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Aug 12, 2009 07:17 PM

Top Chef Masters Semi-Final 3rd Round (spoilers)

Love the taste test QuickFire! Love it , love it, love it - it's probably my favorite QF they've had. It looks like they had 10 things to taste? Chiarello did very well with 7 then! But Anita didn't get hoisin sauce?

And on to the Elimination Challenge - kinda figure Keller will go with Elia - fluent French and pastry background? Chiarello was TOUGH during his 2 minute questioning! And I see Spike and Dale are being the usual jerks they have been in the past!

If Keller gets Blais and Elia, that seems like a good fit - Blais can easily take direction, as is obvious. (But didn't like hearing him say he "should have won" in his season.)

More later....

ETA - I *love* Fabio - "I'm sweating like a mountain goat at the beach..." LOL Damn, I missed those comments!

And of COURSE their venue has changed, and of COURSE they're now cooking out in the sun, and of COURSE they need to lose one of their sous chefs! Kinda figured Spike and Betty would be out of there. but surprised that Anita let Jamie go. Why? I didn't hear.

Wow - Chef Keller's dishes looked wonderful! Anything with lamb is going to win me over.

They didn't seem to look favorably on Anita's or Michael's dishes. Bayless got a bonus having Blais on his team - Bayless is like a little kid talking about the liquid nitrogen avocado ice cream! LOL

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  1. I think the ex top chef chefs are being little babies. He asked me his last name, wanted me to chop something whaaaa. A lot of disrespect for someone who has done more than most of them pulled together.

    5 Replies
    1. re: chris2269

      Yeah, I do agree with that, but Chiarello is also getting a LOT of camera time - are the Elves hinting that he's going to be the one to go because he's being pretty damn obnoxious?

      1. re: LindaWhit

        Think you might be right - think Bayless and Hubert are gonna be the top two.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            Yeah, I'm thinking it's probably Anita Lo who doesn' t make the final cut based on what we saw from JT. Keep in mind that Bayless has just a half star more than Keller from the QF, so it could be very close in whoever wins. But they seemed to heap praise on Keller's entire buffet....we shall see in a moment!

            Ding, ding, ding - congrats to Keller. 5 stars from ALL of the judges (what is with the diners only giving him 3.5 stars?)

            And Anita gets 17 total stars - but Michael pulls it out.

            Interesting - the previews for the finale lead you to believe it's Keller who wins. But we all know what the Elves can do to us (see: above re: lots of camera time for Chiarello as a hint he might be going! LOL)

            Love seeing Colicchio, Padma and Gail there with the other TC winners as judges!

            So we have French, Italian, and Mexican cooking represented. Will be an interesting finale!

            1. re: LindaWhit

              Yeah Hubert. I like Bayless too, but I met Hubert while dinning at Fluer de Lys in Las Vegas, Very nice man.

    2. ok, so i was waiting until it was over to really jump in here...

      - i loved Keller's comment that the best part of the QF was kelly putting on his blindfold :)
      - did Chiarello say he's never heard of umeboshi? really?
      - and Anita misses hoisin? again i have to ask, really?
      - i did like the way they distributed the QF points. totally fair.
      - Fabio – “you can tell Chiarello is Italian the way he makes everyone run around.” funny.
      - the "Bayless meets Blais" comment was cute - as was the way they both seemed to get a kick out of working with each other.
      - interesting how Anita was "reminded" that there were things about Jamie that make having her in the kitchen difficult...
      - of course Fabio's "sweating like a mountain goat at the beach" was priceless. LMAO!! i was waiting for him to say something about monkey ass...
      - and once again, the editors played with our heads a little, making it seems as though Chiarello would be going home...alas, Anita couldn't quite recover from her downward spiral that began last week.

      58 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        Ahhh, now I totally missed Anita speaking about Jamie and "difficulties"! Interesting.

        Yeah, I think Blais would have been more than comfortable working with Keller or Bayless. They're both extremely calm in their demeanor - Blais even said Chiarello was running around like a crazy man.

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          ditto on the mountain goat quote. probably the best all time quote on top chef ever. that was so freaking hilarious.

          another it just me or is Chiarello a jerk? In the few episodes he's been in he has come off as an egotistical hot head- not at all like he seems on the Food Network. I dont think I like him anymore.

