HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >


Top Chef Masters Semi-Final 2nd Round (spoilers)

Figures - we're ALL ready to play a drinking game based on Art Smith calling out celebrity names, and he fails us! He doesn't even give us ONE celeb name he's cooked for! ::::Sigh::::: Actually, only Kelly Choi threw out the lone "celebrity" name while introducing Spike in the burger QF.

The burger QF was interesting - I figured it would be Keller or Bayless who would take it - was surprised at Hubert only getting 3 stars. But not surprised at Bayless tying with 4 stars with Chiarello.

Wow - Zoey Deschanel's restrictions - vegan, gluten-free, and she doesn't eat soy. Whew. Chef Keller's appetizer dish looked like a winner - but WHAT was up with the waiters dropping the glasses? Yikes!

Chiarello's pasta dish looked great as well. I'm thinking Anita Lo or Art Smith are going home....Anita's very low QF 1-1/2 stars could help eliminate her.

ETA: Chef Chiarello whooped butt on that quinoa pasta dish! And I was right - Lo and Smith in the bottom two.

And Smith is out....by a half-star.

And O.M.G. - next week Dale Talde, Betty and others are back from the regular TC as "assistants" - and Dale actually gets up into Chiarello's face? I'm wondering if he was told to do that for the drama? Yikes.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. you know what's funny? i was going to make "cooking with love" and "food is love" qualifications for drinking as well, but i figured everyone would get sloshed too easily!!!

    i don't understand why they had Spike as a guest judge. so he has a burger place now? big deal. it would have made more sense to bring back CJ since he won the original TC burger challenge. i thought it was *hilarious* that Hubert Keller basically served Sang Yoon a Father's Office burger without bacon...did anyone else think Yoon almost seemed to be smirking?

    i had a feeling this was a challenge Art just wouldn't be able to manage. i also think he's just not good under pressure - he looked like he was going to throw up or cry when they were watching the judging of the QF dishes!

    i was surprised at the way Anita flailed. it made me so nervous until the very end because it looked like Art would squeak past her...after having served store-bought ice cream!

    no surprise that Bayless did well in the EC since he's comfortable cooking with vegetables, but he was predictable - i posted on last week's thread that i figured he'd make tamales.

    i love that Chiarello kicked ass. i think he's definitely the dark horse in this group...i definitely wouldn't count him out.

    ok, so WTF is up with Dale next week? yikes!

    9 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      And if those 2 phrases had been added, we would have had at least 3-5 drinks before 15 minutes had passed! LOL

      I don't know anything about a Father's Office burger, so didn't know that it was close to what Keller ended up making.

      Smith also was beyond nervous introducing his dessert in front of the vegan group. He just seemed out of place, like he didn't even want to be there. I laughed when Chiarello asked him "Do you WANT to leave?" when Smith took dessert. There seemed to be a bit of focus on him this week (just as there was on Tracht last week) so I thought it might be him going.

      And I couldn't quite figure out WHY they had the former TC cheftestants there - according to TV Guide's writeup, the Masters are to be the teachers: "their teaching and leadership talents are put to the test while catering an event. The catch: they're forbidden to handle the food." INTERESTING! (And the QF is another interesting one - using blindfolds!)

      The week after that, TCMasters starts late (10:15) as the regular new season of TC6-Vegas starts at 9pm that week. But it'll be an hour finale - so we'll get 2 hours, 15 minutes of Top Chef on August 19th! The 5 previous winners of TC1-5 come back for the TCMaster finale.

      1. re: LindaWhit

        Linda, anyone in LA can tell you about the Father's Office burger...


        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          Father's Office was featured on Daniel Boulud's TV show "After Hours". That burger was judged 2nd best in the world.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            Someone brought in a ketchup bottle and it was CONFISCATED? Yeah, not a place for me.

            1. re: LindaWhit

              i used to go there for drinks with friends before Sang Yon bought it, when it was just a neighborhood hangout. then it got all famous & elitist (and jam-packed!) thanks to the burger. i started eating meat again in 2007, after 21 years as a vegetarian...and though i strictly eat grass-fed beef now, i considered making an exception for a bite of that darned FO burger to see what all the fuss was about. but Sang Yoon with his stupid rules & restrictions *refuses* to serve it without a bun...hence, it would be gluten-contaminated which makes it a no-no for me.

              i couldn't help but wonder if he was squirming a bit under that smirk because Hubert Keller had, in a way, served him a "modified" version of the burger he's become famous for serving. too bad it didn't have ketchup slathered all over it! ":)

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                i dont think gluten jumps off the bun in to the burger, does it?

