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Top Chef Masters Season 3, Episode 5 (Spoilers)

I liked the QF $1 appetizer challenge. Shows you what a little ingenuity can do. Thought they did well with such a limitation. Granted, they had Whole Foods-quality food, but that could only mean they had to watch their bottom line even more - a dollar at WF buys you far less than it would most anywhere else. Naomi getting immunity with an asparagus bread salad was quite a coup - there wasn't even a protein in that dish, was there? I thought Alex's squid dish was going to win - it looked the most delicious to me. I also liked the look of Hugh's Salade Lyonnaise (anything with a poached egg on it gets my vote.) Tho Hugh continues to bug.

The fast food EC was a train wreck, but I was still impressed by some of those dishes - Floyd's beef Frankie, in particular looked great. George was rightfully sent home, in my opinion - his looked awful - skewered clams? Although they said they were properly cooked. Alex's salmon tacos sounded bad too - i have to agree that it's my least favorite fish choice for a taco.

Oseland's blog: http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef-maste...

sigh... bring on the hate.....

Can't people have fun with this show anymore? I haven't latched on enough yet to be rooting for a particular Chef, but I'm still enjoying the show, tho I know many here aren't. Maybe it's as some have said - it came too quickly on the heels of TCAS. You used to be able to build up some anticipation and desire.....

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  1. As a Mary Sue fan, I am thrilled at her win (so that's two wins for her, isn't it? and she's been on the bottom 3 times now?). I would have been annoyed if Alex went home for those tacos - I thought that was the best adaptation possible for protein, when he learned where he was cooking.

    I liked the QF, too. It was interesting to see what they came up with for less than a dollar. This was a much better episode than the previous two.....

    1 Reply
    1. re: jeanmarieok

      She has been on the bottom three times, but weren't two of those more for being on the losing team rather than having the poorest dish? Which brings up a point that bothers me with this season of Masters. On Top Chef, the judges are pretty clear when a chef is before them because they were on the losing team despite having a good dish. This year on Masters, the critics seem compelled to find fault with every dish on the losing team even when it seems unwarranted based on the comments made during tasting.

    2. I missed the first part of the show, but my overwhelming sense was of how condescending and nasty the judging seemed. I found the comments a real turn off, and I haven't had an enormous problem with that before now. Ugh. It was only when the chefs who were in the bottom three left the JT area that they had nice comments. Otherwise, both the comments and the scowls on the faces of the judges were a real turn off.

      Some stray observations: I was glad Mary Sue won, but having her own food truck definitely gave her an edge in the competition. I think that in general, the female chefs are rocking it this time around, which is something I do enjoy seeing. Hugh is a nut job, IMHO.

      8 Replies
      1. re: roxlet

        I didn't hate the episode as a whole. Reasonably interesting. Food seemed alright.

        But I wish I could put my finger on exactly what it is about the judges that annoys the crap out of me. Whenever Oseland is served anything he doesn't love, he whines and bitches like it's a personal attack on his delicate sensibilities. Really, that skewer was the ugliest food you've ever seen? Really? I can't even articulate what it is about the dude from grub street or restaurant girl that bothers me so much, aside from pointing out the obvious that they come off as unqualified and completely devoid of insight. Curtis Stone, though I don't have any particular fondness for him, comes off pretty well just by comparison.

        Where is Jen Carrol when you need her?

        (also, wasn't this episode 5?)

        1. re: cowboyardee

          There was just something about James Oseland in the car with his protege at the drive-thru window that I just turned me off. Maybe it was the sense that they were really enjoying the difficulties that the chef's were having -- it seemed as if they were gloating. And I initially defended Oseland because I think that Saveur is the best food magazine post Gourmet's demise. And I liked his first book enormously. But the way he seemed to cackle with his protege was a turn off. And that eating girl, or whatever her moniker is, appears to be extremely ignorant about food. At least for TC, you have judges with experience within the food world.

          1. re: roxlet

            I like Saveur myself. I can't quite reconcile in my mind Oseland the lameass judge from TCM and Oseland the likable editor-in-chief of one of the few food magazines worth reading. Go figure.

