Thursday, June 16, 2011

Reactions to the Top Chef Masters 3 Finale

This week's finale episode of Top Chef Masters season 3 had the three finalists - Floyd Cardoz, Mary Sue Milliken, and Traci DesJardins - creating a three course meal based on three criteria. The first course needed to draw from an early food memory. The second course needed to reference the meal that made each contestant want to be a chef. Finally, the third course had to be based on a specific memory from one of the Critics. After drawing knives, Mary Sue finds that Ruth Reichl would love a lemon soufflé, Traci needs to make a memorable duck and Bernaise dish for Gael Greene, and Floyd has to recreate a spicy Indonesian rendang for James Oseland.

To aid them in this task, the chefs are assigned sous chefs with whom they are very comfortable, namely their own chefs from their restaurants.

Off for shopping, which is not limited to Whole Foods.With only 8 hours combined to shop and prep, Mary Sue plays it safe and buys all of her ingredients from Whole Foods. Floyd, on the other hand, needs to rush all over LA to source his ingredients and gets stuck in traffic. So while Mary Sue and Traci are cooking away in the Top Chef Masters kitchen, Floyd is nowhere to be found. Eventually he shows up with a mere 3 hours to spare - and two types of meat to braise to tenderness in that short time.

The next day, they are taken by car to a mysterious location, which turns out to be a house near the Hollywood Hills where Curtis Stone is waiting to make them breakfast. Afterwards, fueled by mimosas, they head back to the TCM kitchen to cook for another two hours.

While it seems they all have some issues in the kitchen -  Traci is not happy with the quality of her duck, Mary Sue is forced to use liquid nitrogen to make her lemon ice cream, Floyd's fish was badly butchered - they somehow all make it work.

When the Critics arrive, we see they've brought Danyelle Freeman, Alan Sytsma, and Tom Colicchio, plus former TCM contestants Jonathan Waxman, Susan Feniger, Rick Moonen, Jody Adams, and Susur Lee along to dine with them.

For the first course, Floyd serves an upma (semolina) polenta with wild mushrooms, Mary Sue brings out an Asian-style steak tartare, and Traci does a shrimp creole, all based on early food memories.

For the second course, Floyd made a rice-flake coated snapper, Mary Sue has shrimp two ways, and Traci offers a quail salad with sweetbreads.

Finally, for the third course, Floyd offers his rendang two ways (shortribs and oxtail) with tapioca pilaf, Mary Sue brings her lemon soufflé, and Traci has a duo of duck.

While the critics nitpick most of the dishes, Mary Sue's soufflé is faultless, and Floyd's rendang is highly praised. Traci's duck dish doesn't evoke the proper memories for Gael Greene, however, so it looks like she's out of the competition at that point.

Just when it seems that Mary Sue has it in the bag, Curtis announces that the winner is Floyd! Perhaps a surprise, but a pleasant one.

So what did you all think about this episode? Please tell us in the comments!

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Anonymous said...

Well, it was a bit of a snoozer. The cheftestants this year just didn't up the ante in terms of drama. All very nice people, seemingly, and cooperative. Great. But, imo, for this kind of show to sustain interest, there has to be some frisson. Also, the TC concept is getting too watered down with these spin-off shows, and as any cook knows, the flavor really suffers when you add too much H2O.

Marsha said...

Mary Sue was my favorite, but honestly, all 3 finalists were wonderful.

I did kind of think Mary Sue might win because she was the only chef who did not have any technical errors - the judges commented that both Floyd and Traci did not cook a couple of things properly (Floyd, the fish; Traci, the duck).

But I thought the final dishes all looked amazing - those judges and critics were very lucky eaters!!

Sean said...

Correct me if I'm wrong but Floyd never won a Quickfire or Elimination challenge. I think of the final 4 they managed to win like 80% of all the challenges.

How does that happen?

theminx said...

Sean - Floyd did win one Elimination Challenge, back in April.

Sean said...

Thanks..I feel a little better now.