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Jun 2, 2010 07:16 PM

Top Chef Masters 2 Ep. #9 - 06/02/10 (Spoilers)

Four of 'em left...Marcus Samuelsson, Rick Moonen, Jonathan Waxman, and Susur Lee.

The Quickfire starts off with their cookbooks on display in the kitchen...Kelly Choi asks them to pair up on their own...Marcus and Jonathan, and Rick and Susur. Marcus cooks from Jonathan's cookbook, Jonathan cooks from Marcus' cookbook, and the same for Rick and Susur. James Oseland will be the judge for the QF, and won't know who cooked what. They have 1-1/2 hours to cook the other chef's recipe, with their own twist on the recipes.

Annndddd....what a surprise. Kelly throws in a QF change-up halfway through them recreating the recipes - create a soup from the recipe they're using in the next 45 minutes.

Oseland seemed to like Jonathan's soup version of Marcus' recipe. Noted that Rick's cioppino version of Susur's recipe didn't have enough broth, which even Rick had noted.

The winner?

Jonathan - 3 stars
Marcus - 4-1/2 stars - he wins - his FIRST win in the entire competition.
Rick - 3-1/2 stars
Susur - 4 stars

Now for the EC - they get the day off! Yeah, RIGHT. They're going to the improv show done by the Groundlings - and I think we all know what this means - they'll have to create recipes from words thrown out to the comedy troupe and cooking for the cast!

Colors, emotions, and cooking ingredients were the subjects chosen.

Violet Pleasure Salmon - Marcus
Red Angry Bacon - Rick (although yet another surprise, he bitched about NOT getting the salmon that Marcus chose! Get OVER it, Rick!)
Burnt Sienna Depression Avocado - Jonathan
Chocolate Lust Peanut Butter - Susur

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  1. All of the plates looked beautiful and tasty, although Marcus' dish seemed to look "violent" vs. "violet". But his salmon was well liked. Susur's dessert seemed to be most favored of all of them.

    2 Replies
    1. re: LindaWhit

      Great line from Jay re: Marcus' caviar cream: "Give me a big bowl of it and someone to spread it on!" :-)

      Based on the judges' comments at JT, I'm thinking Susur has won this. Either Rick or Jonathan is going to be out.

      Susur - 17 stars - he's through to the finale - guess he didn't win.
      Marcus - 17-1/2 stars - he wins the round! Another double-win like Susan did earlier.
      Jonathan - 11-1/2 stars
      Rick - 13-1/2 stars - he moves on as well.

      Aww, I'm bummed Jonathan didn't make it. :-(

      And OOOOOHHHH! Previews for the finale show Rick Bayless, Tom Colicchio, and Hubert Keller as some of the dining judges - woo hoo!

      1. re: LindaWhit

        Chiarello was there too, thus, last season's finalists.

        Bummed about Jonathan, too...

    2. QF:
      - i suspected Marcus was going to win based on his comments in the beginning about not having won anything yet.
      - big relief when they revealed that the pairing up was simply for the purpose of cookbook swaps - i had visions of a Rick & Susur partnership turning into a serious power struggle.

      - i predicted from the moment they got their assignments that Jonathan was going home with that crappy word combination.
      - once again, great to see real camaraderie and generosity among the masters, but i have to wonder if the regular season chefs would be "allowed" to go over budget and accept extra money from the other chefs the way Marcus did...
      - i'm glad Susur didn't win, simply because PB & chocolate is just too easy, and i don't think chocolate should have been allowed as a "color" because it essentially gave him 2 foods.
      - surprised Rick didn't go more aggressive with the seasoning in his "angry" dish. when i first saw him at the fish counter at WFM, i thought he was going to do Angry Mussels with bacon.
      - Marcus had a hard time maintaining his poker face at critics' table when James Oseland told him he loved his "tuna!" did anyone else catch that?? it was SALMON, you bonehead.

      sorry to see Jonathan go, but he has seemed to be in a bit of a funk the past couple of weeks. maybe it's just his mellow Berkeley hippie/musician vibe, but he's not nearly as energetic or animated as the other chefs and i found myself wanting "more" from him.

