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Jun 10, 2009 07:27 PM

Top Chef Masters - Ep. 1 (potential spoilers)

So far, I'm liking it! Seeing the presentation alone for the desserts for the 4 Girl Scouts, I figured Chef Keller would win - that was beautiful! Loved the chefs' comments about how intent the girls were with their criticisms - especially the redhead!

Major OUCH for Chef Love at the beginning of Elimination Challenge - frozen produce? Yowza! LOLing at them having to cook in a dorm room! But it looks like Chef Love pulled out some nice dishes - but Chef Keller seemed to have rocked almost all of the courses!

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  1. the instant they announced that the QF was dessert, i knew Keller would have the upper hand. the redhead was *hilarious* - i think "Restaurant Girl" is gonna have some serious competition in a few years! i loved it when one of them remarked that Michael's PB chocolates tasted like Tagalongs because when he talked about what he was doing, i said he was pretty much making Tagalongs!

    i wish one of them had done popcorn as a first course - that's the first thing i thought of when i saw the microwaves.

    ETA: BW, Linda, thanks for starting the thread. i was so excited & into it i couldn't break away to get things going here :)

    6 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      OK, I just broke out laughing at the little bit pre-commercial with Chef Keller trying to use the microwave: "I have one of these at home....and I think it's used just to dry the newspaper!"

      And yes, ghg, I was thrilled that the show had finally started - got up at the "half" and saw no one had tossed anything up here, so figured I'd put up a blurb to start.

      This is going to be VERY interesting to watch! And I seriously hope Bravo puts up the recipes - Chef Keller's soup looked very good!

      1. re: LindaWhit

        i *loved* that little bit about the MW and newspapers. and Keller definitely wins the ingenuity award. the pasta in the shower was genius!

        1. re: LindaWhit

          The recipe is in his book from 1996, as is a version of the mac and cheese (but with lobster, not shrimp). Haven't tried either one, but am tempted by at least the cinnamon croutons.

        2. re: goodhealthgourmet

          I think Chris Lee actually did use popcorn in his first course with the ceviche? It had avocado in it too but can't remember the fish he used. I thought it was random when he popped into another dorm to offer up some popcorn, until I realized he made it to use in his dish :-)

          1. re: gyozagirl

            He used snapper, right? It looked delicious.

            1. re: gyozagirl

              he used it as a garnish, but i wish one of them had made an entire course of it.

          2. i think that love pulled off some nice looking things considering but keller looks hard to beat. and you are right that dessert was lovely. my daughter would love it. that said, i'm personally curious about the fried strawberries.
            and i still think peas and carrots with cinnamon sounds weird.

            5 Replies
            1. re: AMFM

              There's a restaurant I go to regularly that, during the summer months, has fresones - large strawberries dipped in a sherry batter and fried - served with a creme catalan sauce with a scoop of chocolate ice cream, they are absolutely wonderful!

              As for the pea/carrot soup - if the cinnamon was kept to a minimum on the croutons, I think it would be a great accent!

              1. re: LindaWhit

                Wow - Linda - those strawberries sound AMAZING!!
                Are they deep fried - like tempura?

                1. re: NellyNel

                  Yes, that's exactly what they're like - the strawberries are not fried long enough to get "hot" - they're slightly warm, but the batter is lightly crispy. The entire strawberry isn't usually dipped in the batter; they leave about a half-inch at the top still showing the berry. There are stems still on the berries so they probably use that as the handle to hold the berry in the oil, I'm assuming.

                  Seriously good - and the berries have been very sweet this year - sometimes towards the end of the season, the berries are very bland and almost "tough" but so far, they're great this year!

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    Wow - thanks - i'm drooling now!

                    I usually don't go for chocolate ice cream as an accompaniment to something like that - BUT I bet the pairing - in this case would be perfect.


