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Top Chef Masters ep. 4 - 07/08/09 (Spoilers)

What a great group of chefs to compete! Besh, Lo, Rodriguez, and Peel? Fun. But even better is having Gail Simmons there to judge the egg QuickFire - who doesn't know her aversion to RUBBERY EGGS?

Based on how everything seemed to go, it looks like Rodriguez will take this one, but now that they've tasted it, Anita Lo looks to be doing the best. And OUCH on John Besh only serving one dish to all four tasters! And double ouch - only a half star.

Yup - Anita gets 5 stars - thanks to John Besh who helped her with cutting the egg tops off!

So - the Elimination Round will be the Doogie Howser (even Rodriguez called him that! LOL) Magical dinner. :-) LOVE the way they're to make a dish inspired by the cards they drew!

Peel - Mystery
Besh - Surprise
Rodriguez - Spectacle
Lo - Illusion

This ought to be fun!

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  1. LOVE this lineup!

    QF: i was sorry to see Besh crash & burn, i've always liked him. really impressed by Mark Peel's one-handmade pasta, and so bummed out for him when he realized he forgot the olive oil! also impressed by Rodriguez's arepa and those incredibly fluffy scrambled eggs, but i wasn't digging the slab of ham. and Anita's dish...wow. i *so* wanted to eat that!

    BTW, is it just me, or was this the first time Kelly Choi introduced herself to the chefs? what struck me was that Padma never has to introduce herself to *anyone* ;)

    7 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      I noticed the introduction from Kelly Choi as well....interesting.

      1. re: LindaWhit

        On one of the previous threads, there was speculation that the episodes were being aired out of order, because Jay's blog had said something about visa problems and Gail Simmons filling in for him before he could get there. So perhaps this was actually the first episode shot, thus her introduction. And I've got to assume she does any introductions for the sake of the camera, otherwise we would see it every week since there's a different group. (Padma, of course, sees the same (dwindling) group every epi.)

          1. re: momjamin

            Yes, it was obvious to me from the establishing shots and the intros and explanations that this was originally the first episode. I wonder why they chose to show them out of order? Maybe it had to do with the fact that, as one of them said, there was no yelling in the kitchen. Although I enjoyed it a lot, for the wider, less chowhoundy audience it may have been a bit less compelling than some of the others.

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          I'm a Besh fan too so I was disappointed with the Quickfire results. I yelled at the TV that it was the same oven that didn't cook another chef's cake a few episodes back!

          1. re: Boudleaux

            Besh is really bumming me out. he's got such great energy & intention, but he's totally bungling his execution tonight!

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              Agreed. But he seems to be taking it in stride.

        2. OK, Chef Rodriguez's duck spectacle dish had me at first duck!

          7 Replies
          1. re: LindaWhit

            very cool, but i think he really freaked them all out with the sterno!

            personally i thought Anita hit it out of the park again. it makes me want to go to Annisa for dinner ASAP! (for the record, i had a couple of terrific meals at Patria in NYC years ago - i'd embrace the opportunity to eat at one of Rodriguez's restaurants again.)

            Mark's fish looked and sounded delicious as well.

            ok, i'm calling it...Anita.

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              She smashed everyone else's scores! Can't believe Besh and Rodriguez were so low! They do seem nervous waiting for their star scores!

              But I do love how Peel and Rodriguez both immediately say they'd do this again.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                "it makes me want to go to Annisa for dinner ASAP!"

                You might have to wait a bit more. Annisa closed recently due to a pretty serious fire. Anita says is is planning to rebuild.

                I was really surprised by Besh's performance last night. Having eaten at restaurants of Lo, Rodriguez and Besh, I really enjoyed August the most and thought he would have done better.

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  I was too. Siince Besh has the reputation of being a very serious competitor, I naturally assumed he would place first. But having eaten at the restaurants of Rodriguez, and Peel, and being a frequent diner at Annisa, I was secretly hoping that Anita Lo win. And she did not disappoint! Her quickfire egg dish looked delectable and her illusory daikon "scallop"' enclosing a steak tartare was brilliant. Her rice krispies beach scene reminded me of Hung's smurf village made of cereal!

                  1. re: Hurner

                    I am still trying to figure out what that Daikon and steak tartare would taste like.

                    1. re: Phaedrus

                      I am thinking like beef tataki with ken-cut daikon garnish. Then again, I haven't seen the episode yet.

                  2. re: Miss Needle

                    how the heck did i miss that news about Annisa?! thanks for the info - i swear i was just talking about going there for dinner a few weeks ago, and no one mentioned it.

