Top Chef Masters Recap

By Jason Lee

August 14, 2009

She becomes a lot less likable this episode, anyway.

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This week on Top Chef Masters Recap: Shorty get lo, lo, lo, lo, lo...

Here we are with the pentultimate episode of Top Chef Masters. Last week we saw everyone's favorite southern teddy bear of a chef, Art Smith, get sent home, leaving Anita Lo in the competition despite her stunningly bad performance during both the Quickfire and Elimination Challenges. Since the beginning, I've viewed Anita as one of the clear frontrunners for the three-chef finale (along with Hubert Keller and Rick Bayless) but she'll need a strong rebound to make it there.

Along with those three aforementioned chefs, we have Michael Chiarello whose pompous, arrogant, self-impressed attitude has rubbed me the wrong way since his first challenge. I'd love nothing more than to see him go home today.


In any case, Kelly kicks off the Quickfire Challenge with no time to spare. This is the final Quickfire that the Masters will have to endure and (as I have from the beginning) I'm hoping we see the "Name Those Ingredients" challenge from last year (won by Stefan).

Alas, we are not treated to a repeat of that challenge but I'm not disappointed in the least because instead, we have the Blind Taste Test challenge from Season 1. That was a FANTASTIC challenge, in which the chefs had to taste and identify 20 ingredients blindfolded. This is gonna be good.


One by one, the four masters taste their ingredients and due to the montage-esque edited nature of the piece, we can't tell who's ahead. All we know is that none of the chefs can identify hoisin sauce but everyone knows ketchup when they try it.

Ranking first after the challenge, having named seven ingredients correctly, is my loathed foe, Michael – for the win, he gets five stars. Tying for second are Anita and Rick, who correctly named six ingredients – they each get four stars. In last place, but not far behind, is French master, Hubert Keller, who named five ingredients correctly – he gets three and a half stars.

This being finished, Kelly makes some ominous comments about how the success of a chef depends on more than a great palette, it also depends on their ability to lead (chef = chief, get it?). Chefs need to hire the right staff, communicate their vision and oversee execution. This elimination will test those skills as they prepare a buffet lunch for 200 Hollywood insiders. And who will help our Masters prepare their dishes?

Why, chefs from past seasons, of course! I know that this is a pretty typical tactic by the Top Chef producers, but I love it every time they do it. I never fail to get a kick out of seeing our past cheftestants (and getting a look at how much weight the male cheftestants have put on since we last saw them).

A cursory glance over the crowd by the camera and I'm already seeing some of my favorites. Fabio is there (I'm sure he'll work with our favorite non-favorite, Michael), as is Jaime from last season and Elia from season 2 (she was my favorite of her cast). We also see Richard Blais from Season 4, and Elan the winner of Season 2 . . . wow, he's gotten big.

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