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Top Chef Masters 2 Ep. #3 - 04/21/10 (Spoilers)

This is the episode with retreads from TCM1 - Rick Moonen, Graham Elliot Bowles, Jonathan Waxman, Mark Peel, Wylie Dufresne, and Ludo Lefebvre. Let's see if those Bravo teasers about Moonen and Lefebvre arguing is true or just that - teasers that we won't see in the actual show. Not that Bravo's been known to do THAT before, huh?

Quickfire Challenge: pairing a dish with Russian Vodka cocktails; judges are Gael Greene and the Housewives of the OC. The drinks chosen by the chefs are:

Lemongrass Mojito - Waxman
Nutmeg Applik Mojito - Ludo
Russian Tea Room - Wylie
Coriander Mule - Bowles
Ginger Figgle - Peel
Forest Fruits - Moonen

Four of the chefs got 4 stars, and one got a perfect score of 5 stars...the winner of the QF is Jonathan Waxman - the Pork Loin and Poblano-Stuffed Shrimp. AND he finished 20 minutes early in a 45 minute challenge! LOL

For the Elimination Challenge, it looks like they are tasked to re-imagine old-school pub grub, turn it upscale, and make it into something they'd be able to serve in their own restaurants.

Waxman - Shepherd's Pie
Ludo - Irish Stew (which he didn't want and it sounds like he's going to be whining about not getting Fish and Chips all night!)
Wylie - Bangers & Mash
Bowles - Steak & Kidney Pie
Peel - Toad in a Hole
Moonen - Fish & Chips

This ought to be interesting.

And I just noticed that Fiji Water is getting a lot of camera time.

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  1. Wylie and Moonen both got rave reviews on their dishes; Ludo? Not so much. :-)

    Bowles did well, but Peel didn't. Finally, Waxman is up: to me, his dish didn't LOOK appetizing, but it sounds like it tasted great!

    1. Holy CRAP! Ludo is doing absolutely EVERYTHING he can to continue the snotty French nastiness vs. the English, isn't it?

      "The French have culture; the English have nothing!" Yeah, well Ludo, those "nothing English" helped your country remain French, not German. Arggh!!! I'm glad Ludo's not obviously going to win. I really dislike him.

      I'm thinking Waxman and Bowles or Moonen will be the two who move on.

      Waxman - 18-1/2 points - he's the top winner
      Ludo - 11 points
      Wylie - 14-1/2 stars
      Bowles - 13-1/2 stars (including 4-1/2 from the diners!)
      Peel - 9-1/2 stars - ouch!
      Moonen - 16 stars - he also moves to the Champion's round

      And one final note - I *loved* the camaraderie of the chefs (except for Ludo, of course) as compared to the first two episodes of TCM2. These guys just seemed more comfortable with each other. Yeah, they've been there before, but they were this way last season as well.

      Will be interesting to see how the rest of the TCM2 chefs "work together" in upcoming episodes.

      5 Replies
      1. re: LindaWhit

        I wonder if that's because this is an all-male group, like many kitchens. Sad to say, but the women in the Episode 2 group seemed isolated in some ways, not part of the larger "team." Just saying...

        1. re: LindaWhit

          I wish I knew more about why Mark only got a 1 from the general population on his dish. It seemed like the judges really like the seafood sausage even tho the Yorkshire pudding was a disaster. Was it really that bad to deserve a 1 or did the other diners just not like seafood sausage? They seem to be fairly forgiving in general but not this time. I felt bad for him, as he said that was what hurt him the most.

          This was definitely the most fun episode so far. I even enjoyed the haughty French guy. I hate to sound like an ass but with so many women on next week's episode, I'm expecting more dullness.

          1. re: Joanie

            My guess is that Mark got the "1" because the general population only saw the failed Yorkshire pudding, and that can be very off-putting. I don't know how much information the non-judging diners were given, but my impression was that they were not a group of chefs and culinary students who would have any sort of appreciation for the demands that had to be met. He was caught between a brick and a hard place. Don't plate the failed Yorkshire pudding, and it's not anywhere close to the dish he was supposed to prepare. FAIL! Plate the failed Yorkshire pudding, and to the average diner it is absolutely repulsive. FAIL! In his place, I would have thought up a whole lexicon of new and original swear words!

