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Top Chef: Masters 3 – Premiere – That’s One Giant Scallop


Elimination Challenge – Restaurant Wars! Masters kicking things off with a bang. The winners vs. the losers. Meanwhile, Mary Sue and Traci were deemed the top two Quickfire performers, with Traci earning the 5K and immunity.

Having the Masters do Restaurant Wars to start off is inspired, as Celina points out, they have all opened restaurants, but there are a LOT of egos involved. The huge difference between the two restaurants is that Naomi convinces her team to serve all the people at the same time. That’s how they roll at her place – Beast. The other team was skeptical, but even though they have some service delays with the judges, Team Beast makes it work.

In the Foreshadowing Category – Hugh indentifies that his scallop is too big. He didn’t go to Culinary School, which almost always is the precursor to a chef being eliminated. More – Mary Sue can’t find unsweetened chocolate. I sense some Duncan Hines quality desserts coming the judges’ way.

Judging the challenge – Bert, Stone, Ruth and Danyelle Freeman, author of Try This, and a very pretty woman. Oh, did I say that out loud?

The Team About To Lose
Traci – Warm Bread Salad with Artichokes and Burrata. Ruth felt that it epitomized great California cooking, and Dany found it fresh and vibrant.
Hugh – Scallops with Grits, Leeks, Scallions, Peppers and Pancetta. Dany is disturbed by the monster scallop. Bert found his to be intensely salty.
George – Salmon Confit with Saffron Fennel Puree and Smoked Potato Puree. Stone is a fan, and Bert really enjoyed the smoky flavor.
Floyd – Spice Braised Short Ribs with Oat Risotto. Bert was not sold on it, but Ruth loved it and wanted to take it home.
Mary Sue – Signature Chocolate Cake with Lemon Puree. Bert thought it tasted like a supermarket cupcake, too moist and almost leaden.
Suvir – Pear and Berry Cobble with A Buttermilk Biscuit. Ruth really loved it, it was not very sweet and just a taste of spice.

The Beast Team About To Win With A Banquet-Style Service
Alex – Celery Root, Potato and Spicy Fricassee. Ruth thought it was amazing, and Stone made yummy sounds.
John – Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup with Spicy Chicken Liver Mousse Ruth thinks the “heat is not fair for what comes after.” So, these were strong flavors.
Naomi the Beast does some nice schmoozing to overcome the service issues. Clearly the delays don’t hurt them.
Sue – Halibut and Scallop with Glazed Pearl Onions, Artichokes and Pesto. Bert loved the presentation, while Ruth gave the odd critique of it being delicious but a bit like hotel food.
Old John – Lamb Rack with Jicama, Apple and Lime Salad. It was really raw, but it seems the guests love raw lamb.
Beast – Chocolate Torte with Grand Mariner and Meringue. Dany found it stunning and Stone thought it was special.
Celina – Pistachio Cake and Honey Semifreddo. Ruth found it difficult to eat all of the elements.

So, the Judges clearly loved the non-Beast team. However, the winner of the challenge was decided by the guests – who prefered the Beasts. Oops. So, someone is about to go home despite having cooked better food. The Beasts get the win, and Beast herself and Alex are up for the win. Despite heaping much praise upon Beast’s dessert, she loses to Alex. I wonder if the judges’ disdain for the service came back to bite Beast.

Mary Sue and Hugh are on the bottom. It is a salty giant scallop vs. an overly sweet cupcake. Hugh took a chance, Mary Sue played it too safe. Hugh gets the boot, and Stone has sadly not developed his own catchphrase and has recycled NotPadma’s terrible end line.

Quickfire Hits
• Poor Hugh – he was going to be fun, at least we got to enjoy one episode of his quips – like where he compares himself to Natalie Portman, or Mila Kunis, I didn’t see the movie. “I’m the White Swan, not the Black Swan.”
• Suvir may be my early favorite – his approach to the challenge is smart. He said some thing more is better, but those are the younger chefs with more egos than he, and it usually means more garnish. Something from nothing and simpler is better. Also, Suvir is going to be tough – he is not afraid of desserts. A good thing on Top Chef.
• For the rest of the season – Christina Hendricks!!!! Maroon 5. Less enthusastic there. Bugs. Weight loss. Blindfolds. Tears. Some conflict. And Tom.

And Masters is underway!

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