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Top Chef: Masters Ep. 1 – I know Padma Lakshimi …


Anyway, the four gentlemen competing

1 – Michael Schlow from Boston.  He has an Italian specialty and like the other guys has won a gazillion awards including James Beard Foundation Awards.  He is playing for the Cam Neely Foundation.

2 – Hubert Keller from San Francisco.  He trained the White House chefs.  That’s a bit hard-core.  I keep thinking of that Jeff Bridges movie where he plays the President and keeps trying to stump the chefs.  He served as a guest judge in Season One.  He also looks a whole lot like Theoden from the Lord of the Rings.  He is playing for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

3 – Christopher Lee from Aureole in New York City.  Another Lord of the Rings reference!  It’s Saruman.  What?  Different Christopher Lee?  Oh well.  He is playing for Autism Speaks.

4 – Tim Love from Forth Worth, Texas.  He is not classically trained but is a very successful chef in Texas.  I wonder right away if he is going to be out of his league in this battle.  However, he also seems to make the kind of food that would be much more fun to eat.  He is playing for the March of Dimes and we see pictures of his beautiful girls who were once preemies. 

Quickfire:  This one is the dessert challenge won by Richard Blais with his oft-used banana scallops.  The twist on this one was that the desserts would be eaten and graded by a bunch of girl scouts.  Michael faced disaster after his cakes didn’t cook properly and his ice cream never froze.  Needless to say, he had a mess.  The kids were incredibly cute with the one redheaded girl auditioning to be the next Gail Simmons.  I did enjoy seeing Timmy Love doing a shot of Cuervo before the challenge started.

Michael – Milk Chocolate Cake, Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies, and Honey Almond Cream.  He knew it was subpar, and the kids agreed, giving him 2.5 stars.

Tim – Strawberries three ways – Chicken Fried (!), Milkshake and dipped in chocolate.  They didn’t like it as much as he thought they would, and he gets 3.5 stars.

Saruman – Mr. Lee makes French Toast with Caramelized Banana Orange Sauce and Maple Syrup Fluff.  The kids were tough on him, and he also gets 3.5 stars.

Theoden – Hubert made Chocolate Mousse Swan, Whipped Cream Mouse, Fruit with Orange Sabayon.  Man, this looked awesome, creative and perfect for kids.  And they loved it.  He gets kudos for the chocolate swirl that doubled as the mouse-tail.  He gets five stars.

Elimination:  Cook a three-course meal for college students.  The twist – they have to cook it in the dorm room using only a microwave, toaster oven and hot plate.

At Whole Foods, Theoden cannot shop.  Chefs don’t shop, so they all looked lost like me.  Just last week, I pushed my three-year-old around in the cart trying to find where Safeway kept the real juice.  But that’s beside the point.

The other interesting thing that happens before the challenge is Tim accidentally put all of his food into the freezer.  Oops.  You would think he would know the difference between the fridge and the freezer, wouldn’t you?


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