                1. re: thew

                  for those of us who are extremely sensitive, once they've touched, there's potential for contamination. i've gotten sick too many times from scenarios like that to take any more chances.

          2. re: LindaWhit

            LOL Linda!
            I was straight as a board after watching!

            I only just got to catch up with this episode over the weekend

            My biggest shock this week was Anita!
            For the quickfire, I just kind of knew the soup idea would be a flop, but I thought for sure she would come up with something masterful for the elimination challenge.
            But in the end Boy did her eggplant look awful!
            To be honest I was shocked that she beat Art, especially after she only had 1 1/2 stars going into it.
            I really like her, so I am pleased she is still there, but to be honest, based on the look and descriptions I think she should have gone, not Art.

            My other thought is about Chiarello and the lemon....
            I don't think he was using his teeth so I did spit some coffe onto my screen after reading a post below about what strong jaw muscles he must have!!!! LOL

            Can't wait for next week!
            Very interesting about how it's edited to make Dale look like such a pratt!

            1. re: NellyNel

              You guys should all read Rick Bayless' blog root4rick.com, it gives some interesting insight into the challenges! According to him, Anita's burger was actually very good. From his blog, he says "The real competition was “who can best channel your
              inner frat boy.” Needless to say poor Anita was at a serious
              disadvantage. That “hamburger” dish she made, by the way, was brilliant."

              I was also surprised by her eggplant failure- I've eaten that dish at Annisa (but I think it also had a yogurt sauce which she obviously couldn't use), and it was mind-blowing. The flavors were incredible. I was not expecting a slice of eggplant to taste so good. She really must have been exhausted to mess up a dish she makes on a regular basis. I'm glad she squeaked through, I think she's a brilliant Chef, and I can't stand Art.

        2. It was as if Art Smith heard about the drinking game, spoil sport :-). Chiarello actually dropped the name of Hillary Clinton!

          So glad that even on a bad day, Anita Lo still beat Art Smith. She's so creative.

          1. A close one on the elimination, but, as someone who has similar dietary restrictions, I knew the "ice cream" would fail, regardless of how he tried to dress it up.

            And did you catch Chiarello using his mouth to squeeze the juice out of the preserved Meyer Lemons? I have to admit I was a bit shocked at that. I suspect it's actually a classic technique, but it sure wouldn't fly if the Health Inspector was hovering nearby.

            Looks like Richard Blaise and Jamie will also be sous next week. Might be interesting if Blaise gets matched up with Keller. As for Dale getting in Chiarello's face, I hope Michael tells and/or helps him to hit the door.

            18 Replies
            1. re: cmvan

              I forgot about seeing Chiarello use his mouth to squeeze the lemon - I was surprised as well! And I had forgotten that he also said Hillary Clinton's name (referring back to araknd's post about name dropping).

              And didn't see Blaise and Jamie in the quick previews...will be glad to see Blaise again - Jamie - well, I'm not sure. But I guess Dale is going to be the bad boy yet again.

              1. re: cmvan

                ok, confession time...hubby said to me in horror as we were watching: 'did you see how he used his mouth to squeeze the lemon?'.

                well, I do that more than I care to admit. It works. But I guess now none of you will come to dinner at my house when lemons are on the menu....

                1. re: susancinsf

                  i would, susan...it's not like you're holding the juice directly in your mouth & spitting it into the food - the rind is a barrier! ;)

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    Sorry, it's still unhygenic. Chances are some of your spit is getting in the juice, and you're going to use your hands to then grab the lemon, getting spit on your hands or gloves. That did gross me out. I'm of the "nuke it 10 seconds and use the wooden reamer" school. If pressed for time, just roll it around and use the reamer.

                    1. re: newhavener07

                      that's why i use the fork method when i'm preparing food for other people ;) but the chances of piercing all the way through the rind and/or actually salivating all over it in a matter of a couple of seconds is pretty slim, so it didn't freak me out too much to see him do it.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        I just squeeze the lemon between the handles of a pair of tongs. Cheap, easy and found in every kitchen I ever worked in. Now at home I have been known to use the bite trick, but I would have never even considered doing it in a restaurant.

                  2. re: susancinsf

                    umm...must be genetic. I confess to having done the same thing more than once...but I was a little surprised to see it shown on TV!