          1. re: CoconutMilk

            two issues:
            1) much of his FN show is scripted, and, unlike a competitive reality show, is purposely edited to make him look good.
            2) even he made a crack about how his wife would tell him to rein in his hot-headed Italian ego if she was there.

            i'm pretty sure someone commented in last week's thread that he has a reputation for being a hard-ass in the kitchen among people who have worked for him...

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              Well, *he* said he was a hard-ass in the kitchen. I thought he was being incredibly rude: Dale wasn't on his team, and he had no right to be bullying him. Then he tried to blame the soggy olive oil cake on one of his sous chefs serving it wrong. And of course, he looks *really* bad next to Keller and Bayliss, who manage to be great chefs and perfect gentlemen. Bayliss has got to be the nicest guy in the world -- the way he worked with his team, the way he praised his team to the judges, and his enthusiasm for trying out the liquid nitrogen.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                I'm missing a crucial chunk of information about this incident before I can figure out who was rude at the outset. As I saw the episode, Chiarello "called" a specific refrigerator. Dale either didn't realize this or simply didn't care and proceeded to load "his" chef's food into "Chiarello's" refrigerator. The EDITORS portrayed the incident as Dale immediately going into a power struggle. Did Dale ever apologize for the mistake? Who knows? Did Chiarello insist Dale remove the food from the refrigerator regardless? Who knows? All we see is the power struggle edited for maximum drama.

                Sorry. I'm totally with Chiarello on the issue of the cake. He was specific about the four pieces that needed to be served to the judges. Chiarello realized the cake was sub-par, and he had worked out a reasonable strategy to cope with his disaster for a limited purpose: judging.

                Put another way, Chiarello's serving only good cake to the judges was a way to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. If the sous chefs don't follow directions, Chiarello is now dealing with snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

                Nevertheless, Chirarello's management style probably only works when he's the one writing the paychecks for his sous chefs.

                1. re: Indy 67

                  Chiarello was an arrogant ass. Who cares if you "called" a fridge. Seriously, Whoopie......use another one. His interview process was pathetic. Sending one Chef off to find a trash bin. Making other run around for ingredients and even going as far as making the Chef's pronounce his name as if he is some culinary God. This might be the way to treat the FNG straight from culinary school for a few laughs in the privacy of your own kitchen but it was a terrible move on TV and no way to treat others that are clearly already Chef's.
                  Dale's behavior was way out of line to say the least but Chiarillo was pushing buttons just as hard as he could. Any one who has spent any time in a professional kitchen as a manager or Chef should under stand that unless your staff respects you and buys into your ideas you are in for a rough ride.
                  No one wanted to work with him and with good reason.
                  Chiarillo gave zero leeway to his Sous-Chefs and admitted that at the JT. You can't dictatate every little move your sous-chef makes and then point fingers when you fail. His cake failed because he (Charillo) F'd up.
                  No more.
                  No less.
                  Can I also say I've grown tired of him putting cheesy inappropriate names on items like Swordfish "Prime rib". LOL
                  YUCK Not a good idea.

                  1. re: Fritter

                    From the previews, I was willing to give Chiarello the benefit of the doubt and place the dramatic blame on Dale, but when Richard Blais, who's as diplomatic as they come, dissed Chiarello in his interview, I knew there was plenty of blame to go around, no matter what edit we saw.

                    1. re: momjamin

                      "but when Richard Blais, who's as diplomatic as they come, dissed Chiarello in his interview, I knew there was plenty of blame to go around, no matter what edit we saw."
                      you make a good point, Chiarello certainly isn't going to make any friends in the kitchen with his approach...but i still believe Dale was being a disrespectful PITA by getting in his face about the fridge incident.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        To be fair, Dale wasn't getting in his face over the fridge, he was getting in his face over the patronizing way he was calling him "young man." Considering that Chiarello made a big deal over all of them knowing exactly how to pronounce his name, I found Chiarello's rudeness particularly ironic.

                      2. re: momjamin

                        I definitely think there was more to the whole Chiarello/Talde thing than what the editors decided to show us. It does seem that everybody who was there was on Dale's side. So Chiarello calls him "young man." While it's not the nicest thing to say, it shouldn't set Dale off to be so in Chiarello's face like that. I'm thinking either Chiarello followed up "young man" with a short joke, or Dale is so insecure with his height that he perceived the "young man" comment to have something to do with his stature. In Season 4, he's made several comments about himself being short, even admitting that he had a Napoleon complex.

