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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Top Chef Masters Episode 2 Recap: Everything Old is New Again

On this week’s Top Chef Masters (episode 2), R&B music star (and trained chef) Kelis joins the chefs for their Quickfire challenge. Then the chefs travel back to the 1960’s with Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks and her husband, Geoffrey Arend for a very retro Elimination challenge. And an extra twist: A Top Chef master departs and another one returns??

Here’s the recap for Top Chef Masters Episode 2 Recap: Everything Old is New Again...
 
Hugh Acheson returns to Top Chef Masters!
The episode opens with the master chefs entering the kitchen and everyone noticing that one of the chefs is missing. Curtis Stone announces to the chefs that John Rivera Sedlar had to drop from the competition, due to an emergency.  And in his place, Hugh Acheson returns, much to the delight of the other chefs.

The Quickfire Challenge
The chefs must make a meatball dish in just 30 minutes. And the catch? They’ll need to mince their meat using a hand-crank meat grinder. Everyone immediately starts freaking out. But they’re all smiles again when they find out that Kelis is bringing her milkshakes to the kitchen and judging the meatball dishes. The winner receives $5,000 for their charity and immunity. The challenge begins and the chefs run to the meat table to make their selections. Then they spend half of their cooking time trying to use their meat grinders. The chefs complete their dishes and are sent into the other room to watch Kelis and Curtis Stone taste the dishes.
The Top Chef Masters grind their own meat
  • Sue Zemanick makes a Spicy Pork Meatball with Spicy Tomato Sauce. Kelis likes the cheese surprise inside it.
  • George Mendes makes a Chicken Short Rib Meatball in a Spicy Tomato Broth. While Kelis thinks it’s an interesting take, she’s not feelin’ the “froth”. No milkshake for George.
  • Alex Stratta makes a Lamb Meatball with Toasted Fruit and Almond Couscous. The Grammy winner really likes the dish, but Alex loses points for adding an inedible garnish.
  • Floyd Cardoz makes a Fried Beef & Bacon Meatball Sandwich with Asian Slaw. Kelis says the dish is too salty, but it probably wouldn’t be if she tried it as a sandwich. She loses points for this one.
  • Traci Des Jardins makes a Tarragon Chicken Meatball Consommé. Once again, Kelis tries the dish without tasting the full ingredients. I’m doubting her ability to judge this Quickfire.
  • Mary Sue Milliken makes a Turkey Albondigas Soup with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Manchego Cheese. Mary Sue quickly realizes she forgot to add an important ingredient. Kelis loves the flavor anyway.
  • John Currence makes a Vietnamese Chicken Meatball. Kelis’ expression says “yuck” but her lips say “yummm”. Her best reaction so far, she says his dish has “curb appeal”.
  • Suvir Saran makes an Indian Spiced Meatball with a Tamarind Glaze (it looks pretty). Thumbs up from both Kelis and Curtis!
  • Hugh Acheson makes a Lamb Merguez with Shitake Slaw and Yogurt. Kelis likes the meatball, but not the sauce. Hugh says her response is just pointless criticism. Call it like you see it, Hugh!

Kelis over-judges the Quickfire Challenge
On the bottom: George, Floyd and Hugh. Floyd does point out that his dish probably wouldn’t have tasted so salty if she had tried it with the bread. Her (bitchy) response: “I get that, but I think everything has to stand on its own”. Really hated her tone when she said that. Moreover, she’s wrong. The whole dish is supposed to be judged – the meatball is just the main ingredient. If she went by her own theory, George would have been on top. I digress…

On the top: Sue, John C. and Suvir.
The winner: John C. and his Vietnamese Meatball win $5,000 for his charity, No Kid Hungry!

The Elimination Challenge
The chefs have a 1960’s themed challenge and pick fondue forks with numbers to determine which classic dish each of them will be assigned.
  • George gets Chicken Ala King
  • Sue gets Duck a ’lorange
  • Alex gets Bread Pudding
  • Floyd gets Ambrosia Salad (poor Floyd isn’t getting any breaks in this episode, is he?..)
  • Tracy gets Beef Stroganoff
  • John C. gets Oysters Rockefeller
  • Mary Sue gets Deviled Eggs
  • Celina Tio gets Coq Au Vin
  • Naomi Pomeroy gets Grasshopper Pie
  • Suvir gets Veal Oscar
  • Hugh gets Beef Wellington

Christina Hendricks & Geoffrey Arend with Curtis Stone
Curtis then introduces the “guests of honor”: None other than Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks and her husband, Geoffrey Arend from Body of Proof! The chefs get really excited. Christina and Geoffrey explain to the masters chefs their “dislike” the retro cuisine and are hoping that the chefs will update the 1960’s classics. Each chef will need to make two dishes in appetizer-sized portions: one classic and one updated. Both will be served at a cocktail party for 40 people the following evening.

