fewest will only get a half-hour. As a bonus, the winner of the quickfire will get a huge advantage in the elimination challenge.

10:10 p.m. Bryan V. is up first. He gets peaches and ricotta cheese right immediately but misses on almond butter and prosciutto. Gregory Gourdet figures out lavender, dried cherries, guava paste and tarragon. Melissa gets tarragon and blackberries. Everyone gets lychees right except Brian Malarkey, who thinks they’re grapes. He was a host of the TV show &ldquoThe Taste,&rdquo so his taste buds should be epic, but he also misses on the almond butter and tarragon. Stephanie goes on a streak, though, rightly calling out peach, blue cheese, thyme and tarragon with 12 seconds left. &ldquoYeah, I crushed it. No big deal,&rdquo she says. She got 15 correct answers and gets an hour to cook. For second place there was a tie, with Gregory and Melissa both getting 13 right. But because Melissa didn&rsquot finish all her tasting samples, Gregory gets an hour and Melissa gets 45 minutes. Bryan got 11 correct, so he gets 45 minutes as well. Karen only got eight while Malarkey brought up the rear with seven right answers. They only have a half-hour.

10:13 p.m. Karen decides to do a panna cotta with peaches and tarragon. Brian has &ldquoa little cake recipe&rdquo and that in order to pull his dish off, he is going to use the woodfire oven and give a little smoke to it. And, once again, he will try to make an ice cream, this time pink peppercorn flavored.

10:14 p.m. Melissa is determined to get back on track and get the win, so she is making an olive oil pistachio cake. Bryan is using coconut, flour, butter and sugar to make a sand texture on top of his curd. Gregory is making a chocolate curd with cherries and frozen coconut ice because he has an hour, he wants to get ambitious. Stephanie is using ricotta, peaches, tarragon and white chocolate that will go on a crostata. Then Karen pulls her panna cotta out of the blast chiller, but she pronounces it &ldquonot good,&rdquo so it looks like that gambit didn’t pay off.

10:16 p.m. Bryan and Melissa have a little more than 15 minutes left. Stephanie and Gregory have about 30 minutes to go. But Karen and Malarkey are out of time, so it’s time to serve Sherry and Padma. Sherry asks what Karen used to set her not-quite-set panna cotta, and she says gelatin. Brian serves the ladies his woodfire cake and peppercorn ice cream.

10:18 p.m. Melissa&rsquos olive oil cakes are finished, so she uses her remaining time to make an egg custard going and uses liquid nitrogen to turn it into ice cream at the last second and declares herself a ninja. Bryan serves his lychee curd with macerated peaches and coconut sand. Sherry comments, &ldquoThese are three very strong flavors.&rdquo Hard to tel if she means that in a good way or a bad way. I’m guessing bad.

10:19 p.m. Stephanie wants to make ice cream, but she can’t use the ice cream machine after Brian used it for his odd concoction. So she too relies on science with liquid nitrogen. And Gregory has two minutes left: he’s worried that with so many ingredients, his dish will be heavy and unfocused. Time is up!

10:20 p.m. Padma asks Gregory what&rsquos in there as she chows down on his coconut and milk chocolate curd with multiple toppings. Or as Sherry puts it, &ldquoEverything but the kitchen sink.&rdquo Stephanie&rsquos peach and tarragon crostata looks well made. Padma makes an off-hand remark about her not removing the peach skins, but Stephanie counters that she &ldquoloves the texture of the peach skins.&rdquo At least, now she does.

10:22 p.m. Sherry tells the chefs, &ldquoI loved to see the use of all the ingredients and your creativity.&rdquo One of their least favorite dishes? Karen, which is no surprise to her. Sherry liked her flavors but there wasn&rsquot time for it to properly set. She also didn&rsquot like Bryan&rsquos effort. She liked each of the components but &ldquothey all fought with one another on the plate.&rdquo

10:24 p.m. The good news: Sherry loved Brian&rsquos woodfire cake. &ldquoIt was soft and spongy and I really loved the gastrique.&rdquo She then compliments Melissa, telling her &ldquoYour olive oil pistachio cake with the beautiful fanning of the meringue so delicate — really well done.&rdquo And the winner is &hellip Melissa , pocketing her first quickfire win. She&rsquos happy to get her mojo back. Plus, as Padma reminds her, she gets a very important advantage in the elimination challenge.

