Top Chef Masters Reactions for April 21

This episode of Top Chef is the “retreads” episode. Chefs from the previous season of TC:M are back to kick some ass and take names. Rick Moonen, Wylie Dufrense, Graham Elliot Bowles, Jonathan Waxman, Mark Peel, and Ludo Lefebve rejoin the TC:M cast to be greeted to a classic Quickfire. Their task is to pair their dish with an exotic cocktail. The chefs first taste all of the available cocktails and then pick up their preferred ones.

Bravo decides some cross promotion is in order and the diners are the Real Housewives of Orange County. Blech. Who finds that Housewives stuff compelling? I mean, really? Must be the voyeur in all of us. Damn you and your compulsive cross advertising, Bravo.

Wylie’s char looks delicious and is quite peeved that the airheads change their minds to agree with the expert. Glad that they do kinda call the wives out on that bullshit.

The kitchen is full of stress and wacky races all around. Nothing really wrong happens.

Wylie’s char looks delicious and is quite peeved that the airheads change their minds to agree with the expert. Glad that they do kinda call them out on that bullshit.

Jonathan goes for pork tenderloin, and hits it out of the park with Gael, whose opinion is the one that counts.

Mark’s ginger figgle gets mixed reactions. It does look tasty, and I like ginger, so I’d be happy to try it. The wives don’t, much to his chagrin.

Rick’s Strawberry Shortcake gets lots of high comments. Even though Rick isn’t a pastry chef, it can’t be that hard to screw up Strawberry Shortcake. I’m surprised he didn’t get the super sweet comments with regards to the cocktail and dessert pair.

Graham Elliot’s edamame follows a tough act in the shortcake, and probably is not appreciated very well. It’s a high palette food, which I don’t think these girls have, unfortunately.

Ludo’s pork chop again gets mixed reactions and is very displeased about being judged by people “less” than him. This guy’s got a serious attitude problem.

In the end, Waxman’s shrimp and pork comes out as the winner. It looked like a great surf and turf. Definitely a recipe I’ll need to check out.

On to the elimination challenge, which is to “upscale” a pub dish. The options are bangers and mash, fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, irish stew, steak and kidney pie, and Toad in the Hole. All classic Irish and pub dishes, though a bit surprised that there were no burgers or chicken wings.

There’s actually some drama in this episode, given what happened last year. Unusual for TC:M. Ludo is coming out swinging.

I like to believe I’m a connoisseur of fish and chips. Rick has got the right idea here – the sauce and breading are what make your fish and chips unique. I’m interested to see if he’ll fuck it up with his hubris or not. His overconfidence could be his doom.

The standard pre-serving tour goes on in Tom Bergen’s, and much to the chef’s dismay the kitchen is very small and cramped. Of course, Ludo is being a little bitch.

Waxman finishes up early (as usual). Mark Peel makes a great NASCAR analogy about cartwheeling cars, Ludo continues being a bitch, and we don’t hear anything from Wylie at all. Hmm.

Ludo serves first. Does not go over well at all. Methinks his whine act may come back around and bite him.

Rick uses chicken fried sable, twice fried potatoes, and slaw. It’s not perfect, though, as the potatoes are a bit off. Still, that fish looked absolutely delectable.

We finally hear from Wylie and his bangers and mash. It doesn’t LOOK like your usual bangers and mash, but the soul is there. Definitely higher class and the crowd loves it.

Graham Elliot thinks his dish, the steak and kidney pie, is perfect. It certainly looks good. He and Gael Greene disagree on the specifics of cooking kidney, apparently.

Mark crosses his fingers on the pudding. This is going to be a disaster, methinks. The judges catch on immediately that the pudding failed, but the rest of the dish seems to get marks. We know he’s not winning tonight. No point in dragging him through the mud.

Waxman’s shepherd’s pie definitely doesn’t look like what I’m used to. He pulled a page out of Kevin’s playbook by distilling it to its core and reinterpreting that core splendidly. I like that idea.

On to critic’s table. Ludo gets taken to the cleaners, while everyone generally gets the praise or criticisms they knew were coming. Graham seems to have overcompensated on the kidneys, but overall gets lots of good praise. The great thing about the TC:M critic’s table is that the chefs are very quick to recognize what they thought they could improve in their dishes. I like that sort of humility. Critic’s table hits the highs and lows, but the short amount of time dedicated to each dish in the on-screen version leaves a bit to be desired. Fortunately, I can catch the extras on the Bravo website later on.

In the end, 18.5 stars for Waxman’s Shepherd’s pie crowns him as the winner of the night. Not surprising. It really reminded me of Kevin’s stuff, and to think that Waxman reminds me of Kevin is a big thing. It’s really more that Kevin takes after Waxman, given their ages. But still – the distilled core concept doesn’t get enough lip service in cooking, IMO.

The rest of the field plays out like we expect it. Mark gets 9.5 stars. Only one star from the crowd. Ouch. Ludo gets 11 stars. Graham gets 13.5 stars to kick Ludo’s ass to the curb. Wylie beats Graham by just one star. It comes down to Rick vs. Wylie, and with 16 stars, Rick edges him out. Given what happened to Rick last year, I’d say it’s well deserved.

A decent episode all around, but Ludo just had to drag things down. Bummer.

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