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Jul 29, 2009 09:33 PM

Top Chef Masters Champs 1st Round [spoilers]

Anita Lo's dishes looked awesome. Art Smith mentioned Obama loving his dish, again! Too bad Art got to stick around. I don't like his style, he's all talk and no substance. I missed eating at Rick's in Chicago on my last trip, that will definitely be rectified on the next trip.

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  1. You should watch this video.
    It's Art Smith's winning Chicken 2 Ways recipe from the preliminaries. It's not exactly 3 star michelin-elaborate, but it sure looks tasty and I think you're selling him a bit short.

    On the other hand I agree with you - Anita Lo is putting on a freaking clinic right now. I didn't even know who she was before the show, but she is looking very, very impressive. Her daikon-scallop dish from the preliminaries made my jaw drop.

    1. I sure would have liked to eat at that chef's table. I was not an Amito Lo fan before but I think I've been converted. Really enjoyed the bit about Hubert Keller's family history. For me both Bayless and Keller just ooze passion for being a Chef and in my best Cuba Gooding Jr impression ala Jerry Maguire;
      I dig that about both of them!

      1. i was sorry to see Suzanne drop the ball. i like her, and i really wanted Art to get the ax instead.

        i said last week that if Art launched back into his "cooking with love" shtick i was gonna vomit. fortunately he didn't quite cause me to lose my dinner, but when he somehow managed to start with the name-dropping YET AGAIN within his first 60 seconds of screen time, i did throw a coaster at the TV. (well, i threw it *near* the TV. i'm not about to kill my plasma over this guy.) i was also annoyed that he was so insistent about not wanting to do the chickens for the QF - i thought that was his signature protein? if you can't even butcher the one meat you're most comfortable cooking, what the heck are you doing on TC Masters? needless to say, i was irritated that he beat Keller at the onion dice, but when he bungled the egg whites, order was restored in the universe :)

        Anita Lo is a *rock star* and what makes it even better is her humility.

        Loved Bayless' energy in this one. Fritter is right, he and Keller really do ooze passion for their craft. i actually think Michael Chiarello does too, and i loved how he defended his approach to Rayner at Critics' Table.

        all in all, an enjoyable, if somewhat tame, battle to watch. i don't know if it's the editing, or the maturity of the master chefs, but there's something much less frantic about the energy in the kitchen this season, even though they're competing in the same challenges as regular TC contestants do.

        9 Replies
        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          again with Art name dropping Obama. As if that would be enough to get him to win. It totally turned me off to him. Anita's dishes looked stellar and it was a shame Suzanne's grouper was plated too early because that looked good as well. It didn't look like Suzanne cared either way, however.

          1. re: HabaneroJane

            " It didn't look like Suzanne cared either way"

            I have to agree. For me her style of cooking is very similar to what I prefer. While it's easy to kick back and criticize my take of her on camera was that she is a bit of a dead fish. She just seems so expression-less on TV but then I don't know her so it could just be nerves.
            I also agree with GHG that it was great fun watching Chiarello give the judges a sort of "stick that in your pipe and smoke it" answer.
            Good for him for thinking more of his peers and friends than a food critic!

            1. re: Fritter

              I think her comments come off as snarky about other chefs.

          2. re: goodhealthgourmet

            Agree on the Art Smith name-dropping - was REALLY hoping for his ouster. The editors focused WAY too much on Art's confessionals - how many of them were there - 5 or 7? Ugh. Editors - STOP that. Perhaps they were attempting to lead viewers to believe it was going to be him told to pack his knives? Wish it was. I also wondered about his not wanting to butcher chickens for the mise-en-place QF as well. Seems strange when chicken is his forté.

            Other comments - LOVED the QuickFire. Knowing that none of these chefs have probably done mise prep in quite some time, I can only imagine how it started up the butterflies knowing it was a timed battle. And how funny was it seeing Chef Colicchio come in to time them? You could see Colicchio was almost embarrassed to be there. Maybe not embarrassed, but what a cute sheepish look on his face! But the TCMasters looked pleased to have him there!

            ETFix: Bayless (not Keller as I had previously said) KILLED on the egg white separation and whipping..very glad he beat Smith. The planets were realigned. :-) Interesting that Bayless said that both methods of chopping onions were ones he hadn't seen before.

            Elimination Challenge - Anita Lo - damn, the woman can cook! Loved her take on Keller's Lobster Bisque - the whole presentation and look of the dish was beautiful!

            Michael Chiarello's comment when holding up a caul netting for (I think) his rack of lamb EC dish: "A Sicilian grandmother's stockings" made me LOL!

            Jay Rayner's blog re: the EC - it turns out the judges got to eat the original chefs' signature dishes to have a benchmark against which to judge the re-engineered versions presented to them later on. And his comments about Smith's Scotch egg is hysterical!

            "Here’s what you need to know about the true Scotch egg: it is a British traditional food, which has no noble antecedents. Or to put it another way, it may once have been a glorious thing, but nobody of my generation in Britain is aware of such a thing. It is a nightmarish food item, the stuff of cheap family weddings, where the irascible scary uncle gets drunk and tries to score with the bridesmaids."

            LOL! There's LOTS more as well - very funny stuff! I guess he got QUITE vocal re: Smith's dish (most of which didn't make it on camera). Please, Magical Elves - can we PLEASE have Jay Rayner instead of Toby Young for the regular TC? Please, please, please, PLEASE?

            I cannot figure out what Smith was thinking - that entire dish looked SO unappetizing! But when Tracht had plated so early, I figured she'd be out the door.