THE ELIMINATION CHALLENGE

10:26 p.m. Padma announces, &ldquoIt&rsquos time that we let the games begin.” But Stephanie asks, &ldquoWhat have we been doing?&rdquo Our host continues: &ldquoFor this elimination challenge, you&rsquoll be cooking for an elite group of Olympic athletes. In honor of the Tokyo games, what would be better than making food inspired by Japan.” And helping the judge this challenge will be Michelin-starred chefs Niki Nakayama and Carole Iidi-Nakayama, co-owners of the restaurant n/Naka. Each of the chefs will be responsible for one dish in a six-course progressive Kaiseki meal. Some jaws drop when they get that news from these esteemed gourmets. Gregory says, &ldquoThis is insane. They are such iconic legendary figures. You literally can&rsquot get a table at their restaurant. I&rsquom really freaking out.&rdquo

10:30 p.m. Niki tells the chefs, &ldquoIt is the most formal way of dining in Japanese cuisine. It&rsquos a celebration of nature. It&rsquos about doing your best to protect the integrity of an ingredient and cooking with restraint.&rdquo Malarkey is beside himself at the sound of that, explaining in a confessional, &ldquoThat&rsquos not the kind of food I cook.&rdquo No fooling! &ldquoI like loud, fun, boom, vibrant not ‘tweezer, tweezer, tweezer.'” Padma notices all the chefs look uncomfortable and nervous — especially Malarkey.

10:32 p.m. Melissa says the Kaeseki meals she has eaten in Japan “are some of the best meals I had in my life. It&rsquos almost like a tasting menu and it sounds simple but there is so much thought behind it.” The chefs take their places at a counter to sample the kind of food they must serve. The meal is a progression. The first course is a sakzuke (appetizer). Niki says,&rdquo In Japanese cuisine, cutting is one of the most important techniques that define the chef.&rdquo Carole adds, &ldquoEverything matters. If you cut this mint for me carelessly and it&rsquos crooked, it&rsquos going to impact the overall dish.&rdquo

10:34 p.m. Brian asks if this course is “always a fish preparation.&rdquo But Niki tells him, &ldquoIt&rsquos safe to say there&rsquos always some element of vinegar.&rdquo The second course is an owan dish (soup). Carole says, &ldquoThe first sip of the soup tastes under-seasoned. By the end, it&rsquos just perfect. In the beginning, if it is already slightly salty, that&rsquos too much.&rdquo The third course is yakimono (flame-grilled) and is mostly about the cooking method. Niki says her teacher told her to plate Japanese food &ldquolike mountain, river and then valley in that kind of level so that it&rsquos reflective of nature.&rdquo

10:36 p.m. The fourth course is mushimono (steamed), and the fifth course is rice. Gregory asks, &ldquoIs it just plain steamed rice.&rdquo Niki tells him, &ldquoYes, but it also depends on the rest of your menu. If you felt your whole menu was really light, it&rsquos okay to end heavy.&rdquo The final course is mizumono (dessert). Karen says, &ldquoThis challenge is very difficult, because it feels very different from the way that most of us try to cook. We always look for the next ingredient to really make our dishes pop.&ldquo

10:38 p.m. Then Melissa learns her quickfire reward. She gets her pick of the courses. Her choice is the steamed fourth course, mushimono. But that&rsquos not all. She gets to assign her competitors their courses. Gregory gets the rice course. Stephanie gets dessert. Bryan wants the appetizer. Karen is good with the flame-grilled third course. Malarkey is gifted with the soup. They will have two hours to prep and cook the next day before service begins at Los Angeles Coliseum. The winner will get tickets for two to attend the Olympics in Tokyo, though none of them could have guessed that those Olympics would be postponed until 2021 — hopefully they’ll still get to go next year.

10:40 p.m. Whole Foods Market awaits as the chefs have 30 minutes to spend $200. Karen buys duck breasts at the meat counter. Malarkey mistakenly calls Bryan by his brother Michael&rsquos name — burn! Says Bryan: &ldquoFor real?&rdquo Melissa is making a savory Japanese egg custard. But the muted flavors of Kaiseki are pushing Gregory out of his comfort zone.

10:42 p.m. Karen starts the next day by doing some powerlifting. It’s her meditation — and that’s some meditation, check out those guns! Then the chefs arrive at the Coliseum, which makes it feel to Bryan like the culinary Olympics. He’s doing a scallop dish with a tomato dashi, avocado and some citrus caviar and aioli. Brian gets to work on &ldquoa light little poach on his prawns in salted water exactly as the chefs told me how to do it.&rdquo As he notes, &ldquoIt&rsquos so few ingredients but everything has to be handled exactly perfect.&rdquo

10:43 p.m. Karen prepares her duck breasts, which will be accompanied by roasted and fresh grapes. But she’s worried her cooking surface won&rsquot be able to handle duck for 13 plates. Melissa is getting her clam dashi stock going as the base of her Dungeness crab chawanmushi. Gregory is making a traditional rice course with sable fish. He says, &ldquoMaking rice is truly an art form in Japan so I really need to make sure this rice cooks perfectly.&rdquo He and Brian both realize that execution is key for this kind of minimalist cuisine.

