Top Chef Masters Season 1 Episode 3 Review
Original Airdate: June 24, 2009
After tonight we’ll have half of the final group of chefs. Who will join Hubert Keller and Suzanne Tracht in the finals? Lets find out!
Gael Greene, New York Critic
James Oseland, editor of Saveur magazine
Gail Simmons, editor of Food and Wine Magazine
Jay Rayner, London observer
This Week’s Chefs
Wilo Benet (Puerto Rico) – Pikayo
Cindy Pawlcyn (Napa, CA) – Mustard’s Grill
Ludo Lefebvre (Los Angeles) – Ludo Bites
Rick Bayless (Chicago) – Frontera Grill
I went to Pikayo when I was in Puerto Rico! They had this amuse shot glass of Mango soup that I still dream about. Great stuff. Cindy looks like a nice old lady, I wonder how she’ll do. Ludo is from LA but is originally from France and has an enormous French ego. He’s the man!
There is a WOOD BLOCK with four knives to draw. There are four colored knives – red, orange, yellow and green. This is a repeat from Season 2, where each chef had to create a color-themed dish. The Judges are a group of food stylists and marketing women, who are most in tune with how food looks and is presented. Intriguing panel.
Each chef goes to prepare their single color dish. Cindy is having some trouble, but Ludo helps her out. Ludo “Normally, I don’t share, I’m French.” Ludo gives us a french MARDE on tv too – no beep. The waiters “forgot” Ludo’s beet sauce too. When they do bring it out, lady, the judges think it looks like blood. Ouch! Smoked Salmon tartar with coconut milk sounds odd, but the judges were way into it. The old lady chef Cindy hopes to not get a score of 0. I thought chefs were supposed to be arrogant??
Benet: **** 1/2
Pawlcyn: *** 1/2
As she introduced each dish, the Yellow Curry, etc, she called Rick Bayless’ dish the “green dish” which was amusing. She sucks.
The WOOD BLOCK is out and there are four numbered knives. Each chef grabs a knife, and each number correlates with a certain protein
Oh it’s not normal protein, its offal – the weird organs and other parts. Offal rhymes with Awful! I’ll be here all week.
The chef’s each get one offal part to cook up
Wilo – Beef Heart
Cindy – Tripe
Ludo – Pig’s Ear
Rick – Tongue
All the chefs complain about the offal pretty much, including Wilo who had never cooked a beef heart before. Not Ludo though – “If you want to be the master you need to know about food. I know how to cook the pig ear, I know how to cook the tripe, the tongue, the heart. I know all these things.” He should get his own show!
Next up is our weekly trip to Whole Foods where they just have the best and freshest ingredients. Rick notes that Ludo is doing a quesadilla, and thinks its madness for a Frenchman to make Mexican. Later Ludo notes that he feels Rick is copying him by doing a taco with the beef tongue.
Back from commercial, our chefs are in the kitchen and old lady Cindy doesn’t appear how to know how to use some of the pots in the kitchen. Rick helps her out. I always like insights into how chefs think and talk – Wilo and Rick both questioned how to “sell” the offal in their dish, which I think is a realistic way a chef would talk/think.
Service is outside at Universal Studios in street-like stands where the chefs are preparing the food. Ludo is running very late – he is simply not used to cooking street food because “there is no street food in France.” Really? Each chef presents the dish to Kelly and the judges. Jay has a particularly sour face for many of these scenes, maybe that’s his natural face.
The wacky bit in the commercial has Rick Bayless telling the story of one weird dude who wanted to be able to say that “Rick Bayless slipped me some tongue”. Rick decided that guy would get served first.
After the commercial, the judges table is a softball – seems like a new recurring theme in the first few episodes. The chefs talk about the plight of making edible street food out of these offal proteins, and each was successful. The judges send the chefs out, and the critics discuss the dishes. I’m not sure who is the front runner here, all of the dishes seemed strong and no one seemed to stand above the rest.
James called Cindy’s dish “weak in the knees” which might be the most negative thing he’s said in the show thusfar. In the kitchen, the chefs are just chillin and drinking some wine – no cookies this week. Jay calls Rick’s taco a “big bright lively flavorful mouthful”. They seem to like Ludo’s dish the least, but Jay defends him saying pig’s ear is the toughest ingredient.
Lefebvre: *** 1/2
James: ** 1/2
Gael: *** 1/2
Jay: **** 1/2
Bayless: 22 1/2
Benet: 19 1/2
Lefebvre: 16 1/2
Pawlcyn: 15 1/2
Each week I’ll check to see if the quickfire winner is a good predictor of the final winner, and if each judge and the diners correctly called the winner.
Quickfire Winner – Benet 2-1
Diner’s Winner – Bayless/Benet (tie) 3-0
Gael’s Winner – Bayless 3-0
James’ Winner- Bayless 2-1
Jay’s Winner- Bayless (tie) 2-1
I’m an adventurous eater, but I always cringe at the episodes with offal or weird organ parts because the food looks weird. I like quesadillas, but would I like this pig ear quesadilla better than if it were just pork? Probably not, but that’s the challenge I guess.
Turned out to be a pretty big win for Rick over the others, joining Hubert Keller and Suzanne Tracht in the final six. No new episode for the first week in July, but we’ll be back with the fourth episode on July 8th.
Tags: Bravo, Top Chef