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Top Chef Masters 4 – Episode 7 – Sugar Ray is Sweet Enough

Elimination Challenge – Stone trots in Sugar Ray Leonard, who amazingly still speaks like a human being. Most fighters of his era who are still alive do not sound as good as he does. Lorena totally freaks out upon seeing Sugar Ray. Kerry is told to not bother with this one; he will be joining the critics. The remaining four draw knives and – of course – it turns out that Lorena and Yeo will go head-to-head. That was only fitting after last week. Obviously, Takashi and CC will as well.

Beginning here, and manifesting later on in the episode, we see the extent to which the others seem to disrespect Lorena. Yeo mentions that Lorena has a small palate. Later on, the other chefs actively root against her in the competition. Yeo even criticizes the volume of Lorena’s knifework! What is with this? Is it because she has a big personality? Is it because she is attractive? It’s odd to me because these are the Masters – by definition; ALL of them are very, very talented and successful. I don’t recall any other Masters season where one chef was essentially belittled by the others on camera as much as what is going on with Lorena.

The set for the battles is a boxing ring, and Stone takes to the center and goes the full Michael Buffer on us. He announces CC and Takashi to come in and face each other and the critics – Bert, Katniss, Kerry, Stone, Sugar Ray and Jane Goldman from Chew.com. Or as I call her, Rachel Maddow’s aunt. Or at least she looks like she should be. Then we go the full Iron Chef and Stone reveals they will be cooking bacon dishes. They have 20 minutes. Takashi is disappointed – bacon is more CC’s area. He wants tuna. Takashi goes for a bacon steak and a sweet sauce to get a sweet/salty flavor. CC is going with a Mexican breakfast and makes extra portions of his bacon in case he messes up. Instead, he comes up short an egg and Takashi gives him one. Later, Takashi realizes he is one bacon dish too short. Instead of winning by default, CC gives him the extra portion – he wants to win on culinary merit. THIS is what I like about Masters, not bad-mouthing someone else’s palate.

CC – Cal-Mex Bacon and Eggs with Corn and Jalapenos – Maddow thinks the veggies are perfect. Sugar Ray is impressed with CC’s hand speed.

Takashi – Bacon Steak, Mushrooms and Figs with Fennel Salad – Kerry never thought of making the mushrooms here, but he thought they were perfect. Maddow thinks the salt/sweet was a good idea.

Stone declares CC the winner. He will cook for the win, Takashi for his life. Not literally. Oh, you know.

Yeo and Lorena hit the arena and Stone shouts, “Let’s get ready to saaaaaaauuuuutttteeee!” They will also be using bacon as well, as CC says, it’s only fair. Bert comments about how Yeo is cool as a cucumber, while Lorena is frantic. Yeo actually cleans up her station while Lorena goes until the last second.

Yeo – BLT – Bacon, Leek and Tomato Salad – Maddow likes the balance of flavors. Bert found the reduction to be “piercingly sour.” Kerry thought it was refreshing.

Lorena – Potato and Bacon Soup with Corn and Bacon Sofrito – Sugar Ray wants to bury his face in it. Maddow thought the bacon was a bit lost, but it was sweet and creamy.

Lorena wins, and Takashi is visibly shocked. Yeo says Lorena’s win was “a surprise to all of us.” Gracious.

Ok, FTW match – Lorena vs. CC. CC said you should never underestimate anyone. Seriously, guys. She is a Top Chef Friggin Master!! The ingredient is sugar. Clever, Show, clever. CC is thrown off as he is not a dessert guy. Lorena makes a chocolate cake in very limited time, but makes a second dessert as a backup. CC does some serious egg whipping.

CC – Zabaione and Summer Fruit – He calls it a “punch in the mouth of flavor.” Ray thinks he should have been a fighter. Katniss says it was smooth, rich, but too much salt.

Lorena – Flourless Chocolate Cake AND Caramelized Pineapple and Dulce De Leche Sauce – Yep, she served two dishes. Bert wishes she combined them somehow. Maddow thought the pineapple was terrific and the cake was unnecessary.
Lorena takes the win, the ten grand, a championship belt (!) and sticks it to her insulting comrades.

Yeo and Takashi battle to survive, and they must do so with chicken livers. There is not much here in prep worth noting – I guess they were just running long on time.

Takashi – Chicken Liver with Prosciutto and Pickled Red Cabbage – Bert wasn’t in love with the center. Maddow felt the prosciutto was a treat and loved the veggies.

Yeo – Warm Asparagus Salad with Chicken Liver and Prosciutto – Another salad. Because it worked so well vs. Lorena, I guess. Stone thinks Yeo is small but packs a punch. Bert said the liver was undercooked. Maddow disagreed and thought the liver was perfect. Katniss found it to be pure and clean.

Yeo takes down Takashi, who I thought was going to win the whole season. Goes to show, that you never know on these shows. One second you’re cruising, the next second, you are cooking in a boxing ring. Remember, Takashi was close to winning immunity this week, and winds up getting eliminated.

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