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Top Chef Masters 2 Ep. #7 - 05/19/10 (Spoilers)

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So we're down to 6 TCMasters: Susur, Rick, Susan, Tony, Marcus and Jonathan. Looks to be a QF Challenge of cooking a challenging part of an animal - the leg. Hmmm....wonder if they all cook the same thing or if they have choices? Yup - they get choices - chicken, crab, frog legs and many others...and Olympic swimmer Jason Lezak is the guest judge, along with Jay Rayner doing the judging.

Tony uses crab legs - 3-1/2 stars
Susur uses lamb leg - 4 stars
Susan uses chicken legs - 4-1/2 stars - she wins!
Jonathan also uses crab legs - 3-1/2 stars
Marcus uses frog legs - 3 stars
Rick uses octopus "legs" - 3 stars

And Jay Rayner seemed cranky in his judging, while Lezak seemed to like all of the dishes.

Elimination Challenge is the Tailgate...cooking tailgate fare for college football fans from USC, and they're using Weber kettle grills. Susur never has been to a Tailgate - this ought to be interesting!

Wait - Susan's advantage is that she gets to wear USC wear? Come on! ETA: OK, the USC fans are nuts and I guess they like seeing her in the USC cap and shirt.

And whoops! Tony and Susur seem to be a bit at odds while in WF!

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  1. For the EC:

    Jonathan does steak tacos

    Rick does chermoula chicken, baba ghanoush, and a corn slaw alongside

    Marcus does a LOT of food: a shrimp and chicken stew, a burger and a coleslaw. They seem to like it. But holy smokes - that's a lot of food!

    Susur does a Korean style skirt steak and an Austrian dumpling. Odd food for a tailgate, but they loved his skirt steak.

    Tony does grilled pizza

    Susan does skirt steak tacos

    BEST line of the night - Jay's response to James' comment of "I'm feeling more like an American male by the minute" (while eating Susan's taco) was "Any food that can do that to you is good food!" or something like that. :-)

    And the previews show Jonathan being VERY argumentative with the judges...rut-roh!

    2 Replies
    1. re: LindaWhit

      Wow - Susur, Marcus, and Susan are in the Top 3! Scores:

      Jonathan - 10-1/2 stars - rut-roh!!! I *so* don't want him to leave!
      Rick - 13-1/2 stars
      Marcus - 14-1/2 stars
      Susur - 15 stars - WOW. The editors really seemed to make it that his dumpling would do him in - guess not!
      Tony - 10 stars
      Susan - 16 stars - she wins again! She's got a double!

      And Tony is leaving tonight. Phew for Jonathan!

      1. re: LindaWhit

        The editors have gotten a little too predictable.

        My criteria for spotting the eliminated chef worked again.
        1. The chef that is confident he rocked the EC.
        Both Tony and Susur were confident they did well. Tony was the most confident.

        2. The chef that states the people loved his food or came back for more...
        I was thinking it was Tony or Susur, but during JT, Tony defended himself by stating the people really liked his food. Based upon editing... Chef Tony is eliminated.

    2. Was it Rick who did his homework by watching previous seasons? While watching the QF critics: "It's *toothsome*." H/t, Gillespie!

      4 Replies
      1. re: momjamin

        LOL! i'm so glad i'm not the only TC nerd who picked up on that :)

        1. re: momjamin

          I was trying to remember who had said that...

          1. re: Shrinkrap

            I believe it was Kevin explaining it to Michael Voltaggio.

            1. re: Debbie M

              IIRC, it was Kevin defending his pork to the judges. Michael (?) asked him back in the stew room, "What was that word you used?"

        2. i don't think there was any question Susan would kill it in this EC. the woman opened a restaurant dedicated to street food!

          Susur may be a pain in the ass, but i think it's a real testament to his talent that even in these situations for which he has absolutely NO cultural reference point (the Simpsons, tailgating) he manages to win everyone over with his flavors.

          my distaste for Kelly Choi is growing with every week...how did the editors not catch the part of her opening statement when she said that Lezak's Olympic performance helped "clench" the gold medal?

          random observation - the elves have given a lot of screen time to the amiable rivalry between Rick & Marcus. i'm beginning to wonder if that means something...

          8 Replies
          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            And of course Kelly also said that USC would be playing the Stanford Cardinals when it's just Cardinal - no S.