            1. re: Caroline1

              The way it was shown going in to the oven to bake, I think the sausage was baked WITH the Yorkshire pudding - so he couldn't do anything but serve both together.

              And to Joanie, Jody Adams from Rialto is on next week's episode. Not sure how you feel about her, but I'm hoping she represents our city well. :-)

              1. re: LindaWhit

                J.A. seems like a nice person and Rialto is good (have had a few fine if not thrilling meals there) but I still think it could be another yawn of an episode. We'll see.

        2. I think Bravo posted its own spoiler for this episode. They've got a photo of the winning dish that's supposed to link to a video of Kevin recreating it. The link is down, but the photo is up. Saw it there before the show too. Title is "Pub-lic Doman." OK, kind of a lame pun re: the pub food challenge this epi. Presumably the "Doman" part of the title was meant to be "Domain"? Sheesh.

            1. re: QSheba

              Great background information!

              But I found puzzling this last comment by the writer: "But what you won't see are the more discerning criticisms, best left to the pros: Dufresne shouldn't have removed the casings from his sausage because it dried out the meat, Moonen should have sliced his chips thinner so they‘d be less unwieldy."

              Why *not* let us see that? Do they think the people who are watching Top Chef (as opposed to those watching TNFNS or Chopped) wouldn't understand the more detailed criticisms? And even those two examples given in the statement are really *not* that far out of the understanding of good basic cooks, are they?

              1. re: LindaWhit

                They did air the chips criticism. I believe it was Gail who said something.

                1. re: mojoeater

                  I did see that; I had forgotten about it. But I had no idea that Wylie had removed the casing from the sausages.

                  Seeing so little of JT makes me still wish the show was 90 minutes. MORE cooking and a bit more Judges Table!

            2. Linda, i miss watching with you at the same time :(

              my thoughts:
              - i, too, noticed the prominent Fiji bottles...and of course there were plenty of shots of the plastic Ziploc containers :)
              - i don't care that Bravo is trying to cross-promote its brands, this time they went too far - having those OC housewives as judges was an insult to the chefs. "I don't really eat meat." "I don't usually eat pork." "I don't eat ginger." WTF???
              - Ludo is an ass. period.
              - i'm SO happy Gail Simmons is back at Critics' Table...i meant to say that last week :)
              - i'm thrilled that Moonen redeemed himself this time around, i just wish Mark Peel had done better. he's a terrific chef, and at the very least i wanted him to score higher than Ludo!

              this episode felt more like the old TCM. thank goodness!

              5 Replies
              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                I was wondering where you were, ghg. :-) Re: your points:

                - don't forget the zoom in on the GE Monogram oven! At least no one said "let's get in the Lexus and go shop at Whole Foods!" At least not that I heard.

                - There was one of the Housewives who at least seemed to have some taste for one of the dishes with a few good comments about it, but otherwise, the "I don't like..." just showed their complete lack of any knowledge of food. But I really, REALLY want to know the scoop on what Gael Greene thought of them. There were a few looks from her about their comments - I can only imagine after the QF judging was over what she would have said in private. "Scathing" comes to mind. Another is "WTF did Bravo have *them* there for?" LOL

                - 'Nuf said re: Ludo.

                - Agree on having Gail Simmons back, and I would have been happy with either Moonen or Wylie. Had to laugh at Graham Elliot Bowles saying to Wylie "OK, I've got to wash your car, pick up your dry cleaning, and ...." to him.

                It showed a fun friendship, and the entire "comfortableness" of this group just really glares against the first two episodes and how the TCM2 chefs just don't seem to "gel". Perhaps the net was cast a bit wider, and the chefs don't really know each other in this season? We'll have to see next week.

                Next week I only recognize the first 3 chef names (one is a Boston chef): Jody Adams (Rialto/Boston), Susur Lee, Rick Tramonto, Debbie Gold, and Maria Hines.

