Top Chef: Masters thoughts for May 12

This was an extended episode, thankfully. I’ve wanted more time to digest (heh) these chefs, and it was very welcome. At this point, there’s zero chaff. Everyone who is there is exceptional, and seeing any of them go will be a bit tough to swallow. I just hope that John Waxman sticks around until the end, because I’ve really picked up on his style and wit.

The quickfire challenge is serving themed dishes to cast and creators of The Simpsons. This results in some very clever dishes that play on a specific character. Susur’s Marge-on-a-plate looked a little weird but sounds like it tasted fairly decent. One thing about Susur that I’ve grown to like is that he recognizes what he can and can’t do well and tries to adjust based on that to the best of his ability. He’s had two things (cake and now the Simpsons) which he put out good (but not great) dishes based on little experience. One aspect I like of the Quickfires in Masters is seeing the chefs’ reactions upon the guests trying their food. It always leads to some chuckles and a great insight into these people’s characters and egos. I wish they would adopt this for regular Top Chef.

Moonen’s Sloppy D’oh (I love that play on words) came out on top above Waxman’s plate for Bart. I’ve never had a fish or shrimp sloppy joe, and it sounds like that the guests hadn’t either, but fish and seafood is Moonen’s bread and butter. He got both the spirit and execution of the challenge.

Elimination this time around was much better. Due to the extended length of the episode, we were able to get more insight into the prep and production process for these chefs, expanding their character significantly. Even Jonathan Waxman, my current favorite, is shown to be mortal. Some days you have it, some days you don’t, and it seemed a bit sad to see the Jedi Master cook like he had two left hands.

The elimination challenge had a lot of variety in terms of dishes, and the “luck of the draw” protein needs a little work. Poor Susan got stuck with the sea cucumber! Thankfully, she made the best of it and while it wasn’t a winning effort, the judges seemed to really like it. I think this is one of the great things about TC:M – Susan took the cards that she was dealt and turned out a good dish that she could be pleased about.

Susur Lee cleans up again, of course, with a 19 star victory. Usually this is the kind of challenge where people fall down. Susur didn’t fall into the usual traps and once again surprised me with the variety he could produce. I’m liking this guy more and more as the season goes on. He may not have the Jedi Master qualities of Waxman, but I would be completely satisfied this season if we got a showdown between the two of them in the finale.

Of course, as a local, I’m disappointed to see Jody go. She’s put out some spectacular food, and it’s gotten me to check out her restaurant. If I visit it, I’ll definitely write about it. The question is when – Top Chef has probably put her reservations book as full as a overstuffed pastrami sandwich.

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