      22 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        You kind of scare me because with the exception of Rick and the mussels dish, I also thought of every single bullet point you have made when watching this last night!

        btw, I've heard that they are going to start casting for a Top Chefs Canada! Americans probably wouldn't get to see it here but I'm sure we can find some episodes online.

        1. re: Miss Needle

          Top Chef Canada with Mark McEwans being the head judge! this should be very interesting as he seems a like serious chef like Coliccio (and thank goodness unlike the Ramsey who believes more in drama rather than cooking or constructive criticism)

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            I've also been kind of busy so I haven't been around as much. Yes, I've noticed you're back near LA now. But we've always got Top Chef where we can "meet." : )

          2. re: goodhealthgourmet

            I agree about wanting "more" from him, but I'm having a hard time getting behind any of these chefs. I think last year was more interesting because it was more handed? Supportive when it came to the cooking? More something…

            It seems to me that we can see “overly competitive” braggarts on virtually any other reality show. I thought that last season was a refreshing simply because the chefs were both generous and mutually helpful. How many times to we need to hear Susar and Rick tell us how competitive they are?

            1. re: StewieBoy

              It seems to me that we can see “overly competitive” braggarts on virtually any other reality show. I thought that last season was a refreshing simply because the chefs were both generous and mutually helpful.
              Very good point, Stewie. There does seem to be more of the bragging or whining than there was last year, which we all noted was so nice *because* they respected each other and helped each other.

              1. re: LindaWhit

                I loved last season for exactly the reasons you state - they all had such a generosity of spirit. Even though Chiarello was kind of an ass at the end, my respect for the final 3 chefs really grew throughout the season. Susan and Jonathan had some of those characteristics, but the rest are kind of pompous asses.

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  IMO, I think the chefs this season do respect each other. What I think is gone from last season is the levity and camaraderie. While I think the chefs last season did take the competition seriously, I also think they realized they were playing for charity and decided to have fun with it. The tone is different this season, and I agree the whining and bragging aren't helping. The best way I can describe it is the difference between regular Jeopardy, this season, and celebrity Jeopardy, season 1.

                  1. re: lizzy

                    What I love about this series (erm, I mean season), is that the critics seems far more willing to provide criticism. Last time it felt too gentle-- this time it's been done to make the stakes feel higher, even if they aren't.

                    1. re: Lizard

                      I have no problem with the criticism, and I do not think it adds or subtracts from the seriousness or levity of the show. When I am talking about the levity of the show, I am purely talking about the chefs. I remember last season and the judging, and I also remember I wanted to hear criticism about the dishes and not just praise. If I remember correctly, the judges would write in their blogs that their negative comments were edited out of the JT.

                      1. re: Lizard

                        I agree. I also liked Jonathan for “politely disagreeing” with the judges. He didn’t make excuses; he simply told them that they were wrong. That takes a special kind of courage, don’t you think

                2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  I thought that Oseland had made a mistake also, but in his blog on the Bravo TCM site, Oseland mentions that the dish had both salmon and tuna. It did not come across during the show.

                  1. re: Rick Azzarano

                    thanks for clearing that up. i just found the recipe on the Bravo site - apparently the tuna was mixed with the shrimp, but didn't even warrant mention in the description of the dish:


                    odd that Oseland praised such a minor element that no one else even mentioned.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      I think this shows, once again, how much goes on that we don't see. We see this highly edited 15 seconds of the critics discussing each offering with the chefs that appears to be one exchange, and sometimes what seem like non sequiturs show up. They probably had a whole discussion about all the aspects of the dish, and others may have said something about the tuna, but we won't see or know that.

                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                        Which just means it's pretty crappy editing if something appears to be out of context in what the judges are saying. I know they don't have a lot of time to edit this down, but the fact that salmon was what Marcel was cooking as the main fish item on the plate, and yet Oseland praises the tuna.

                        And sorry, can't agree with celfie below other than the fact that Waxman seemed relieved to be done with TCM. But Oseland definitely had it out for Waxman and I don't think he's a good judge. I just think Oseland's personal feelings came into it. Judge the food, not the person.

