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Top Chef Masters Season 5 Ep 2 – Double Elimination, Double Your Fun

Sorry for the delay – but for those of you who read my stuff week in and week out, this is not really a stunner. I like to think that good things come to those who wait, and that my musings on reality television fall into the good things category. Of course, my ego is about the size of Oseland’s sweater vest collection – so take that with a grain of salt, and save some to properly season your meat with.

This week we get two chefs getting ousted – one at the Quickfire and one at the standard Elimination. That takes care of the weird 13 chef starting point nicely. As stated before, I am not a big fan of the Quickfire eliminations – it is a night and day kind of challenge for the chefs, and I think the playing field should be the same. Quickfires require speed and quick thinking, while the Elimination challenges grant them more leeway with what they can do. I think it’s a totally different skill set – many chefs in the past have been poor Quickfire contestants, but skilled at the big challenges. But no one asked me. So here we are.

Before we get into things – I am cool with the sous chef aspect of the season. Because I think it’s fun to have the master chefs overcome obstacles, and because as was already stated on the show, the chefs often have to work in tandem to be successful. What I am not cool with is the way they make it essential to watch the web show to appreciate what’s going on. For example, the sous chef on the Quickfire-losing team departed with his hand clearly bandaged. In the previews last week we saw that there was some sort of knife incident. However, we did not see it in the broadcast. Only with eagle eye viewing did anyone notice that there was a reason that team most likely lost – the injury. Bad choice, show. At least with Last Chance Kitchen, you could watch the show independently and be nicely surprised at the end when the LCK winner is revealed.

Anyway, so we start with a sous chef challenge already in progress. They are preparing a mise en place for the Masters’ Quickfire. The first one to finish not only earns immunity for their Master, but provides them with a full set of prepped ingredients for the challenge. The other chefs have to spend a portion of their 30 minute cook time finishing the prep before cooking. See what I mean; is it fair to eliminate a chef based on this?

So, as Sang praises Sous Jed for his prep skills, Jed finishes and calls for a check. Monobrow and Stone give him positive marks for the celery root, the squidlings, the rack of lamb, and the pomegranate. It’s almost not fair, as Jed has a tattoo of a friggin’ pomegranate on his arm. And ladies and gentlemen…I present to you the only man in the world with a tattoo of a pomegranate on his body. For the record, there are three women in Spain who lost a bet in a strange fruit tattoo challenge bet.

So, Sang is safe and the others have some prepping to do. Jennifer is first to finish, then Franklin (also known as Couch Potato Captain America from last week), and Jenn. Sue is worried. BryanBot finishes, and David is finished next at the 24 minute mark. Neal is done a minute later. Canada Lynn and Sue end at 21 minutes and Sue instantly collides with Cap in the kitchen. Odette only has 18 minutes to cook, but she’s not in the worst shape. Douglas ends at just less than 17 minutes and poor Richard, he of the injured sous chef, has only 13 minutes to cook. Factoring in against the Masters is that most of them have not had to prep in a long time. To make up for the lack of time, Richard has chosen not to cook the lamb, but to go for a tartare.

But who gets eliminated at the Quickfire? Well, not Cap. You know how I know? Because in the “coming up” teaser we see Cap shopping for the Elimination, and he has no immunity. Good job, show. Way to give a mini spoiler.

QUICKFIRE/ELIMINATION #1 MEALS

Jennifer – Seared Lamb Loin with Caramelized Celery Root, Pomegranate Reduction and Squid – Gail thinks the lamb is cooked well, and loved the flavors.

Sang – Baby Squid Stuffed with Spiced Lamb Sausage and Pomegranate Pickled Celery Root – Gail found it dramatic and outstanding.

Sue – Seared Lamb Loin, Celery Root Puree, Fennel Pomegranate Slaw and Crispy Calamari – Gail thought it was super tender and well-seasoned.

Canada – Grilled Rosemary Lamb, Celery Root and Pomegranate Salad with Grilled Calamari – Gail was not crazy about the raw celery root. And the salad lacked acid.

Hipster Jenn – Lamb Tartare with Fried Squid, Celery Root and Pomegranate Seeds – Gail said it was very well-seasoned.

Richard – Lamb Tartare, Calamari Salad, Pomegranate Jicama, Micro Green Salad – Gail said the meat was too largely sliced, and a tartare is more finely chopped up. There was also inconsistent knife work. Richard’s lack of time factored in substantially.

Douglas – Lamb Tataki Hot Pot – Gail likes the flavors, but found the broth to be murky.

BryanBot – Carpaccio of Lamb and Celeriac, Pomegranate Fish Sauce and Squid – Gail likes the idea, but it was bland.

Odette – Lamb Chops with Celery Root, Pepper and Black Olive Ratatouille and Crispy Squid – Gail thought the ratatouille was disconnected, but the squid was cooked well.

Cap – Squid with Lamb Shawarma, Salad of Celery Root, Arugula, and Pomegranate Seeds – Stone gives it a Holy Squid Shwarma. Gail thinks the flavors are huge. I hear shwarma, and I think this.

On the top of the heap – Sang and his unbelievable mint puree, Sue and her technically beautiful dish, and Hipster Jenn and her fried calamari instead of bread choice. Sue gets the win, and $5K for saving the Gulf of Mexico.

On the bottom of the pile, Canada and her two dishes not speaking to each other, Odette for not melding the ratatouille, and Richard for not having a balanced ratio. Richard gets taken out and is the second chef eliminated.

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