One of the improvements I like about Top Chefs Masters is knowing what the chefs scores are once the Quickfire is complete. Either you're already in the weeds or you're confident that you know what you're doing. If you're truly a competitor and you're ahead, you'll do your best to stay ahead. There is no laying low in the middle of the pack. It also ramps up the pressure.
(Quick Question. How long before we see the Quaker Oats Quickfire Scores?)
It's with that in mind that our first four chefs prepare for their Elimination Round.
Of course, since it's still Top Chef, we get ample product placement and Top Chef Twists. C'mon, did you really think those would disappear? HA! Momma Jane's got bills to pay. Our master chefs are "going back to college" (and maybe going for the first time) and will be using only a microwave, a toaster oven and a hot plate to produce their dishes. That may be ok for a cook like me but it's a real challenge if you've been cooking for 20 plus years on restaurant grade kitchen appliances.
For our second PP (Product Pimpage) Top Chef Twist Two-fer, the chefs go shopping at long time sponsor, Whole Foods. It's really a twist for our chefs who are used to picking up a phone or going online and placing an order for whatever product they want or need. Actually shopping? Who would have thought it would be so hard for them. No ground pork? I ask the Whole Food meat guys and generally they are more than happy to grind up some pork. Whole Foods not having hominy? Again time and unfamiliarity definitely twisted their chef's whites in a knot.
So their shopping is done and suddenly we're at Day Two? Yes, my little crack monkeys, there will be no gratuitous shirtless chef shots, no funny bed head hair, no disgusting morning breakfast habits. Not even one tiny glimpse of the dreaded Ikea Beds of Bunk because when you're a Master Chef with a Master Lawyer, you can write your own damn contract. Part of me is very sad because you know some of these folks have some....quirky... personal habits that the twisted part of me wants to see. Like who sleeps with a teddy bear?Back at the kitchen, Cowboy Chef Tim has achieved his own personal twist by placing all his product in a stand up freezer which he mistook for a refrigerator. Frozen greens, frozen carrots and yes, back by popular demand, Do It Yourself Frozen Scallops. Somewhere in DC a hamburger grease stained Asshat is laughing.Someone needs to find a new lawyer. Cooking commences in the dorm rooms. I kept waiting for them to blow out an electrical panel once all their gadgets were plugged in and running but no, I'm sure the crack production team nipped that potential twist in the bud. Hubert shows the most ingenuity with his Pasta Shower trick. Bring on the judges.
(Production Note to Gael - It's TeeVee...you know, the medium where seeing your face is kinda important?) First courses look pretty good, Cowboy Chef Tim rebounds with Scallop Carpaccio but I think Hubert wins with his Salmon Mi Cuit over creamy whole grain mustard. I'm linking the recipe from Bravo's site but I make absolutely no promises about their accuracy. Second courses seem to be a soup course with the exception of Christopher's Risotto with Prosciutto. I have to admire someone who made Risotto with a microwave and a hot plate. Can't really tell who won this round. The third course had Cowboy Chef Tim serving a skirt steak with braised kale. He took a chance on the kale, especially with college students, it's a distinctly bitter green. Chef Michael went crazy with Pork a la apicius with Broccolini and Mushrooms. Hubert smartly serves up Mac & Cheese with Prawns. Christopher wraps up the third course with Pork chop with pipérade, crushed potatoes, mâche and fennel salad and impresses the judges with his hot plate skills.Judge's Table was extremely subdued and polite. This must change. If you're not going to have the chefs bunking together and getting on each other's nerves, then judges table is where we need to see some hot steamy conflict. Yes I love that they had a conversation about the food but still we've all read just how crazy restaurant critics get inside a chef's head. I want to see some of that passion. While they tried to make it seem close Keller came away with the win for $10,000 for his charity and a trip to the next round. It's only appropriate that the first kick ass Guest Chef ever on Top Chef wins the first episode of Top Chef Masters.
Bravo Chef Keller and Bravo to the Producers for brightening up the Top Chef series.