            1. re: roxlet

              If only there were some way to tell Oseland and his protege apart. They think alike. They eat alike. They even talk alike. They're identical nerds born to separate mothers. And the two of them, by themselves are killing off this show. Looks like Gayle is coming back next week. Thank heavens.

              1. re: roxlet

                I agree about the gloating. Give these hard-working chefs an almost impossible challenge and then, instead of saying "I'm amazed at what they were able to do" find fault anywhere you can. Not nice.

                1. re: DGresh

                  Oseland actually did say that, i thought..... i'll have to watch again. maybe it was wallaby-boy.

              2. re: cowboyardee

                Restaurant Girl moves one side of her mouth more than the other. The Grub Street dude looks like an unhip nerd. His hairdo is atrocious.

                1. re: cowboyardee

                  Agreed on these 3 judges - Oseland has a very "pinched" face all the time - including when he attempts a smile - and he just irks me beyond all get-out. And the baby-faced boy from Grub Street just seems so - I don't know ... young? "Did you ever think when I was interning for you we'd be sitting in a fast food place?" Ugh. The two of them seriously need to go.

                  Thank goodness Gail Simmons was on this week's episode. Will be interesting to see Gael Greene again NEXT week.

              3. I thought Celina's un-wrap was the most awful looking dish last night, although George's did look as though he really didn't care whether he stayed or left.

                I find the judges' (oops, critics') phony "ugh" looks demeaning, silly and unnecessary. Can't they just say with a straight face whether or not they liked the dishes? This is not 3rd grade.

                I like Oseland as a food writer and as an editor, but I am not at all impressed by his snark and whining as a "critic" for TCM. It detracts badly from the show, imho. I also take issue with the Elves calling someone a "permanent judge" (Bourdain on TCAS and Reichl on TCM) and they aren't present more than half the time. Just use them when they're available and don't play with the viewers!

                I'm not totally put off by the youthfulness of the majority of these judges, but feel there are a lot of very qualified culinary professionals and food writers who would be very credible, and am wondering why they are robbing the cradle. What is the average age of the Magical Elves? Does anyone know? That might shen some light on their selections.

                3 Replies
                1. re: ChefJune

                  I was thinking the same thing about Ruth. At least Gail is on next week. Cowboyardee - you are right, this is Episode 5 - sorry. I'll ask Mods to make the change to the title.

                  1. re: ChefJune

                    Surely, there are many older critics and foodpeople who might be better judges... but the age of this crop isn't really the problem. Rather, the problem is that one judge is an Oseland protege who seemingly has nothing at all to add and is positively dripping with anti-charisma, while the other is probably the single worst critic I could name offhand (she's got the big trifecta: no food knowledge, no writing talent, and no professional scruples).

                    A precocious 9-year-old would make a better judge - at least she'd be cute. Gail on regular Top Chef is young, and also a fine judge.

                    You mention the age of the Elves. While I don't know offhand, I can say having read a couple of the producer's blogs for regular Top Chef that she comes off as a plausible fan of Restaurant Girl. Sorta more into pop culture than food, and mostly into food to the extent that it's trendy (which, to be fair, should be expected from a reality TV producer).

                    You judge.
                    http://origin.www.bravotv.com/top-che...

                  2. mariacarmen: I am pretty sure last night was episode 5, not 4. If Mary Sue has now won 2 and was on the bottom in the other 3???

                    1. George's clams weren't skewered, they were served inside a cucumber. The skewers were pork and chorizo. Looked awful.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: saeyedoc

                        oh you're right. and yes, they did.

                      2. No love from me after Epsiode 5.

                        In fact I got a call from Bob Evan's Restaurant this morning re: Oseland's shirt. They said they want their &^%$ing tablecloth back. They did ask nicely tho.
                        Srsly, WTF. Who dresses that guy?

                        Quickfire was entertaining.

                        Elimination Challege seemed to be far more about creating drama rather than focusing on food . It's becoming more and more like the "Housewives of Whole Foods" and less like the first two seasons which featured well executed food, professionalism and comradiere .

                        Restaurant Girl and Grubstreet's "Capt. Comb-over" still annoy me to no end to the point I turned the show off before the final judges table and sendoff. When Oseland's your Obi Wan mentoring two tweet-age gits, you've lost my interest in watching. Add in the continual lack of energy and snide undertoned comments and it's unbearable.