10:44 p.m. Stephanie is making a panna cotta for dessert, using scooped out lemons as her vessel. She admits, &ldquoMy biggest concern, and it&rsquos huge, is it doesn&rsquot set.&rdquo Gee, where did we hear that before? Karen is still struggling to grill her duck breasts, so she decides to quickly hot-smoke the duck in jasmine tea. Melissa tastes it and tells Karen to crisp it up. She doesn’t, which will likely come back to bite her.

10:45 p.m. The judges arrive including Tom Colicchio and his &ldquoWhat Would Tom Do?&rdquo sidekick Nilou Motamed. The athletes show up as well. The medalists at the meal are Diana Taurasi, Rai Benjamin, Nastia Liukin, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Christian Coleman and Kerri Walsh Jennings, plus NBC Olympics host Mike Tirico.

FOOD SERVICE

10:47 p.m. Bryan greets the guests and tells them his scallop is served with an avocado confit, tomato dashi and caviar and aioli. Carole says, &ldquoWhat he selected here really brought out the beautiful colors of the scallop and balanced it out with those little hints of green.&rdquo Gymnastics gold medal winner Nastia really liked it. Niki praises the use of avocado to add richness. Brian is next with his soup and he calls his plating &ldquospectacular.&rdquo Mike says the prawns were so spot on that he actually saved one for the end. Carole, however, observes, &ldquoHis sizing and cutting techniques were a little bit off.&rdquo Tom delivers the most damning comment, observing that the soup was downright cold.

10:49 p.m. Karen is next with her jasmine tea-soaked duck breast served with grapes. Tom notes the meat was cut unevenly. Carole says, &ldquoThere was a little too much richness and sweetness and not enough acid.&rdquo Melissa serves her crab egg custard. Carole has one big issue: a piece of shell in her crab, which is &ldquoa very, very critical mistake.&rdquo Meanwhile, Gregory frets over his rice not having enough salt. It’s too late to fix that, and sure enough, those who eat it say it lacked flavor.

10:52 p.m. Stephanie arrives with her panna cotta dessert course. Niki gives her dish high marks and appreciates she used the lemon skin shells as a vessel. Tom declares her dish &ldquoreally successful.&rdquo It&rsquos about time Stephanie stepped up her game and gained more confidence. Sounds like they saved the best for last course in this challenge.

JUDGES&rsquo TABLE

10:54 p.m. Niki tells the chefs that they all did a wonderful job. &ldquoIt was really, really impressive and the one dish that really stood out for us was the incredible balance of flavor as well as ingredients. And that chef is &hellip Stephanie! ” She looks like she might pass out. Everyone is happy for her. Carole pays her one more compliment: &ldquoYou brought California to Kaiseki.&rdquo

10:56 p.m. Padma adds, &ldquoThere was another favorite dish, and that chef is Bryan Voltaggio.&rdquo Good for him as well, especially after that rough quickfire. Nikki says, &ldquoHow you cut the scallops, that texture, was perfectly balanced with the rest of the ingredients you had.&rdquo The other four are all on the bottom. The judges criticize the poorly rendered fat and uneven cut of Karen&rsquos duck breasts. Padma tells Melissa, &ldquoThe flavor of your dish was spectacular. It was just the texture was a little bit off.” Carole also informs her about that offending shell. Tom can&rsquot help but ask Malarkey if it was hard to restrain himself Nilou tells him the dashi flavor was wonderful, but the temperature of the broth wasn&rsquot &ldquosuper hot.&rdquo Padma asks Gregory if he was happy with his dish. He admits it could have been seasoned more, but he wanted it as clean as possible.

10:58 p.m. Padma notes it will be a difficult cut because &ldquothe problems they had weren&rsquot in concept but more technical.&rdquo Malarkey&rsquos soup course left Nilou &ldquolukewarm, as was the soup.&rdquo Gregory&rsquos rice needed a flake or two of salt.&rdquo Tom sort of disagrees, and says the dish was satisfying. As for Karen&rsquos duck, he observes, &ldquoI don&rsquot think it was grilled properly.&rdquo And Padma says, despite the shell, Melissa&rsquos dish was &ldquoyummy.&rdquo And the chef packing their knives is &hellip Karen. Yes, it is back to &ldquoLast Chance Kitchen&rdquo for her.

