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Top Chef: Masters Ep. 4 – Have You Ever Set A Coconut on Fire?


The Dishes.

Mark – Mystery. Thai Snapper in Parchment with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Leeks. It is served with scallion oil and Dassai Sake. This is cool. Mark cooked it and wrapped it in what looked like a present. Thus the mystery. They all seemed to like it, including Neil.

John – Surprise. Three dishes, Salmon Tartare with Cauliflower Blini/Salmon Roe Salad with Horseradish and Crème Fraiche Sorbet (the Sorbet was cooked at the table with liquid nitrogen with Neil as his assistant)/Tempura-Fried Lobster Wrapped in Smoked Salmon. It looked cool, but Neil doesn’t think it was executed well and others are equally critical.

Anita – Illusion. Braised Daiken with Kombu Caviar and Steak Tartare with a shellfish broth. The plate is placed on a plate of what I think are Rice Krispies to make it look and sound like a seascape. I must admit, I didn’t get the whole Rice Krispie thing, but the concept of making a faux-scallop as the illusion was pretty darn cool. The judges rave.

Douglas – Spectacle. Boy, this got away from him. Duck Four Ways, Oyster Ceviche with Duck Broth/Empanada with Foie Gras and Figs/Duck Breast with Butternut Squash/Duck Soup with Young Coconut. Douglas smeared the coconut with sterno – yeah, from the candles – to set them on fire. It didn’t work too well. He got criticized for it.

By the way, I loved the Young Coconuts’ second album “Smeared with Sterno.” It had a great beat and was good to dance to.

The Judging

Again, I won’t be talking about the judging anymore, as Gael and Bert are still unwatchable. I will talk about Gail just a bit. She loved John’s blini, thought Anita’s was a trick of the senses, praised Mark’s sake, didn’t care for the overall “surprise,” wanted more salt from Anita, shot down Douglas’ mess, and delivered a schooling to Bert and Gael on how to do TV food critiques.

Final Scores

John – .5 from QF. Diners – 2.5, Bert – 3, Gael – 3, Gail – 3 – for a pathetic 12 points.
Mark – 2.5 QF, Diners – 4, Bert – 3.5, Gael – 4.5, Gail 4 – for a nice comeback at 18.5
Douglas – 3 QF, Diners – 3, Bert – 2, Gael – 2.5, Gail – 2.5 – for a total of 13. Ouch.
Anita – 5 QF, Diners – 4.5, Bert – 4, Gael – 4.5, Gail – 4.5 – for an ass-kicking 22.5.

Quickfire Hits

• Tom is back!! Tom got to do his rounds finally, and unlike his usual standoff-ish interaction with the chefs, he is downright fraternal. Probably because these are his peers. He rightfully points out how the Masters have calmly taken the challenge and are reacting to it well. The fact that they executed somewhat badly is the point, but this quartet really just went with the flow very nicely. Of course, it was only four of them, not sequestered for weeks and doing dozens of challenges in a row, but still.

• Mark made an awesome Goldfinger joke about the ticking clock and Goldfinger’s crotch laser. Personally, I am waiting for a Max Zorin joke.

• Mark rightly pointing out that Anita will be hard to beat. “I briefly thought of oversalting everything she does.” HA!

• Mark also pointed out the East Coast/West Coast chef rivalry. However, I cannot see Wylie Dufresne doing a drive-by on Wolfgang Puck.

• John was in the Marines and shows an awesome picture. He also describes how he used his military cooking experience to make vats of rice and beans during Katrina and deliver them to the hungry by boat. Ok, I am sorry for any shots I took at John in this column. There is a place in heaven for people who do that.

• Gail to Douglas: Have you ever set a coconut on fire before? Well, few people can probably answer yes to that question. Other than people on Survivor and Tom Hanks’ Cast Away character.

• Mark’s observation about how it was weird having a quiet kitchen, there was no one for them to yell at.

• Mark also points out at the end how he has earned a great appreciation for the talent of other chefs. You know, that’s so adult. And that is Masters in a nutshell, a very adult show. And thus, at times, like most adults, excruciatingly boring.

Next week – No idea, DVR cut out.

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