                        Sausage joke made by Curtis to RestaurantGurl in the car made me chuckle. The rest made me weep.

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: jjjrfoodie

                          LOL - your post is funny. Good lunchtime reading.

                            1. re: mariacarmen

                              IIRC, Restaurant Girl was having one of the dishes with a sausage in it and Curtis made a suggestive comment. Then at the end while in the car he mentioned something about "it was a good date" and RGirl perked right up and got all Giddy.

                              It may have been this one, but I thought it involved a sausage joke.------
                              "Curtis and Danyelle get weirdly flirty in the car. "It's like a healthy hush puppy," Danyelle says while she eats one of Mary Sue's quinoa fritters. "You're a healthy hush puppy," Curtis coos back. "

                              I guess our Grubstreet protege'/judge is aware of both his "comb-over" and how the Magical Elves manipulate the footage and force various show editing.

                              From this morning:
                              http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2011/05...

                              And BTW, this was his last judging episode for now.

                              1. re: jjjrfoodie

                                Grubstreet dude is a little more likable in print. Good for him. RestaurantGirl on the other hand...

                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                  ^^^^^^^^^^

                                  I agree wholeheartedly. His writing and overseeing of Grubstreet is quite likeable, but his on screen persona or the way he is edited does not translate well. Nothing personal on my end, it's just not entertaining or worth my viewing time.

                                  Dyanne at RestrantGurl though tends to have her "I know what I;m talking about 'cause I said so" blog persona at odds with her "I just can seem to find the right words so I'll make an off comment" self on TCM. Wonderful to watch with the sound muted.

                                  If following the roadmap setforth by previous TCM and the later TC episodes, the judges do play a well established role and receive a great deal of airtime accordingly. Thus personalities and experience needs to be exercised wisely. I'd been fine for this season if the judes facetime was diminished
                                  and filled with more cooking, but that changes the template.

                                  Oh well. Forward into the fog, TCM.

                                  1. re: jjjrfoodie

                                    I like the Grubstreet guy a lot better after reading his blog.

                                    1. re: jeanmarieok

                                      Me, too. Maybe, just as bloggers are often poor book writers, they're also not great on TV. I thought he was very funny.

                                  2. re: cowboyardee

                                    agree with that. fun blog entry, and kind of makes me feel that on the show, he and whats-her-bucket are more insecure and out of their element, than anything. so now i feel sorry for the twits. ah well, we're done with him.

                                  3. re: jjjrfoodie

                                    that's the one i was thinking of - i thought that "You're a healthy hush puppy" moment was funny.

                                2. re: jjjrfoodie

                                  you nailed the shirt. I just need the right words to describe it.

                                  1. re: jjjrfoodie

                                    LOL on Oseland's shirt. TOO funny! Yeah, whoever dressed him for the show should be fired for that one.

                                    I think I'm glad I missed part of this episode except for popping out of the kitchen on occasion.

                                  2. I think it's pretty unanimous that we're underwhelmed by the judges this season. I just don't get them at all. Maybe I'm too old, but honestly, I do have young friends and I respect them. These two just seem so representative of a snarky, know-it-all attitude that I probably had myself at that age. If I were one of those fine chefs I would have a hard time not resenting those people having the gall to judge me.

                                    1. George explaining his side dish at judge's table made me laugh:

                                      George: "So you didn't find it easy to just pick up a cucumber and eat it all at once?"

                                      Restaurant Girl, shaking head in disdain: "Very difficult".

                                      1. I want to see chefs at their best not failing!!

                                        My suggestion: give all the chefs all the challenges before they come on the show. That way they can practice and perfect (like they would in the real world). Then all the results would be at least good and many brilliant!

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: skoolpsyk

                                          I'd really, REALLY like to see the chef's "compete" against each other rather than bizarre over the top challenges (no water, fast food drive through, etc...) posed by the producers.

                                          1. re: gmk1322

                                            Just competing on skill would probably be too personal and hit too close to home for most of these chefs.

                                            It's one thing to get sent packing because you weren't able to cook without water, it's quite another when a "critic" (or a handful of critics) deems your food inferior to a direct competitor in the industry based entirely on cooking acumen.

