Thursday, August 13, 2009

Top Chef Masters - Revelations

Holy cow what an episode. The food? Don't remember. I know, I know, we're all about the food. Not so keen about forced drama. What's that you say? What other kind of drama is there? Here's the thing, as one of the former Top Chefs once told me, you don't need all the crap at the living quarters or the stew room. Throw any bunch of chefs together in a kitchen and drama will happen. That chef was right, it happens everyday in restaurants all over America. It happened in the most recent serving of Top Chef Masters and it was delectable in it's revelations.

The Quickfire. Who cares. For some reason the blind taste test has morphed into The Toughest Quickfire Ever. Uh, maybe for the chefs but for us it's the most boring TV ever. Watching people taste ingredients blindfolded is about as exciting as watching someone peel a potato. Wanna really ramp up the excitement? Have them compete against each other, blindfolded, in speed rounds. Anyhoo, they all tasted the same 20 items and no one got more than seven. While I couldn't track down the whole list here's some of the easier ingredients: peanut butter, corn, ketchup, maple syrup, mango and almonds.Harold's got a point. If these Master Chefs were asked to taste the exact set of ingredients the Season One Chefs had to taste I think my girl Andrea Beaman still would have won. Thankfully it's over quickly and we move onto the elimination round. Here's where it starts to get good.Do you know what Bravo named this episode? The Masters of Disaster. The guy in the middle? I'm a Top Chef junkie and I had to go look up his name because that's how memorable he was. So the challenge was to produce a buffet lunch for 200 by trying to mold these former contestants into a highly effecient team of sous chefs. If given a choice between herding cats or cooking with these chefs, we might have seen a lot of I Can Haz Cheezburger action last night. It gets better. The Master Chefs have to "interview" their potential sous chefs. How does each do this? Three write out a list of questions to ask each chef. One does not. One starts ordering his interviewees to cut up carrots.
(C'mon, admit it, it was fun watching him bust the chops of some of these former contestants)Poor Elia looks as if she's flashing back to the Thanksgiving episode of her season.Blaise also seems to not to be able to let go of the past. And Spike?
Spike just can't let go of being an asshat.
Which is ok because none of the Master Chefs want him on their team.
Keller even goes so far to say it was cruel of Rick to stick him with Spike. Rick, what has Keller done to you to deserve Spike?

All the little teams then go off and try and plan their buffet dishes. Up until now, we've seen the Master Chefs competing like good natured, comrades in arms. But it's the last round before the finals and it's now that we really get to see what these chefs are like back in their real lives. Who handles pressure well, who trusts their sous chefs. The masks that we've been seeing start to slip from their carefully crafted TV faces. What's also fascinating is that all these former contestants think they are the experts on Top Chef stategy.
Which is odd considering there's only one Top Chef in a group made up of losing contestants. I think I'd leave the thinking to the Master Chefs. Back in the kitchen a seemly simple question almost takes us to Hell's Kitchen.
What we get instead is a young man with a lot to learn and an older man who understands that there's more at stake than putting some young punk in his place.
But you could tell it came close to Def Con 1 for Chef Michael. As for Dale, if ever there were a New Jersey Housewife Chef, Dale is the one.

Day Two rolls around and our teams are in the kitchen for their last two hours of cooking and prepping. But that would be too simple. Time for a twist. Now they must pack up everything they just started cooking and head out to serve somewhere else.
Lo is looking pretty weedy is this point. It only gets worse when they see where service takes place.No umbrellas, no shade whatsoever from a very hot sun. The effects of direct sunlight on a seafood raw bar?
The answer's not underneath that towel Anita.

But Wait, There's MORE! The Masters must cut loose one sous chef from their team.Keller, in a act of Karmic Justice, tosses the sticky Asshat. Oh yeah, loving the Keller. Service starts for the 200 seat filling free food loving diners. No other sous chef eruptions occur, at least not that we're shown.
The food. I could show you all the dishes but really it wasn't even close. Here's why, look at these pictures of Keller's dishes.
Think back to the buffets you've dined at and see if it comes close to the spread Keller put forth for this challenge? Not only did he put out great food, he got his team of sous chefs to crank out an amazing amount of dishes expertly prepared. Now the judging is interesting. The diners gave Keller only 3 1/2 stars while giving Rick 4 1/2 stars. The Master Judges however gave him a perfect score of 15 to take the win. Despite all the twists and drama, Hubert Keller seems to be peaking at just the right time.
Anita Lo, on the other hand, got twisted right out of the kitchen. Not that I think she was too sad to be leaving. I think she's happiest in her own kitchen doing her own thing. I know the next time I'm in NY, Annisa will be on my list of places to try.


LaDivaCucina said...

Wow. What an episode. You are right about the food not being very memorable, this episode was all about the drama!

I thought MChiarello acted like many typical chefs: arrogant. Working in myriad restaurants over the years, and experiencing first hand the HUGE ego of the cook, and after all that's what they are, La Diva STILL can't get over the self-importance of some chefs. blech. MC left a baaaaad taste in my mouth (starting with that stupid lemon in the maw trick!)

As for the little punk ass with the Napoleon complex, he should be ashamed. Picking a fight with a celebrity chef on national television in order to save your "pride" is not ever going to win you any respect. Wow. Incredibly unprofessional and all because MC called him "young man?" oooohhh, sooo sensitive! Guess we won't be seeing him again! (I couldn't remember anything about him before and now he'll be even less memorable: Oh yeah, he's the jackass that tried to start a fight with M. chiarello!)

Keller deserved to win, as per usual his food was so enticing to look at. I felt bad about Lo, I think it would be so tough to do these competitions and would think that their restaurants would be a completely different experience than shown on TCM.

Big Shamu said...

I have to agree with you about Chef Michael. Which is ok, to think that there are no large egos out there crowding restaurant kitchens is naive. But I loved this episode because it showed us the different methods of each of these chefs. I thought Michael handled the issue a lot better than Dale did.
I also have to say I love Keller for the fact that if Rick hadn't picked Betty, he would have had an all female team. Just look at the work product he got out of those women (and Spike). It was just a great episode.

moi said...

How cool was it that Fabio showed up with yet MORE awesome Fabio-isms? "Sweating like a goat at da beach-a!"

I'm pulling for Mssr. Keller all the way. Class act, no matter how you slice it.

Big Shamu said...

I'm right there with you Moi, I get the feeling it's down to Keller and Bayless. Michael is good but I feel he's just a mistep away from blowing it. Keller just doesn't make mistakes.

LaDivaCucina said...

Fabio รจ favoloso!!!!!! I wanna more a heem, heese so funneeee!

moi said...

Bayless is my second choice. He's gracious, generous, talented, and cute as all get out. But my first pick is most definitely Keller.

MakingSpace said...

Damn. Anita's gone. Pout. WHATEVAH.

Aunty Belle said...

Yep--more drama than food. Again, these people are exhaustin'! But, that IS a grand display from Keller.