                    I really liked to looks of Bayless' dish, btw...no surprise there! As soon as I heard the dietary restrictions I thought to myself "Bayless would be crazy not to do a tamale..."

                    1. re: janetofreno

                      Chiarello has done the lemon squeeze thing several times on his TV shows over the years, saying it's the way the old Italian nonnas do it.

                      1. re: janetofreno

                        The most amusing part of the entire mini-episode for me was that hubby was horrified: I guess he doesn't pay close attention when I am cooking! :-)

                        (I did confess to him also, and he told me I was more than welcome to use the new lemon squeezer he just got for his bar.....as he glanced outside at our prolific lemon tree with a nervous look on his face...)

                        The tamale and the pasta are the two items I would most like to have tasted. That said, Hubert Keller once again endeered himself to me, and I am plotting a visit to Fleur de Lys...

                      2. re: susancinsf

                        I do that all the time. I was surprised to see Chiarello doing it. You get a lot more juice out that way. Glad to hear that I'm not the only one.

                        1. re: susancinsf

                          i've done it on occasion (as i said to my earlier reply to susancinsf, it doesn't bother me)...but i personally prefer the fork method.

                        2. re: cmvan

                          "I suspect it's actually a classic technique, but it sure wouldn't fly if the Health Inspector was hovering nearby"

                          If it's a classic technique it's one I've never seen another Chef use in a professional kitchen. Not something that would or should fly by a health inspector. Maybe fun at home if that's the way your family did it but an odd choice for work IMO.
                          I was glad to see Art Smith go. I wasn't an Anito Lo fan to start but she has really grown on me. Did any one else catch that Art Smith's Charity was his own?
                          That just seemed a bit lame to me.
                          Chiarello's comments about Keller were hllarious.
                          Did any one else Notice Rick Bayless helping Chiarello shop for produce?
                          How about that TC masters are riding in the Lexus Vs Toyota?
                          The bit with Rick complaining about the ovens was also fun. Lots of good humour in this episode.

                          1. re: Fritter

                            Rick Bayless's charity is his own, too, the Frontera Foundation.

                              1. re: Fritter

                                doesn't bug me with either one - actually means they had their own charity to begin with. i mean i'm sure they had to meet some standards! :)

                          2. re: cmvan

                            I had a holy s**t moment when I saw him do that with the lemon, and I'm a fairly calm person. Then I didn't know whether to call it genius or be disturbed by it. But I was wondering, how does he do that without his teeth biting through the rind? Does he squeeze it with his lips only and just extraordinarily strong jaw muscles? That led me on a mental path about what a ladies man he is, and how he might very well have some good mouth musculature. At which point I started to giggle to myself and put that train of thought away.

                            1. re: sasha1

                              LOL! sasha, this was brilliant...i'm still laughing (and now having somewhat X-rated thoughts about Michael Chiarello)!

                            2. I was surprised by how much I was rooting for Anita this week. I could see that she was struggling, and just wasn't ready to see her go. Her work in the previous episodes has endeared her to me.

                              Chiarello won on a "comfort food" rating, I think. And what is between him and Keller? Is it just in Chiarello's mind, or a real rivalry?

                              Of all the dishes, I think I wanted to eat Bayless' most. It was sloppy on the plate, but looked delicious to me, and the ingredient list sounded like the plate had a great flavor.

                              Preview... what is up with Dale? Is this next generation all buying into the Hell's Kitchen testosterone-laden behavior? Let's not forget who left the pork belly out in the kitchen in a hot climate. TV and the "in-your-face" behaviors seem to be going hand in hand. As you can probably tell, I don't consider this to be progress.

                              21 Replies
                              1. re: smtucker

                                Agreed on the your point.

                                I'm enjoying TC Masters precisely b/c I don't have to watch the immature attitudes and overbloated egos from the regular series cheftestants. Thanks a lot for foisting them back on us in this next episode Bravo. Ugh.

                                1. re: papa

                                  And I agree with you. Thanks Bravo. Ugh.

                                  Clearly these master chefs have egos, too. They are proud when they do well; they are disappointed when they don't do well; their egos are invested in what they are doing in the kitchen & at the dining table.

                                  But what's different between TCM & TCA (Top Chef Amateurs) is that the masters handle their egos (& each others' egos) so much better, so professionally. They are happy when their fellow competitors cook well; they help each other out because they want everyone to succeed & they respect each other. And most of all, when they mess up they don't go around blaming others for their own goofs (& they don't pound on refrigerator doors & drop the F-bomb).

