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Top Chef Masters Recap: Week 6

By L. Stolpman in Food on Jul 23, 2009 5:20PM

top%20chef-thumb.jpgAnother week, another Top Chef Masters. First up, we meet Jonathan Waxman who, we learn, trained Bobby Flay. We find Bobby Flay insufferable so we're curious to see what this guy is like. Roy Yamaguchi enters and Gail tells us that he is the first ever James Beard award winner. Art Smith of Table 52 enters. We try to work up some excitement at Chicago being represented. Finally, Michael Cimarusti joins the gang. He's a seafood chef and the youngin' of the crowd. (Allow us to explain why we've been calling these Chefs by their first name: Bravo labels them that way and it is easier.)

Quickfire. The chefs draw knives to see from which aisle of Whole Foods they'll be pulling their ingredients. Their budget is $20. Art Smith drops names of people for whom he's cooked - but leaves out Oprah - and then lets out a Ooof of exasperation at only have $20. Because, if you didn't know, if you cook for big names, your food costs more than it does for your competitors who have fed less worthy people. At Whole Foods, Jonathan informs us that he does not open jars or cans or "deal with that kind of thing." Our eyes roll back in our head. Michael is in the pastry aisle and braves it well. Roy finds himself in an aisle with Italian food ingredients and goes that route. Then....we get to Art. He gets grains. And takes a moment to name drop again...ah, there's Oprah.

Roy made pasta with fried egg and Asian flavors. The judges (Whole Food employees) are mixed. Some like the egg on the pasta, others do not. (4 stars) Jonathan offers up a mint, lentil and roasted pepper salad. Judges dig it. (3.5 stars) Art made a multi-grain risotto with a crispy rice salad. They love it. (4.5 stars) Michael gives them dessert: chocolate parfait with ginger sauterne syrup and sesame crackers. Big love happens. (5 stars) Michael wins!

Elimination Challenge. The chefs will create a 'mystery box' of ingredients for another chef. Each chef must then use 7 ingredients of 11 from that mystery box to create a dish. Next thing you know, the chefs are in Whole Foods. It seems like there is not much guidance here but the chefs appear to be trying to put together really good boxes for each other. As they leave the grocery store, Art trails last in the group and says that he is "taking up the rear." The chefs laugh. We have no comment.

The chefs exchange boxes. Everyone seems relatively happy. So...once again, because these are professional chefs, they don't try to sabotage each other and the whole idea of someone else choosing the ingredients is a paper tiger and we are, once again, a little bored. *sigh* Let's get right to the dishes and what the judges think.

Art serves fried chicken, two ways, and a mango pie. It makes us hungry. The comfort factor is noted. Roy made short rib kalbi and mahi mahi. We note that Bravo describes it as 'short rib kalbi' which is actually redundant. Couldn't Ms. Choi have told them that? Ol' girl is Korean. We digress. His fish gets mixed results as one diner finds the lemon grass overpowering. Michael made a loin of lamb with sunchoke puree, broccoli rabe and purple cauliflower. The puree gets good marks but overall mixed reviews on the dish as a whole. Jonathan gives the diners pork sausage and chop with cauliflower and celery root puree with black truffle. Gael loves the puree and everyone gives the dish big marks.

Critics' table. Gael didn't like Michael's sauce but his mushrooms (with a squeeze of mandarin) gets rave reviews. Critics not sure about how everything on the dish worked together. Art's cobbler is well received. He notes that he makes what he loves. Roy gets dinged on the done-ness of his fish and his meat is chewy. His dish was over-sauced. Jonathan's dish is called earthy and it well received. Oseland didn't like the truffle but both Gael and Gail liked it. Everything on his dish meshed well together.

Final overall tally for each chef:

Jonathan Waxman - 20 Stars
Art Smith - 22 Stars
Michael Cimarusti - 17.5 Stars
Roy Yamaguchi - 15 Stars

Art wins! Chicago REPRESENT. You can tell he is excited about giving the money to his charity.

We still wish the douchey French guy was around.