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Top Chef Masters Recap: Week 2

By L. Stolpman in Food on Jun 18, 2009 5:00PM


Maybe this week a chef will stick a toilet brush in some pasta and everyone will declare it a brilliant new method of stirring. Let's see who is battling it out today: Graham Elliot Bowles from Chicago (we accidentally typed bowels at first - whoops).We dig his Chicago pin on his hat. Suzanne Tracht from Los Angeles enters the kitchen next. Oooo, it's Wylie Dufresne! How is anyone going to beat him when he has +20 hit points and +15 magic potion? Annie Lennox walks in! Oh, no, wait, that's Elizabeth Falkner. She sounds impressive with her James Beard award.

Quickfire: The chefs have to create an amuse bouche using ingredients from a vending machine. Chef Bowles is excited because he was hoping for this particular challenge. Ahhh, the judges for this round are Michael, Betty, and Ilan, all from Season 2 when this challenge was originally fought. The chefs go to town at the vending machines.

Chef Bowles offers up tuna salad with picked shallot, ginger orange bubbles & beef jerky miso powder. The judges love it. Michael says it tastes just like his mom's. Um. Okay.

Chef Falkner informs us that ice cream on a savory dish is not that unusual because it is just a frozen sauce. Her dish is a braised beef jerky with orange juice, lemon & horseradish ice cream. Betty says the flavors do not work for her. Ilan likes it, calling it a journey.

Chef Dufresne fesses up that he wanted to be a professional athlete but that he wasn't particularly fast or strong. Ohhh :( -20 speed/strength and -15 agility. But +50 frying pan skill so whatevs. When time is called he swears up a storm, not pleased, it seems, with his final product: red onion & grilled cheese sandwich with Dr. Pepper reduction. Unfortunately, his reduction solidified on the plate. Good taste but Ilan says too big and difficult to eat. Dufresne curses back in the kitchen, watching this on the television. We envision little old ladies in hats that work for his charity putting down their teacups and sucking air in through their teeth.

Chef Tracht wonders when vending machines will sell fresh herbs and live fish. The judges love her dish: fried shallot rings with microgreen salad and Dr. Pepper aioli. It's a complete hit.

Falkner: 3.5 stars. Chef Bowles: 4.5 stars. Chef Dufresne: 3 stars. Chef Tracht: 5 stars. Winnah!

Elimination Challenge: The chefs will be making dinner for the creators of Lost! They must use a selection of 'island' ingredients and may only add ingredients from a list of canned or preserved items. The only real surprise here is that Bravo, an NBC company, is pimping an ABC show.

The chefs head to Whole Foods to collect their additional, listed items and then the cooking begins. There is a large difference between watching these Masters cook and watching the normal contestants cook. All of these chefs are respectful and helpful to each other and not one of them has a huge ego rearing its head. It has never been so vastly clear what sets these chefs apart from those yet to earn their wings.

Chef Falkner will be serving an ancho-beer braised boar loin, coffee scented poached boar loin and yam papaya pudding. Mixed reviews on the pudding and the judges (the Lost behind-the-scenes-gang and culinary experts) wish for more sauce - something Chef Falkner was attempting to do before her time ran out.

Chef Bowles prepares a maki roll with tuna & dehydrated pineapple, tuna Nicoise and tuna la plancha. Chef Bowles gets praise from around the table and no complaints.

Chef Tracht is making rosotta with uni, clams and prawns, wild boar strip with oyster beer sauce and mango corn salsa. Her plate is declared hearty and a great meal.

Chef Dufresne makes roasted chicken with poached egg, beets with dried corn and a plantain puree. The British judge points out to Chef Dufresne that he does not have any chicken on his plate. Despite this mistake, everyone is very impressed with his meal.

Critics' Table. Chef Dufresne's chicken is said to be the most perfectly cooked piece of chicken the world has ever seen. Chef Bowles impressed the critics with his coffee scented tuna. Chef Falkner's braised boar was well received but she acknowledges the textural issue with the pudding. The critics seem least fond of this dish. The critics love Chef Tracht's boar and urchin.

Two round combo score: Chef Defresne: 20 stars. Chef Bowles: 20.5 stars. Chef Falkner: 16.5 stars. Chef Tracht: 22.5 stars. Chef Tracht is the winner!

We gotta say, it's difficult to be snarky and fully explore our asshole side on the Masters recap because these chefs know their stuff and are mature and experienced enough not to be jackasses.

Which...honestly? is boring us. And there are no dorm room style scenes of chefs waking up and brushing their teeth. (Ed. Note: agreed, but we do get some revelatory and depressing scenes like last week, where Tim Love drinks to calm his nerves before cooking for Girl Scouts. — CS) Somebody better kick a chair or take a bath together. Or stick a showerhead in some pasta. Looks like Chef Bayless is on next week. Maybe he'll entertain us by roasting a poblano perfectly. Le sigh.

Come back next week when we try to bring out our inner asshole. Ayup.