Next week: For the first time ever, &ldquoTop Chef&rdquo is headed for Europe, so says a highly excited Padma about the upcoming finale. She adds, &ldquoThere is just one more elimination challenge standing between you and Italy.&rdquo A sneak peek at the judges&rsquo table seems to suggest Malarkey might just up and quit by saying “Ciao!” next week.

Be sure to make your predictions so that the contestants can see how they&rsquore faring in our racetrack odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before the next episode airs every Thursday on Bravo. You&rsquoll compete to win a spot on our leaderboard and eternal bragging rights. See our contest rules and sound off with other fans in our reality TV forum. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.


Top Chef recap: Tot Chef

In the spirit of this episode of Top Chef, titled 𠇜ommon Threads,” we’ve outlined nine common threads below.

Common Thread #1: A helping hand In both the quickfire and the elimination challenges, the nine remaining cheftestants got an assist, either from Uncle Ben or from one of a group of sous-chefs — though the latter, who aren’t even old enough to drive, prompted a bit of a squabble in my apartment over whether having kids help served any kind of purpose (aside from the fact there was a charity tie-in). One roommate thought the experiment — in the grand spectrum of challenges on this show — was unrealistic and silly. (He obviously never saw Aaron Eckhart and Abigail Breslin cooking it up in No Reservations. No feat of cinematic brilliance, to be sure, but it does make you hungry for some pasta.) Meanwhile, his point prompted another roomie to shrug off the entire show as being unrealistic fluff. I respectfully disagree with both of them. Whether or not the cheftestants could work with kids revealed a number of things: for starters, their patience in a stressful situation and their ability to teach others.

And just for the record, I thought the kids were adorable. I hearted Manuel, who, when asked what he likes about cooking, replied, �ting,” and Alex, who doesn’t have a girlfriend — ”not yet” anyway. Ditto for Richard’s girl, Abigail, who had never tried a beet before, enjoyed it, and then sat down with her table of comrades, who asked what was in their salad. �ts,” she declared, as if she𠆝 been roasting them in her Easy-Bake Oven her entire life. (Also, if Spike doesn’t win Top Chef, think twice about hiring him as your nanny.)

Common Thread #2: A helping of are you kidding me? Fifteen minutes to cook up a quickfire challenge. That was followed by a $10 budget for the elimination challenge, in which they had to cook up a healthy meal for a family of four. And they had to shop at Whole Foods, where, in New York City at least, that’ll barely get you a deli-made sandwich and an iced tea. Um, paging Wal-Mart Superstore.

Common Thread #3: Chock-full of new personal details Antonia chatted on the phone with her squishy-sounding sweetie of a daughter they shared a knock-knock joke that ends with the punch line ”Smell my poo.” Also, Mark has a ”my lady” for whom he cooks veggie curry when he’s ”strapped for cash.” Lisa has a girlfriend who has a child. And Andrew weighed over 200 pounds in high school. It’s nice to have some insight into who these people are — and the factors that may be driving them in this competition.

Common Thread # 4: Stephanie is losing her culinary mojo It seems like she psyched herself out before she could break into her bag of Uncle Ben’s rice. ”So I wake up this morning,” she said. ”Jen’s not here. I’m starting to realize that there are a lot of people gone. It’s been a long haul so far, and we’re only like halfway through to get to the finals. I’ve been at the top a bunch of times, and now I know what it’s like to be on the edge of getting cut. I’m lucky to still be here. So I need to prove that I’m actually supposed to be here.” But she blew it. Last week it was orange turned on by asparagus that got her into trouble this week, her brown-rice pancakes flopped and her tomato and peanut butter combination turned everybody off. Padma said she �tested” it and called it 𠇝isgusting.”

NEXT: Mama’s cooking

Common Thread #5: Bottoming out doesn’t mean you can’t pick yourself back up againCheck out Antonia. She phoned it in last week with that drunken Polish sausage. This week, she won immunity during the elim challenge for her rice salad with skirt steak — and she didn’t even need it after busting a move with that chicken-veggie stir-fry dish. She said it was a no-brainer: ”Honestly, if I didn’t win that challenge, that would have been embarrassing. Like the mom can’t cook food for kids.”

Common Thread #6: Dude, where’s my car?The prizes for the elimination challenges are getting lamer by the episode. Antonia got nada — or at least her prize wasn’t shown on air. Come on, guest judge Art Smith — you’re Oprah’s personal chef. Where’s the car with the keys in the ignition?

