Top Chef Masters: Episode 4


Left to Right: Mark Peel, Anita Lo, Douglas Rodriguez, John Besh

After a brief hiatus for the holiday, Top Chef Masters has returned, and I’d love to say I’m excited about that fact. I’d love to say that, I really, really would, but Ludo taught me something last episode: I like the d-bags. And by “like,” I mean love to hate, curse their name and feel better about myself as a human being in general because of their existence on a reality show. I wanted to love the civil, the calm, the professional, but that just isn’t the case. Top Chef Masters is no Top Chef.. but I’m still going to tune in every week.

I never really bought into the claims that without Padma and Coliccho the show wouldn’t be as good either, but Tom’s appearance on last night’s episode proved me wrong. Only walking on set for a meager 30 seconds, Tom brought an insight and context to what was going in the challenge that I had yet to see on the Masters spinoff so far this season.

“I can tell right off the bat, [The Masters]  understand something the normal Top Chef contestants never do,” he quipped. “These guys know you don’t get bogged down in the challenge… because through cooking you can pretty much tell any story.” And there the chefs were, walking around cool as cucumbers. Fuck you Tom, I love you.  Padma, I’d take you over a dozen Chois any day.

When Top Chef does come back on, I encourage anyone interested to read Coliccho’s post-game blog write-ups after an episode airs. It usually gives some good rationale into why a decision went a certain way that wasn’t explained well due to time constraints and shitty editing.

ALL THAT BEING SAID, last night’s egg challenge was fantastic! I hope we see that challenge every season moving forward. Anita Lo beat out her fellow competitors, John Besh, Douglas Rodriguez and Mark Peel with a soft scrambled egg with oyster sauce and truffle oil. A very excellent start.

After watching Besh on ‘Next Iron Chef’ though, you would have thought he’d be a little more prepared for this kind of competition. Not even getting his plates out? Seriously? Peel gets bonus points for having an inspirational father/making one-handed pasta.

Then we get Doogie Howser (Neal Patrick Harris – also of Harold and Kumar fame) and a bunch of random magicians that seem to have absolutely no connection to Harris other than he likes magic. The theme was each chef had a word to use for their dish: Lo – Trick Illusion, Besh – Surprise, Douglas – Spectacle and Peel – Mystery.

Again, Anita Lo proves to be the crazy, awesome silent type, busting out a brilliant beef tartare disguised as a sea scallop to take the overall win. Like Susanne Tract before her, the dish was inventive, delicious and seemingly effortless. Even watching them on TV, I get antsy over how calm these women are.

Besh with his “brain freezing” bellini and liquid nitrogen “sorbet” had mixed reviews but earned credit for inventiveness. Peel delivered on his promise of mystery with a brown bag of fish and other assorted goodies getting points for execution. And Rodriguez kinda did something with a flaming coconut and duck several ways that seemed to fail to hit the mark. I’m not sure how this is possible when the words, “Duck-Three-Ways” are involved, but that’s what the tv box told me.

A good episode with good challenges. When the winners do eventually go head to head we’re really going to see some amazing food porn. Until next week.

You may also like


  • Summer July 9, 2009  

    I’m liking Kelly Choi less and less with every episode. The way she delivers her lines is grating… she emphasizes the end of every sentence to give the impression that what she is saying is SO IMPORTANT! and yet she never seems to have a valid comment to make about the food. She has none of Padma’s elegance.

    I am enjoying the show, though, and I can’t wait to see how they structure the competition once they get down to the finalists.

  • JoeHoya July 9, 2009  

    “For the holiday?” Would that be July 1st?

    Pretty sure this was a cop-out to stretch the season and get it that much closer to the start of Top Chef Season 6.

Leave a comment