Several weeks ago when he was feeding wedding guests or tailgaters and hanging on by the flick of a paring knife I could not have imagined Marcus Samuelsson would be the triumphant Top Chef master and take home the $100,000 prize. What a shock it was for me. Indeed I thought everyone seemed surprised last night. Susur seemed shaken. Rick was rocked. As Jay noted, as I am sure the critics agreed, it was a difficult decision because it was based solely on the final challenge – a dinner that expressed each chef in three courses. As for me, I had been forced to tear myself away from the Critics' Table for that ultimate judgment because of an earlier obligation to appear at a benefit for Citymeals where I was listed as the host.
As caught up as I was in the competition – watching the finalists as they mastered one moment and fumbled the next over the first eight challenges – I felt I had no choice. It was painful to tear myself away.
Did I think there was nothing more to know about Susur Lee? Bristling with confidence, moving like a warrior, fiercely competitive … I had no idea that he had lost his beloved first wife in a plane crash nor that he had left a comfortable life in Toronto for the Far East so that his half-Asian children with his second wife could learn about their heritage. That Marcus grew up with an adoptive family in Sweden is well-known … but the details of the poverty that he had escaped became more vivid on this episode. As for Rick, he had been defeated in earlier segments by too much ambition and the inability to improvise so it was amusing to watch him trying to calm himself and stay focused.
The challenge forced each of the chefs not just to cook brilliantly but to get in touch with who they are and how they came to be in this Top Chef Masters kitchen. It’s not an assignment you can just leap into: A three-course meal with the first plate reflecting a early childhood food memory, the second tied to an experience that made each realize he wanted to be a chef, and a final dish that sums up who he is and where he stands as a cook right now. Freud on a plate. And no time to brood on the couch.
This was absolutely disappointing... Susur and Rick were clearly better in the finale. What were the judges thinking???!!
Susur should have won.
He lost because he cut his tuna slightly too thick? Lame.
When great chefs like Jonathan Waxman said he loved learning things from Susur and Rick Moonen said it was an honor to cook by him and all through out the competition so many Top Chef Master contestants said Susur was the chef to beat.
Additionally Susur had no idea what was going on in so many of the challenges and every single time still kicked ass and ended up with top dishes, the mark of a true Top Chef Master.
Susur seemed to do consistently incredibly well for most of the season always coming in 2nd for the win more than anyone else, and it was really disappointing to see him end on the same note. He was the most impressive, dynamic, and entertaining chef on Top Chef Masters thus far.
I wish you had been at Judge's Table -- I think there would have been a different (more fair) outcome.
Congratulations Marcus, I am so proud of your accomplishment, and truly you've done a great thing for the UNICEF Project.
So as long as you have a better story than the person in front of you than you could be served cat food? Marcus got 5 stars for a dish that you said and I quote "Marcus’s authentic African dish that puzzled the palate, incredibly emotional but possibly not that delicious." but SuSuri dish tasted good but looked funny? And Rick chose New Zealand deer. Very poor decision!
A delectable surprise! Marcus mastered the challenge completely, he took the judges places that they had NOT been before with his African dish. Kudos to Marcus! I loved Susur also and thought it would be between he and Rick.
I was disppointed too, Susur should have been the man!!! Period! He is true master. He is talented to cook varieties of cusine that no other chefs could do. I call a rematch!!! The young woman (Simmons) always say good things about Susur but always gives him the lower score. We should have different judges for the next season!
While I did not understand some of Marcus' food, I'm sure the judges did and that's why he won.I really thought Susur or Rick would win.The look of their food seemed spot on .But needless to say, these are all winners to me.And the life stories , especia;lly Susurs and Marcus's made us see them as real life men and not just robots.
We missed you. It was not the same. The 3 of you are such a nice team. Please return next season w/ Jay and James. A great series, wonderful competition, fascinating personalities.
My favorite was J. Waxman (but voted out in semis) I just love his style and choice of food!
I too was surprised! Congrats to Marcus!
I did think Susur was the clear winner through out the entire series. He cooks with such intensity. You can just tell it in his eyes the focus and determination.
