Top Chef Masters Recap
By Jason Lee
May 26, 2010
Two episodes of the Champions Round have finished and two women have gone home. I’m praying that today we don’t see Susan, our third and final female contestant in Top Chef Masters, pack her knives as well. I’m not a woman-hater by any means, but as a double-minority, I definitely tend to root for underdogs. And like it or not, women tend to be the underdogs on Top Chef (see one Top Chef winner out of seven seasons and no female chefs in last season’s Top Chef Masters finale).
Today’s Quickfire is disturbingly simple: cook a great dish using legs (chicken legs, lamb legs, frog legs, etc.) The diner will be Jay Rayner (our usual critic) and Jason Lezak, who led the US men’s relay team to gold in the 400 meter race in Beijing two years ago. No Simpsons-themed dishes, no housewives to entertain with boozy drinks; just some great legs and a star athlete.
The Masters only have 45 minutes to cook, so once Kelly starts the clock, there’s a mad dash for the fridge. Everyone gravitates to a dish that they’ve done before and done well – Marcus doing a French frog legs dish, Susan doing a crispy skin chicken dish, etc. Tony is struggling to put together a crab dish, but gets annoyed when Susur (for the third episode in a row) infringes on his cooking space.
“You just can’t stay away from me,” Tony jokes, with a pointed sarcasm.
“You’re my lucky charm,” Susur gaily replies, not getting the implied message.
In his offstage interview, Tony grumbles about Susur, saying that he would like nothing more than to beat Susur in this Quickfire.
After much rapid-fire cooking, the dishes are ready to be served. POed Tony goes first with a warm crab and potato salad with three types of coriander. Jay faults the inclusion of crab cartilage in the dish and says that it’s underdressed (which causes Tony to bitch at the camera yet again - boy, he’s in a sour mood today). Jason disagrees, complimenting the flavor.
Susur has an Indonesian roasted leg of lamb with lamb meatballs, pine nuts, and a dry sherry sauce. Jason loves the appearance and flavorful sauce, while Jay calls the meatballs “cute” (to which Susur takes offense).
Susan’s dish of cumin, cilantro chicken with pickled tomatoes and quinoa pilaf isn’t visually appealing, but gets raves from Jason, who says that the look of the dish didn’t excite him, but that it tastes great. Jay compliments the crisp chicken skin.
Jonathan has a capellini pasta dish with king crab leg and jalapeno. Jay wants more crab in the dish (“It’s not ABOUT the crab,” Jonathan barks at the camera, “it’s about the pasta.” Boy, we have some crabby old men in the kitchen today, if you’ll excuse the pun). Jason agrees that there’s too many noodles and not enough crab, but says it’s a good dish for an athlete.
Marcus has a confit of frog legs with a curry broth and crab rice. Jason is a little overwhelmed by the richness of the dish, saying that the sauce dominates, but not in a good way. Jay compliments the bold flavors, calling it a complicated plate.