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  As a Kansas Citian, I'm excited to see Debbie Gold, executive chef of our American Restaurant!

                2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  What a slap in the face to have the housewives judge these chefs! They've spent years perfecting their craft only to have vapid women who know nothing about food judge them? What next, will they start reviewing Joshua Bell and other musicians? There was one who seemed to add a little something but the others were embarrassing. I wonder what Gael Greene thought, sitting next to them? Ludo was a jerk but I liked what he had to say about the housewives. He doesn't hold back. But, there were some clips on the Bravo site that showed there was more camaraderie and fun between all the chefs and him.

                  1. re: chowser

                    my issue with Ludo is all his whiiiiiining...boo-hoo, it's not fair, i want to cook French food, why does Rick get to cook seafood when he's been doing it his whole life, poor little me.

                    grow up.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Yeah, the other whining and complaining got to be much but I thought it was so true about the housewives.

                3. Best show of the season. The fake boob housewives were as advertised. I loved to see Jonathan do so well, he seems genuine, while Ludo le Pew came off as an ass, again. I would have liked to see Wylie make it, but I do like Rick.

                  1. I finally watched an entire episode of this season, but I don't enjoy how wooden and snippy Kelly is as a host. Yes, Padma is in her own time zone, but I still like watching her for some reason. Oh well. Fun episode, with a great stealth win by Waxman. Yes, the Housewives are vapid and ignorant, but they probably are closer to "average" CA diners than most judging panels. Waxman seemed to be the only one who knew his audience. Sorry, but I think Ludo is great! He has no filter between his thoughts and words--TV gold! Doomed in the competition, but fun to watch. I was rooting for Wylie but the dry sausage seemed to doom him. Glad the show is back in some form.

                    19 Replies
                    1. re: newhavener07

                      The product placements seem a bit more aggressive this season, that's for sure. All the lingering shots of Stoli labels and the comment last episode about how roomy the Lexus trunk is--please! Bring back the glad lady, she's handy!

                      1. re: newhavener07

                        "Yes, the Housewives are vapid and ignorant, but they probably are closer to "average" CA diners than most judging panels. "
                        not any of the "average CA diners" i know! i've lived in So Cal for many years, and have friends from all walks of life scattered from LA to OC to SD, and those housewives aren't an accurate representation of a single one of them in any aspect.

                        and yes, the fact that his whiny, childish, obnoxious attitude makes for "TV gold" is the only explanation i can think of for why Bravo brought Ludo back.

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          I totally agree GHG. I have many friends and relatives in OC and none of them resemble the OC Housewives. On this episode they were true to form as far as dining. I'm glad that Gael Green was also there to judge the quickfire...at least we knew she would provide a fair evaluation of each dish.

                          And typical of Housewife Lynn: "This is frozen yogurt right?" when tasting Rick's (I believe) dish. As if 3 bites of full-fat (GASP!) ice cream is going to destroy her Weight Watchers diet. Then again, that is probably her total caloric intake for a week. But I bet she drained her drink glass dry! Does Gael Green blog on Bravo? I would love to read her take on the QF with the HoWives!

                          1. re: Squint

                            "I would love to read her take on the QF with the HoWives!"
                            brief but surprisingly positive! all that liquor must have clouded her judgment ;)


                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              I seriously doubt that she actually wrote that blog... It just doesn't jibe. Probably some writer in bravo's stable wrote it and then ran it by her, with the understanding that no changes would be made prior to publishing.

                              1. re: StheJ

                                Why would someone who was a longtime New York Magazine food critic allow a Bravo hack to write her blog for her? I sincerely doubt she'd allow that to happen.

                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                  "Why would someone who was a longtime New York Magazine food critic allow a Bravo hack to write her blog for her?"

                                  One word answer: Money.

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      You're kidding right?/That's funny... lol

                                      1. re: StheJ

                                        No, *you've* got to be kidding!

