Thursday, June 18, 2009

Top Chef Masters 6.18.09

The four chefs competing this week are Graham Elliot Bowles, who calls his culinary style punk rock. His charity is the American Heart Association, in honor of his nephew who is awaiting a heart transplant.

Suzanne Tracht is the second chef this week, and she like simple elegance in food, with a focus on seasonal things. Her charity is Sova, a food bank.

Wylie Dufresne has been on Top Chef before, and he is known for molecular gastronomy. His charity is Autism Speaks.

The final chef this week is Elizabeth Falkner, an avant garde pastry chef, who also does other cooking. Her charity is Edible School Yard, and that's cool. It's about teaching kids about food.

Not-Padme welcomed them.


This week, they will create an amuse bouche from items in a vending machine, a challenge taken from season 2. The judges for the quickfire are Ilan, Betty, and Michael, all from Season 2, who took part in the original challenge.

Let the shopping begin!

They have 30 minutes to cook and create.

Elizabeth whipped out the liquid nitrogen to make some ice cream to go with her braised beef jerky. Interesting.

Not-Padma called time. Not everyone was happy with their dish.

Wylie's dish is a red onion and grilled cheese sandwich with Dr. Pepper reduction. The judges liked the presentation, but the reduction solidified. It was a bit too big to be an amuse bouche.

Suzanne's dish is fried shallot rings with a microgreen salad and a Dr. Pepper aoulli. They judges were salivating about that. Betty licked her bowl, or almost.

Elizabeth made a braised beef jerky with an orange juice, lemon, and horse radish ice cream. There were some faces, and the flavors didn't work for Betty. Ilan said it was a journey.

Graham made a tuna salad with pickled shallot, ginger orange bubbles and beef jerky miso powder. Betty called it brilliant. It got very high marks.

The scores were averaged. Elizabeth got 3.5 stars. Graham's tuna salad got 4.5 stars. Wylie got 3 stars. Suzanne got the maximum 5 stars.

Elimination Challenge

For the challenge, Not-Padme told them they have to cook dinner for the creators and writers of LOST. Neat. Suzanne is a LOST fan. The LOST creators want to know what would happen if chefs were stranded on an island. They can only use items on a weird-island-ingredient table, and they can shop from a "Dharma" list of canned and preserved foods. They have 45 minutes and $200 to shop at Whole Foods for the packaged and canned items on the Dharma Pantry List.

Cooking began.

Elizabeth's plan is: Ancho-Beer Braised Loin, Coffee Scented Poached Boar Loin, and Yam Papaya Pudding. She is cooking the beer sous vide.

Graham's menu is: Maki Roll with tuna & dehydrated pineapple, Tuna nicoise, and tuna a la plancha. Hope the judges like tuna.

Suzanne is making risotto with uni, clams, and prawns, wild boar strip with oyster beer sauce, and mango corn salsa.

Wylie is making Roasted Chicken with poaced egg, beets with dried corn, and plaintain puree. He is poaching his eggs in a circulating water bath.

Gael Green's Hat is back, along with other judges. The writers of LOST say that the dip in quality in LOST in Season 2 was attributeable to too much talking about Top Chef between them.

Dharma-dressed servers took the dishes.

Elizabeth wanted to do more sauce, but her food was taken before she could sauce it. The judges were split about the boar, but the pudding was compared to baby food. More sauce would have been appreciated.

Graham's traveling tuna trio was next. The judges really loved it. Gael Green's Hat didn't get a sound bite on this one.

Wylie's dish would have been better if he didn't get chicken on one plate... and two on another! It was resolved. Ooops. Gael Green's Hat loves Wylie's slow poached eggs. Others were not as convinced. The chicken was highly regarded, though.

Suzanne's meal was really yummy looking. It was called hearty and phenomenal, even though it was complicated.

Who will come out on top?

The critics were intruiged with Wylie's egg. Gael Green's Hat is suspicious of chemicals used in cooking, but loved his chicken.

They wanted to know how Graham thought of using coffee to crust his salmon, and they really loved his inventiveness.

Elizabeth's spices were very useful. They didn't appreciate the pudding, and really wanted more sauce.

Suzanne's crowded plate worked, and the critics really seemed to love her style.

While waiting for the judge's deliberations, Elizabeth decided to make chocolate chip cookies for the group, after claiming that she can make up a chocolate chip cookie dough in less than five minutes. Fun.

The final scores:

Graham's final tally was 20.5 stars.

Wylie's final tally was 20 stars. Graham puffed up about beating his friend Wylie.

Elizabeth's total was 16.5 stars. Ouch.

Suzanne ended up wtith 22.5 stars, and she won the night. Good for her.

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