In a sentence that I never thought I would ever write…tonight’s Top Chef Masters had the most vagina jokes of any reality show not involving Bret Michaels.
But more on that later.
This week’s installment set up our Finals showdown next week, and the springboard into Classic Top Chef, premiering in two weeks right here in DC. On the positive side, a very cool Quickfire where the Masters had to cook a recipe from one of their competitors’ cookbooks, complete with a mid-preparation twist such as the one Leah mastered back in Season 5. On the negative side, Bert was the sole judge for that. On the positive side, the return of the improv challenge. On the negative side, the second week in a row where the losing contestant is not eliminated because of food quality or taste, but because the dish isn’t “sophisticated” enough for the judges.
I ask one question regarding last week’s elimination of Susan and this week’s dispatch of Obi-Wan. If you are inviting accomplished Masters whose specialty is making simple foods, how can you possibly criticize them for making simple dishes? That’s what they have mastered! I am not saying that either one of them was robbed or anything, I am just saying that the reason given for elimination is bogus. It’s like comparing Nightmare on Elm Street (the original, of course) to The Godfather. You can’t. However, one is the best drama and the other is the best horror film. Both are the best. If deciding between the two, do you toss aside Freddy Krueger because the cinematography isn’t Academy Award worthy? Or do you say goodbye to Michael Corleone because he doesn’t stab any teenagers through a mattress? You can’t criticize someone or something for doing exactly what you asked from them. Freddy scares, Michael amazes, Susan makes awesome eggs and Obi-Wan renders a chicken like nobody’s business.
So you wind up with classically trained chefs in the Finale – which is ok, but again, why invite chefs with different styles, just invite classically-trained Masters. To be honest, Obi-Wan and Susan may be classically trained, but they prepare food that is more accessible to the general public. Or so it seems. And this is, of course, exactly what you get when you have a judging board consisting primarily of high-end food critics. I know I am a broken record on this, but again, this show would be so much better with better critics. I’m still looking at you, Bert!
Speaking of Bert, he and NotPadma got to enjoy the various soups made during the Quickfire. In the challenge, the four were asked to pair up, which they did solely based on proximity. Marcus and Obi-Wan, and Rick and Ninja Suser. They are told to cook a dish from the pages of their counterpart’s cookbook. Less cool is that it is an assigned recipe and not one of their choosing. Midway through the 90 minute cook time, NotPadma informs them to improvise and turn the dish into a soup.
During preparation, the interesting things that come up are:
1. Obi-Wan will not make Marcus’ recipe exactly because he does not make “firey” food. Again, this is who Jonathan Waxman is, and of course, Bert criticizes his dish later on for not being spicy enough.
2. Rick and his ADD have a hard time following recipes. Makes sense.
3. Ninja has a hard time following English recipes without photos. Also makes sense, but surprising that his English-reading skills are so poor.
4. Nice how the chefs not only wanted to win, but wanted their own recipes to be handled with care and respect. Cool challenge in that way.
5 – I love how Ninja’s cookbook has a photo of him straight out of a cheesy romance novel Fabio book jacket.