Loved Rick's humor and passion and actually thought Rick might pull off an upset over Susur. (But Marcus did that)
Great series though.
Wow, I bet you were sorry not to have been at this last judging. The food looked outstanding! Congratulatins, Marcus, you outdid yourself!
I agree that Susur and Rick Moonen excelled throughout the competition and one of them should have won. Even though, I understand the process of Top Chef and Top Chef Masters is not cumulative... In other words, each challenge stands on its own and, in the finale, Marcus was apparently the better chef... Just on that day... So gotta give Marcus his props.
I was disappointed by the result. If not Susur , Rick should have won. I feel the only reason Marcus won because they didn't want to insult African cuisine. None of the judges at least what appeared on TV seemed to like his last dish and all of a sudden he gets 5 stars?
It seems that I was the only one who thought Marcus was going to win. I've seen his tv shows and knew he had seriuos talent . I did enjoy Susur Lee he was awesome.
We were expecting Susur or Rick to make it but were surprised Marcus won. I was initially upset that Rick (Just loved this guy) did not win but then realised that this competition was too close to call easily.
Susur was a master in the fusion of Oriental and Western cooking. He pulled complicated recipes with ease and accuracy that Rick correctly called him a "controller tornado". His high prowess in how the flavors mingle makes him a true master.
Rick was the jolly guy I rooted for all the time. Had a tear in my eye when he lost but this chef was as serious in his field as others. He was always in the middle to top rung in the previous competitions. Rick has this way of a combination of superb presentation and excellent taste to all his recipes and that is a mark of a master.
Marcus was a bit slow in the beginning or atleast appeared so. But if you look carefully, you will see that this chef is brilliant in a way that he can culminate tastes from all over the world and fuse it into a dish. This shows his vast knowledge in cooking, expertise in putting them together and the tenacity to showcase them in the contest. Maybe he really was the unseen master for us all. Hats of to him.
Missed Jonathan Waxman too. He was truly a jedi in terms of simplicity and stunning flavors.
If the final contest were held again, anybody can win. They were all good.
We watch Top Chef masters from southern India. Thank the Internet for that. Eagerly waiting for the next season.
And Rick, you should really really really make it for another season.
I'll be honest, ever since Marcus gave Monica Pope that little aside after she lost about how being a good sport and helpful to your teammates will always cost you, I've lost respect for him.
That said, the man cooked three plates and was judged best. End of story.
Either Susur or Rick should have won. Congrats to Marcus, but it seemed suspicious when the judges initially did not like his 3rd dish...until he used the that's-how-my-culture-is card, and then the next thing I'm seeing is that it's a 5 star dish. Pretty lame.
I am finally starting to understand Bravo's reality shows. The one who should win, the one who consistently wins week after week, NEVER wins the final challenge. I guess they think it makes the show exciting, since when we think we know the winner, we don't (although I think now I do know, it's always the underdog). So Okay, it was fun anyway watching these guys, I just hope the "losers" know that they are really winners in the viewers minds.
I was very disappointed in the result. For me it was clear that Susur should win. I've never used the expression before but he 'was robbed'. Ahh well, I have nothing but admiration for the cooking of all three - watching them cook was an honour.
Stop hatin on Marcus! were you watching the entire show? Marcus first two dishes were excellent and the ohter two chefs were very good (i like all three finalist) and as we all know each challenged is judged- it is NOT cummalitive OR an overall point competiton- so the best man won! Go Marcus
Your presence was sorely missed. I wish you could have participated. I would have enjoyed hearing your experienced opinions.
For me, the result is a head scratcher. Too much tuna DQ'd Susur? Poor texture on Marcus' last dish kept him in? Whiney Rick's flawed 2nd course still netted a "5" score from J.O.? Seriously, if the win was based on this last single meal, then the show can retitled, "Top Meal".
Marcus was lucky. Rick was unlucky. Susur was Rooked.
Dear All the recipes on this site miss vital ingredients of the show. THE CAVIAR is missing from Markus final recipe and Susur would not have used store bought Black Bean sauce helllllooooo who are you kidding!!!
