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Top Chef Masters Recap: Week 1

By L. Stolpman in Food on Jun 11, 2009 4:00PM

topchefmasters1.jpg Hellur, kiddehs. We're back to recap our flav-o-rite Bravo show. We're not going to lie. The loss of Padma breaks our heart a little. Good thing we're fickle enough to mend in the first 30 seconds of the show. Let's get to it.

You can click here to find out more about the hostess, judges and contestants as rehashing that delays our jump into the fun. Suffice to say that the judges certainly sound impressive. And there's our Gail! Heeeyyy, Gail. And now we meet Kelly Choi, the hostess, former model, Emmy nominee and Columbia Masters Degree recipient. We can already hear our mother making comparisons.

Up for grabs this season? 250K in prizes, 100K for charity. We get an introduction to the Chefs who will be competing this episode. Michael Schlow always looks like he's trying not to smile and giggle. He reminds us of Paul Simon. Hubert Keller and his locks of grey...we think he may be the French Gandalf of the culinary world. Christopher Lee, executive chef of Aureole. I mean, for real? That was like last season's douche from Dilido. But somehow....this makes us like him immediately. We aren't a complicated people. Next up is Tim Love from Texas. Sort of a perfect Texas name to say with a good ol' Southern drawl. Teeem Luhhhhv. We see images of him working in the kitchen in a cowboy hat. Damn. That shit's for real.

These four chefs compete for a spot in the Champions Round. There will be a Quickfire and then one Elimination challenge. The Quickfires will be former challenges from past seasons. We kick it off with a dessert challenge.

Quickfire. The judges have to make a dessert for a group of junior girl scouts. We're thinking that every dessert might elicit a "Wow! this one is best!" but we'll trust the show's ability to junior girl scouts with discerning palates. 60 minutes and lots of Glad products. We love Chef Lee's comment about keeping your integrity as a chef. No, Chef Lee. These are junior girl scouts. If they like cookies and cream ice cream with rainbow sprinkles, serve it to them. To hell with WeverTF chef integrity is.

Judging. Holy crap, these junior girl scouts are tough. Right on, sisters! First up is Chef Schlow's milk chocolate cake, peanut butter chocolate candies and honey almond cream and whip cream. No one is thrilled and Chef Schlow's declaration of "my dish sucked" to the other chefs watching on a television screen in the kitchen is his official white flag. Chef Love has strawberries three ways. One of those ways is chicken fried, proving once more that even fruit served in the South can give you a heart attack. Chef Keller's chocolate mousse swan, whipped cream mousse and fruit with orange sabayon elicits big smiles immediately. You know what that junior girl scout loves? The chocolate tail on the mouse. See, Chef Lee wouldn't have done that. Chocolate mouse tails are not in his twelve volume set of Chef Integrepedia. He offers the girls french toast with caramelized banana, orange sauce and maple syrup fluff. HIs banana brulee is declared burnt and his french toast tastes like a hash brown.

Chef Schlow's chocolate mess gets 2.5 stars. Chef Love clocks in with 3.5 stars. Chef Lee gets 3.5 as well. Finally, Chef Keller gets a full 5 stars and is the winner of the quickfire. The scores will be added to their elimination challenge scores. Overall winner gets 10K for their charity and a place in the Champions round.

Elimination Challenge: 3 course meal using just a toaster oven, microwave oven and a hot plate done in 2 hours. Chef Keller shops at Whole Food like he's never done it before. We suspect his wife (?) is at home, lips pursed while her head nods, saying, "That's right. He's a chef and I have to do the grocery shopping." Chef Love accidentally put all his food (including produce) in the freezer overnight. He'll probably deep fry it later. The chefs have to prepare the food in a dorm room. Oh wow, it looks like a coed dorm. Having gone to Notre Dame, we didn't even know men and women could sleep in the next room without ending up Bristolized.

Chef Schlow is making a salmon crudo, cabbage soup with bacon (yes, that's right; he's making cabbage in a dormitory), and pork a la apicius. Judges wow over his cabbage/bacon soup. One, at judges table, describes it as a good example of 'homely' cooking. We're pretty sure he meant homey. His pork is peppery and overcooked.

Chef Keller is making Scottish salmon, carrot and pea soup with cinnamon, macaroni and cheese with prawns. Chef Keller stops his pasta from cooking in a dorm shower, immersing the showerhead in the pasta. We die a little inside. Judges love his salmon course. Soup goes over well with perfectly cooked vegetables inside. The judges love his creamy macaroni and cheese. This is because they do not know that it was cooled and reheated all up-close-and-personal-like using a showerhead some co-ed may have abused just hours earlier. Watching the students eat it, ...we felt like we were watching Scott Kellerman eat his parents in a bowl of chili.

Chef Lee prepares red snapper ceviche, creamy risotto and pan roasted pork chops. His ceviche gets praise from the judges. Risotta tastes good but texture is off. Judges are impressed with his hot plate pork.

Chef Love will serve scallop carpaccio, squash and corn pozole, skirt steak and braised kale. His pozole is declared good football watching food. His third course is slightly salty.

Judges Table. Chef Keller describes his pasta cooling method as in a really clean place. This is like declaring your kitchen sponge a really clean place because it is used to clean people. We tsk. His soup gets mixed reviews. Chef Schlowmo's pork had good flavor but was overcooked. Chef Love's food is salty. Fried fruit and salty greens, folks. Welcome to Texas. Chef Lee's pork chop was clearly enjoyed more by the judges.

Elimination Round (Diner scores and judges scores, respectively) and totals from the two rounds: Chef Schlow: 3.5 for diners, 7.5 from judges, total of 13.5. Chef Love: 3 for diners, 8 from judges, total of 14.5. Chef Lee: 4 for diners, 11.5 for judges, total of 19. Chef Keller: 4 for diners, 11.5 for judges, 20.5 total. Chef Keller wins!

Back next week to see some Chicago Chefs in action!