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Top Chef Masters Season 2 Episode 5: The Champions Round Begins!

Susar Lee and his table of amazing desserts whic includes a Croque en Bouche, Carrot Cake, and other assorted desserts.

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The two teams chose pretty similar ingredients and their dishes at first looked like they were going in the same direction but the 2 anchors on the relay (Marcus for the red team and Jonathan for the blue team) changed the game.  Marcus separated a fish fillet and plated it outside of the stew they were making to make the dish more dramatic. Jonathan Waxman, again with his zen like calmness, entered the kitchen and took his time tasting and surveying the pans on the stove, but then with a smile and a twinkle in his eye he got to work and pulled off a beautiful Mussel and Scallop Stew with fennel and orange. The blue team won the challenge and the right of first choice for the elimination challenge.

Wedding Wars, the challenge where 2 teams have to throw a wedding together in 24 hours, is more like a gruelling marathon.  The blue team chose to go with the bride’s tastes, she said she liked Asian and French flavors so they felt it was less limited than what the red team had to play with.  The red team were catering to the groom’s taste, which unfortunately for them he said he was a steak and potatoes guy and didn’t want anything too fancy.

Now this challenge really is something wonderful, not only do you get to see chefs going back to their roots, doing prep work and hustling around the kitchen like many of them have not done in years, but you get to see them coming up with wonderful food right on the spot and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  It’s a great reminder that you may be an amazing chef but you still have blunders in the kitchen.  Susan Feniger tried to make an Egyptian semolina wedding cake and failed miserably with a dry cake covered in cream and berries that looked very sad indeed.  Rick Moonen, famous for his seafood, assembled an on the spot mixed seafood grill plate that was so brown and depressing that you wouldn’t have believed it was fish!  Marcus Sammuelson tried to add juiciness to a beef tenderloin and ended up making it a mushy mess. 

Don’t get me wrong, there were some great successes. Jody Adams, went against the bride’s wishes and made an amazing rack of lamb that even changed the bride’s mind about lamb in general.  She also made the best dessert of the night, bananas foster, flambeing her way to the win for the night.  Susar Lee made a record breaking 4 desserts; the Achilles Heel of most of the chefs on these shows is desserts and Susar pulled off 4, the man is a machine! They all weren’t perfect but the sheer effort was awesome to behold.  He made a croque en bouche, carrot cake (which he had never made before), raisin pudding with a butter scotch sauce, and profiteroles with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

I would have killed to have these guys catering my wedding.  Any way you slice it (pun intended), this couple had an amazing meal. I think the judges truly had a difficult time picking the winner, but in the end it was the Bride’s team.  The groom’s team was then broken down into parts and sadly the let Carmen Gonzalez go.  Carmen felt her hands were tied since the groom didn’t like or eat many of the flavors she normally goes with so she took on the role of organizer, prep, serving, and overall coordinating, but alas the show is not called Top Coordinator.  Still it was nice to see her team mates (even Marcus, who lost my support previously) come to he side and tell the judges what she did for the competition. OK Marcus, you are not as heartless as I once thought you were.  On the other hand, my heart and taste buds are now divided between Susar Lee for his amazing technical skill and Jonathan Waxman for his simplicity and mastery of flavors.  I don’t know on which side of that fence I will land.

Did you watch last night?  Let us know what you think.

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