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Top Chef: Masters 5 Finale – 50 Shades Of Trout

Another Top Chef ends as another one begins. Masters closes its fifth season one week before the flagship embarks on its 11th season. To be honest, this was a decent season of Masters, but it kind of went down with a bit of a whimper at the end. It was an ok finale, but was mostly pretty slow. It began with the Top 3 eating. Yep. Stone made them a nice meal and they sat and chatted. We get a glimpse of some of their obstacles – Doug and his skydiving choice in Ep 1 (remember that), Bot and his Season 6 defeat in the Finals against his brother, and Jen getting eliminated and storming back. They enjoy a nice meal of spot prawn, ravioli and a lemon crème dessert. Snore.

The Final ELIMINATION CHALLENGE – is to construct a meal representing the course of their career. For a random reason, we are having a wedding theme – Old=early inspiration. New=current inspiration. Borrowed=someone who influenced. Sous=dish made by sous chefs to symbolize relationship. That was the challenge in the final Sous battle which Graeme won.
$10K for the charity which is more than Bot’s won during the season. Paul was worst – and no help in first day of prep. Doug wants to beat him. That would be illegal.

We get a glimpse into menu planning. Bot made Chicken Chesapeake for his eventual wife at age 18. Bot married well, judging by the photos. Jen’s got this new paella gnocchi which sounds amazing. Doug does the smart thing and calls ahead to Whole Foods to get his order in since he has no sous chef for prep. He also chooses a rather simple menu – again, a smart move given his disadvantage. Bot is borrowing a beef dish from former boss Charlie Palmer. He later adds one of his brother’s dishes – but I thought a smart move would be to make the dish that Michael beat him with on Season 6. But Bot never asked me.

Meanwhile, Jen is bossing around Superman’s dad. Don’t mess with Kryptonians, Jen! She is also making a dish from her former boss Wolfgang Puck. It’s a duck dish. Somehow, Jen, Superman’s dad, the judges and the production team manage to resist calling it Puck’s Duck. I am not going to let that opportunity slip by.

Doug manages to get to the kitchen first – wow. Jen continues to tempt fate by clashing with Jor-El. And prep is really boring. The next day, Doug asks Paul if he read any pastry books on the day off. Snerk. Amazingly, we see a clip from Season 6 Finale pitting the Voltaggio boys against each other…and Doug as a judge!

Speaking of judges – the gang is all here for the end.

First course
Bot – Reinterprets first dish for his wife
Doug – Remembers being a Cornell U. barback – his first job
Jen – Remembers her Stepdad Stan’s potato pancakes

Critics reaction:
Bot – Gail felt the love. Goldman loved the crab and the rough quinoa texture.
Doug – Dr. Sweater worried about the minimalist nature, but it was filled to the brim with complexity. Ruth felt 7 years old again.
Jen – Ruth thought the apples transformed it.

Second Course
Doug – He made ocean trout from Japan days
Bot – He made Black cod – a tricky fish
Jen – The gnocchi

Critics’ reactions:
Bot – Grubstreet’s Hadley Tomachi said he did the best job with an amazing puree. Goldman thought it was a perfect black cod.
Doug – Lesley called it 50 Shades of Sea Trout. Um, fish with bondage? Master Sweater said the noodles were dry but fantastic
Jen – Ruth is not dreaming about it, but Senor Sweater loved the crisp exterior

Third Course
Bot – He made two things – the Palmer stuff and Michael’s seaweed potatoes
Doug – Went with his old job at the Four Seasons and inspired by NYT review. Ruth’s. Way to kiss up to the critics, Doug. Let’s see if that pays off.
Jen – Puck’s Duck

Critics’ reactions
Bot – Goldman felt it was more Palmer, less Bot. He did love the potatoes. Grub didn’t like Volt’s flavor in his mouth. Ewww.
Doug – Gail said it was grey and overcooked.
Jen – Lam thought it was very 1992, but loved it. Goldman said it was pure Puck. Not pure Jen.

Last Course
All three had to do their take on the desserts created by Graeme, Paul and Jor-El.
Bot –
Doug –
Jen –

Bot – Goldman said it looked like Superman’s lair. Jor-El must have helped. Sweaterman liked Graeme’s original more, Bot’s version was more refined but not as tasty.
Doug – Sweater said it was soupy. Gail liked the flavors.
Jen – Grub felt too much was going on.

Lord Sweater, Ruth, Gail and Stone judge the end.. Doug gets praise, but not overwhelming praise. Padawan Sweater and Stone each give Jen much praise – but her literal translation of Jor-El’s dessert was a ding. The huge praise from Ruth and King Sweater on Bot’s first two dishes made it seem very likely for him to win. The King said the cod was the best cooked fish he ever had! Gail’s comments about him being weighed down under all the Palmer meat must have held more sway than I thought. Doug’s was overall solid, Bot’s factory churned technique was a strength, and Jen’s warmth was felt.

Winner – Doug. A bit surprised by that. Poor Bot. I thought Bot had it. There are many happy puppies now. And Doug jumped out of the plane in the final scene. Nice touch.

That’s a wrap on Masters Part Five. Next up – Top Chef: New Orleans with Tom, Padma, Emeril and the gang.

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