            Very glad for Anita - she was very concerned about going up against the other finalists, and she has more than proved herself with her imagination. Her dish absolutely looked the best.

            1. re: LindaWhit

              Wow -
              Loved this episode!

              Random thoughts:

              I'm surprised at all the hate here against chef Art...I have to watch the last 2 episodes again - I didn't notice the bragging...and I thought his froed chicken dish looked so good! I also thought he was happy-go-lucky and fun..I'll have to watch again.

              Suzanne looked to me like she was on quantities of valium.

              Arts lamb scotch egg sounds disgusting - but I really wanted to try it!

              Linda - ditto on the whole Tom Colicchio moment! It was all very cute

              Still love Keller - I want to marry him and visit his family in France

              Finally - Anita Lo is my new hero!
              She is amazing!
              I had looked at Anisa's menu ages ago - and nothing caught my fancy, but after seeing her in the challenges, it is my mission to get there. (It is still closed due to a recent fire though - which is quite sad)
              Her food is so creative yet looks really tasty, and I really like her personality - she's smart and confident, yet humble.
              She rocks!! And I am rooting for her to take the big prize!

              Oh - and I guess I'm the only one who thought "Holy sh*t! Gael Greene slept with Elvis?!?!?"

            2. re: goodhealthgourmet

              I thought Suzanne had the toughest assignment, though -- cook a difficult fish for 20-some people and wait to serve it. Every other protein -- quail, scallop, lobster, lamb, and ground lamb hold much easier!

              1. re: Reignking

                Loved to see both Suzanne and Anita rock the QF.

                How did they decide the order of the courses? It seems to me that it is near impossible to cook and plate a dish of grouper 20 minutes before it is going to be served. There's not much Suzanne could've done other than choose a different fish. Disappointing to see her lose to that Scotch egg and ironic after Art's poor showing in the QF.

                1. re: wanderlust21

                  grouper can be done with a light seafood broth and maybe tomatoes and onions and it will not be dry and overcooked, even if it has to sit for a bit. like a vera cruz, or caribbean style. but i guess the style of preparation of the fish has to be "close" to the other chef's "signature" dish?

                  grouper is not a hard fish to cook.

                  1. re: alkapal

                    Anita Lo did not style the dish she prepared anything like Keller did his.

                    Imho, Suzanne was probably nervous, and hurried through her prep, finishing early. Fish does not hold well, no matter what. and Cold fish, unless it's sushi, ceviche or in aspic, never goes over very well.

            3. OK, I'll jump on the band wagon. Art Smith drives me nuts. And I think Bravo knows that because of the short blurb they put in there of Smith cutting up and all the other chefs saying how much they love him. But I also think that the one little bit he said really explained why he is the way he is, inre: name dropping. He said that he didn't get into the restaurant business until a few years ago and there was a bit of inferiority complex showing through when he said he was intimidated by that fact.

              Anita Lo IS a rock star. I am so ready to go check out her restaurant. She was less animated than Bayless or Keller but she showed her passion through her thinking through the dish and reinventing it in a very"intellectual way" as Gael Green puts it.

              I never really liked Chiarello much, but when he agreed with Raynor that he cared more about what Bayless thought of his dish than the judges, he won me over. Afterall, the critics don't matter, your diners and your fellow professionals do.

              Interestingly enought, Raynor and Oselander's blogs were up right after the first showing of the episode. Apparently Raynor just whaled on the scotch egg concept. He did admit is had to do with the fact that he grew up with the idea in the UK, but apparently they cut out all of his screaming and criticism as he had described it in the blog.

              By the way, I really don't care that Gael Green slept with Elvis.

              I was impressed when Bayless was talking about when he got into cooking Mexican foods. His demeanor and gravitas reminded me of a college professor, a very personable college professor, but one just the same. His tendency towards analysis and methodically thinking through what he does now makes sense. A PhD in anthropology, wow, pretty deep.

              So the part I didn'tget. Art Smith failed in the conception and the execution of the dish. Sauanne's dish wasn't really critiqued for its conception, but for its execution. Doesn't two bads beat a 1 bad? or did she really screw up? Not sure about that.

              this was one of my more favored episode, the mise en place QF has always a been a favorite and it definitely showed who hasn't been doing it in a while and who is the consummate professional.

              In both blogs, they talked about having tasted the original dish and then the reinvented dish. THAT, would have been a dream come true.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Phaedrus

                By the way, I really don't care that Gael Green slept with Elvis.
                Who DIDN'T sleep with Elvis back then? LOL

                And I forgot that background info re: Bayless - very interesting as to how he got into cooking Mexican food!

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  and think how elvis would look today?!

              2. Anita Lo is the best. I've eaten her signature scallop dish at her restaurant, Annisa, and was glad to see that she included it in the EC. Again, I'm not surprised that she placed first.

                Rick Bayless continues to impress by confirming that he's more well rounded than we would assume, considering his background and taste.

                Hubert Keller is solid, inventive and unpredictable. Someday I'd like to eat in one of his restaurants.

                Michael Chiarello has yet to win me over.

                I was sorry to see Suzanne Tracht crash and burn due to a technicality that could have been easily avoided.

                Art Smith, by his own admission, is aware that he's in the company of highly qualified chefs, and perhaps this may be the reason for the constant name-dropping. Like it or not, his "star" connections form the bulk of his résumé (and he knows it). And although he can be annoying to us as viewers, his chef colleagues and the judges seem to truly like him.