Sunday, August 9, 2009

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Masters Episode 8

Another week down, another master chef gone. We said goodbye to Art Smith, after the chefs tackled a nightmare elimination: cooking for an adorably quirky vegan-with-gluten-issues. But first: burgers. Big, juicy, meaty burgers. And now, bloggers:

David Dust on dietary restrictions: "No meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, or soy. And she’s 'allergic' to gluten (wheat-based products). Those of us in the restaurant business know that 'allergic' means “I’d rather not eat”. We know this because we secretly put whatever you’re 'allergic' to in your dish and you NEVER die. I kid..."

Cliffdvr on Chef Chiarello's ginormous burger: "I don’t see how one eats that without turning things into a weird beef-laden, three-way reenactment of the key scene from Lady And The Tramp. (And with Chef Spike involved, no one want to picture that before lunch.)"

Jordan Baker on the prelude to her Keller-Bayless-Baker threesome: "Then the most beautiful thing in Bravo history happens. Keller says 'you seenk we gonna see Spike on zee rooftop tonight?' and Bayless says 'we could just help him over.'"

Meal Ticket on Miss Zooey's Elimination Challenge: "In a challenge eerily similar to the plot of every one of Deschanel’s movies, the chefs bend to her every whim because she is cute and emits the sweet stench of unattainability when she sweats."

Time Out Chicago on the food served, such as it was: "As usual, Bayless was a genius—he made tamales with chile-braised beans. Hubert Frenchie made white gazpacho, Anita made lentils and eggplant, Chiarello made that quinoa pasta and Art made dessert—store-bought rice-milk ice cream which he folded a strawberry ribbon into, paired with strawberry soup and topped with almond brittle. All of it, as far as I’m concerned, looked absolutely inedible. Not that that’s the chef’s fault."

Endless Simmer on saying goodbye to Art: "Thankfully Art Smith made some profoundly dumb choices and serves up rice ice cream to get himself kicked off this week by a narrow 1/2 star margin below Lo. Sucks for Art, but it’s the second time he’s been on the bottom. Time to go home and cook for Obama buddy."

Slashfood on Art's downfall (in more detail): "no one was letting Smith off the hook for buying a few quarts of frozen vanilla Rice Dream and slopping it on a plate with fresh strawberries and homemade almond brittle. (Honestly, can you blame them? That stuff tastes like a pile of freezer-burnt Rice Krispies.)"

Onion AV Club on Lo's Quickfire failure (which I thought looked kind of cool): "Poor Anita, who was so dominant last week and in the opening round, was guilty this time of expanding the definition too much, which is the sad consequence of her creative impulse. To me, the very idea of burger bits floating around in a cheddar soup sounded pretty repulsive, but it was a shame that Anita couldn’t make it a revelation against all expectations. Perhaps there are limits to what a burger can be, after all."

LA Times on the genius of the challenge: "Talk about having to stretch. I myself am a big old carnivore with a limited imagination and an intolerance for non-meat eaters -- especially ones who get to judge 'Top Chef.' So I couldn't think of anything they'd be able to serve beyond a plate of crudite and hummus."

Grub Street on the season 5 parallel: "Michael Chiarello, who is increasingly playing the Hosea to Hubert’s Stefan, in terms of harping on his rival chef’s Europeanism, bested him with a two-and-a-half-pound 'hamburguese enorme.'"

Time Out NY on Keller's burger pedigree: "It’s hard to take a chef seriously when he’s farting out $5K burgers in Sin City, even if he does have a Michelin star. "

Chicagoist on Bayless' guac overkill: "Rick does a queso fundido burger with three different types of guacamole. The judges like the burger but remark that they really only need one type of guacamole. Inside the kitchen, Rich blusters a bit that they can't seem to discern the differences between his guacamole, his guacamole, and his guacamole."

Starpulse reminding us that they're called "masters" for a reason: "I know that vegan cooking isn't what any of these chefs do, but for people with this much experience in the kitchen, dietary restrictions shouldn't completely throw them off their game. In the end, the bottom two deserved what they got."

It Happened Last Night on the side benefits of veganism: "The chefs need to prepare a vegan lunch for charming and lovely actress/singer Zooey Deschanel (who coincidentally has a movie in theaters) and her friends -- 20 in all. Oh, and she's also gluten intolerant and doesn't eat soy. Which explains to me why she's so thin and glowy-skinned: she clearly can't eat much of anything that's not, well, raw. So that's what I'm doing wrong."

Top Chef Examiner on the return of Spike and his hats: "Spike appeared to scare the chefs the most given his surly and obnoxious behavior as a contestant on season 4 of Top Chef. Don't worry guys, we'll get to see him back in action next week as one chef's sous chef..."

Premium Hollywood with a question I asked, too: "But I’m wondering..what did they do with all of that fast food?"

Televisionary on Keller's successful vegan dish: "A masterful combination of flavors and textures on the part of the so-called French angel (Chiarello's words, not mine). I wanted to reach through the television and steal that shot glass of silky, ethereal cucumber gazpacho."

The Lunchbox Bunch with the vegan perspective on the judges: "Ah yes, those poor pitiful vegans chowing down on green mush and cardboard crackers. Poor little things. But really Gael, your sympathy is not needed."

Chicago Tribune with the chef take on vegan cooking: "Art spits out 'vegan' like it's a curse. Michael Chiarello of Bottega sums it up, "Think of the things you love to cook and just say no. It's off-putting, to say the least.""

Speakeasy (WSJ) on Chiarello's winning quinoa pasta: "Chiarello cleaned out Whole Foods’ quinoa pasta for his third course, which he topped with salsa verde, pine nut gremolata and heirloom tomatoes. His wife was on a gluten-free diet for some time, he says, lending him a familiarity with quinoa. The vegans rave over the dish, since they had assumed pasta was gone forever from their diet."

Culture Crumbs on Zooey Deschanel herself: "Then it was on to Deschanel, who couldn’t have come across sweeter and more “into the show.” Although, you couldn’t help but wonder what a painful experience it would be for someone with her dietary restrictions to watch Top Chef every week (as she claimed)."

TV Fodder on anticipating the Quickfire: "At first they are worried that they will have to take these burgers and make something out of them, but that is not true."

Fans of Reality TV on Spike vs. CJ: "Instead of bringing back the lovely C.J. who won that challenge (What up, C.J.? Still feeling the rain before everyone else in the world?), for today’s judging we get the significantly less lovely Spike, complete with unnecessary smirk, and unnecessary fedora."

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