                                        Just as Tom Colicchio has said he and other TC judges won't compromise and "give" the wins away to people who don't deserve them just for the sake of drama and ratings, I don't think Gael Greene is going to undermine a lifetime's work of critical reviewing just for a TV show and allow someone else to write *her* supposed thoughts and opinions for all the world to see and trust that they'd be factual and correct. For one, her ego is probably too big to allow that.

                                        How very cynical.

                                        1. re: StheJ

                                          actually, i'm completely serious and thought YOU must be kidding. it's not as though Gael would get paid EXTRA to allow someone else to write for her, so really what DOES money have to do with this particular situation? plus, as Linda already pointed out, she's spent a lifetime building her reputation and it's highly unlikely that she'd be willing to let some hack speak for her.

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            I may be cynical, but I think you both may be being a bit naive about the *BUSINESS OF TELEVISION*... Clearly we have different takes on how the producer/actor relationship actually plays out.

                                            1. re: StheJ

                                              it has nothing to do with cynicism or naivete...and for the record, i don't really appreciate your presumption. i've lived and worked in Hollywood and still have many friends in the business - i'm quite familiar with how it works. but what i still *don't* understand is *how* you think it would benefit Gael Greene financially to NOT write her own blog entry. that's all i was questioning.

                                              1. re: StheJ

                                                Let's see...my father was freelance in the film business as a producer, director, and filmmaker, and my brother current works as a gaffer in Los Angeles. So I think I *do* know a bit about how the BUSINESS OF TELEVISION works as how the producer/actor relationship actually plays out. Not quite as naive as you are intimating, thankyouverymuch.

                                                And how the producer/actor relationship "plays out" doesn't mean diddly squat as to why Gael Greene (who is not an actor but a judge of someone else's work in this TCM format), a respected restaurant reviewer of over 30 years, would allow someone ELSE to write her blog about what *she* personally thought and somehow do that for money. By saying that, you could also assume that she allowed someone else to write the reviews of all of those restaurants for those many years, yes?

                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    I went to Bravo after I posted and read her blog. I was very surprised that it was positive...LOL about the liquor clouding her judgement!

                                    I loved this statement: "What I didn’t expect was how simpatico they would be, especially Lynne. In three minutes I felt I’d known her forever. " Well, yeah, 3 minutes is more than enough to know everything about Lynne...I think her brain only holds about a minute and a half worth of stuff!

                              2. re: newhavener07

                                Is it just me, or does Kelly seem unable to smile? Every attempt she makes resembles more a sneer than anything else. How someone so devoid of charisma can make it on TV like that is astounding.

                                1. re: vorpal

                                  vorpal, i agree with you completely - i've been griping about her since her TC debut. she apparently used to be a model *and* has prior broadcast experience, so her on-camera awkwardness is really quite odd.


                                  and if, in fact, she does eat the way she claims, then the woman is clearly blessed with the metabolism of a hummingbird.

                                  1. re: vorpal

                                    <How someone so devoid of charisma can make it on TV like that is astounding.>

                                    She has relatives in high places?

                                    1. re: vorpal

                                      I have a friend who looks very much like her, and she has the same smile. Totally genuine. Go figure. I'm not some huge Kelly fan.

                                  2. Have to admit I'd been looking forward to TCM2, however last night was the first of the shows that I've haven't dozed off halfway through.

                                    It's disappointing that these famous chefs can't seem to bring the wow, at all. Top Chef contestants seem to come up with more interesting stuff. Witness the QF, and the winning Top Chef dish that was the inspiration. Much better than what any of the Masters produced from what I could see (which of course is heavily edited so who knows).

                                    I'd love to see them really rock it but it seems like there are more excuses than any really great elements, except the fish & chips which looked awesome. For instance the Yorkshire Pudding, he got the pan really hot beforehand, so did he dramatically reduce the heat so they didn't puff? How did that happen, did someone drop the temp to add drama or something? Huge disappointment, I was looking forward to some great food porn. And for Bowles to pick steak-and-kidney pie, but then try to dilute the taste of kidney because he doesn't like the flavor? Lame. As for Wylie, it's been 2 chances now (4 if you count QFs + ECs), we keep hearing how awesome he is, you'd think he'd demonstrate at least some of his molecular science genius but there has been nothing in evidence on any occasion that I can recall. Plus I remember him being very critical of the Top Chef contestants when he was a judge. I'd like to see him reach for something great, even if it doesn't quite work it would be more interesting than...whatever he's put out, I can't even remember any of it.

