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Top Chef Masters Recap: Week 5

By L. Stolpman in Food on Jul 16, 2009 5:00PM

Onward, Top Chef Soldiers. This boring season is our cross to bear. Good gravy, let's see if we'll get a spicy meatball this episode or what. Chefs include: Michael Chiarello, Rick Moonen, Nils Noren, and Lachlan M. Patterson. We learn that Rick has ADD and cooks seafood. Tom tells us about Nils Noren and we experience a sharp inhalation. He's...from Sweden.

**grin spreads across face**

We regret nothing. On to the recap now, yes?

We meet Lachlan from Boulder who looks hardcore for a young dude. Finally, we have Michael from California.

Quickfire: A big ol' table full of junk food is wheeled into the kitchen and the chefs are told that they must take a classic junk food and recreate it as a fine dining dish. The judges are the folks from Flippin' Out who, apparently, eat a lot of junk food. We wouldn't know and wonder if anyone would. Here are the chefs, their junk food choice, what they made and their score for the round.

Lachlan (hot dog) - prosciutto stufado with pork sausage. Soup is good but someone says the meat is weird and rare. 3 stars.

Michael (fish sticks) - swordfish meatballs with fisherman's sauce. We wrinkle our nose just typing "fisherman's sauce." Gah. It is received well. 4.5 stars.

Nils (fried shrimp) - shrimp with creamed corn and pickled cherry tomatoes. Diners miss the fried part of it. 3 stars.

Rick (corn dog) - NOTHING. He didn't finish. He feels pretty rotten about it because he knows it means he, and thus his charity, have probably lost out. Boo! 0 stars.

Elimination Challenge: The chefs have to cook a 3-course meal for 100 people. By themselves. Mouths fall open. Lachlan says that that is 300 dishes, for you idiots at home. The good news? This is a miniature three course meal. Relief sweeps through the chefs. Off to Whole Foods before the frantic prep begins.

Rick makes Opakapaka ceviche, brandade of scallop and shrimp, and preserved lemon custard. Lachlan prepares a pineapple and speck 'fritta esotica', grilled beef short ribs, and a strawberry frangipane tart. Nils offers diced scallop, slow cooked salmon, and a chocolate and goat cheese ganache. Michael makes a shaved brussel sprout salad, spicy prawns, and balsamic marinated strawberries.

The chefs madly prep their small dishes before people swarm in to taste their food. Michael's app salad is reasonably received. His prawns come with a smooth talk. Judges find his shrimp greasy/oily. We find Michael a little greasy with that smooth talk routine. The basil goes over well with most....except judge Gael who says, "I don't like lawn cuttings in my dessert." Heh. Lachlan's pineapple gets an EH from Oseland who must have a stuffy nose because he chews with his mouth open. His short rib is good but the judges actually love the salad that came with it even more. The tart's strawberries have... a meaty taste. Rick's ceviche goes over very well. His scallop impresses. The judges like his panna cotta which, we are informed, if perfectly prepared will 'wobble' just like a woman's breast. Nils's scallop is a beautiful small bite that impresses the judges. The salmon is beautiful and tastes great. Ganache fizzles a little.

Critics' Table: Much more of what we've said above. Michael impressed the judges but they do say that his shrimp was oily. Nils's app and main did well but the smokey dessert was described as bacon + chocolate. Lachlan's dishes are slightly salty. Rick's ceviche wins big, his main is great and the panna cotta leaves the judges in awe for its perfect breast-like texture.

Final score totals: Nils: 17 Stars. Michael: 19.5 Stars. Lachlan: 15.5 Stars. Rick: 17 Stars. Kudos to Rick for fighting the good fight and coming so close after not serving anything that first round. Michael wins!

Oh boy, only one more week before the big competition. Tune in next week!