                                  While watching the last two episodes of TCM, watching these professionals handle the kitchen & themselves so well, I've actually been inspired to consider (once again!) whether I should change my career & become a chef. I NEVER think about that when I'm watching the regular Top Chef; instead, I think about how glad I am that I'm NOT a chef!

                                  So I guess this coming week I'll have to suffer with a small dose of the non-inspirational amateurs.

                                  1. re: alanstotle

                                    LOL. if you think these guys do not drop the "f-bomb" (someday someone will explain to me why it is better to not say a word that everyone knows what is is anyway) i have a bridge in brooklyn to sell you.

                                    i would say the lack of hearing has more to do w/ the editors than the chefs.

                                    1. re: thew

                                      Actually, I believe I've heard one or two, so I do not think they are so worried about it. I think it comes down more to the Masters knowing how to comport themselves in the limelight. I do not think Colicchio was incinsere when he commented on it last season. There's bad language and then there's oversaturation.

                                      1. re: Icantread

                                        Well put. Professionalism (the quality I claimed the master chefs possessed) does not mean a person can't swear. Instead, it means knowing when & how to swear in a way that is appropriate (or at least not inappropriate) & (perhaps also) has more impact.

                                        Comportment. I like that word better than professionalism.

                                    2. re: alanstotle

                                      anyone have any idea how they are going to overlap TCA and TCM? Haven't they both been Wednesday at 10 (not that I watch it then, I catch up on the weekend every weed)

                                      1. re: DGresh

                                        The first episode of TC6-Vegas is going to start at 9pm and go to 10:15pm, and the finale of TCM will run from 10:15 to 11:15.

                                        Manually set your DVRs/TiVOs. :-)

                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                          I'm a dinosaur without a DVR (and I go to bed early) so I guess I'll keep having to catch up on the weekend.

                                          1. re: DGresh

                                            I join you in that dinosaurhood - I have a DVD (still unhooked up) but no DVR. But I won't go to bed early - I will watch both eps and probably be a tad sleepy the next day. :-)

                                          2. re: LindaWhit

                                            Thankfully us TIVO users don't need to do anything manually...just set that Season Pass and no matter when the show is on, it will be taped!
                                            Looking forward to it!

                                            1. re: sibeats

                                              TiVO recognizes that the show is going long as well? I thought that even the Season Pass just knew the show was on from 10pm to 11pm and it recorded just that - that you had to "special set" if you were aware a show's time was going to run over. If not, that's convenient!

                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                Tivo might recognize it, but the crappy DVR service from the cable company usually doesn't...i learned that the hard way!

                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  Right - that's what I recall a few seasons back with the regular TC that people were losing the last 10-15 minutes when they started to do the longer shows. But you *can* manually set the DVR to run over, right?

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    well, it depends. you can typically adjust the start/end times by a few minutes, but my crappy Time Warner DVR doesn't really offer much leeway beyond that...so i usually set it to record the program(s) that precede and/or follow it t make sure i don't miss anything.

                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                      No, if you have a season pass and the show is scheduled for an hour and fifteen minutes then TIVO will record the entire show. If a show is preempted for some unexpected reason like sports running over, or a special news bulletin, then TIVO will not know and will not record the extended portion. But Season Passes are a wonderful thing, will record the show wherever it is on any night, for however long it is scheduled for. I love my TIVO ;-)

                                                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                      Yeah, Cox Cable is the same. If you want to go over, you have to actually extend the time of the recording when you set the original programming. Cox DVR software just SUCKS.

                                                    3. re: LindaWhit

                                                      DVR service from my big name sattelite company knows when the show runs long. It's soooo convenient!

                                          3. re: smtucker

                                            "I used to eat three Dales for breakfast." Chiarello can trash-talk in such a genteel voice. That alone is a good master-class takeaway ;-)

                                            Looks like quite a collection of former cheftestants -- more than one per master, and some we'll enjoy seeing in action again, some not so much: http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef-maste... and http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef-maste...

                                            1. re: smtucker

                                              I was rooting for Anita too, but I knew she lost as soon as they showed the plate. WE don't have the best TV in the world, but it looked like a pile of brown glop next to an oblong pile of brown glop.

                                              1. re: smtucker

                                                Chiarello and Keller are good friends; I saw them cook together on a local TV show, and they were having a great time kidding each other and pretend-boxing.

                                                1. re: Claudette

                                                  I loved Chiarello's mocking-French accent...