Common Thread #7: Is it just me or do the judges’ lines seem slightly dramatic? ”Speed and efficiency are highly prized in professional kitchens, where an entire dinner service can crash and burn if just one chef on the team falls behind,” said Padma. Crash and burn. Those strong words reminded me of some quasi-culinary words my volleyball coach, who called us her little eggs, used to say: 𠇚 little bit of pressure, and [smacking her hands together] you crack.” Then, near the end, Tom, describing Lisa’s dish, said, ”The beans and edamame were undercooked and really bland, like no seasoning at all….It wasshocking.”

Common Thread #8: It’s the food, stupid The best of the episode looked to be Spike’s puttanesca, Nikki’s roasted chicken, Dale’s more adult-friendly turkey bratwurst with cabbage, and Andrew’s chicken paillard.

Common Thread #9: Chock-full of nuts Mark got off to a rocky start in the quickfire challenge with his miso-glazed turkey over rice, which Padma mistook for chicken. Ouch. And Mark knew it. ”Yeah, I don’t think I’m going to be in the top three in this one,” he said. Then things went awry with his ladies’ man curry. When Mark found himself in front of the judges, he actually seemed to be serious when he said, ”I’m a little baffled, Padma. I think Tom doesn’t like me.” Tom laughed, and Mark ended up getting the boot anyway. But Tom added, ”Just for the record, again, I don’t dislike you. You’ve been a great competitor. You’ve been fun to be around. And I’m sure we’ll catch up after this and share a beer.” (Sweet words from Tom, who’s usually not that empathetic.) Ohhhh, sniff. Mark made me laugh every week. He even went out saluting everyone with a fist-pumping mantra at the end: ”If I could say anything to my fellow chefs, it would be ‘Rock on, rocker!’ ”

And speaking of nuts, did anyone stick around past next week’s preview, when Andrew had this outlandish outburst: ”I have a culinary boner right now.” It was apropos of nothing at all, and to be honest, I was shocked that Bravo put that in. Of course, the only explanation I can think of is the common thread of sexual innuendo I mentioned last week — except I𠆝 go out on a limb and say this was a lot less subtle.

What𠆝 you guys think of this ep? Did I miss any threads? Who’s next to go? And is anyone else starting to feel Bravo is promising us too much with the teasers, suggesting all this drama that actually never pays off (like Antonia’s minor sobbing over her daughter)?


Who Was Eliminated on Last Night’s Top Chef Masters 2013?- Episode 7

Top Chef Masters 2013 is down to the five after last night’s Top Chef Masters Season 5 elimination. The chefs made nachos and fish two ways. Who’s hot and cold fish dish sent them packing on last night’s Top Chef Masters 2013?

After last week’s Top Chef Masters 2013 double elimination, Sue Zemanick and Jennifer Jasinski got to battle it out for their spot back in the competition. Jennifer ended up returning to Top Chef Masters Season 5 last night. Will she make if any further in the competition or was she eliminated again?

In last night’s Top Chef Masters 2013 quickfire challenge the chefs had to make their versions of elevated nachos. The judges liked Douglas Keane’s salsa consomme and Bryan Voltaggio’s guacamole inspired wrap. Douglas’ dish won him $5,000 and immunity.

For elimination challenge the chefs paired up and had to cook fish two ways. One hot and one cold. The teams were Bryan and Sang Yoon, Douglas and Jennifer, and Neal Fraser and David Burke.

Douglas and Jennifer worked as a team on the their jon dore dish, Bryan and Sang struggled to make cohesive smoky sable fish dishes, and Neal and David combined Spanish and Mediterranean flavors for their sea bass.

The judges liked Jennifer and Douglas’ dishes the best, saving Jennifer from going home two weeks in a row. The judges didn’t like Sang’s lukewarm dish, Bryan’s lack of consideration for cohesiveness, Neal’s raw preparation, or David’s aggressively seasoned fish.

The chef eliminated on last night’s Top Chef Masters 2013 was Neal.


Recap: 'Top Chef Masters,' Season 5, Episode 1 - Recipes

The cheftestants head to the Top Chef Kitchen o' Product Placement to find Padma with jug-eared guest judge Mark Peel. He was a Top Chef Masters competitor but somehow not important enough to show in this week's previews. He lost on Masters, so maybe that's why.

As Padma introduces Chef Peel, she does a quick little shill for his upcoming cookbook, New Classic Family Dinners, available at fine bookstores nationwide at some random point in the future.