                        1. re: Miss Needle

                          I guess I have a slightly different take. First off I was surprised that Richard Blais said anything negative about any of the chefs, especially a TCM. I was really taken aback, maybe he was tired.

                          Also when Spike refused to participate in Chiarello's interview process, Dale and a couple of others were egging/cheering him on. This left me with the feeling that they had gone into this with the intention of being an ass, and not their usual asshattery.

                          1. re: lizzy

                            Or maybe they had been standing around observing the process and not agree with it. There is editing and the sharp contraction of time when we watch it.

                            1. re: Phaedrus

                              Blais is a class act. My sense was that he was just being straight about MC's condescending behavior. Jamie said MC was scary. Alex called him a do*ch*. Spike asked "Do you want to get to know me a little better?". NO. CJ was heckled by his mates for agreeing to participate in the degredation.
                              All the cheftestants were insulted. Rightfully so.
                              Keller and Bayless were on tape recognizing the talent and experience of the cheftestants. MC was not shown doing this, whether he gave them any credit or did not. Could have been edited out.

                              1. re: monavano

                                "Blais is a class act."
                                usually....which is why i was so disappointed to hear him make that crack about how he "should have won" his season. he may very well have meant it in jest, but i personally didn't like the way it came across.

                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  I think Blais knew that he took his eye off of the ball-ran out of steam at TC's end. He in as much said so during his TC finale. If he brought his A-game to the finale, perhaps he would have beat Stephanie.
                                  I don't think it was a dig-rather, a recrimination.

                              2. re: Phaedrus

                                Yes I do realize that reality shows are not in fact reality. I also realize that shows are heavily edited to create a desired response. However, deserved or undeserved, I was left with this impression.

                                If they did not agree with the process, that's fine, but to behave that way on camera well let's just say I can't imagine behaving that way myself. My fiance thought Dale just should have told MC that if he had a problem with the fridge to take it up with Dale's Executive Chef. Let me also just add, I don't think MC came out smelling like a rose either.

                            2. re: Miss Needle

                              Ruth and Miss Needle,

                              As I said in another concurrent thread on Top Chef Masters, Chiarello is well-known throughout the food industry as an abusive supervisor, who supervises with humiliation and shame. I know firsthand: I worked for him. I emerged relatively unscathed -- I had good skills and good technique -- but I heard verbally abusive, insulting language directed towards others so many times I'm cringing as I'm writing this.

                              So when Dale gets in Chiarello's face, the argument is not about a refrigerator at all -- it's about Chiarello's sense of entitlement, ego-driven false superiority (calling Dale "young man"), lack of flexibility (my way or the highway), and lack of respect for the sous chefs' abilities, most notably not asking those on his own team for input.

                              I sense that most of Chiarello's abusive behavior of the sous chefs (and not just his own) was edited out, and that what we saw with Dale was the straw that broke the camel's back -- a normal response to a chronic jerk.

                              Chiarello's personality was certainly shown in the Chef interviews of sous chefs, in the sequence in which Chiarello insists everyone know how to pronounce his name, and in his lack of receiving input from his team. I'm convinced all the sous chefs were aware of his abusive treatment of those who work for him, and said "no thanks" to being on his team.

                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                i used to like chiarello's napa style cooking show, but then learned here on chowhound that he was a jerk in real life. someone said to look at his eyes as he is talking to the camera, or others. i did so, and realized they were "cold." it was weird to realize that the eyes are indeed a "window to the soul."

                                now, i look a lot more at peoples' eyes. you'll *see* much more! ;-)).

                                ps, i've worked for people like maestro chiarello. law firms are full of these jerks.

                          2. re: Fritter

                            I believe Keller put some tape on the fridge he was claiming as his, but the remaining chefs simply identified the one each would be using. In fact, I believe that "calling" a station or oven or fridge has been the system the chefs have used throughout the competition. Weeks into the competition, I truly can see why Chiarello was surprised to find that the chef's workable system had been ignored in the new location.

                            Downthread, Linda Whit has provided a link to Chiarello's blog explaining why he used the term "young man." Given what we know of Dale from his season on Top Chef, it's not surprising that he reacted as he did.

                            I'm confused by your comments about Chiarello's failed olive oil cake. We totally agree that the cake was a failure. All I'm saying is that Chiarello gave his sous chefs a strategy for dealing with that failure for the judges only. Unfortunately, they failed to execute. If Chiarello has to own the failure, why can't he also own the coping strategy?