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              I don't love Choi as host, but I reckon she's just reading the script they give her...
              : (

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                haha! That "clench" thing made me laugh out loud! IT's just so odd that she sits there at the Quickfire but doesn't get to eat. It emphasizes her vestigial position.

                1. re: toutefrite

                  Actually eating the food would be an affront to her 200 calorie/day diet... I really just can't trust someone about food who looks like they haven't had a decent meal in 35 years.

                  1. re: StheJ

                    However, she has stated, and I believe other judges have confirmed, that she can eat like there's no tomorrow. She's just lucky, I guess, that she looks like a Bobblehead. :-)

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      I'm not saying that they're lying, I am saying that I don't believe them however... Anyway, I still can't take her seriously as a host or judge.

                      1. re: StheJ

                        LOL! lemme guess, you may not always be right, but you're never wrong...? ;)

                        regardless of her size and eating habits, i can't take her seriously as a broadcaster in any sense - her delivery is just so awkward.

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          regardless of her size and eating habits, i can't take her seriously as a broadcaster in any sense - her delivery is just so awkward.
                          ~~~~~~~~~~
                          That's the issue I have. She's rather Katie Lee Joelish. Awwwwwwkward!

              2. It's a great pleasure to watch these culinary superstars do their thing, and meet the judges as equals. Chef Obiwan Jonathan Waxman is endlessly awesome in his calm, whether he's disagreeing w Oseland or telling us he was depressed so made a mess of the challenge plate (that was last week or the week before.) In the same vein, LOVE watching Susan Feniger win -- maturity and experience over the hot shot Type A competitors...

                That throwaway line by Oseland about feeling manly manish with the tailgating wasn't really improved by Jay Rayner amplification/agreement. Played a little homophobically to me - a self-deprecating joke is one thing, and piling on tends to be ugly instead of funny.

                1. I just read Oseland's blog. BOY! does he NOT "get" grilled pizza! I've eaten lots of grilled pizzas, and I've made lots of them, too, and none of them have the soft-ish crust of a pizzeria pizza. The crust is always much crisper, and it should be.

                  I was really surprised no one thought Marcus's stew wasn't tailgate fare. seemed off to me. what did you all think?

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: ChefJune

                    I agree that grilled pizza is a different animal from pizzeria pizzas and Oseland is not getting it.

                    I thought the grilled pizza looked great! Crisp crunchy crust! However, the USC fans gave Tony 2 1/2 stars (or was it 3 ???). Maybe the pizza missed for other reasons?

                    Maybe due to my preconceived notion of tailgating, I thought Marcus and Susur dishes were odd. Flavorful looking, but odd.

                    1. re: dave_c

                      Maybe it wasn't the crust, but the arugala he put on top.Maybe it needed more meat and cheese, and peppers and onions or something.They were odd dishes,though marcus's stew would kind of fit in in a way,.We don't know what the actually tailgaters were cooking themselves. Someone could have made their own chili,which is why i thought maybe the stew would fit in better than say Susur's dish.
                      They seem to be enjoying themselves. Thought the tacos looked good from both camps.

                      1. re: dave_c

                        Perhaps Oseland just doesn't get it, but all three judges and the diners gave Tony the same 2 1/2 stars.

                      2. re: ChefJune

                        Didn't one of the critics make a comment about Marcus's stew that "I don't know what it's supposed to be, but it's tasty"? That made me think they didn't know where it fit in for a tailgate challenge.

                        1. re: momjamin

                          you guys are just playing into this idea that the masses are unsophisticated slobs. good food is good food even when not served in a bun

                          they cooked for tailgaters, like tailgaters but they are freaking chefs - they don't need to make chicken wings and ribs. they can do more with less than average joe.

                          1. re: celfie

                            Well, that comment ("I don't know what it's supposed to be...") made me wonder how much the critics cared about the context -- until then, I figured the challenge was just "you've got a big grill -- what can you do." So what if it's not typical chili and dogs -- is it good?

                        2. re: ChefJune

                          Yeah, I read Oseland's blog re: the grilled pizza, and thought "you're so far off from what you WANT grilled pizza to be as to what grilled pizza actually IS!"

                          I was surprised Marcus did as well as he did in stars for his tailgate dish...didn't seem tailgatey to me either.