              2. I'm running a bit behind everyone else, but Mark Peel is cracking me up. His comments about Anita during the shopping trip were hysterical. Now I wished I liked Campanile a bit more.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Jwsel

                  i forgot about those comments. that was really funny :)

                  1. re: Jwsel

                    I've never eaten at Campanile and probably never will, but Peel impressed me a lot with his quiet, wry sense of humor and the way he talked about Doctors without Borders.

                  2. So we now have two unassuming chefs, who happen to be older women, winning. No great sixty-second sound bites, just good and clean cooking that wins. And, her charity is close to my heart, so that is an added bonus.

                    Have to say that I have a soft spot for Besh, but he kind of crashed and burned tonight. But he did it with grace.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: smtucker

                      "But he did it with grace."
                      he sure did...and it was precisely that grace that won me over when he competed to become the Next Iron Chef.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        Absolutely! Such a gentleman. One of the best meals I ever eaten was at Restaurant August.

                    2. All I can say is YUCK!

                      They showed Anita Lo spooning a taste from a pot and then shaking the remaining spoon liquids..back into the pot on the quickfire challenge.

                      Then, when she was making her tartar she reached her fingers into the mixture,tasted it,then guess what she did? She flung her dirty spit laced fingers at the bowl,shaking off excess meat.

                      TC made it a point to show her lack of basic cleanliness so I was very suprised that they didn't say anything to her.At the very least someone from the crew should have told the judges that they were about to eat some spit.At least I hope they did.Because if I had eaten what she cooked on that day(s) I would have been livid that nobody told me about it.


                      7 Replies
                      1. re: Robinez

                        Pretty sure that's standard in any kitchen. I'm surprised that your surprised to be honest.

                        1. re: gastrotect

                          "Pretty sure that's standard in any kitchent"

                          Uhm no, it's not standard or normal to allow your saliva in food you are preparing. Not by a long shot. SOP in most professional kitchens is to have a spoon (or several) in your coat pocket and sanitizer solution on every work area. You either use a disposable spoon or you sanitize after each use. You do not eat from a spoon and then shake the exces back.....EVER. That's just N-A-S-T-Y and unethical not to mention a major health violation.
                          It's probably pardonable in this setting but I think the the judges would correct any of the Chef's on the regular seasonal show for that behavior and rightly so.

                        2. re: Robinez

                          "Because if I had eaten what she cooked on that day(s) I would have been livid that nobody told me about it."
                          if you've eaten restaurant food more than once in your life, there's a VERY good chance you've unknowingly consumed someone else's saliva. gastrotect is right, when someone's busy prepping food in a restaurant kitchen, they're not going to stop and sanitize their hands after each taste before resuming the task.

                          1. re: Robinez

                            I didn't even notice either of those incidents. Probably because it didn't seem at all out of the ordinary.

                            1. re: DanaB

                              So true - people who've never worked in a resto kitchen wouldn't want to know the half of what goes on...

                            2. re: Robinez

                              "They showed Anita Lo spooning a taste from a pot and then shaking the remaining spoon liquids..back into the pot on the quickfire challenge.
                              Then, when she was making her tartar she reached her fingers into the mixture,tasted it,then guess what she did? She flung her dirty spit laced fingers at the bowl,shaking off excess meat"
                              I found it so difficult to believe a Chef at this level would act like this that I rewound the show on the DVR and watched the quickfire several times. I do not see her tasting from a pot at all let alone double dipping. Are you sure you are not confusing her pulling the plunger with her mouth to cut the top of the egg shell? That is a tool that does not come in contact with the food she is serving.
                              In regards to the tartar I'd suggest you watch that again if you get the chance. She does NOT fling her fingers back at the bowl she shakes the excess off to the side after she tastes her product. There is NO shot of her putting her hand back into the bowl nor is there any reason (other than internet speculation) to believe that she did not wash her hands before she continued.
                              These Chef's didn't make it to this level by being hacks

                              1. re: Fritter

                                I did see Anita Lo tasting with a metal spoon in an early segment; the shot cuts away pretty fast, but it certainly looked to me like she was pulling the spoon away from over the pot after. I'd be shocked if it were otherwise.

                            3. Jumping in late. I have heard of Anita Lo but I am very impressed with her demeanor and her food. That egg thing looked awesome. Mark peel threw me for a loop, the only time I had seen him was in an aborted FN show, this one focused on Campanile.

                              John Besh is a guy UI can have a bunch of beers with and the best part is that he can cook the eggs at 2 AM after all the drinking.