                            1. re: Indy 67

                              Thanks, Indy, for your last paragraph - you couched it in much better terms than I did re: the olive oil cake and ownership of problem / coping mechanism.

                              1. re: Indy 67

                                "All I'm saying is that Chiarello gave his sous chefs a strategy for dealing with that failure for the judges only."

                                What we don't know is if they did or did not follow those orders. MC didn't bother complaining about this until after the JT where he realized he was in deep kim chee so it just came off as whining. He was constantly holding every ones hand telling them exactly what to do. The cake really could have been just THAT bad especially considering the quality of his other food. Were the SC's responsible for that nightmare of a swordfish "prime rib" as well? I don't think it was the cake that sank his ship.
                                Either way if his cake was that under cooked MC should have been the one to cut those four little pieces of cake.
                                Sorry but the bit about "calling" fridges is kiddy stuff. Pick a fridge use it. If it's being used pick another. They are all SxS so it's not like the next fridge is down two flights of stairs.

                                1. re: Fritter

                                  what i don't understand is how the critique of his food was reflected in the score he received fom the judges. 2 judges gave him 4 stars??

                                  1. re: liveloveat34

                                    I have to wonder if the scores didn't in part reflect the judges' sense that he was ready to go another round, whereas Anita appeared tired and even discouraged.

                                    1. re: liveloveat34

                                      I was surprised at how high his scores were but I think it was in the editing to make his dishes seem not as good so there would be some suspense. If everyone received glowing reviews, except Anita's, they couldn't draw out JT. Maybe most of his dishes were good, but they only showed ones that didn't work. It's happened often in the past w/ TC where results were made to look much closer than it was, eg. Richard, Stephanie and Lisa--they made it seem like Lisa did better than Richard when she didn't.

                                      1. re: liveloveat34

                                        I was surprised that none of the judges took into account how disruptive Chiarello was in the kitchen with not only his own sous chefs, but with the staff of other TCM contestants. If that's how he was in this environment, what do you suppose he's like to work for?

                                        1. re: chicgail

                                          The judges don't know what goes on in the kitchen until the episode airs. Unless someone brings it up at the critics' table.

                                          1. re: momjamin

                                            I can't think of a specific instance, but it's been my impression the judges have some knowledge of what went on during the regular TC season.

                                            1. re: chicgail

                                              Really? I think I've read several judges' blogs that say they didn't know until they saw it what was going on. It's been rare that they've had any inkling, and if venom has leaked at JT, they've been taken aback.

                                              1. re: momjamin

                                                Exactly what I recall both Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons saying - they *only* see what they're involved in - JT and any time food is being served to them by the cheftestants, or if they're involved in the QF in some way. All of the stuff that happens when they're out of the room or back at the house where the regular TCers live happens without their knowledge, unless it shows up during judging.

                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                  I think TCM is different from TC and Tom was in the back kitchen whereas these judges aren't. But, it didn't seem to affect their decision--hence, Spike remained, although he purposely chose proteins that he didn't really want just so the other cheftestants couldn't have them.

                                  2. re: Fritter

                                    Chiarello's interview style didn't bother me in the least. Seems to me if you are going to have to rely on someone to do stuff for you under presure, you want to see how they react. So telling someone to grab a carrot and cut it in whatever dice while they have a conversation with you is, to me a quick way to tell 1} can they pick good produce w/o me supervising? 2} how are their basic skills [remember the shots of the constestant massacuring the butchering of the chicken during that one mise en place?} and 3} how are they under pressure.

                                    As for calling Dale---who is a complete arrogant.....---young man, seems better than "hey you" Of course they the younger chefs should remember his name--he has already made and they are still working their way to the top. Or maybe I'm just used to being in a profession with a clear cut hieracrchy?

                                    1. re: jenn

                                      "" Of course they the younger chefs should remember his name--he has already made and they are still working their way to the top"

                                      Really, besides the fact MC has a media presence why should we know he is? What restaurant has he run that is so great that we need to genuflect at the throne of of Chiarello?

                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                        they should show the respect of sous chef for chef.

                                        it's how kitchens run

                                        1. re: thew

                                          When he was doing his interview he acted like an egotistical jerk at that point he was no ones chef and no one appeared to want to work for him. When you interview people they are interviewing you as well. All good managers know this. You want people that want to work for you not people that need to work for you.

