Top Chef Masters Recap

By Jason Lee

July 28, 2009

Unlike the regular Top Chefs, these guys drink water while they hang out.

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This week on Top Chef Masters Recap: It's one big, chef-y lovefest.

It's the end of the road – one more finalist to name and then we head to the final where six Masters will duke it out for ultimate bragging rights (and a nice chunk of change for their charity). But before that can happen, we still have to deal with four remaining chefs that are trying to claw their way into that final group.

First up, we have Jonathan Waxman, a NYC chef who (according to Tom Colicchio) is fondly nicknamed The Godfather for having trained amazing chefs like Bobby Flay. In its heyday, his New York restaurant was the hangout for Wolfgang Puck, James Beard and Julia Child. Pretty impressive credentials, indeed.

Competing against him is the "King of Fusion," Roy Yamaguchi whom you may remember from the Season 2 finale in Hawaii. We have Art Smith from Chicago who judged in Season 4. He's also gay so I've decided that he's representing Team Rainbow in Top Chef: Masters. Lastly, we have Michael Cimarusti from Los Angeles, a phenomenal seafood chef who actually worked as a line-cook under Jonathan.


Our host, Kelly Choi, enters looking like a Valentine's Day card (all red and lacy) and invites our Masters to draw knives. Each of our Masters gets a knife with a mysterious number on it, from one to four. The Quickfire Challenge this week comes from Season 3, when each chef was assigned one aisle in the supermarket and had to create a delicious dish.

Again, I applaud the show's judgment . . . this was a GREAT challenge, especially memorable for Hung's acid-tripping breakfast seascape, which he made using ingredients found in the cereal aisle. That was . . . special.

Well, we don't have anything that drug-inspired this time around. I think the chefs are having a tough time trying to merge their own culinary styles with what's available in their aisle. Roy admits that most of his food has an asian twist to it and has difficulty integrating it into the Italian ingredients that he finds on his aisle. He ends up serving a pasta with a fried egg on top (he tries to justify the "Asian-ness" of this by saying that this type of thing can be found in Thai or Filipino cooking) but the diners, made up of three Whole Foods employees, find it perplexing.

Michael is also having a tough time as he was given the baking and pastry aisle. Though his wife is a pastry chef, he confesses that he has very little comfort with desserts, but does his best with a whipped chocolate parfait with rum. Two of the diners like it but the female amongst the group doesn't love the rum in it.

Jonathan, the Godfather, creates a roasted pepper and lentil salad from what he found in the canned food aisle . . . it looks rather mushy to me but the diners like the eastern European flavor and the kick of spice at the end.

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