                                              2. I remember Dale as the foul-mouth chef that couldn't control his temper. Looks like he thinks too highly of his own abilities. Another foul-mouth is Betty...

                                                I wonder if next week challenge is fowl?

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: dave_c

                                                  When I watched the preview, I thought I heard one of the return contestants say that Chiarello was being a bit of an ass. But no excuse for Dale running his mouth like that.

                                                  1. re: Miss Needle

                                                    it will be interesting to find out who it is that makes the comment about Chiarello, because we've seen some major egos in the TC kitchen in seasons past...it may turn out to be someone who's just cranky about being told what to do by another chef. regardless, both dave c and Miss Needle are right. Dale needs a *serious* attitude adjustment. i love that Chiarello appears ot handle the situation with class and maturity. can you imagine what might transpire if it was Gordon Ramsay?! ;)

                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                      I'm pretty sure it was Brian Malarkey who said the comment about Chiarello being an ass, and then he said something about "backing up" his fellow Top Chef contestant or something like that.

                                                      1. re: sibeats

                                                        Chiarello has a nice TV persona, but don't be fooled: his ego is as big as they come, if not bigger (according to someone who's worked with him).

                                                        1. re: sibeats

                                                          Malarky, who apparently was working with Chiarello, just said that both Dale and Michael were both hot tempered people. It was Alex Eusebio (season 5) who made the comment about Chiarello having it coming and having Dale's back. He (Alex) actually said that Michael was being a douche. Of course we only get to see the edited version but from the preview on Barvo's web site all douchiness appears to be coming from Dale. Chiarello appears to be quite restrained and mature, Dale looked like a child.

                                                  2. So what are people's thoughts about the vegan challenge? By some of the chef's reactions, you'd think they were happier about the vending machine challenge. Am I just living in a college town bubble or is vegan food not that exotic anymore? Most restaurants in this area have at least a few vegan options and we have at least two all-vegan restaurants. (Vegan soul food, yay!) Are these guys living the carnivorous stone age?

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: newhavener07

                                                      I thought the chefs did very well with the vegan challenge - some great looking plates and delicioius looking food, not just salads and grilled veggies (except for Anita Lo... lol)

                                                      What probably threw the chefs for a loop was the no gluten (bye-bye. Pasta, barley, rye, soy sauces and other Asian sauces) and the no soy requirement.... which I think hurt Anita Lo the most.

                                                      The quinoa pasta was a great find for Chiarrello.

                                                      1. re: newhavener07

                                                        it's an oversimplification to shrug this off as a vegan challenge - the restrictions were far more complicated than that. and i didn't think the chefs made such a big deal out of it - Chiarello & Bayless both commented about having had experience with cooking for GF people in the past, and they specialize in vegetable-heavy cuisines anyway. in fact, Chiarello made a comment about how the meat is often a secondary ingredient in his cooking. Keller didn't say much about it either way, and i think Anita Lo was just all-around off her game. Art Smith, on the other hand, does appear to be more comfortable cooking for the Flintstones gang.

                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                          I think Keller was comfortable. He mentioned in the show that they've cooked vegetarian for many years at his restaurant, and indeed, Fleur de Lys has had a vegetarian tasting menu for a long, long time, and I imagine it wasn't a huge leap to go vegan and gluten free, especially for an appetizer course.

                                                      2. I think Chiarello really lucked out finding the quinoi pasta. Not sure what he would have done it he hadn't happened on it in the store. That underscored his sensitivity to/understanding of the challenges faced by people with gluten difficulties. He happened to hit on the one thing that Zoey craved but had been deprived of. Was that design, or was it just luck? Wanna make a bet that sales of quinoi pasta makes a sudden up-turn?

                                                        I am SO glad Smith is gone. He never should have been in that final to begin with -- just not in their league. Buying the rice ice cream when he knew it tasted like crap? He's the one who volunteered to do dessert, then apparently whimped out. You could tell as soon as the challenge was revealed that he knew he was in way over his head. His practice of wearing a black chef's jacket when the opthers wore traditional white just underscored the fact that he didn't fit in -- as well as making nhim look even more rotund.

                                                        I was intruigued by the differentiation made between using store-bought ice cream and store-bought pasta. What if Chef Lo had used store bought rice noodles? Did they have an ice cream maker available to them that Smith could have used? Does anyone know if the gluten-free chracker Chiarello used as a garnish was store bought or was made by him?