                                          When Chiarello decided to bark at Dale he wasn't Dale's chef he was acting like an egotistical jerk. I don't know if it was done in post but in the sequence of events Dale and Jamie are loading up a refrigerator and you hear Dale say, "let's lock down this side as ours. Chiarello then asks, "What's going on with the refrigerators here?" Bayless replies, "This is our refrigerator here." Dale says, "This is our fridge here" that's when Chiarello comes out with, "That's where I called my fridge right before that." This is when he speaks to Dale in a condescending manner. I understand that this is not uncommon in kitchens, but let me say this once again, he was not Dale's chef. I guess maybe if Chiarello was a better manager and less of a dick he could have put his name on his refrigerator instead of "calling it."

                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                            I agree. They very clearly showed the other chefs putting their names on the fridges with masking tape, which presumably is standard procedure for a shared kitchen situation like that. The other chefs treated their assistants as people who had something to contribute. I think it was Bayliss who pointed out that the former cheftestants had a much more strategic approach to claiming the resources they wanted. If Chiarello had treated them like valued team members instead of bossing them around maybe they would have helped him with stuff like staking out a fridge. The problem with micromanaging people the way he did is that they stop wanting to do anything beyond what they're explicitly told to do. In other words, the more you micromanage, the more you have to micromanage.

                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                              Bayliss, "These former top chef contestants are all about strategy."

                                              Keller, "Those young chefs, have a totally different approach then top chef masters. It's like what ever works to knock them out then knock them out, c'mon."

                                              Both Keller and Bayliss had been informed by there sous how the game works. I wonder why no one on team Chiarello did the same for him?

                                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                                I guessing it was because he made it clear he didn't need or want their input.

                                                1. re: KTinNYC

                                                  I took Keller and Bayless that they did not necessarily approve of the young chef's approach to the challenge.

                                                    1. re: KTinNYC

                                                      That's the way I read it as well. The atmosphere at TCM is much more collegial and less competitive that in TC, because there's much less at stake. Sure, they'd all love to win. They have their pride and desire to help their charity. But it isn't a career make-or-break for them the way it is for the regular cheftestants. In addition, the format is different: in TCM, at least in the early rounds, they moved ahead only if they were the best, not if they weren't the worst, so there wasn't nearly as much advantage to trying to make sure someone else does poorly.

                                                      Bayless certainly didn't think there was anything wrong with the suggestion that they try to get first crack at the fish counter, only that he wouldn't have thought of it himself because he hasn't been through challenges where he had to think strategically (except the box challenge, where they apparently all decided to play nice).

                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                        The smiles on both Bayless' and Keller's face tell me they were both amused by their young sous chef's tactics. I was very impressed by Alex's idea of getting to the fish counter first, btw. It makes so much sense when you think of it.

                                                        1. re: KTinNYC

                                                          They also would not have thought of it because they get their fish from their fish purveryors, not from Whole Foods.

                                          2. re: KTinNYC

                                            Funny that when we were shown Chiarello asking the other chefs what his name was, Dale seemed to be the only one that pronounced his last name correctly.

                                            1. re: liveloveat34

                                              I noticed that watching the re-run. That whole "What's my name? Michael. What do you call me? Chef" sequence was really obnoxious -- it was just another example of how he was treating these people as if they were some students from the local culinary school who'd never worked in a professional kitchen before.

                                          3. re: jenn

                                            I have no problems with him wanting to find things out. But he only had two minutes! There is no way he could have gotten a clear picture of all of that in two minutes. He spent 30 seconds just explaining to them what he wanted.

                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                              i agree with Phaedrus - i just kept thinking that it was a really inefficient use of an *extremely* limited window...particularly when you really just end up sending the sous chefs running around the kitchen the entire time searching for the carrots you want them to chop.

                                      2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                        I loved that about Bayless, and also loved similar traits in Keller. At both judges table and in the post decision discussion Keller praised his sous chefs and mentioned how well the team worked together. A gentleman with confidence, as Phaedra also notes.

                                        I have been trying to figure out a place to go to dinner in San Francisco for my anniversary that is special and new (to me). After this show, my first thought was: 'that's it, I am going to book at Fleur de Lys.' Indeed, I think I will book this week, before he wins the whole thing (tough choice between rooting for him and rooting for Bayless, but I put my money on Keller).

                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                          Another way to reflect upon the "refrigerator situation" is to look at how all the TCM chefs have behaved. The only one that has had any semblance of rudeness and overdeveloped ego was Ludo, and that spoke more to his youth than anything else.

