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Top Chef Masters 2 Ep. #10 - FINALE - 06/09/10 (Spoilers)

OK, it's here - the final three are Rick Moonen, Marcus Samuelsson, and Susur Lee. The 3 of them are driven to Union Station in L.A. - they are to celebrate each of their journeys as a chef.

1st dish - 1st food memory
2nd dish - the experience that made them want to become a chef
3rd dish - describes them as a chef

Tom Colicchio, Michael Chiarello, Rick Bayless, and Hubert Keller are the guest judges along with the regular judges. (ETA: Just realized that Gael Greene hasn't been at JT in the last few weeks, nor is she here at the finale!)

I love hearing their stories of each of their life's journeys in loving food and becoming a chef!

And in Whole Foods, Rick predicts it'll come down to him and Susur. Hmmm, is that the editing kiss of death for him for saying that?

And at the beginning of prep on the 2nd day, Kelly has that "big surprise" for the finalists - their sous chefs from their restaurants to help them out.

Hmm....after how each course was enjoyed by the diners, it looks like perhaps each of them took a course? It does sound like they LOVED Rick's venison third course (and I have to admit, that looked absolutely heavenly!)

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  1. well, to me it seems Rick is given the most air time, most voice over time....I am rooting for Susur however, his food is the one I would most like to eat. However, I hope the show focuses on how tremendous all the chefs are.

    1. Based on the questions asked of the chefs, it seems pretty even across the board! Let's see how the judges discuss after they're back in the kitchen!

      OK, based on what the editing elves allowed us to hear:

      1st course - seems to go to Rick with his perfect oyster
      2nd course - This one went to Marcus with his flan
      3rd course - Rick? But they also liked Susur's dish as well.

      1. And the winner is:

        Susur - 17 stars
        Marcus - 17-1/2 stars! (And wow - Jay gave him 5 stars!)
        Rick - 17 stars (And Oseland gave him 5 stars - and wants to marry him! LOL)

        And Marcus wins!

        Didn't hear ANYTHING about Marcus's other dishes except the 2nd course - THIS is when I definitely wish we could see more of JT!

        6 Replies
        1. re: LindaWhit

          "Didn't hear ANYTHING about Marcus's other dishes except the 2nd course "
          ~~~~~~~~
          when they were eating, Gail was oohing & aahing over the flavor of Marcus' first course, and a couple of them remarked that his fish was cooked perfectly.

          based on the comments at the meal & Critics' Table, i would have predicted Marcus & Rick being neck & neck for the win - Susur seemed to fall just a *teeny* bit short this tine. unfortunately i knew Marcus was going to win based on editing - they spliced him in with what was obviously a post-judging interview, making a comment about those last 2 seconds getting the foie "ganache" on the plates, and i can't remember his exact words, but it was something to the effect that he would have lost if he hadn't gotten them on there in time. slap on the wrist to the editing elves for that mid-show spoiler!

          i was *thrilled* with the outcome - Marcus was my top choice from day one, with Rick a verrry close second...i almost thought/hoped the diners had given Rick 4 1/2 stars so they'd end up with a tie...though something tells me Samsung wouldn't have been too jazzed about the idea of forking over an additional 100 grand :)

          random observations:
          - i would have been happy to eat all of those dishes!
          - as always, it's so nice to get a little more insight into what makes these guys tick - i saw a side of Susur tonight that i liked a lot more than the guy they've been portraying all season. the story about his first wife was heartbreaking.
          - James Oseland needs to stop trying so hard - no more sexual innuendo, no more marriage proposals - he's just so awkward & icky!
          - Colicchio was pretty subdued...he actually just looked beat.

          and finally...
          ONE WEEK until Top Chef DC! woo-hoo!

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            "unfortunately i knew Marcus was going to win based on editing - they spliced him in with what was obviously a post-judging interview, making a comment about those last 2 seconds getting the foie "ganache" on the plates, and i can't remember his exact words, but it was something to the effect that he would have lost if he hadn't gotten them on there in time. slap on the wrist to the editing elves for that mid-show spoiler!"
            ~~~~~~~~~~
            Oh, you're GOOD, ghg! I do remember that as well, my brain just didn't absorb it.

