Top Chef Masters Recap

By Jason Lee

June 15, 2010

Now -that- is the stance of a reality show winner.

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The finale is finally here.

After ten weeks, we’re about to have a new Top Chef Master crowned. It’s been somewhat of a rocky season, with some extremely likable chefs going home ridiculously early. We’re now left with group of three Masters comprised of one loud-mouthed braggart (Rick Moonen), one Asian immigrant with little knowledge of American pop culture (Susur Lee) and one Ethiopian who immigrated to the U.S. from Sweden and made it through eight episodes without winning any money before sweeping the Quickfire and Elimination challenges in the penultimate episode (Marcus).

As the Masters enter the beautiful Union Station building in Los Angeles, they each reflect on their journey to the finale. Rick says that he’s had fun, Marcus is proud that he stayed true to his culinary style and Susur admits that in the early episodes, he really didn’t understand the rules.

Kelly meets them for their final Elimination Challenge. Just like last year, the chefs will have to create three dishes that tell their own story. The first dish will be based on their first food memory, the second dish will be based on the experience that made them want to become a chef, and the third dish will describe them as a chef in the present.


The Masters are invited to have breakfast together at the Old Union Station restaurant to reminisce and plan their dishes. Marcus describes his life as an orphan growing up in Sweden, Rick dwells on his childhood growing up with an immigrant father, and Susur tells a heart wrenching story about his travels to the United States.

He had initially traveled to Toronto with his first wife for a cooking job – not because he was particularly interested in becoming chef, but because it was a job. His wife landed a position as a professor back in Hong Kong, but on the way, her plane was shot down in Russian airspace. Susur starts to get choked up as he thinks about how abandoned he’d felt in Canada, not knowing anyone. He focused on his cooking skills as a way to adapt to his new life and ended up becoming a world-renowned chef.

The chefs head to Whole Foods for a quick shopping expedition before getting their hands dirty in the Top Chef kitchen. Before we know it, Kelly strides into the room. There’s a general sentiment of “f*ck” in the air as the Masters prepare for yet another twist.

“We’ve brought you some help,” Kelly announces, as the sous-chefs of each of the Masters enter the kitchen. The Masters momentarily bask in the knowledge that there’ll be an extra set of hands to help out, but quickly get back to work.

Meanwhile, in the dining room, our three critics (Gail, Jay, and James) and our host (Kelly) sit down with Tom Colicchio plus the three finalists from last year (Hubert Keller, Michael Chiarello and winner Rick Bayless. It’s an intimidating panel.

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