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          i don't understand why you think it was personal. I didn't hear Oseland critique Waxan as a human being...Furthermore, Oseland wasn't the only one to give Waxman a low score

                          1. re: celfie

                            It's the tone in which his scores are given, and the look on his face. His pinched face is even more pinched when he was grading Waxman these past few weeks.

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              "His pinched face is even more pinched when he was grading Waxman "

                              Is that even possible? I guess I missed the whole extra dig other than being surprised at the 2.5 stars. Hey, the diners only gave him 3 stars. Not that I wanted him to go home but I'm not sure I see the conspiracy. I was surprised that after Jay bitching about one of the dishes, he gave what seemed to be a high mark. Can't remember now, Marcus maybe?.

                              And chocolate was definitely an unfair color altho I suppose brown would have led to the same thing. What was Jonathan''s burnt sienna by the way? Sweet potato? I never heard it mentioned.

                              1. re: Joanie

                                I'm not saying it's a conspiracy. I just think his personal feelings are being used vs. judging the food - despite what he said in this blog:


                                Note the comments from others on that blog:

                                "We know what your score is even before you taste the food - can tell by the sneer on your face."
                                "Seems lots of folks noticed your petulant and pretentious behavior."
                                "He said "you're wrong" and you going into hysterics? Wow. I thought you were overly dramatic and pedantic on the show; this is taking it into the ridiculous. "
                                "Maybe Jonathan's dish wasn't the best and other judges found "displeasure" with it but I found your 2 star rating for Jonathan to be retaliatory and childish."
                                "f I can take issue with another aspect of this, however, it is not so much the calls you make but the penalties you assign. By all means, call it as you see it, but don't hand the game to the other team. I see the same thing happening this season, albeit to a lesser extent, that I saw last one. You turn minor qualms into major differences in scores. I would hate to see you sink Chef Waxman the same way you did Ciarello."
                                "Your coments about the Tex-Mex and Oaxaca tacos just made it clear to everyone that knows something about a taco that you are not at all acquainted with the food, just so you know carne asada tacos are suposed to be about the carne asada, hence th name and the importance of a thick and very good peace of meat, stale tortillas are not fun at all, but keep in mind that in México we consider the tortilla to be more of an edible tool to put amazing and almost infinite concoctions in our bodies, a stale tortilla does not kill a taco, perfectly cooked newyork steak sliced like proscuito does.

                                So as a general rule of thumb my dear friend, if you are making tacos out of a grill (carne asada) the pieces should be big, if you are making tacos out of flat top the filling can be somewhat chopped, if you are cooking out of a steamer the content in the tacos is alowed to be down to a mush."
                                There's more, but that says a lot.

                                And Chef Waxman's Episode 9 recipes don't seem to be in the RecipeFinder.

                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                  It also seem liked Oseland had it out for Chiarello last season. I did like it when Chiarello used burnt pages of Saveur magazine for one of his dishes. Oseland looked offended when he saw the dish.

                                  I really dislike Oseland as a judge and I wish bravo would replace him.

                                  1. re: JonDough

                                    Oseland seems neither charming, nor witty, nor generous, nor sympathetic, nor telegenic, so the corporation that owns his magazine perhaps has a big stake in either the show or bravo network? This elimination round was particularly critical, deciding the three finalists, and the quickfire not only gave a big advantage to its winner, but proportionate disadvantages according to the relative scores of every chef. In other words, it was a particularly crucial and onerous quickfire challenge, and empowered a single judge to have a huge effect on the elimination.'Twould have been much more interesting (and fair) to not have any of the critics from the regular panel assess the quickfire round.

                                    1. re: moto

                                      <'Twould have been much more interesting (and fair) to not have any of the critics from the regular panel assess the quickfire round.> I surely do agree with you, moto, but I'm guessing since both Jay and Gael had already judged Quickfires, they felt they had to give James his turn.

                                      You know, what goes around, ALWAYS comes around, even if we don't see it, and it seems that James is building up quite a bit of negative karma for himself.... Just sayin'

                          2. re: LindaWhit

                            I agree...he didn't like Chiarello last year either.

                  2. Jonathan got screwed on the EC with the "Burnt Sienna Depression Avocado".

                    How do you represent depression in food? Serve something like toad in a hole where food is contained in a depression in a plate?

