Top Chef Masters Thoughts for April 28

Tonight’s chefs are Jody Adams from Cambridge (Go Route 128!), Rick Tramonto, Maria Hines, Susur Lee, and Debbie Hines. Maybe I should go to Jody’s restaurant since it’s in Cambridge and not too far away from me.

The quickfire is to create a fruit plate. Thankfully, Gail and Stephen Hamilton are the people who will be judging this early go instead of the Real Housewives. I’m still really pissed about that (and the chefs were too). I know Bravo likes to cross-promote, but these housewives don’t know jack about food. I hope I never see that again. Also, this is a High Stakes quickfire, a gimmick started in season 6 of regular Top Chef. I was kind of hoping that those gimmicks wouldn’t be in play in Masters, but… the show hasn’t been above gimmicks.

I’m sort of miffed that each chef needs an intro and a spiel about their charity. Charities are good stuff but the food is getting short shrift in this series.

Jody had a tart which she just couldn’t finish, but it doesn’t seem to faze the judges much. Debbie has a pecan tempura and gets a “taste appeal” comment. Can’t really read it.  Susur gets slammed with his overly busy plate, but no real comments about the taste. Maria has figs that she doesn’t think the judges are “getting” even though they like the taste. Rick has “fruit shooters,” and a lot of stuff on the plate and can’t help but to push JESUS on others either. I really wish I could get a better feel for the food than what we see on the tables, but we really didn’t get much at all. This still bums me out.

Also, can Kelly be any more of a piece of cardboard? She has absolutely zero personality.

Ultimately, Jody wins and gets to go to the champion’s round without having to worry about the elimination challenge affecting her standing in that round.

The supermarket segments are getting very… how can I say… trite? In and out with very little time for personality. Sigh.

Then the prep segment is over… nearly instantly! If you blinked, you missed it. At least there were no real prep disasters. You have no real idea where people stand other than their standard prep segment bluster. After commercials, it comes back for more prep, but still, nothing of real substance.

Also, I’m getting real tired of these time lapse traffic bumpers of Los Angeles. How boring. Of course LA has traffic. Tell me something I don’t know.

And now the cooking. I am noticing a lot of confidence from the chefs, perhaps some overconfidence from some. Wait… what cooking? Service is starting already? Christ! It’s only half an hour into the episode!

Maria’s salmon gets lots of praise for the sauce. I thought the salmon looked pretty good, as I like smoked salmon and feel like I’ve got good eyeballs for it, but you can’t really test flavor by looking at it. But this is about all the info we can glean about it!

Susur makes a roast chicken and curry along with a vegetarian polenta. It gets lots of praise, though Gael does have a comment about the heat. Doesn’t seem like she can really take it! The polenta gets a few eyebrow raises, but then after tasting

Rick went with escarole, sausage and white beans. With talk of “home runs” by the guests, he’s feeling very confident. No real comments about taste and texture of the food, though.

Jody has immunity, so she goes with chicken thighs, mushrooms, gnocchi, and herb salad. Salty and muddled, yet people asking for seconds… god! Give me SOME kind of feel for this dish, people! With like, a minute or two tops for reactions there’s just zero real feel.

Debbie comes up last with apple butter pork loin with winter squash slaw. Unfortunately, according to comments, she might come up last in voting, as there’s very few positive comments. However, it could just be editors playing with us. The plate looks a little… lopsided and too salad-y from the picture on TV. I feel bad when the best thing I can comment on is the plating.

The overall theme from this fairly short segment was confidence. LOTS of confidence. There’s going to be a lot of sharp words at judge’s table based on that, methinks.

Judge’s table seems to be fairly routine. I am not missing James Oseland at all. There’s plenty of even criticisms and positive comments all around. I’ve got no real feel for who the winner is other than Debbie is clearly a peg below the other three. My guess is on Rick, though his overconfidence could drag him down. In the end, it goes down to Susur, who wipes the floor with 19.5 stars, the highest score in TC:M history (so far). He really did blow everyone away. Once again, editing elves deflect it away from me. I would really like his dish, as I am all for hot food and I love curry. Maria had a great second place finish, though, and most weeks that dish would have won. Unfortunately, she came up against the steam train that was Susur.

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