Anyhoo, we soon find out why a chef named "Peel" is guesting for this episode. next to Mark and Padma is a huge mound of potatoes: fingerlings, sweets, you name it.

The challenge is to create an "out-of-this-world" potato dish in 45 minutes. When I hear "out-of-this-world," I think that Brother Michael is going to break out the liquid nitrogen again and Brother Bryan is going to play it simple and classic and use the cryovacker, the immersion circulator and maybe some foam. But I was disappointed. Instead of Spaceman cookery, we got the Battle of the Lesbians.

But first: douchebaggery! Mike Isabella says he is going to cut his potatoes into a brunoise and cook them like risotto. He then finds it necessary to make snide remarks to the home audience.

On to the Battle of the Lesbians(esbians esbians esbians - just imagine that said in a stentorian voice with lots of echo). First of all, Ashley is biting off more than she can chew.

Preeti is making a simple dish of green asparagus with yellow potatoes. Nothing particularly "out-of-this-world" about that, but maybe Tom Cruise is going to present the dish, dressed as Xenu. Hey, ya never know what's going to happen on Top Chef.

Preeti needed blanching water for her asparagus, which Kevin readily volunteered.

Me, I just cook it in the microwave for a few minutes, but what do I know?

Preeti rushes off to trim her veg (no, that's not a euphemism) and then throws it in what she thinks is Kevin's pot. Only his pot has been removed and replaced with Folger's Crystals a fresh pot of water for Ashley's gnocchi. When Ashley sees green things floating in her water, she has a conniption.

At this point, Jen says she wouldn't be as nice as Ashley. Ashley was ranting and raving and throwing pots around - that was "nice?"

While all this drama (eyeroll) is going on, Jesse is making sweet potato soup that has too much cayenne. Looks like there's a familiar place in the bottom three for her. Also having problems is Ash, who's decided to make a sweet potato ice cream (in 45 minutes, mind you) and can't seem to get the ice cream to solidify. Duh. This is Top Chef , not Iron Chef . Wrong network, no prancing "chairman," and no blast chillers in this kitchen.

Padma and Mark Peel enter the kitchen and spoil the fun. They go around and taste each chef's dish. Not surprisingly, Jesse is in the bottom along with Ron and Eli. The favorite dishes are Jen's mussels, Ashley's hey-they-got-cooked-in-time gnocchi, and Ash's un-frozen ice cream which was renamed "custard" in a clever ass-covering maneuver. Jen was declared the overall winner and given immunity for the next challenge.

At this point, Douchey Mike complains that Jen's win was "favoritism." Hmm. favoritism ? You mean the way so far two men have won the Elimination Challenge and two women have been PPYKAGed ?

Next, we learn about this week's Elimination Challenge. Padma calls in a special guest, Colonel Dave Belote of the U.S. Air Force, commander of the 99th Air Base Wing at Nellis Air Force Base, home of the Fabulous Thunderbirds.

Colonel Belote tells the cheftestants that they will be cooking lunch for 300 people, including airmen who have just returned from duty and others who are being deployed. Unfortunately for the chefs, they won't know what ingredients will be available nor will they see their kitchen until the next day when they report for duty.

That evening in the apartment, the chefs decide to appoint Jen as Chef Tournade (head chef) of the group, since she has immunity and nobody wanted to hear her mispronounce "ceviche" again. The remaining fourteen pair up: Preeti and Laurine, Eli and Kevin, Ash and Ashley, Brother Mike and Douchey Mike, Mattin and Bryan, Hector and Robin, and Jesse and Ron.

The next morning, they head to Nellis Air Force Base and find a kitchen well-stocked with canned goods.

Then try taking the food out of the cans, Mattin.

We then get a commercial break featuring one of the dumbest Bravo Votes ever:

Personally, I prefer God as my co-pilot. I don't think any of these three can fly, unless you count Padma's alleged penchant for toking up. Alleged .

When we come back from the commercial break, we find that the kitchen is a less-than-ideal situation.

Meanwhile, Frenchie found a way to utilize the canned goods:

Bouillabaisse a la Raviolios was apparently also an option.

The situation is tough for our intrepid chefs who have to take turns using the one soup kettle and the one pan (both ginormous, btw). Jen cracks the whip and keeps everyone in line.

At one point, Hector is telling at thrilling story about beer (I know *I* want to hear how it ends) which gets interrupted by Bitch Jen.

What the hell is a yug?

Soon the four hours of cooking is up and the cheftestants load their food onto carts to be transported to the lunch venue - a hangar on base. Once there, they set up two identical buffet stations.