                    His dish was an "antidepressant". A dish to get you out of the funk.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: dave_c

                      dave-c: Indeed, Jonathan got screwed. Even if his dish could arguably be judged as perhaps not the winning dish, he seemed to have been dissed badly and undeservedly.

                    2. 1) Jonathan was screwed by the set of terms he got stuck with;
                      2) Jonathan was screwed by Mr Oseland - again.

                      There seemed to be continuing vindictiveness from Oseland towards J Waxman. Y'all really should read the boards on for this episode, as well as the comments posted for Oseland's blog on for this episode. I added my 2c worth there pointing out that Oseland was not, uh, a proper judge.

                      Uncooked pork... icky shrimp... people have pointed out that Rick's pork (and to a lesser extent Marcus' shrimp) were arguably going-home offenses --- and which were more egregious than Jonathan's "simple" but very good chicken. Oseland whined that this chicken dish had no 'wow' element etc etc, but others have pointed out that in fact it is easy to cook chicken so that it is edible but very difficult to get it perfectly right - and Jonathan's was very very good. (Besides, I think he made a good show of that ridiculous set of terms he got stuck with...comforting food to lift me out of a depression - his food would have certainly hit the spot) (d'you remember TC last season - when Lydia Bastiani wanted a nice chicken for her last meal; and Fabio won the challenge for that perfectly cooked chicken of his?)

                      24 Replies
                      1. re: huiray

                        If I was depressed - or even if I wasn't depressed - Jonathan's food was what I would've turned to. Oseland barely spat out the stars to Jonathan - the disrespect and venom was spewing out of Oseland's every pore. I thought that Chef Waxman deserved a lot more.

                        1. re: brooklynkoshereater

                          the words may have been difficult but he was on the right track with comfort food. he could have done something a lot more sophisticated than roast chicken and french fries. waxman looked tired and didn't really seem to care all that much.

                        2. re: huiray

                          I tried to respond to that Jean Bennett re: why no women Top Chefs on both Oseland's blog, and whoever the moderators there are chose not to post my comments. I also had comments about Oseland's judging, really no different that what others have said in that he definitely seemed to have it out for Chef Waxman.

                          Perhaps they didn't post it because I suggested that they do a replacement like they did on the regular TC - swapping OUT Toby Young for Eric Ripert. That would work for me on TCM as well. :-)

                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            That sucks. Well, your comments here got pass the moderators here...

                            In any case, I revisited the blogs from LAST seasons TCM and thought the one by Harold Dieterle on the finale of TCM Season 1 was interesting :-) - if not anything else because of what he had to say about the mismatch between his perceptions and those of Mr Oseland...


                            1. re: huiray

                              BINGO! He lets his personal feelings enter into judging. And didn't Michael question Oseland at least once last year?

                              1. re: huiray

                                Thanks for the link. I just read Harold's post, and he seemed to confirm my suspicions. I have noticed since last year that Oseland usually offered a contrary view than the other judges, Raynor and Greene. What I didn't know is if it was the Magical Elves providing another view to create suspense with editing, and it just so happened that it was always Oseland, or if Oseland always had a contrary view and that is all he offered. I don't know if it is just my perception because I do not like Oseland as a judge or it is something that hits a little closer to home, but I have always had the feeling Oseland provides a view that is opposite from everyone else to secure more camera time.

                                Having said all that, isn't Oseland supposed to have one of the best palates out there and his palate is what he is known for or did I just make that up? If I'm right, then why does he have the exact opposite experience than everyone else?

                                Linda, I again have to agree with you. I would love to see TCM swap out Oseland as a judge, what is Ted Allen up to these days?

                                1. re: lizzy

                                  Here's what Jay Rayner had to say about Waxman last week

                                  "If you want to see what true exhaustion looks like, go have another peek at Jonathan Waxman’s face at the very end of this latest episode. If ever there was a guy disappointed not to have lost, not to be going home, it was him. He was running on empty, and dreaming of New York."