                                          In this case, the dynamics between MC and the TC contestants should be one of at least professional courtesy. In looking at the interaction between the other TC Masters, there was a larger degree of respect form the TC contestants towards the Masters mainly because the Masters afforded the TC contestants a measure of regard which would qualify as mutual recognition and regard. The "young man" moniker and the tone in which it was given definitely did not show a mere inkling of regard. I understand MC being annoyed by Dale taking his fridge, but he needed to take it up with Anita. And I am sure he would not have spoken to Anita in that same way.

                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                            Isn't it possible he was chosen and agreed to be the bad guy, as is a requirement in reality shows? At least he's convincing! Anybody see Real Wives Atlanta?

                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                              if there was a real human instead of Dale reacting to MC, there would be no drama in the episode and Bravo would pick a fight somewhere else.

                                              if there was no Dale around to create drama, we would not be talking about MC's behaviour.

                                              1. re: marblebag

                                                I don't care if the MC/Dale refrigerator incident never took place I'd still be talking about the "What's my name?", What do you call me?", and "How do you pronounce my name?" idiocy.

                                          2. re: CoconutMilk

                                            Ummm...It's funny, but I don't get the goat joke. Is it a mountain vs beach thing? My uncle has goats.....

                                            1. re: Shrinkrap

                                              He confused idioms, probably because he is not a native of the US. Perhaps he was trying to say "sweating like a pig". It was funny/cute.

                                              1. re: monavano

                                                I don't think so. Aren't mountain goats a lot hairier than domestic goats? I think it was "sweating like a goat that's adapted to living in the cool mountains who finds itself on a hot sunny beach."

                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                  i interpreted it the same way Ruth did. in fact, i immediately got a mental picture of a very woolly goat standing on a sunny beach drenched in sweat, complaining about wanting to take off its coat.

                                                  don't ask. i have a vivid and bizarre imagination ;)

                                          3. I, too, love the taste test QF...I was shocked at what the chefs got wrong, though. Peanut butter? Really, Anita, I'm disappointed...or is Thai not considered to be part of Asian cuisine?
                                            I was thrilled to see Fabio again...he may well be my all-time favorite contestant.

                                            Anita made a comment basically saying she forgot how detail-oriented and slow Jamie could be...I think that's why she got the ax.

                                            Just saw the preview for next week...looks like they're bringing back the past winners as judges. I'm super-excited.

                                            BTW, was anyone else a little grossed-out by how yellow and dingy some of the previous cheftestants' jackets looked?

                                            31 Replies
                                            1. re: theferlyone

                                              Thanks for the clarification on Anita's comment re: Jamie. Makes sense why she got axed. And Bayless saying he was going to have Betty "make their table look pretty" - kinda pretty much says what he thought of her. ;-)

                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                Anita axed Jamie for being slow. She was supposed to shuck the oysters and do something else but she never finished it. Dale was over the need to say "what you gonna do about it"? You gonna have a throw down Dale? I think Dale is a good chef but boy was that unnecessary.

                                              2. re: theferlyone

                                                "Peanut butter? Really, Anita, I'm disappointed...or is Thai not considered to be part of Asian cuisine? "
                                                i gave her a pass on that one. judging from her comment about how her strategy to taste a big mouthful of each ingredient was backfiring, i figured the hoisin had coated her mouth and altered the flavor of the PB.

                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  I guess I was just taken aback because it seemed like such a simple ingredient by comparison, and one I would assume she'd be familiar with. That, and peanut butter by the spoonful makes a delicious snack...tahini does not. :)

                                                  1. re: theferlyone

                                                    And THAT is what surprised me as well. Unless it was a full-on natural peanut butter, there's no way I'd mistake it for tahini. Tahini has a very flat taste, whereas most peanut butter is much fuller in the mouth. At least I'd like to think I wouldn't mistake the two! LOL

                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                      actually, now that you mention it, the PB looked relatively runny & loose, like natural PB. it was much more viscous than i recall Skippy, Jif, et al being.

                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                        OK, that's what I thought as definitely seemed more runny than I might get out of a Skippy or Jif jar. So perhaps the texture and the slight graininess caused Anita to think tahini.

                                                    2. re: theferlyone

                                                      "peanut butter by the spoonful makes a delicious snack...tahini does not. :)"
                                                      it does if you drizzle on a little agave nectar (or honey). i blame fellow Cher amyzan for teaching me that last week in another thread. i'm hooked!

