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Top Chef: Masters Ep. 10 Finale – Viva Mexico!


Third Course

Rick – Achiote-Marinated Cochinita Pibil with Sunchoke puree and crispy pig feet. There’s lots of words there I don’t know. This was one of Rick’s first dishes when he opened the Frontera Grill in 1987. Essentially, it is a pig cake.

Hubert – Lamb Chop with veggy mousseline and blanched garlic, and vanilla merlot sauce, served in a hollowed potato, which looks like a little cup. Hubert talks about truffles and blanching the garlic in the center but I am too distracted by the old picture of him with the most awesome beard you’ll ever see. It looks like a disguise.

Michael – Ginger stuffed rouget, mango salad, fresh wasabi and botterga. Michael served this fish in his restaurant in Miami 25 years ago. He also has some very bad hair in his pictures. Granted, mine aren’t much better in photos from 1975 until, well, today.

Ilan found Michael’s to be one-dimensional. Pot, I’d like to introduce you to kettle. Tom doesn’t care for the garlic in Hubert’s and Padma finds the vanilla too sweet. Hosea thinks Rick speaks the language of his food and Padma admits that Mexican food does not get enough credibility.

Fourth Course

Rick – Arroz a la tumbada, tomato-Jalapeno broth and chorizo “air.” This dish show’s Rick’s penchant for deconstructing dishes.

Michael – Brined short ribs with five-onion cavalo Nero and essence of smoldering vines. He is inspired by Napa Valley and actually burns the twigs on the stove to get the aroma.

Hubert – Sweetbreads with gerigord truffles on scrambled eggs and spinach. Also, Wagyu beef cheeks and celery puree, with Pinot Noir, lemongrass and ginger sauce. Hubert sites the recession and the need for affordable ingredients as his inspiration. My guess is anyone currently struggling with finances is not out buying sweetbreads and beef cheeks.

Jay makes some bizarre analogy about grandma in spandex about Rick’s. I mean, it was so strange somewhere Simon Cowell said it was over the top. Tom points out that Rick overcooked the seafood. Padma’s heart was stolen by Michael’s ribs. Now I really hate him. The truffles in Hubert’s overwhelm Bert and Harold thinks it was undercooked.

Grades

Diners gave Michael and Rick 4.5 stars and Hubert 4.
Hubert got 4.5 from Bert, and 4 from Gael and Jay for a total of 16.5
Michael got 4.5 from Gael and Jay and 3.5 for Bert for a total of 17. This eliminates Hubert.
Rick gets 4.5 stars across the board for a total of 18 and the victory. YAY! That makes me happy.

The DVR cut off the rest, but Rick Bayless wins Masters and I want to make a pilgrimage to Frontera Grill now.

Quickfire Hits

• In what may have been Michael’s funniest moment, he burned pages from Bert’s magazine and used them in the presentation of his rabbit dish. This brought guffaws from the diners. He did this because Bert seems to have been “overly” critical of him and we see a montage of his critiques. As it turns out, Michael may have been correct as his 3.5 stars from Bert – which seemed awfully low for what Michael served up – cost him a possible tie with Rick.

• Hubert had a couple of cute moments – “I’ve put a few little courses together” – when presented with a spread at Getty Villa. And when Tom joked as Hubert brings out a pot for the first course, “Hubert has brought seconds.”

• Cute surprise by having the three Masters’ sous chefs show up to help them – Brian Enyart (Rick), Nick Ritche (Michael) and Laurent Pillard (Hubert). Even though Brian almost costs Rick the title by overcooking the fish, it was still a fun moment.

• Rick regarding truffles – “Is it special? It’s not, it’s just expensive.” And that friends, was the closest Rick Bayless came to trash talking this season.

• The last Critics Table was as useless as the others, save for a few moments. Gael shivered thanks to Rick’s mole. Bert has never had better ribs than Michael’s. And they all made yummy sounds for Rick’s family BBQ recipe.

So, the season ends. Not sure if this will ever happen again, but it ended well. A likable winner, a worthy final challenge and meal. To compare it to my other summer show on which I am commenting, Masters was better than the Great American Road Trip. Both started out shaky, but GART kept getting worse while Masters found its legs somewhat. I still think the formula is flawed and the star system is awful, but the last couple of hours were pretty good television.

Rick wanted to provide Mexican cuisine the respect it deserves. Well, I was a fan before of Mexican food, and not just tacos and quesadillas. I’ll tell this to Master Bayless, after watching last night, I really want to eat some Mexican food. Mission accomplished.

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