The troops arrive and we get a 5-minute public service announcement from Kevin who tells us that we should be proud of our troops (cue montage of soaring F-16s, majestic bald eagles, and Old Glory waving in slo-mo). There sure are a lot of soapboxes on Top Chef this season. Next week, the cheftestants tackle the issue of healthcare reform with Joel Robuchon!

Padma has chosen to wear a tasteful leopard print-and-cleavage ensemble. She knows some of these servicemen (and women, let's not discriminate) are lonely!

Although there are comments among the judges about the wisdom of eating clam chowder and chili in 90 degree weather, the meal is pretty successful overall, and the servicepersons seem happy and well-fed. I'm sure anything's better than the dust-burgers they got in Afghanistan.

Back at the M, the cheftestants wait in the Glad Family of Products Stew 'n' Booze room. Padma enters and morosely announces that the judges want to see Brother Mike, Douchey Mike, Eli, and Kevin.

The judges compliment Kevin's braised pork and Brother Mike's pork belly-a.k.a.-bacon dish. It seems like a toss-up but Mike V is awarded the win. It's amusing to see the look on Brother Bryan's face when Mike announces his victory back in Casa di Stew. "Hmpfh."

In an amusing turn of events, Douchey Mike has to go right back out as part of the the bottom three along with Laurine and Preeti. Even though he was partnered with Brother Mike for the challenge, he was solely responsible for a "Greek" salad that had watery flavorless shrimp. He was obviously pissed about being on the bottom, especially since he had to share that position with two girls. Ha!

Preeti and Laurine had made pasta salad. What were they thinking? At best, pasta salad is a dry and boring melange of unrelated ingredients on cute pasta shapes. At worst, it's a dry and boring melange of unrelated ingredients on cute pasta shapes. Preeti the Clueless thought the dish was yum-o, but Laurine admitted it wasn't that great. She also said that she forgot it was a competition, which shocked and appalled all of the judges. I thought it was nice - she was so happy to cook for the people who serve our country, she focused on that rather than the fact that she needed to win. Still doesn't excuse making a pasta salad, but the sentiment was nice.

Because Preeti was once again clueless about the sheer badness of her dish, she was given the boot this week. Can't say I didn't see that coming. Admit it - you did too.


Top Chef Masters 2013 – Episode 10 Live Recap: Season Finale

Top Chef Masters 2013 is down to the final three! Which chef will win the Top Chef Masters Season 5 title and which two chefs will be eliminated on tonight’s Top Chef Masters 2013 Season finale?

Last week on Top Chef Masters 2013, the final four chefs made their best burgers, and then made dishes to represent special teachers for their elimination challenge.

The two best dishes came from Douglas Keane and Bryan Voltaggio. Jennifer Jasinski had delicious porridge but undercooked lamb fortunately for her, the judges decided to send home David Burke for his daring, but slightly unsuccessful chocolate soufflé.

On tonight’s Top Chef Masters 2013 Douglas, Bryan, and Jennifer will battle for title of Top Chef Masters 2013. To win the title, the chefs will have to make dishes that mean something to them from both their personal and professional lives.

WARNING!! THIS POST CONTAINS TOP CHEF MASTERS 2013 SPOILERS. IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED STOP READING NOW!!

The Top Chef Masters 2013 started casually. Instead of jumping into a cooking competition, host Curtis Stone cooked for the top three chefs of Top Chef Masters Season 5. The chefs talked about how the competition has changed them. The dinner couldn’t be all fun and games. Curtis announced the chef’s final challenge of Top Chef Masters 2013.

The chefs had to make four dishes. The first had to be a dish had to be old the second had to be a new dish the third a borrowed dish that is inspired by someone and the fourth had to be a dessert their sous chef made in their challenge. Bryan’s sous chef won his challenge. Douglas’ sous chef lost, leaving him alone on the first day of prep. The chef’s got their sous chefs to help them menu plan.

Douglas knocked out all his shopping in one stop in hopes of making up for not having the help of his sous chef. Jennifer and Bryan got seven hours with their sous chefs to shop and prep, while Douglas had to do it all on his own. Bryan had the help of his sous chef, but he couldn’t escape the traffic keeping him from grocery shopping! Will it cost him cooking time?

Douglas got back to the kitchen first and began peacefully prepping his food. The peace didn’t last long. Jennifer came back with a lot of chatter. Bryan got back last and really had to rush to get his prep done. Jennifer had to give a lot of direction to her sous chef and when it came time to replicate his dessert dish, things didn’t go so smoothly.