                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                        Great...that's just what I needed, one more thing to eat by the spoonful... :)

                                                  2. re: theferlyone

                                                    "Peanut butter? Really, Anita, I'm disappointed...or is Thai not considered to be part of Asian cuisine? "

                                                    A Chinese chef is expected to know ingredients from all of Asia? I don't really think so. There are scores of countries in Asia and 100's of cuisines. Should a French chef know all about Icelandic cooking?

                                                    1. re: KTinNYC

                                                      She should have known the hoisin sauce. That is very Chinese.

                                                      1. re: Phaedrus

                                                        I'm Chinese, grew up with my mom cooking Chinese food every night. She never used Hoisin sauce. It's certainly a Chinese ingredient, no doubt about it but that isn't my problem with theferlone's post. I'm just saying that Asia is a pretty big place and Asian cuisine is pretty expansive. No one talks about European Cuisine on these boards but somehow Asia is always lumped together.

                                                        1. re: KTinNYC

                                                          i am Chinese too, and my mom cooked Chinese every night too. I don't have hoisin sauce all the time, but I certainly know what it tastes like. Now, switch me to a Vietnamese or Thai condiment, I would have a problem.

                                                          1. re: Phaedrus

                                                            The funny thing is the only time I have Hoisin is when I use it as a dipping sauce...when eating Pho!

                                                            1. re: KTinNYC

                                                              Best usage for me: saucing the scallions and Peking duck skin in the pancakes. The most ironic thing is that it is supposed to a seafood sauce, but I rarely use it that way.

                                                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                I've only seen hoisin sauce as a condiment to pho at restaurants! We never eat that "ketchup" at home or at my parents' friends when they cook it.

                                                          2. re: Phaedrus

                                                            blindfolded and under pressure isn't the same as sitting at a table having a taste.
                                                            she said she knew what it was, but coudn't get the name in her head.

                                                            we've all had such experiences, i'm sure.

                                                            1. re: thew

                                                              I am certain everyone, regardless of palate, would be surprised at how many familiar ingredients they'd miss in that situation -- especially things in liquid/gel/paste form.

                                                          3. re: KTinNYC

                                                            Well, she isn't really just a chef who does Chinese food. In fact, at Rickshaw Dumpling she's got a chicken and Thai basil dumpling served with peanut sauce. But I wasn't surprised that Anita got peanut butter wrong because of her Asian heritage. She's American (born in Michigan; second generation). Unless you're allergic, I will bet that you've eaten a PB&J sandwich at some point. I agree with GHG that she probably got PB wrong because her mouth was still coated with hoisin. But I'm still a bit surprised that she got hoisin wrong. Maybe it is a lot more difficult than it looks.

                                                            I do have to say that I think the master chefs got easier ingredients than the chefs from Season 1. Nobody was subjected to umeboshi plums or natto or durian.

                                                            1. re: Miss Needle

                                                              Harold Dieterle said the same thing re: the difficulty between the taste tests for his season vs. what everyone else (and the Masters) got.

                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                Oh he did? I didn't recall that.

                                                                I do think the Masters had it a bit easier than the regular TC contestants. In addition to the lack of sleep and booze, TC contestants often had to deal with a smaller budget -- ie. Supermarket Aisle Challenge: Regular TC contestants had $10; Masters had $20. Huge difference.

                                                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                  I think it's an unspoken -- or perhaps even explicit -- deal they have with the Masters that they won't make them look bad. Thus, the challenges are modified so as not to make them too tough.

                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                    You're probably right. I'm sure they will probably want to have a Top Chef Masters Season 2 (well, if the numbers are good). I can imagine how difficult it would be for them to recruit master contestants if the chefs from Season 1 were made to look bad.

                                                                  2. re: Miss Needle

                                                                    Harold said it in his blog about the last two episodes.

                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                      I see. I haven't checked his blog yet.

                                                                    2. re: Miss Needle

                                                                      Possibly they make the regular Top Chef challenges more challenging because they have more at stake. These masters are established in their careers and doing this show for fun and charity; I can't imagine they'd be all that interested in the cut throat, crazy regular season stuff.

                                                                      1. re: Foodie in Friedberg

                                                                        Its like being in the military. There is a reason they like the 18 year olds, because 18 year olds don't ask questions and are more easily intimidated. If they put the TCM bunch under the same pressure as they'd put the TC contestants, the TCM contestants will just go bye-bye.