                                  Waxman's heart was not in it and if anyone deserved to go home it was him

                                  1. re: celfie

                                    And I agreed with you, above, celfie. He seemed tired. However, based on what I've seen, Oseland still didn't like being challenged a few weeks ago by Waxman and chose to make it well known he didn't like it with various comments about Waxman's food.

                                    You perceive it differently.

                                    1. re: celfie

                                      I agree he did look exhausted and over the competition. My problem with his comments revolve not only around Oseland taking the confrontation between him and Waxman personally, but also around what type of food Chef Waxman creates. I think Oseland has a definite idea of what type of food a TCM should be cooking, and I don't think Waxman fits into that mold.

                                      1. re: lizzy

                                        I think Oseland has a definite idea of what type of food a TCM should be cooking, and I don't think Waxman fits into that mold.

                                        Very well stated, lizzy.

                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                 does seem he is expecting some rarefied version of Haute Cuisine notwithstanding whatever the challenge happens to be, and he has rigid expectations of what HE wants and likes. That is fine if you are cooking/eating for yourself, at your own meal only, but not if you are supposed to be judging stuff in a larger context which includes the world beyond you. It becomes a problem when you apply your particular standards to a dish or cuisine and expect it to be the universal standard by which all such cuisine is to be judged even if other well-regarded practitioners (or native practitioners) of said cuisine do otherwise.

                                          1. re: huiray

                                            you people are guilty of what you are accusing oseland of. you want him to judge how you would judge. I'm sure as a standalone dish, waxman's chicken was good but up again susur, marcus and rick it was a BORE. And oseland called him on that. So just relax. This is what judging is and waxman knew what kind of competition this was.

                                            1. re: celfie

                                              No, I want Oseland to judge like Rayner, Greene and Simmons have, judge consistently while leaving both personal feelings and preconceptions out of JT. There really is a difference. Furthermore, you call Waxman's dish a "bore" but while I think the plate could have used some editing, I also think the concept was spot on for burnt sienna, depression and avocado.

                                              1. re: celfie

                                                Really a bore? I would take Waxmans food over Marcus' food anyday....and twice on Sundays!

                                            2. re: LindaWhit

                                              I think all of us who feel like this about Oseland vs Waxman should meet for dinner at Barbuto. ;)

                                              1. re: ChefJune

                                                That SO works for me, ChefJune. I do believe Barbuto would be booked for several months out based on just that parameter. :-)

                                                And celfie, I don't want Oseland to judge how *I* would judge. I want him to judge fairly, which he doesn't seem to be doing. Personal feelings about a chef shouldn't come into play when judging the food - the Food Stands Alone - and should be judged on what it is - Food - not who made it and how one feels about the person who made it.

                                                I feel one way; you obviously feel another about Oseland. It seems you are in the minority about Oseland's judging, based on several different blogs and various comments on those blogs.

                                                1. re: LindaWhit


                                                  How about Table 21 at Bryan Voltaggio's place (Volt), if one could get a reservation? (in keeping with the subject matter of TC/TCM) :-)

                                                  I, too, am not advocating that Oseland judge as I would do. I merely commented in my post that you replied to that perhaps he is applying his preferences as a universal standard. I did not say that he should apply a standard that I (or "people like us") would use according to you. Chill. You have your opinion on the subject matter, I have mine. C'est la vie.

                                                  1. re: huiray

                                                    ok well your allegations are without substance. No one has been able to demonstrate how or why Oseland sabotaged Waxman. I think you people just like Waxman because he is old and friendly looking. Maybe Oseland is a tad too refined and urban for your taste. He suits me just fine. He is MUCH MUCH MUCH better than Tom Colicchio and Padma. They have 0 personality and do not belong on television

                                                    1. re: celfie

                                                      Perhaps you should listen again to Oseland's comments at JT. The videos are readily available. The words he uses, the tone and delivery say much about his attitude towards Waxman.

                                                      I am not sure where you are getting these notions about me from. Perhaps a re-read of both of my posts on June 5 might be helpful.

                                                      It seems to me you are also fostering your preconceptions onto others - for one thing, I do not like Waxman "because he is old and friendly looking". What makes you think that? I don't believe I have also implied that I do not like "refined and urban tastes". What makes you infer that? I am all for better cuisine, but not according to Oseland's definitions across the board and not when it is inappropriate.