                                            With the former, you can say, "hey, that gimmicky thing with the water was my downfall, and my loss had nothing to do with my cooking skills". The latter? Just an epic life fail on your part.

                                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                                Iron Chef is a bit different.

                                                If a cheftestant loses to an Iron Chef, the thinking is always, "well, they ARE Iron Chefs"

                                                The TC Masters groups are sort of peers and contemporaries of one another, and accomplished ones at that (unlike regular TC).

                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  I just wax nostalgic for the past seasons where the chef's competed in cohorts of 4 amongst one another in realistic challenges to advance to the finals.

                                                  1. re: gmk1322

                                                    I liked the old TC masters format better, also.

                                        2. I am so sad to see George go! His food is super delicious. I've met him a few times and he's also super nice. He was one of my hopes to go all the way. Bummer.

                                          Now that we're 5 episodes in, I can definitively say I agree with others about not liking the new format. I have no one to blame but myself though. When TCM first premiered I was one of the people who complained about the weird star rating system and bracket methodology (4 compete against each other, one from each group advancing). I thought they should structure the competition the way they structured "real" Top Chef. .... I was wrong. I like it even LESS this way. Double bummer.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: charmedgirl

                                            George's food is definitely superior. And his new restaurant in New York is one of the hottest tables in town. I too was sad to see him go. Cannot imagine his skewers were worse than that "mess on a pancake" Celina Tio served.

                                            1. re: ChefJune

                                              from george's commentary i think he was getting sick of the new format of the show as much as some of us are on chowhound. i rarely comment on threads regarding any of the TC shows but this is just not good anymore. and what's up with grubstreet and restaurant girl? i don't think it's an age thing b/c gail is just fine on TC and she's on the younger side. it's just that the former two aren't as a good on camera.

                                              1. re: trolley

                                                The critics are bringing the show down. Curtis Stone I'd rate as neutral, but Oselund is so bad on camera with his expressions and mannerisms that his background and credentials are rendered almost meaningless to the viewer. Bringing in that Grubstreet "Oseland doppleganger" to criticize and judge must feel like a huge slap in the face to those chefs. It would be like the winner of the local go-kart circuit telling Jimmie Johnson why he didn't come in first. Same with Restaurant Girl, and could she be any more starstruck by Curtis. Some of these chefs have literally been cooking for longer than Grubstreet Boy and Restaurant Girl have been alive.

                                                1. re: Bunson

                                                  Well, I agree with these assessments: Grubstreet seems wanting to still please his mentor Oselund and RG only gets excited by her personal interactions with Curtis. Perhaps they are so excited to have been lifted from the virtual anonymity of their internet personas that they are worried that if they don't hang onto these connections they will be banished anew to their regular gigs.This Season definitely lacks any cohesive figure that glues the whole together. I have to remind myself to watch the show and find that I really don't care who wins. In reality most of the chefs are a snooze as well. Not a well-balanced group as far as skills goes and for me it was too bad the Indian chef (can't remember his name- I think he is Devi's chef) was eliminated. At least he had a strong viewpoint!

                                            2. re: charmedgirl

                                              I think the format is fine. In fact, I prefer it to the original tournament style as we get to know the chefs better. But I agree with those who say that the "critics" suck big time. I think Bunson summed it up best.

                                              James Oseland wasn't as bad in the first couple of seasons because one villain judge can make for good TV. But in combo with restaurant girl and mini-Oseland, it becomes unbearable to watch.

                                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                                I agree with all of the assessments of Restaurant Girl - she has so little credibility and her attitude makes me wonder each time if I am watching a"Housewives" show by mistake. Get her off and replace her with a respectable judge.

                                            3. FINALLY got to see this last night prior to Ep. 6 - enjoyed it a LOT. Loved the $1.00 QF challenge - interesting how someone counted out 4 almonds and it was priced out that way. :-) I enjoyed the look of many of the QF dishes. And who knew you could prepare such wonderful looking apps for only a dollar? Although there's no way in hell I'd pay $15 to $20 for a bowl of carrot soup as the guest judges stated - MAYBE $8? Seriously? Would a chef actually charge that much for that quantity of carrot soup?

                                              Hated hated hated the fast food Elim. challenge. Wasn't really watching through this part as I was prepping some fruit to bring into work. But still didn't like it.