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Top Chef Fodder

Top Chef Masters -- Masters Get Schooled

This new series from Top Chef is a little different from what we have been used to. Rather than taking new and unknown chefs and making them compete against one another for the right to be called Top Chef, they have taken already well know chefs (some that have been judges on regular Top Chef) and are pitting them against each other in different "heats" to determine the winner.

The first episode has 4 master chefs competing to go on to the Champion's round. Like regular Top Chef, they will compete in a quickfire and then an elimination challenge. They have decided to take some of the favorite quickfires from the past 5 seasons of Top Chef, with a few twists.

The chefs starting us out on this new adventure are:

Michael Schlow from Boston, MA - chef and co-owner of Radius and Via Matta. Charity -- Cam Neely Foundation.

Hubert Keller from San Francisco, CA -- chef and owner of Fleur De Lys in San Fran and Las Vegas. Charity -- Make a Wish Foundation.

Christopher Lee from New York, NY -- executive chef of Aureole. Charity -- Autism Speaks.

Tim Love from Fort Worth, TX -- chef and owner of Lonesome Dove. Charity -- Make a Wish Foundation March of Dimes.

The host of this show is Kelly Choi. The first quickfire is one to strike fear in their hearts. They have to make a dessert. (Remember Richard Blaise's Banana Scallops?) They have 60 minutes to create a dessert. Their judges are 4 girl scouts -- no, really! They get to watch their reactions on closed-circut television. It is very different cooking for kids than cooking for adults. The palate of a child is very different from that of an adult. Things are a little different this time in the judging as well. The tasters rate the dishes by giving them stars (just like a restaurant critic in a review). The chef with the most stars at the end, gets to move on to the next round of the competition.

Now for the quickfire dishes:

Hubert -- Chocolate merangue swan with

Michael -- Warm chocolate brownie-like cake with honey-almond ice cream with homemade peanut butter chocolates.

Tom -- Strawberries three ways -- chocolate covered, chicken fried (just battered and deep fried), and milkshake.

Christopher -- French Toast square with carmelized bananas on a stick with orange sauce.

Michael's dishes did not turn out at all the way he intended. His cake didn't bake and the ice cream didn't set up. He was pleased with his chocolate candies -- the girls were not 2.5 stars for him.

Tom's strawberries were not as big a hit with the girls, as I assumed they would be. They thought the berries weren't sweet enough and the fried one was mushy (see, kids that's what happens when you deep fry a fruit) 3.5 stars for him.

Hubert's dish was very visually pleasing to them, which was a plus. He had the swan and made a little mouse on the plate, as well as a glass dish with berries and sabayon. Cute AND delicious 5 stars for him.

Christoopher's caramalized banana came over as crunchy (again, kids don't know that is the way it is supposed to be) and they weren't enthused about the french toast either. 3.5 stars for him.

The elimination challenge sends the chefs back to college, literally. They can only use a toaster oven, microwave and hot plate to create a three course meal for the critics and a group of students. The funniest thing to me was that none of them appear to really know how to use a microwave. Some of them don't even own them! HA! They are taken to the store so that they can get their ingredients, and they are given $150 to spend.

The next morning, they are in for a few nasty surprises. First, Tom put all of his groceries in the freezer, not the fridge, so everything he has is frozen solid. Ouch. They also are taken to the college -- dorms. They assumed they would at least be in a kitchen, but they all have to cook everything in a dorm room. Ha! Obviously no one can get a good sear on their meat with a hot plate, but some of them were very inventive and resourceful. Hubert uses the shower to cool and re-warm his pasta dish.

The dishes they presented:
Michael -- Salmon Crudo, cabbage Soup with Bacon, Pork a la Apicus.

Hubert -- Fresh Scottish Salmon, Carrot and Pea Soup with Cinnamon, Macaroni and Cheese with Prawns.

Christopher -- Red Snapper Ceviche, Creamy Risotto, Pan Roasted Pork Chop.

Tom -- Scallop Carpaccio, Squash and Corn "Pozole", Skirt Steak and Braised Kale.

The students that get to taste and judge the food are the ones that had their dorm rooms invaded. I think that was a nice touch. They will have a total of 5 start to give combined and then each critic also has the ability to give 5 stars for a total of 20 points possible -- but they also get to add the stars from the quickfire for a possible total of 25 stars.

The critics that will be judging their efforts are: Jay Rayner, restaurant critic from The Observer; Gael Greene, New York Restaurant Critic; and James Oseland, editor-in-chief of Saveur Magazine. I suppose I really shouldn't call them judge's as they are not calling the end line up judge's table, but Critic's table.

Their final scores for the episode were:
Michael 12.5 stars

Tom 13. 5 stars

Christopher 19 stars

Hubert 20.5 stars

Hubert wins $10,000 for the Make A Wish Foundation and the right to move on to the Champion's Round! I can't wait to see what chefs, quickfire and elimination round they come up with next!!!!! See you here next week with the next episode.....wonder who we will see?

Posted by Wendy on June 10, 2009 10:20 PM
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