Top Chef Masters Interview: Episode 2


Left to right: Wylie Dufresne, Suzanne Tracht, Graham Elliot Bowles, Elizabeth Falkner

Well Top Chef fans, the moment has finally arrived and the long awaited Masters edition is upon us. It may be lacking in on-air hook-ups, phallic cooking references and involuntary head shavings, but goddammit, the food porn is back! And quite frankly, I’m not ruling out the headlock/head shave just yet.

ES sat down with this week’s masters as they discussed getting a taste of their own medicine.

For anyone who hasn’t seen the show yet, the format has changed: instead of a bunch of aspiring chefs in a house for six long weeks arguing and crying (while the audience takes bets on who’s getting the boot), Masters features a four-person competition of seemingly well adjusted, professional chefs battling it out for their respective charities.

For someone like myself, this is a wonderful shift from the predicable sound cues and “suspenseful”  final product.  For others, this show losses the edgy addiction of watching who’s going to win, have a mental breakdown or make Padma spit out her food. But come on, if you want over-hyped reality television, I’m pretty sure Bravo has something to meet that need.

Maybe in the weeks to come, we’ll see these top caliber chefs succumb to their baser, reality show instincts, but tonight’s episode seems like a bunch of friends coming back from a camp retreat still high from group hugs and ‘smores. So we decided to provide our own interpretation by reading in between the lines of the interview.. Ali G like liberties were taken.

Our full interview as well as some smack talk commentary after the jump.

This week’s cast:

Wylie Dufresne

Suzanne Tracht

Graham Elliot Bowles

Elizabeth Falkner

Some of you have been Top Chef judges in the past, what was it like to come on as a contestant?

Wylie: Umm, you know.. I guess I got what I deserved. It was good fun. It was a good group to be with, but it was hard work. It gave me a perspective for what it’s like for the contestants when they go through it on the long haul.
ES Interpretation: My hip-hop will rock and shock the nation, like the Emancipation Proclamation

When first coming onto the show, we wondered if you felt intimidated by any of the contestants around you?

Suzanne: No, I don’t think so, it was really a pleasure to get to know everybody.
ES Interpretation: Worried about these fools?  You must be trippin’ yo

Is there anything about being in the contest that maybe you didn’t expect or that you had trouble with?

Graham: No I don’t think so, I was definitely nervous going in there, not knowing who I would be facing, and of course wondering if you’re going to cut your finger off and look like a complete douche bag in front of a million people. But you know, I was very surprised with how well it was orchestrated.
ES Interpretation: Won’t front yo, I be trippin’ and all.. don’t want my gat going off and busting a cap in my own ass

There are a lot of familiar challenges Top Chef is bringing back for this series, are there any challenges you were really hoping for or dreading?

Graham: I practiced a lot of past scenarios and definitely was dreading anything that was dealing with pastry.
Wylie: I will second that.
Suzanne: Yup, definitely.
ES Interpretation: Sshiiiiiit
Elizabeth: Well, I was actually like, bring on the pastry! <laughs>
ES Interpretation: All ya’ll are bustas

Throughout Top Chef there’s a lot of emphasis on analyzing the food, because the audience can’t taste/smell the food, do you think there’s anything else the producers of this show can do to put the audience more in touch with what the food’s about?

Elizabeth: I think that, when you’re watching each episode, we had our own comradery, but being able to watch every single person and their personality come through the food is one of the particular strengths of the series. We’re really getting to see some of the best chefs in the country and their food.  Whether or not they’re totally successful with the judges or not, you’re still seeing a lot of the flavor of what they’re doing.
ES Interpretation: Ol Dirty Bastard, Method Man, Raekwon the Chef, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, live and uncut!, Styles unbreakable, shatterproof, To the young youth, ya wanna get gun? Shoot!,  BLAOW! How you like me now? Don’t f*** the style,  Ruthless wild!
Graham: I was as worried about the finished product on the plate as I was about the technique and going through… I think it’s fun to highlight the actual cookery and getting it though from A to Z.
ES Interpretation: Respect <finger snap>

Did any of you have to get convinced to be on Top Chef, or were you excited by the prospect of the show?

Suzanne: As soon as I heard it was for charity, and I’ve seen the show and really liked it—not being one for TV—and I think it was hard to turn down.
Elizabeth: I’m always like, bring it on, I love this kind of stuff.
Graham: Agree, any chance to help out while cooking, and the fact that you’d be doing it with like-minded people to learn from while you’re doing it was a no brainer.
ES Interpretation: Nah dawg, this one was for me homeys <pours a 40oz onto the floor dramatically>

Being on this show or any other competition show you’ve been on in the past, has there ever been any inspiration that you’ve been able to bring back to the kitchen and your staff when you’ve gotten back?

Suzanne: The inspiration is going back to basics, going to the farmers markets, seeing what’s out there and coming back and creating. If any of us, especially me, got anything out of it, it’s don’t lose that creativity, and learning new things, and having a good time doing it.
: I think I was inspired more so by the personalities I encountered on the show and the chefs.  Being able to go back to my kitchen and share some of the energy with my kitchen crew and staff.  I think I can totally tell that there was a different level of excitement.
: I have to say in any competition, you have time restrictions and limitations, but that actually helps you think, have perspective, ok I want to make this, but I don’t have that. How can I use what I have? I’d like to have every paint in the paint shop, but that’s not usually the case. I think creativity comes from having some limitations.
ES Interpretation
: Chip, chip, well said old chap

(Photos by Bravo TV)

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