                              Douglas' dish sounded awesome. I love duck.

                              So, do you think these folks at Tc can get kitchen equipment that work? I mean, how bad does it look for GE, a title sponsor, that their kitchen appliance does not work! Sheesh.

                              I am so over Gael Green. Someone put her out of our misery.

                              I thought Gail Simmons is a natural for the egg QF. Good thing Besh's eggs were running rather than rubbery, or else Gail would have turned into Mothra and stomped him to death.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                Maybe the chefs are not use to working with consumer ovens. I mean theirs are started way before service and stay on the entire time so there is no waiting to preheat.

                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                  I have to think the oven needed pre-heating, and Besh just overlooked that fact. It's just too bad he didn't think to check on his eggs sooner than 2 minutes before the end of the challenge! I was very impressed with Besh's attitude toward the whole thing. He took losing with such grace :-)

                                  Overall, I thought it was another strong group of competitors. It's really interesting comparing these seasoned professionals to the regular contestants of the show. Even when the f-up or get into the weeds, we see little bad behavior. It makes it a pleasure to watch them compete.

                                2. What a dynamic and fun group. There was some serious talent here. Very surprised like every one else to see John Besh crash and burn but hey every one has an off day. I can't say I'm a fan of the winner this time and I was really shocked by the spread in points considering that all of the end dishes looked great.

                                  1. Again...I continue to enjoy the camaraderie amongst the chefs. They really do seem to respect each other. That along with their excellent looking food, has made me put all their restaurants on my master "must try" list.

                                    As a person that can beat herself up pretty good when she messes up a meal, it's comforting to see these professionals have some issues as well. (Of course, I'm not cooking with one hand behind my back and under a time limit.)

                                    I also like how they allow time for each chef to discuss their charity of choice. It makes it hard to cheer against anyone as each charity seems so worthy of the win. A percentage of my kids allowance is set aside for charity (Doctors Without Borders is a personal favorite) and I plan to look in to these Master's charities and see if the kids would like to direct some of their funds in that direction.

                                    All in all, I'm loving this show!

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Mushroom

                                      Besh seemed a lot more intense during The Next Iron Chef competition. He didn't seem to take this very seriously. Anita showed the same intensity that I remember from her win over Mario Batali in Battle Mushrooms. I wish they had focused on her Illusion dish a little more, I didn't really grasp the concept of how the Rice Krispies played into the beach scene.
                                      Sterno on the coconut seemed doomed for failure right from the start.

                                      1. re: tofuburrito

                                        The rice krispies were the sand on the beach. I was disappointed in Rodriguez -- have been following him for years. He used to have a wonderful restaurant in Coral Gables, FL, called Yucca -- absolutely fabulous. We've also enjoyed Patria and Alma de Cuba in Philly (where we live). Must try Anita Lo's restaurant.

                                        1. re: Beulah

                                          I thought Rodriguez's comments about it being 15 or 20 years since he worked the line AND that Anita still works her line frequently were interesting and illuminating.

                                          For these Top Chef challenges time is a critical element. Someone who is used to cooking "under fire" on a regular basis is going to have a (well-deserved) advantage over someone who is mostly doing development a quality control, not production and may not be as quick on his feet as a line cook.

                                      2. re: Mushroom

                                        I'm thinking that the air-time the chefs get to plug their charities is worth at least $10K even before any prize money.

                                      3. What's up with those Monogram ovens?

                                        The way the show is edited, when the camera gives you the logo shot of the oven... I expect the next scene to be chef complaining that the oven didn't work.. Last night it was Besh and his uncooked eggs... This happened another time too.

                                        It's sort of anti-product placement. Who would be motivated to buy an oven that doesn't work?

                                        I enjoyed how Chef Tom compared/contrasted the behavior/work ethic of the TC Masters vs the regular TC cheftestants.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: dave_c

                                          I also loved Tom's reaction when Anita Lo told him she was preparing a daikon scallop. The look of terror in his eyes at the mention of another scallop after "Top Scallop" Season 5 was priceless!

                                          1. re: Hurner

                                            Or another banana scallop! How many times did Blaise make banana scallops?

                                        2. I had one big beef with the final challenge: why did they have the chefs come out and explain the dishes before they ate them? I know that's the usual practice, but in this case it totally ruined "surprise," "mystery" and "illusion." Wouldn't it have been much more "magical" if they'd been able to discover the dishes on their own?

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                            thanks for bringing that up - i knew there was something i forgot to say last night. it totally defeated the purpose and contradicted the theme of the entire evening!