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Top Chef Masters 4 – Episode 4 – I’ve Got Me A Canyon, It Seats About 20…

Clark thinks he has an advantage because his dad started some Indian Education program at the University of Arizona. Not sure about the logic there, Clarkie. The chefs draw knives and are divided into pairs with a protein and veggie. Art & Lorena have quail and prickly pear, Takashi & The Hat have venison and banana yucca, CC & Yeo have rabbit and squash, and Kerry & Clark have beef and corn.

After a helicopter ride and some sight seeing at the Grand Canyon, the chefs are taken to a kitchen high up on the hills of the Grand Canyon. That would be a terrible location for a restaurant. Seeing them perched up high making food made me think of that scene in Return of the King when the beacons of Gondor were lit altering the people of Rohan of the siege. Those outposts up in the Misty Mountains had to have been manned for months by some poor fools. They had to eat somehow – so why not a mountain top restaurant?

Anyway, so in prep, the key moments are that The Hat was unaware what the yucca was and was surprised to find out that it is the flower of the cactus. Meanwhile, Kerry and Clark are working together for the first time and are having the quietest disagreement in show history. The rain starts to fall and badly affects the heat. CC smartly dismantles the grill and applies griddles directly to the coals to maximize what heat they have. The Hat decides to fry up the flowers and, really, what isn’t better fried? Clark is worried that he and Kerry went too far in opposite directions.
As the chefs serve the meals family style, Art and Lorena start to describe the food and the others all freak out because it is taking them about a week and a half to talk. Food getting cold, over here!

Art/Lorena – BBQ Quail and Prickly Pear Slaw, with Corn Dressing and Peaches – One of the tribe thinks it tastes like mom’s quail. Bert likes the slaw’s herbs, and Stone thinks it needed more crunch, apparently channeling Brian Boitano from last week. Ruth thinks the quail was undercooked, but would have drunk the BBQ sauce by the gallon.

Clark/Kerry – Spiced Beef Filet and Corn with Béarnaise Sauce with Sage Pistow, Bacon and Chili Ragout – Bearnaise. I have to use this clip again. A tribe member thinks the beef is nice and tender. Bert thinks the pistow was raw and that one of the sauces separated. Lam thinks the simple flavors of the corn offset some of the other flavors. Ruth didn’t care for the soft corn texture. And my mind instantly went somewhere else when she said that, if you know what I mean.

Takashi/The Hat – Grilled Venison and Banana Yucca Cake with Braised Figs Tribe members call it light and tender and a spice adventure. Lam thinks the edge of the venison has lovely spices and it comes together in a rich, dark way. Ruth found the yucca cake to be bitter, but the figs offset it. A tribe member informs her that The Hat mistakenly left the skin on which is what made it bitter.

CC/Yeo – Rabbit Loin and Its Bits, Acorn Squash and Agrodolce – Ruth gives the two squash high marks. Lam thinks it is hard to keep rabbit from being dry, but this is beautiful and the use of the bits shows the spirit of respect to the animal.

CC/Yeo and Takashi/The Hat are brought before the critics who are seated at what now looks like a freakishly long table. Stone says The Hat had the hardest ingredient to cook, and the whole dish gets high marks. Lam compliments CC/Yeo for honoring the ingredients and Ruth mentions how her neighbor at the table moaned upon eating. Takashi and The Hat earn the win and 10 grand for the Red Cross and Food Lifeline.

Stone tells the other teams that all four teams were good, but of course, someone has to go home. Lorena was rushed and wanted it to be lighter, but Ruth said the sauce was awesome. Bert finds out that Lorena made the sauce and used it on Art’s dish, which he found interesting. Ruth thinks the quail was leathery and Lam suggests they should have split the bird. Stone found it hard to eat. Kerry mentioned the challenges with temperatures, and Bert tells him one sauce worked and the other did not. Ruth goes on about soft corn again, and the 15-year-old in me sniggered again. Clark slightly throws Kerry under the bus by mentioning how he wanted to go rustic and tempered his dish to not clash with Kerry’s rich protein.

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