            And your random observations were good - I was thinking they gave Colicchio the minor edit because he's the main judge on the regular TC, so perhaps they let others take the forefront in comments?

            Oseland's "marriage proposal" was Toby Young-ish in ickiness. Just. So. Unnecessary. Comments on his blog at Bravo are, for the most part, ALL negative about him...wonder if they do TCM3 if they'll not invite him back.

            I also enjoyed the back stories - and yes, Susur was more likeable.

            1. re: LindaWhit

              Linda, just like you I remember the mid-show Marcus interview, but my brain didn't process it properly. I can't believe none of the Magical Elves caught that, I wonder if they were working down to the wire on this episode.

              Ghg, it was very interesting to see another side of Susur. I also agree it was heartbreaking to hear the story about his first wife. Hearing the story coupled with the way he told the story and the emotion in his voice, it really made me think of Susur in a completely different light.

              I love hearing the back stories, and I love hearing the stories paired with a dish. This is easily my favorite episode of TCM.

              As for Oseland, I agree with you, ghg, he needs to "stop trying so hard." I also agree with you, Linda, his marriage proposal is very Toby Young-esque, and for me that means rehearsed. Although I did partly figure out why I haven't liked him as a judge, and truth be told despite the rehearsed comments I actually thought he was better than he usually is at JT. In this episode Oseland was excited about his role as a judge from beginning to end, he was excited to eat, judge and score the food. I cannot remember an episode this season where he seemed like he was happy to be there, and he usually took it out on the cheftestants. Speaking for myself, if JO could always seem like he wanted to be there, leave his personal feelings at the door and quit the awful comments, then I would be fine with his being there next season. I know that is a pretty tall order, so that said, I also wonder if they will replace him and with who.

              1. re: lizzy

                I thought he was better on this episode too, besides the marriage comment of course. He seemed more natural and yes, like he was happy to be there. Take Ted Allen off Chopped and bring him on this show where he has personality. Rotate a few others and it would be fine. I think Kelly is pretty much a blank slate, not sure why she elicits such hatred.

              2. re: LindaWhit

                somehow i think for many that mock proposal would have had less of an ick factor if it had come from kelly instead.

                1. re: thew

                  I don't care what his sexual preference is. It just was completely unnecessary, and therefore, the ick factor was there. And despite how he attempted to defend himself on this week's blog about how he treated Jonathan Waxman, he seemed (to *me*) to allow personal feelings enter his scoring and the manner in which he delivered those scores. I just don't like him in general...again, regardless of sexual preference.

            1. re: Shrinkrap

              Marcus! Boo!! I was rooting for Susur all the way and too lose by half a point that just out right wrong.

              1. re: elvisahmed

                I know editing can be misleading, but I still don't see how Marcus pulls out the win after the hot mess of his 3rd dish which everybody seemed to dislike.

                If Marcus didn't play the whole African culture card, then I don't think he wins it. He basically got a get out of free jail card with that dish because the judges couldn't judge it- they disliked it, but they didn't know if they disliked it because they didn't like the dish itself or Marcus' execution of that dish.

                In a PC world, no judge is going to torpedo an exotic dish because you'll come as ignorant and close minded.

                If that's what it took to win, Susur should have done the same thing with that tuna component from his second dish- claim it was an Asian cultural thing and that's how that dish is done in Asia.

                Otherwise, Susur has a harder job when he leaves the path of authenticity- he has to meld asian and western tastes to appeal to both groups. Whereas, Marcus just dumped that third dish on the judges with a take it or leave it attitude.

                1. re: hobbess

                  As you mentioned yourself, it's probable that editing had a lot to do with this.

                  I assume they were trying to be deliberately misleading for more of a surprise ending.

                  1. re: eviemichael

                    Editing can be misleading- it might not show positive or negative comments about a dish.

                    At the same time, it can't put words into a person's mouth either.

                    And, we clearly saw that most of the people there did not like Marcus' third dish. In fact, those same judges later expliciity said they were struggling with how to judge the third dish which they admitted they didn't like.

                    1. re: hobbess

                      Did they really not like his third dish as a whole, or did they not like elements of it, like the texture? I always tell my kids just because it's different doesn't mean you can't like it. I was impressed that they were able to accept his explanation about how they'd like it after 6 times, and this was his self-appointed mission, to share African cuisine with America. (He was more eloquent than I!) After sending Jonathan and Susan home for playing it safe, it was pretty darn consistent for them to reward him for taking that risk.