The next day all the chefs had the help of their sous chefs.

First courses: Jennifer made potato sunchoke galette Bryan made a groat salad with crab and Douglas made soup billi bi with white wine. The judges could feel the love in Bryan’s dish (it was an interpretation of the first dish he made for his wife) and were amazed how the apple changed Jennifer’s dish. The judges loved Douglas’ soup.

Second courses: Bryan made black cod with dashi Douglas made soba wrapped ocean trout and Jennifer made paella gnocchi with chicken meatballs. The judges were very impressed with the presentation of all three dishes, as well as the flavors.

Third courses: Bryan made braised beef cheek, New York strip and a seaweed puree Douglas made duck breast with tamarind and Jennifer made Chinese duck with duck wonton. The judges disagreed about Bryan’s seaweed potatoes. Some liked them and other didn’t. Douglas had some overcooked duck and Jennifer’s dish may have been the favorite.

Fourth courses: Bryan made a coconut, lavender, and vanilla dessert Douglas made a back sesame panna cotta and Jennifer made smoked macadamia with chocolate Bavarian and caramel dish. Bryan’s dish was good, but not as good as the version his sous chef made. Douglas’ dish was gray in color but good, and Jennifer’s dish had a little too much going on.

Critic’s Table: The judges really enjoyed Douglas’ dishes overall. The only criticism was the overcooked duck. Jennifer’s gnocchi dish was one of the judge’s favorite dishes. They talked highly of her dishes, except the dessert, which had too much going on. The judges loved Bryan’s dishes, especially his first and second courses. However, his third course had a little too much meat.

After discussing the three chef’s amazing dishes the judges came to the conclusion that the winner of Top Chef Masters 2013 is Douglas Keane.


Recap: 'Top Chef Masters,' Season 5, Episode 1 - Recipes

Last night on Top Chef Masters Season 2, we were down to only four chefs left: Susur, Marcus, Jonathan and Rick. We immediately begin the Quick Fire challenge with the four remaining chefs cookbooks sitting near the chefs. First, the guys pair up. Jonathan and Marcus. Susur and Rick. Then they are instructed to swap recipes. Marcus wants to give Jonathan’s recipe a more worldly approach, while Jonathan wants to take some of the fire out of Marcus’s curry. Rick is intimidated by Susur’s complex dishes while Susur struggles with missing photos and difficult English in Rick’s cook book.

Once they get started, Kelly comes in and changes up the challenge by telling the chefs to keep the integrity of the dish but turn it into a soup.

Jonathan’s dish is: Chicken Thai Curry Soup with Thai Basil. James says that it is “very thick, like porridge, but it tastes good. It is mild.”

Marcus’ dish is: Chicken Soup with Crispy Tortilla Chips and Avocado Goat Cheese Guacamole. James “loves the lime.”

Susur makes: Tunisian Fish Soup with Olives, Capers, White Wine, Cumin and Coriander Seeds. James thinks it is really good but a little held back.

Lastly, is Rick who makes: Scallop, Mussel and Pancetta Asian Style Cioppino. James thinks it is an abundant soup with not enough broth.

Marcus takes the win for the first time on the show.

The chefs think they have the night off, and they are attending an Improv at The Groundlings. During the show, they find out that they will be improvising a dinner for the cast of The Groundlings.

Marcus is assigned with: Violet Pleasure Salmon and turns out a Confit of Salmon with Caviar, Shrimp, and Sake. Kelly thinks the “salmon is perfect.” Some of the people at the table think that the plate should have been edited more.

Rick is assigned with: Red, Anger, Bacon. He presents: Pork Loin, Poached Oysters, Bacon and Spicy Kimchi Cream. Gail Simmons loves the oysters but the loin is a bit too rate.

Jonathan is assigned with: Burnt Sienna, Depression and Avocadoes. He decides to make: Mesquite Grilled Chicken Breast, French Fries, Yams and Avocado with Grapefruit. They love the meat and potatoes aspect but is it complex enough?

Lastly, Susur is assigned with Chocolate Lust and Peanut Butter. He makes: Chocolate Mousse with Coriander and Caramel, Peanut Butter Mousse, Chocolate Crumble. The judges think it is delicious but is it overkill?

In the end, Marcus takes the wine for the first time, Susur and Rick are safe, and Jonathan is eliminated!

Catch the Top Chef Masters Season 2 finals next Wednesday, 10/9 c on Bravo.


Watch the video: The Untold Truth Of Top Chef Judge Gail Simmons