                                                                  3. re: Miss Needle

                                                                    "I do have to say that I think the master chefs got easier ingredients than the chefs from Season 1. Nobody was subjected to umeboshi plums or natto or durian."
                                                                    they didn't have anything quite as "pungent" as those you mentioned, but the ingredients as a whole weren't necessarily "easier." i don't think anyone got chervil, and poppadom is a tricky one too.

                                                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                      However, the easiest taste test was season 3, when they did it spelling bee style -- you might get bell pepper, or fish sauce.

                                                                  4. re: theferlyone

                                                                    i don't think you should assume a chinese chef knows anything about Thai food. It's a different country with completely different culture and food. Asia is big.

                                                                    1. re: theferlyone

                                                                      I liked the taste test too. Given I assume they are way better than me, I assume ;part of the problem could be that hoisin seems to vary a lot from brand to brand. Maybe she's used to the good stuff, and this wasn't. I'm guessing Anita specializes in Thai given a comment I read here. I don't think of Hoisin as Thai, even though both are Asian.

                                                                    2. i just had a funny though...can you *imagine* the clash of egos if Stefan Richter from last season had been one of Chiarello's sous chefs??

                                                                      also, i had forgotten how much i like Malarkey: "Chiarello is the chef and it's his ass on the line. i'll do whatever he wants, because that's what a good sous chef does." he has a good attitude.

                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                        Most of the past top Chefers have done nothing but opened burger joints (yes a few exeptions ) I do not think Chiarello was rude at all,a little hard assed maybe, it's his butt on the line not some pst contestants. I think a lot of them came in with a chip on thier shoulder like they were equals - which they are not.

                                                                        1. re: chris2269

                                                                          I agree. I had no problem with Chiarello's approach. It was different from the others, but he is a "master chef" and his butt was on the line. And we've seen plenty of times in the past TC seasons where a chef in the role of "leader" has gotten walked all over by his/her sous chefs (and lost b/c of it).

                                                                          I'd be curious to see how the former cheftestants woulda dealt with Gordon Ramsay had he been on the show :-)

                                                                          1. re: papa

                                                                            Yes agree . Yeh Gordon would of been awsome, most only know him from the American version of Hells Kitchen if you watch the BBC version of Hells Kitchen or Kitchen Nightmares It shows his passion and brilliance. The most effective people in my life have been the ones who pushed me. and at the time I thought they sucked, but in retrosect they were right. For the record I am a litle "under the influence" so I appolagize for any spelling ....LOL

                                                                            1. re: chris2269

                                                                              Also if you can find it "cough torrent cough" watch boiling point the BBC documentry about Gordon Ramsey trying for his first Michellan Star and Beyond Boiling Point about his quest for his second or third, can't remember. Again much different perspective than what I think those who have only seen the American version of Hell's Kitchen. Back to top chef masters I do not think Chiarello's approach was out of line ...please what has Dale done really.

                                                                          2. re: chris2269

                                                                            I was a little surprised that a couple of the sous chefs seemed insulted that Chiarello asked them to find and dice carrots to various specifications as part of the "interview." It made total sense to me that he'd want to be sure his team had the line cook skills to execute properly and quickly in a timed competition. With, as you state, his butt on the line.

                                                                            The importance of that became clear a few minutes later, when Anita Lo complained about how slowly Jamie was shucking the oysters.

                                                                            1. re: Old Spice

                                                                              Yeah, Spike turning him down and just saying "Hey, I've *got* the line skills, man" was just rude. Seriously, "man" - get OVER yourself. (I really detest Spike.)

                                                                              1. re: Old Spice

                                                                                The thing is, he had two minutes to interview each one. Unless he made everyone do the same thing, he would still have incomplete information.

                                                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                  Perhaps he wanted to see how well they followed directions? That seemed to be the case with Spike when he attempted to interview him, and Spike dissed him.

                                                                                2. re: Old Spice

                                                                                  So if you have knife skills you can shuck oysters? That's a bit of a stretch and I think it's more than fair to believe that all of the former TC's can cut brunoise out of a carrot. That's very basic cooking. This is a test I would give a line cook not a Sous Chef.

                                                                                  1. re: Fritter

                                                                                    "I think it's more than fair to believe that all of the former TC's can cut brunoise out of a carrot. "
                                                                                    assuming they sharpened their knives first, of course. remember Casey & the onions? ;)

                                                                            2. I couldn't find this and am just curious, how old is Keller?