                                    If the time pressures or other constraints are so great that these chefs consistently fail to perform up to their standards, then I'd rather the format be more realistic so we can really see the results of masters at work. I haven't been much impressed with the looks of any of the food that's been produced. I think I'm done with this show.

                                    1. Ludo was the angry French Chef in contrast to last week where Thierry was the happy-go-lucky French Chef.

                                      Ludo should have found a better way to vent, but I can see why he's frustrated.
                                      He gets stuck with Irish stew while Moonen takes Fish & Chips.

                                      Fish and Chips! That's no challenge. Moonen's secret is to use a fried chicken coating. Easy peasy.

                                      Waxman's Shepherd's pie looked the tastiest of the lot.

                                      1. Though enough's been said about the housewives appearance, I wish we could let Bravo know that they underestimate their audience using populist stunts like this. As viewers, we can only imagine the dishes' tastes and aromas, and rely on constructive comments from the tasters. The wives offered nothing constructive in my view, and if I were one of the chefs, I would have been insulted even being scored by them.

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: MartinDC

                                          I don't want to see the Real Housewives any more than the rest of you, but so far none of the quick fire "judges" have been "qualified..
                                          Last week it was some young rock band that I've never heard of...so what's the difference?

                                          1. re: NellyNel

                                            Good point. In Top Chef they don't have judging panels for the quickfires -- they usually have the guest judge who is also a chef. But I think it would be awkward to put a guest judge on the spot to decide among his peers who wins and whose charity gets $5K, so I guess they decided to go with a kind of "theme" judging panel concept.

                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                              How great was it when Gael Greene completely shut the housewives up by disagreeing with them?! After that, they learned to keep their mouths shut until she spoke first.
                                              Best line of the night, though, belonged to Graham's "didn’t get this body by being judicious with my grazing.”

                                              1. re: brooklynkoshereater

                                                totally forgot GEB said that - it was a great line :)

                                          2. re: MartinDC

                                            It seems what Bravo was doing was trying to get the Housewives audience to watch TCM. Chowhounds may not watch their show, but those women have a very big following and probably higher ratings.

                                          3. I don't usually comment on these threads. I figure we see what the producers want us to see. Period! But.... I'll make an exception here.

                                            Was anyone else "disturbed" at the shared plates? Watching what's-her-name ( the host) cutting herself a bite from the same plate that the person sitting next to her was doing the same thing from rather put me off. I do have it on TIVO. That shot was immediately followed by a cuick cut of another plate being shared. I hope this isn't going to be the new standard. I mean, there are better ways to handle budget cuts!

                                            And I am also of the very strong opinion that when major major appliances "don't work," that specific chef should be allowed to do his thing over, but under the same time restrictions, WITH working ovens and whatever. I am only amazed (dumfounded is more accurate) that the equipment manufacturers don't insist on it. It damned sure doesn't say much for their products! And I think there is zero chance he forgot to turn it on. And for the record, this is NOT the first time a chef on a "reality cooking contest" has lost because of equipment failure on Bravo OR on FN.. What are they thinking!?

                                            14 Replies
                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                              I thought the same thing about the shared plates. And, they have to take repeated bites so it's not as if they're all just taking one bite w/ a clean utensil.

                                              There's definitely a problem w/ product placement and appliances not working! It would make me reconsider buying an oven that would suddenly go cold in the middle of baking. It's too bad there was the malfunction because if the yorkshire pudding had worked, he might have moved on. Given that you have to put in the pudding in a hot oven, it must have worked at first.

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                Keep in mind that the oven that didn't work was in the pub/restaurant, NOT the TCM kitchen. There was no indication it was a GE Monogram oven in the pub.

                                                The sharing of the plates didn't bother me. I don't think it was budget cuts, but maybe it was. The area that they were sitting in at the bar was rather tight; perhaps it was done for space reasons?