                    1. re: NellyNel

                      Actually, this year they've been serving it with strawberry sauce swirled with the creme catalan sauce, and a scoop of (locally made) vanilla ice cream. My friend and I both prefer the chocolate, so if they have chocolate ice cream in house when we're there, we get it that way. :-)

            2. I love what Keller did to deal with draining the pasta! Very much something a dorm kid might have done..(draining and refreshing it in the shower).

              2 Replies
              1. re: susancinsf

                I love the man, it was clever, but it just made me gag! I can't lie! Was the showerhead IN the pasta?!!!

                1. re: susancinsf

                  i found that part brillant---for a man who didn't attend university in the US he was on-point with what its like to cook in a dorm!

                2. i am surprised they used the toaster ovens as little as they did. you can really do quite a bit with one.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: AMFM

                    i was thinking the same thing! i've often used mine instead of the oven when i don't want to heat up the whole house.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Same here - potatoes are easily done in the toaster oven as are so many other items. But the chefs did use it to re-warm a lot of their food.

                      And Schlow is out. Kinda figured he wasn't going to pull it out.

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        i really want Christopher to win because his charity is near & dear to my heart, but you KNOW Keller will take it...

                        crap. i was right. he won just as i typed that.

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          Yeah, I figured other than the Brit judge not liking the cinnamon croutons, Keller's dishes were all overwhelming enjoyed by the judges.

                          And it looks like Kelly Choi is truly just the hostess for the show - she doesn't seem to have any say in the judging. Interesting. Padma's "vote" counts just as much as Tom's, Gail's, and Toby/Tim/whoever else is judging.

                    2. re: AMFM

                      I think toaster ovens work really well if you're making a small amount of food. Eric Ripert did a series on cooking with toaster ovens. But it might have been difficult logistically to cook for a large number of people with a toaster oven.

                    3. 2 final thoughts:
                      - i don't know if it was just me, but Tim Love didn't come off as the most gracious loser.
                      - it's really quite fitting that Keller won the *first* round - he was the very first guest judge on the very first episode of TC!

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        I got the impression that Tim Love felt he got screwed. S**t happens! but I would have expected a professional to be a bit more blase about it.

                        1. re: mnosyne

                          I'd be very interested to know what Love was planning on making BEFORE discovering the frozen produce. Sounds like he pulled it out with the "posole," as that seemed to be a favorite dish of the judges, but I guess not enough. And are the judges supposed to take into account what difficulties the chefs ran into with their food items/preparation as part of their point awards? I don't think so - they're just looking at presentation and taste, right?

                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            I hope so! On Top Chef (original flavor), they're always making a big point about how there shouldn't be any allowances made for the weird conditions/constraints put on their cooking.

                            It did seem, though, that they were making allowances for the conditions, at least subconsciously. Lots of comments on the lines of "considering this was made on a hot plate, this is really good."

                            I did like when one of them (Lee? the Italian guy?) said that now that he was on the other side of the judges' table, he had a greater appreciation for how hard the challenge conditions are for the regular cheftestants.

                            Was Keller the only one who didn't "cheat" by serving a raw first course?

                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                No, his fish dish was the salmon, which was cooked. I think Love did the scallops, the Italian guy did a crudo, and Lee did a ceviche.

                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                  Nope - Keller did the cold Scottish Salmon - but he still baked it in the oven.


                                  The scallop carpacchio was Tim Love - because they had been frozen already and he couldn't sear them because they were waterlogged.


                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                    And a Top Chef first -- someone pulls out a frozen scallop success! (Or at least not an utter crash and burn.)

                                2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  > On Top Chef (original flavor), they're always making a big point about
                                  > how there shouldn't be any allowances made for the weird
                                  > conditions/constraints put on their cooking.

                                  Well, I'm thinking the whole point of this show is to respond to the fans who say, "Yeah, I'd like to see what you fancy-James-Beard-chef-guest-judge can do with these constraints." And so far, the food they're sending out is darn good, even if it's not up to what you'd get in their restaurants.