                                                        12 Replies
                                                        1. re: PattiCakes

                                                          What if Chef Lo had used store bought rice noodles?
                                                          i think that would have been equally acceptable to Chiarello's quinoa pasta. in fact, even more so. how many restaurants do you know of that make rice noodles in-house?

                                                          re: the GF cracker, they didn't mention it in the final presentation. instead, it was garnished with a crispy basil leaf - i'm not so sure the cracker made it into the dish.

                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                            You are right about the cracker -- I missed that.

                                                            That whole thing just got me thinking about what would be acceptable and what would not. When I saw him take the ice cream out of the freezer case, I thought "WTF? How very very unprofessional".

                                                            1. re: PattiCakes

                                                              the cracker was in the gremolata, which certainly did make it onto the final dish.

                                                              1. re: tex.s.toast

                                                                a-ha! i was wondering what happened to it. thanks for catching that :)

                                                          2. re: PattiCakes

                                                            I believe they did have an ice cream maker available, but Smith said that he didn't know how to make rice milk ice cream.

                                                            1. re: PattiCakes

                                                              I think Chiarello nailed it---dry pasta is different from fresh and used with different sauces. But ice cream--unless you are boasting about serving some artisan stuff, that you make. As for why he picked that, he did say that his wife went through a gluten free period ---I'm sure he heard her long for dishes and probably let that influence him.

                                                              I didn't understand why on earth Art decided there had to be ice cream---what about a sorbet? What about a sweet tomato cobbler or a tart with the brittle as the base? Or a tart with a coconut or almond or hazelnut base? so many possibilities....maybe Chiarello was right on that too and secretly Art wanted to go home.

                                                              1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                I thought the obvious dish for an Italian chef would have been mushroom risotto.

                                                                I'm surprised that the critics and diners were acting as if vegan food was so exotic and generally unpalatable. I have no desire to go vegan, but I've both eaten and prepared vegan dishes that were delicious and certainly not "bland and beige" as Oseland remarked.

                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                  The only problem with risoto is hold time. That's a big risk after all the knit picking that went on about the grouper that was held too long.

                                                                2. re: PattiCakes

                                                                  "I was intruigued by the differentiation made between using store-bought ice cream and store-bought pasta."

                                                                  I think the reason they made the differentiation was that in Chiarello's dish, the pasta was the main component while the strawberry champagne soup was the major component in Smith's dish. If Art Smith purchased a pre-made strawberry soup and made his own ice cream or sorbet, I can see the judges making a big deal out of it, even though it's probably a lot more work to make ice cream than fruit soup.

                                                                  1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                    Did they even address if the chocolate was vegan?

                                                                    1. re: Icantread

                                                                      Or soy-free -- a lot of chocolate, even very high-end chocolate, contains soy lecithin. They did specify it was "bittersweet" so presumably no milk products.

                                                                      Dagoba (which I'm sure Whole Foods carries) makes chocolate without soy, but I wonder if vegan sugar was used in the chocolate, or in the other dishes. Most people don't think about sugar not being vegan by the most strict standards (although most vegans aren't that strict, some are).

                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                        All Dagoba chocolates, including their dark chocolate bars contain both milk and soy lecithin since the reformulation by Hershey's.


                                                                        The FAQ's on their website blatantly lie about this (or it's a case of selective updating from the old site), stating:

                                                                        "Which products are vegan or have no milk/dairy added?
                                                                        All of our dark bars, Chocodrops, hot chocolates, cocoa powder, syrup are not made with milk or milk by-products, though our facility does handle products made with milk.. We use only unrefined cane sugar, meaning that the sugar has not been processed through a filter such as animal char."

                                                                        This reinforces the need to always read the ingredients.

                                                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                    Interesting comments from Rick. I thought his answer to the watercress criticism was very interesting. He showed he is at a different level when it comes to thinking about food than the judge who criticized him.
                                                                    Very happy that Anita survived despite the sleep deprivation.

                                                                  2. I'm enjoying watching Top Chef Masters more because of this thread after. I love reading everyone's opinions and takes on the show.

                                                                    I adore Michael Chiarello and was thrilled with his win last night. I want it to be between him and Rick Bayless. I've seen him do the lemon thing many times before.

                                                                    1. OK, I'm late. I didn't watch it until today, thank you Mr. DVR.

                                                                      First, didn't know Zoey Deschanel and after this episode I am not a fan at all. I also think her vegan friends are justa little whiny. I don't object to the vegan part, just the whiny part.