                                                      I have never supposed anything about you. On the other hand, you are ascribing things to me (and others) personally that are but suppositions on your part.

                                                      Oh well, I have my opinions, you have yours.

                                                      1. re: celfie

                                                        <I think you people just like Waxman because he is old and friendly looking.<

                                                        Celfie, you must be VERY young. 59 is not old, and when you get there, you will surely understand. ;)

                                                  2. re: ChefJune

                                                    Well, I and two friends stuffed our faces at Barbuto last week when I visited them for a few days. Yum. I made sure to get the roast chicken too for us to share. Alas, not personally prepared by the master chef, but I was assured it was "done under his direct supervision". :-)

                                                    We had steamed mussels, caprese salad, crudi salad, spaghetti w/ a wonderful pesto, lamb, steak, pork ribs, chicken, fingerling potatoes, collards; the main courses came with other stuff, all good. The purslane that came with the steak was a revelation. Basically we "shared all the food". My friend declared the steak the best she had had in a long while. The pork ribs was succulent & tasty indeed. The lamb was good but was upstaged by the steak and pork. The chicken was lovely. The pesto on the spaghetti was remarkable.

                                                    Oh, and two bottles of a very nice rosé from Provence.

                                                    Jonathan Waxman was in attendance in the kitchen. :-)

                                                    1. re: huiray

                                                      You're making me hungry. I've got to go there. ;)

                                        2. re: LindaWhit

                                          waxman had no fire in his belly. as much as i don't like rick, at least he seems to give a damn. with jonathan, there's nothing there. his chicken was effortless - he didn't even try to make anything interesting. why should he be called top chef master if he's just going to give up in the 2nd to last round. oseland was dead on and is my favorite judge by far.

                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                            I don't bother trying to respond to the blogs at Bravo anymore. I don't know what they want. The last time I tried was when Jay Rayner was whining about why he was grumpy--because he had to work! I told him I would love to be working, as many unemployed Americans would be, and reading about how someone was called in on their day off just didn't sit right with my (unwilling) unemployed sensibilities. I found his blog extremely offensive and totally without sensitivity.

                                        3. Did you guys catch Rick's Howie moment, where huge drops of sweat were dripping from the end of his nose as he stood over his food while cooking for the EC?

                                          10 Replies
                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                            Yes I did.
                                            ...more protein? (Not!)
                                            If I were one of the diners I think I would NOT like to see that before I dug in. :-)

                                            1. re: huiray

                                              it doesn't take much to get that guy out of his comfort zone. definitely not a master. Susur is amazinf. I tried to find his cookbook yesterday but no store in montreal had it

                                              1. re: celfie

                                                Rick Moonen is "definitely not a master"???

                                                Umm, OK.

                                                1. re: celfie

                                                  1st in his class at CIA; La Cote Basque; Le Cirque; Le Relais; the Water Club; Oceana; 3 stars for RM Seafood in NYC; member of the board of advisors for the FCI...yeah, nothing about Rick Moonen's career says "master" to me either.

                                                  1. re: celfie

                                                    Don't bother with Susur's cookbook. It's a dud. Half of the $60 coffeetable book is a bio you can read in about 45 minutes, and the rest are recipes that contain little explanation but a lot of ingredients. Hack job.

                                                    1. re: Herb

                                                      sounds like the work of a true master ;)

                                                      1. re: Herb

                                                        Have you tried Rick Moonen's cookbook?

                                                        I'm pretty much a novice at cooking fish but I'd like to start cooking more of it if possible.

                                                        1. re: Johnny L

                                                          FISH: Without a Doubt was a COTM [Cookbook of the Month] last year. Go to the HOme Cooking area, and you will find tons of reviews of the recipes found in this book. Consensus was that this is a really wonderful book [and you know how hard it is to get a consensus on Chowhound!]

                                                          1. re: Johnny L

                                                            Imho, Fish Without a Doubt is a "must-have" book, especially if you love fish, and/or want to become more versatile in cooking it.

                                                            1. re: ChefJune

                                                              thanks gusy I havent been on chowhound for that long so I'll definitely look into it.