                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            I agree with both of you. I read Oseland's blog, and Linda I think you summed it up well, his fantasy does not match up with reality, at least as far as grilled pizza. Since the original challenge was in Chicago, I wonder if Tony's pizza would have fared better there, and not just because he would have been a hometown favorite.

                            I was also surprised that Marcus did as well as he did. I couldn't help but think that with both the soup bowl and the plate it was awkward at best, and if it were Tom, Padma and Gail he would have been called out on that fact

                            1. re: lizzy

                              fwiw, I have to say that my meal at Spiaggia (Tony Mantuano's place) was one of the best of my life. The cat can definitely cook.

                              1. re: lizzy

                                Good point on the management of the soup bowl/plate. And yes, I think Gail, Tom or Padma would have mentioned it.

                                I need to go to Bravo's website to see if their "additional judge's table" convo video has anything more to reveal.

                              2. re: LindaWhit

                                To be fair to Oseland, I think we should just add pizza to the list of things that you should avoid when cooking in a competition (along with gnocci and french fries, probably others). It's a lot of technique and work for something that most people view as very common.

                                Even worse, almost everyone is super-opinionated as to what pizza SHOULD be for it to be good, and anything else is just unacceptable. Serve the same pizza to any five random people, and no matter how good it is, someone is probably gonna hate on it because it's not their Platonic ideal of pizza.

                                As much as anything, I think this is why Tony got the ax.

                            2. Who noticed that Marcus swore in french and did not get bleeped out. I think it was merd! during the QF. It was pretty funny to me. I guess you can say what you will if it's not in English.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: sasha1

                                I guess the producers don't knw what "Merde!" means. ;D

                                1. re: ChefJune

                                  Ummm...me neither...so? what does it mean?

                                  1. re: Shrinkrap

                                    @Shrinkrap & Dave, to put it delicately, it's the "s-word" in French.

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      Thanks! I found it, and more, online! The power of the Internet! lol. :-D

                                  2. re: ChefJune

                                    Who says that Bravo isn't educational? I guess I'll have to go look it up. lol!

                                  3. re: sasha1

                                    Ludo got a few different unbleeped french curse words in on in the pub food episode. It made me chuckle.

                                  4. man susur is too funny!!! Love the guy

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: celfie

                                      The whole exchange with Marcus when they arrived at the tailgate, with Marcus trying to explain and then practically rolling his eyes, was hilarious.

                                    2. Susan has noted in all the challenges that her food looks messy and unrefined on the plate. Sometimes the judges comment on this, but clearly the food's layers of flavor win the day, and I thought her two dishes this episode looked delicious. (Well, it was hard to *see* the chicken she served, but it looked crispy and wonderful while she was cooking it.) Rick was right on when he wondered why Jonathan would take on tacos against her.

                                      The editing monkeys struck again with regard to Rick. Based the comments we saw from the judges, I was surprised his scores weren't higher. How annoying for him (and yet impressive) that due to Marcus buying all the boneless thighs, part of his 1 1/2 hours prep was boning chicken legs.

                                      Speaking of editing, I've decided that Oseland is the editors' designated negative judge. Every positive comment he makes is balanced by a negative one, and his delivery isn't helped by his sour expressions, yet the various judges' scores in the challenges tell us that the other two are sometimes more down on certain dishes than the editing suggests.

                                      Tony got the classic bait-and-switch loser's edit this week: Not only was he shown as being super-confident, but we saw diners giving high compliments and only one judge really down on him (though Jay's comments were high-low), but all four gave him the same low score.

                                      10 Replies
                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                        when susur made his curry roasted chicken leg, he deboned each leg and didn't complain. rick is really annoying. he always has to get his way - ie: fish n chips episode. i hope they send that guy packing soon.

                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                          Didn't Oseland like the way Tony's beef was sliced? I can't remember what he said, but I do remember someone was getting a negative comment and Oseland actually said something positive for once. Normally he's the Eeyore of the bunch, but we saw that in the Quickfire Rayner was kind of down on everything too. I wouldn't be surprised if both of them made a lot of negative comments, but the editors just stick to Oseland.

                                          Rick annoys me as he never seems to have a back up plan if he doesn't get the ingredient he wants- what with the chicken thighs and the fish & chips. If something doesn't work out as planned, he freaks out and complains that something didn't go his way. It seems like Marcus always has a few backup plans, so when he couldn't make his chicken skewers he put it into the stew. My guess is that he got a higher score with the stew than he would have with the stew and the skewers.