                                                                      I think Anita Lo missed out on a huge opportunity. There is a huge part of Asian cuisine that is geared towards vegetarians, Buddhists are vegetarians for example. And the vegetarian fare I have had in Taiwan, HK and China would make most western vegetarian dishes seem pale in comparison. The soy restriction does cut out a large number of dishes but I still think she could have pulled out some classical Chinese vegetarian dishes.

                                                                      Surprisingly, Art didn't cry. What up with that?

                                                                      Never had quinoa pasta, I am now wondering what that tastes like.

                                                                      I am also beginning to overlook Kelly Choi's head to body aspect ratio.

                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                        Regarding the pasta, I found myself yelling at Chiarello on the screen "Look up 2 shelves! There's the Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta! It'll be better than the quinoa!"

                                                                        At least to my palate and experience, having used both. The quinoa has a slightly nutty flavor and a bit of a grainier texture, whereas the brown rice pasta from Tinkyada comes closest to regular wheat/semolina-based pasta, I think. I've served it to people without telling them it was gluten/wheat-free and they were amazed when I filled them in after-the-fact.

                                                                        1. re: cmvan

                                                                          i thought zoey was ok and very gracious but her freinds really bugged me! you're right- whiny!!

                                                                        2. re: Phaedrus

                                                                          pedantic side note. not all buddhists are vegetarian. buddha most like was not as his death was often attributed to choking on a piece of pork. In tibet it would be very hard to be a veg, and survive on local foodstuffs.

                                                                          1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                            Buddhists all being vegetarian is largely an American myth.. I've been taught twice to make momos (tibetan beef stuffed dumplings) by Tibetan buddhist monks... mostly after they'd been fed nothing but a vegetarian diet by their hosts in the mistaken belief that "all buddhists are vegetarians" -- so they were eager for food closer to their customary diet.

                                                                            Asian cuisine can be difficult to make gluten-free (soy sauce has wheat in it and is verboten), but a vegetarian noodle dish could have been quite good --i.e. her take on a grilled lemongrass infused vegetable bún might have gone over quite well.

                                                                            Meanwhile, I use corn pasta for my GF pasta -- I've found it far better than any of the rice or quinoa pastas -- although I still use both of those for special shapes I can't find in corn pasta.

                                                                            1. re: karmalaw

                                                                              All the Buddhist restaurants in Taiwan are strict vegetarian. They are not necessarily gluten free. The steps that the kitchens go to in order to preserve the animal free environment is very extensive.

                                                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                that's not all buddhists -- that's buddhist vegetarian restaurants in Taiwan. Some buddhists are vegetarian, some aren't. It's all good.

                                                                              2. re: karmalaw

                                                                                Not to get into the buddhist vegetarian debate, just a note to give a hearty second and two big thumbs up to corn pasta.

                                                                                1. re: karmalaw

                                                                                  Being wheat-intolerant, I use San-J's line of gluten-free Asian sauces, including regular and low-sodium wheat-free Tamari. You'd never know the difference.

                                                                              3. I am so enjoying watching TCM. . . it is so much fun to watch the chefs not only compete but in the end, help each other out and respect each other. . .even though Chiarello makes fun of Keller - that is all in fun, I think in the end they all respect each other immensely.

                                                                                I am sure that Chiarello will handle Dale quite well next week. . .Dale breaks a cardinal rule for any professional kitchen - you don't EVER talk back to the Executive Chef - EVER! I didn't like Dale when he was on TC and I am sure I will come away from this upcoming episode feeling the same. . .untalented punk is what comes to mind, unfortunately. Altho, from what I've heard about Chiarello in the kitchen, he is no push over and routinely yells at people in the kitchen . . but at least he can back it up with talent.

                                                                                I felt bad for Anita because she clearly was off her game all day. . .I hope she is energized for the next round of competition.

                                                                                Now I feel bad about saying mean things about Art Smith. . it's like kicking a puppy. He has a very distinct culinary point of view and is not comfortable deviating from it. He really blew it with the store bought ice cream - the minute he tasted it, he should have tossed it and rethought.

                                                                                I am rooting for Anita the most, regardless of her having such a bad week.

                                                                                That lemon trick is nuts. . .he used to do that on TV all the time and it didn't sit well with me at all. . .I'd hate to see someone preparing a meal for me do that. .. and I am sure his hand are strong enough to squeeze that lemon just as hard. . he's such a ham! :)

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: pastryqueen

                                                                                  Maybe the lemon thing is his equilvalent of the tempanaki chef flipping the shrimp into his toque?