                      1. re: momjamin

                        I found his comment about liking it after six times interesting, and true of my experience with Ethiopian food. I didn't really care for it much the first four or five times I had it, but I was determined to develop a taste for it, and on the fifth or sixth time I tried it, it's like something was properly rewired in my brain: a veil was lifted from my eyes and I fell in love.

                        1. re: vorpal

                          But, the judges were judging the dish after the first tasting, not after they've eaten it five or six times already.

                          As a master chef, I would have expected Marcus to create a dish that was both true to what inspired it and yet appeal to those unfamiliar with the dish that inspired it. I'm all for innovation and pushing the envelope, but even the most innovative chefs like Feran Adrian still ground their innovative dishes to make it familiar to diners.

                          In the real world, who's going to keep eating the same dish 6 X when they hated it the first 5 times they tried it unless you're a kid where your mom makes you eat it or you're forcing yourself to like it.

                          Storytelling was an important aspect of the challenge, but I really didn't want to see the winner of the show determined by who had the best argument that Marcus pulled out. At the end of the day, food is still a visceral experience that has to taste good.

                            1. re: hobbess

                              Sorry, hobbess: I wasn't trying to imply that the judges should have judged on the assumption that they would have liked the dish had they tried it five or six times. Indeed, they should have judged according to their tastes at the time, and I felt that Marcus was probably the least deserving of the title based on the comments that were made.

                              All I wanted to do was point out that Marcus was probably right in what he was saying. He should, however, have taken that into consideration when feeding the judges and adjusted for a non-African palate. Indeed, I'm a huge worshipper of Thai food, but the first time I introduce someone to it, I tone the spiciness way down, as there is virtually no way that they would find it appealing in its authentic state.

                    2. re: hobbess

                      This was a very close decision. I was also cheering for Susur.
                      However, I don't buy into the African culture card and the judges being PC. Some could argue that Susur pulled the "tragedy card" for his sushi course.

                      I miss Gael Greene as a judge. She seemed to be pretty fair at giving stars.
                      Oseland and Rayner seem to have skewed likes.

                      1. re: dave_c

                        skewed? raynor gave between 4-5 stars, not much variation there
                        same with oseland

                        1. re: celfie

                          skewed... Oseland has been notorious for scorning people lower when compared to the other judges.

                          1. re: dave_c

                            "scorning people lower" - I know you probably meant to have the first "n" out of that word, but actually, the slip of the fingers actually WORKS in this case, dave_c! LOL

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              oops... It does work! Must be my subconscious mind taking over, but am I ever conscious? :-)

                  2. re: Shrinkrap

                    I agree - Yay Marcus! I've eaten at Aquavit three times over the last few years and every time it has been exceptional.

                    1. re: redbecca

                      Wow - really? I ate there and it was awful.

                      1. re: wincountrygirl

                        Marcus isn't cooking at Aquavit any more, and hasn't for quite some time. He's getting ready to open a new place, Red Rooster, in Harlem in the fall.

                        1. re: ChefJune

                          Right, but it is his restaurant with his name associated with it so I would think he would be responsible for the quality of the food.

                          1. re: wincountrygirl

                            Not any longer. he is no longer "Chef/Owner," just a minority shareholder.

                              1. re: wincountrygirl

                                or maybe you just didn't like the food. Plenty of people still do. Red Rooster hasn't opened yet - ChefJune - where's your info on who's the chef at Aquavit now? I couldn't find it on the website.

                                1. re: redbecca

                                  according to the online chef database, it's Marcus Jernmark, the former Exec Sous Chef there under Marcus Samuelsson...
                                  http://www.chefdb.com/pl/2884/

                                  1. re: redbecca

                                    Too much cream and very, very bland and under seasoned.

                    2. we should all tremble in fear of the force the judges have unleashed. this is just going to make susur open 10 more restaurants or something.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: celfie

                        that's hilarious! Yes, imagine being the censor guy if they televised his phone call home after losing! But did anyone else notice how his "narrative" for each course kept changing!? I like the guy, but I felt like he was pulling a lot of BS to just permit to cook what he wanted to cook!