                                          1. re: queencru

                                            Jay explains in his Bravo blog about his being cranky: http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef-maste...

                                            He talks about the tight shooting schedule, very long days, and having to work for his newspaper even on his day off. So he was *supposed* to have a day off when one of the Quickfire judges couldn't make it - and he had to be on set in 20 minutes.

                                            "So was I grumpy? You know what? Possibly. Did this interfere with the way I looked at the dishes? Absolutely not. Sure, I might have been less bubbly and effusive. There might have been a little more piss and vinegar in my pronouncements, but at the end of the day – or the very beginning, which is when we shot this – the basic critical faculties still kick in."

                                            1. re: queencru

                                              You might be thinking of Marcus' dish. I think JR & GG both thought his burger was dry and lacking, but Oseland said he thought it was juicy and flavorful.

                                              OTOH, I do agree with Caitlin, but I would consider Osleand's comments contradictory of what everyone else says. So if they're negative he's positive and vice versa, and I have noticed this since the first season. I do have to say I found it very annoying this week.

                                              1. re: lizzy

                                                I think queencru was referring to Rayner's complaint that Jonathan's beef was sliced too thick. Oseland backed up Waxman's argument that it was sliced perfectly.

                                                1. re: saeyedoc

                                                  I remember it the other way around so maybe I need to pay attention more. :)

                                                  1. re: lizzy

                                                    Wasn't it Marcus's burger, which Rayner said was dry, and Oseland said was perfect?

                                                  2. re: saeyedoc

                                                    It was Oseland who complained that Waxman's steak was sliced too thick. Rayner cut in to support Waxman. (Waxman lobbed back at Oseland; I'm slightly disappointed he didn't stick it to Oseland harder than he did)

                                                    1. re: huiray

                                                      Guess I did get it mixed up.

                                              2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                Seriously, I think I would be cranky if I had to bone that many chicken thighs. I think Rick mentioned that there were 40 of them--which means that if he boned each of them in 2 minutes (I'm sure it would take me longer than that) he would have had 10 minutes left over for other prep.
                                                I guess Rick doesn't annoy me because he at least seems to have a sense of humor--Susur, on the other hand, seems like an extremely talented chef whose food I would gladly eat, but he takes himself so darned seriously that I have a hard time watching him.

                                              3. @ Linda

                                                USC is ALL about football, so, yes, as you noted the football jersey paid off for Susan, her choice of tacos was perceptive also, Tony should have opted for grilling tomahawk steaks, slicing them and putting them in between halves of sourdough bread, with maybe some piquant sauce and appropriate vegetable matter and called them "Tommy Trojan's", now THAT would have been very popular with the local carnivores.

                                                And despite any effete food critics, I would really have liked to enjoy quite a few of Jonathan's New York strip tacos.

                                                Tailgate food is not for wimps.

                                                It seems that every time, Marcus is all over the map in terms of mixing up his flavors, and working only to his strength, which is not going to get him to the finish. Marcus should have just done bacon, avocado, cheese burgers.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: ChinoWayne

                                                  Tony should have opted for grilling tomahawk steaks, slicing them and putting them in between halves of sourdough bread, with maybe some piquant sauce and appropriate vegetable matter and called them "Tommy Trojan's", now THAT would have been very popular with the local carnivores.
                                                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                                  Now THAT would have won over a lot of hearts and stomachs!

                                                  1. re: ChinoWayne

                                                    You make a good point about Marcus... he added his secret ingredient into the ground beef mixture and should have focused on the burger. It seems like the curry/stew overshadowed the burger and the secret ingredient.

                                                  2. I have to say this show really annoys me. I love Top Chef, in fact I love all the chefs. I really dislike Oseland, it seems he just looks down his nose at everything, God, he rubs me the wrong way! And I don't like the judging systems. Hearing whats her name say "three stars" for some reason bugs the hell out of me. I would love for it to have the Top Chef judges and scoring. Anyway, sorry for the rant.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: care2

                                                      No apologies necessary for the rant. I enjoy the show for overall, but hate the same things you do. Oseland always looks like he smells a fart. And the whole stars thing is really annoying.

                                                      I do like that they are using more of a TC format with single eliminations each week.