                                                                                  With all of the talking and eating I do, my jaw muscles are probably a lot stronger that my hands, so that might be a good way to do on a day when the arthritis is bothering me. It still skeeved me out a little. Do it that way for food YOU and your immediate family will eat, but for guests? yuck.

                                                                                2. I'm curious about this, but because the recipe hasn't been posted at bravo, there's no particular way of telling.

                                                                                  Did Art adjust his grandmother's recipe for almond brittle to not use butter, as virtually all brittle recipes require butter as a major component?

                                                                                  18 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: cmvan

                                                                                    you can make brittle without butter. . .it's just roasted nuts, caramelized sugar, baking soda and salt. . .altho if you're going for vegan you have to make sure the sugar is vegan. .. not processed using bone char.

                                                                                    1. re: pastryqueen

                                                                                      OK, explain the sugar processing using bone char please.

                                                                                      1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                        Some sugar processors use bone char to "brighten" their sugar. . it's filtered through bone char from cows to de-colorize it. . .it's exactly what is sounds like . . .charred cow bones sort of along the lines of charcoal filters. ..

                                                                                        this citation explains a lot:


                                                                                          1. re: pastryqueen

                                                                                            are sugars marked in some way so that you know if they have had this done or not? or would you have to know brand by brand before you go to the store?

                                                                                            1. re: AMFM

                                                                                              hate to be all "linky" but here is a list of sugars that ARE and ARE NOT processed with bone char:


                                                                                              I like to use turbinado sugar for vegan items that I bake. . .it works well with slight tweaks.

                                                                                              1. re: AMFM

                                                                                                - all beet sugar is vegan because the refining process is different and doesn't use bone char
                                                                                                - you should assume cane sugar (especially in-house/store brand) has been filtered with bone char unless it's labeled as vegan
                                                                                                - Sucanat & turbinado aren't filtered using bone char
                                                                                                - Domino and C&H both use bone char, Florida Crystals doesn't.

                                                                                          2. re: pastryqueen

                                                                                            What is interesting is that butter IS part of the ingredients on the website:

                                                                                            ALMOND BRITTLE
                                                                                            •2-1/2 cup granulated sugar
                                                                                            •1 cup water
                                                                                            •1/4 cup Agave syrup
                                                                                            •1 Cup toasted almonds
                                                                                            •1 tablespoon baking soda
                                                                                            •Pinch of salt
                                                                                            •2 tablespoons unsalted butter
                                                                                            •1 tablespoons vanilla extract
                                                                                            •Semi sweet chocolate, melted, for garnish


                                                                                            So... dear Chowhounders, how is this defined as vegan?

                                                                                            1. re: bostonfoodie111

                                                                                              Well, obviously it's not. I'd be surprised if he used soy-free chocolate, either.

                                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                Haven't we all noticed that in past TC episodes, what goes up on the website is not always what we see on TV? IIRC, Leann Wong would recreate the recipe for the website photos, and perhaps they were making them more "user friendly" for the majority of people? (Although I do also think they should have a vegan version if that's exactly what Art Smith made.)

                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                  Exactly. If I were a vegan and I was excited to try the recipes from the show, I would be *very* disappointed.

                                                                                          3. re: cmvan

                                                                                            ok, i had a random memory of this post about the brittle a few minutes ago, so i checked the Bravo site for the recipe. ummmm, it contains butter! i sure as hell hope Art omitted it when he made it for the vegans...


                                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                              I just posted the recipe GHG as I didn't see your reply until just now but I am also confused as to how a recipe that is published as vegan then has butter in the recipe? A taf confusing... :)

                                                                                              1. re: bostonfoodie111

                                                                                                oh my! I hope that he used Earth Balance or an equivalent. . ..even if I don't agree with a vegan diet, I would NEVER slip some butter in - I am going to hope he used a vegan butter sub or he left it out. I hope!

                                                                                                1. re: pastryqueen

                                                                                                  i've generally found that anything other than butter separates and makes it oily. That being said, wouldn't it make more sense to list the ingredient as something other than butter? Right?

                                                                                                  1. re: bostonfoodie111

                                                                                                    true. . you'd assume they'd post the recipe as he made it. . .

                                                                                                    I have made brittles with Earth Balance. . .it works but they tend to be "softer" - without the lovely crackle one would expect. . I've learned to leave it out instead of substitute.