                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                  Me either..
                                                  Sharing food off plates is pretty much the norm in my world so it didnt phaze me in the least...
                                                  I'm pretty sure the judges on regular TC do it all the time. No?

                                                  1. re: NellyNel

                                                    Yes, the judges on Top Chef share plates as a matter of course unless the challenge is one of those catering challenges where everything is scaled to a small size. For the restaurant wars challenges you often see the table of four ordering two of each dish and then swapping around (and occasionally complaining that they didn't get enough of something particularly tasty). I'm sure it has less to do with cost and more to do with logistics and the fact that, especially early on when there are a large number of chefs, the judges are only going to be taking a couple of bites from each dish.

                                                    I don't have a problem with it at all.

                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                      That's right - Restaurant Wars on TC is a perfect example of the sharing/swapping of the plates. Like Nelly, I often share what's on my plate at a restaurant if someone at the table doesn't order what I've chosen. I trust that my dining companions don't have any cooties they're going to pass along to me by mixing in their utensils into food on my plate, and vice-versa. :-)

                                                      And yes - with the larger amount of food on the plates, sharing makes more sense. Less waste since they're probably only taking a few bites, unless it's a catering episode where small bites are the norm.

                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                        Sharing food is the norm in my world, too. Every month a group of other women and I go to a different restaurant for lunch and we share plates, sometimes passing (like with dessert) and other times loading food onto someone else's bread dish. We all get to try several different things, and that helps in making recommendations if we return to that place with family or friends.

                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                          I view friends and family different from co-workers or co-stars. But, when I serve food at home w/ friends and family, we still using serving spoons to get our own food and not our own individual ones. I would think it was odd if someone dug in w/ their own fork/spoon and ate out of the serving dish. My in-laws sometimes do it, eg, my SIL sat and dug into the mashed potatoes that were in front of her, rather than dishing it onto her plate, after it had been passed around.

                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                            I don't disagree with you using a serving spoon and NOT digging into the serving dish with your own utensils when dining at home.

                                                            But when you're out at a restaurant, I think it's just more natural to share tastes with friends, as KailuaGirl said - you put a bite onto someone's bread plate or, if messy to "serve" that way, allow them to use their salad fork (or regular fork) into the mashed potatoes or creamy pasta or whatever.

                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                              But, is there really a difference?

                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                None at all.

                                                                Except at home, everyone has the *same meal* (assuming that the person doing the cooking is not a short order cook at home!), so there really is no need to taste from the larger serving dish.

                                                                But when eating out at a restaurant, a table of 4 is more than likely *not* all going to order the Steak au Poivre that is served with Creamy Garlic & Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta that is drizzled with aged balsamic.

                                                                Someone might get wild-caught Alaskan salmon; someone might get a double-thick pork chop with apple cider and brandy sauce, and someone else might get an all vegetarian meal. All superb in their own right, and all worthy of being tasted by others at the table, should the dining partners want to share.

                                                                I guess my friends tend to share if they've got something superb on their plate at a restaurant, so I don't see anything wrong with it in a restaurant.

                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                  a group of my girls and i went out last night and ordered all the small plates on the menu (maybe 8 for 6 of us). LOTS of sharing went on and no one cared. agree. only way to taste lots of things.

                                                        2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                          Interesting. I have never noticed a sharing of plates before. Maybe it was the seriously intense look on Gael Green's face that made me notice this time?

                                                      2. re: LindaWhit

                                                        It seemed to me that the plate sharing was just a matter of practicality. That pub looked pretty crowded with diners, and the chefs could only produce so many servings---time, kitchen equipment and space, budget ($250 at Whole Foods, I think?) were all limited. I was surprised that they fed as many people as they did.

                                                    2. Now that we've had the second of the episodes with six chefs, I'm doubly disappointed in the first episode, where the pairs could only move on together. That was really a handicap for those six, vs. the rest that get to compete individually.

                                                      My cable guide says that the first champions round episode (next week) is a Wedding Wars catering challenge, incidentally.