The master chefs have 45 minutes to shop at Whole Foods, with a budget of $200. John C. is giving me Richard Blais flash backs, for some reason, and he sifts through oysters. Mary Sue stocks up on eggs and decides not to play it safe with her dish. Instead, she decides to go in a Japanese direction. Floyd tries to figure out what direction he can take his Ambrosia in. Poor Floyd.

Top Chef Masters taste each other's dishes
The chefs have two and a half hours to prep. Hugh worries about losing a second time. Suvir describes the American ‘60’s as fat and flavorless. He’s kinda right. Alex appears to be playing it safe – a smart move for the first few episodes. Mary Sue cuts herself on an egg shell. Traci takes her Beef Stroganoff in a Tartare direction. Floyd may rock his Ambrosia. I love how they taste each other’s food. The Top Chef Cheftestants should take a page out of the “Masters’” cookbook.

The next day the chefs reenter the kitchen to finish their dishes – they have one and a half hours to prep and cook. Suvir and Sue feel like the odd chefs out because they aren’t left with much room to work. The only space for Suvir to actually cook his food is the deep fryer. He and Sue decide to help the other chefs in order to get space – there’s only 30 minutes left on the clock. Meanwhile, the guests arrive and do several toasts over martinis.
  • John C. serves Mignonette Pickled Oyster with Horseradish, Crème Fraiche, Collards & Spicy Bacon.
  • Mary Sue serves Japanese Style Poached Egg with Umeboshi and Mustard Miso Mayonnaise.
  • George serves Roasted Chicken Breast with Lemon Yogurt and Vegetables.
  • Traci serves Steak Tartare and Fried Noodles.
  • Suvir serves Fried Veal with Mint, Cilantro and Tomato Chutney with Asparagus Salad.
  • Sue serves Crispy Duck Breast with Spicy Blood Orange Gastrique and Pineapple Mango Salad.
  • Celina serves Chicken Friseé Salad with Pickled Shallots and Carrots and Bacon Vinaigrette.
  • Hugh serves Filet Mignon with Mushroom Espuma and Crisp Puff Pastry.
  • Floyd serves Grilled Peppered Pineapple with Mango, Coconut and Orange Custard (Rock it, Floyd!!).
  • Alex serves a Chai-Spiced Custard, Panettone and Roasted Apple Salad.
  • Naomi serves Chocolate Mint Soufflé with Toasted Kirsch Marshmallow.

The Judges Table
Mary Sue, John C. and FLOYD approach the judges table first. Curtis Stone announces that the three of them had the best appetizers of the evening. So happy Floyd made the top three after getting dissed by Kelis. The judges are very impressed with John C.’s Oysters Rockefeller. They are amazed that Floyd could take Ambrosia Salad – one of the worst dishes ever created – and turn it into an “irresistible” dish. Curtis tells Mary Sue that he wants her Deviled Eggs recipe and he would be proud to serve it in any of his restaurants.

And the winner of the Elimination Challenge is….

Mary Sue! She wins $10,000 for her charity, Share Our Strength.

Sue, Alex and Suvir are called to the Judges’ Table as the bottom three. Suvir looks soo disappointed. Sue gets reprimanded for her incomplete dish. Suvir is told his dish tastes like shoe leather – he defends himself by throwing the other masters under the bus and calling them divas. Alex is told his dish didn’t have a “wow” factor.

Sue Zemanick says farewell
And Curtis Stone says…

“The chef that is eliminated from Top Chef Masters is…”

Sue Zemanick?? Of the three, I was sure she was going to stay… Still, this week’s Top Chef Masters was a great episode. One down and ten to go… And let’s hope none of the guest stars in the next episode bring Kelis’ nasty attitude.




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1 comment:

  1. Every time I see Ruth Reichl in hippy mode and hear the total nonsense that comes from her mouth, I wonder why anyone thinks she is still relevant. Oseland is not much better. At least Bourdain is clever, if snarky, and judges like Ripert, Colicchio, and other genuine chefs have credibility and experience.

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