Susur is the true Top Chef Master in my book. His passion, energy, creativity, diversity and honesty had me glued to the TV week after week. What an inspiration! I can't to try his restaurant.
Susur Lee should have won the competition simply because he's been cooking consistently great throughout the whole competition. He cut the tuna slightly thick and they made a big deal out of it. IT ONLY TAKES A BLIND PERSON TO SEE THAT THE SCORING WAS BIAS. no offence to Marcus fans, but he didn't do as well on an aggregate level as Rick or Susur did. If you view all of his dishes, they didn't have that precision and presentation that top dishes should have. I'm going to stop watching Top Chef k bye.
Epicurean Food Lover,
I eaten at some of the best Restaurants in the world The best food that I have ever eaten in my life anywhere would have to be at Susur's. The man is a Genius. When you have other Top Chef Masters saying what an honor it is just to be around this guy and watch him. "I have learned so much from this man",Waxman. "The man to beat is Susur",Moonen. I have to agree with some of the other posters, Susur got "screwed," sorry rooked. The question is Why???? Marcus is a good Chef but not even in the same league as Susur. I think the judges on Top Chef Masters need to find other jobs. The mark of an excellent chef is to create the best tasting food for your target audience. The judges agreed Marcus's last dish tasted like "s t" and called him on it. His excuse is he felt he should stick to the integrity and the originality of the dish even if it tastes bad or foreign. The judges need to find new jobs, sorry palettes.The mark of an excellent chef is to create a dish or experience the will WOW your target audience and send them to Nirvana. This is the meal of a lifetime. This is better than love sex,orgasms etc. You cook something that tastes bad and say this is the way we do it back home sorry!! Susur Lee is the real Top Chef Master.... Iron Chef Master etc. If you've never had a real orgasm than his food is the next best thing. Shame on you judges and Bravo. I think you done Susur,his fans and your audience a real injustice. I think they should have Susur back and give him, his just rewards. The show was fixed.Marcus wasn't even in the competition until the last show where he won both challenges for his charity and then suspiciously wins the last challenge and the title Top Chef Master. Something smells bad in TV land. Once you've eaten Susur's food you will go back again and again trust me. Some experiences you will want over and over again.
My wife and I are huge fans of the show, but were really let down on the finale; we swore like Susur when the winner was annouced, "We're pee'd off!".
We both predicted Susur the easy winner (nimble, agressive, visionary, focused, passionate), with Rick coming in a close second (super talented, creative, passionate) with Marcus a distant third (clumsy presentations, "edit your presentations" comments, and too much of this or that, muddled tastes, no focus, but clearly talented). So to see him just once do relatively well is worthy of praise but to take home the number 1 prize is just wrong. Even James questioned the odd tastes and the fish that just didn't work, but he got sucked into the response as though obliged to let questionable tastes and flavours to be trumped by a good story. I will remmeber that one next time I cook up an odd tasting dish, to be sure to state "you are not familiar with my cooking; it is SUPPOSED to taste that way"....
I think the poll says it all: Susur in 1st place, Rick in second and Marcus a distant third; wait, wasn't that what I predicted??
People get over it, Markus has earned his way to the winners circle he cooks food that you can feel not just cute food like Susur or Rick. Rick has fallen off his game on the past two challanges. I am glad a person with some soul finally won.
There seems to be a lot of hating on Marcus because of his heritage, color, background, or whatever else you guys can think of but his cuisine. It isn't merely African cuisine...but is mainly Swedish/Scandinavian with many other influences. Susur is an awesome chef and was a great competitor, and Rick, imho, was lucky to even be on the show. Marcus had his ups and downs like every other contestant, but pulled out a brilliant performance in the end. Maybe what many experts say about American palates is correct...it can only taste salt, fat, and sugar because when something that is totally different from what we are used to is presented, we dismiss it as "muddled" or "strange" and then attribute its acceptance by a panel of renowned chefs to that of a "sob story." Come on people, you can like something non-American without being unpatriotic. Open you minds, and your palates, and lets do a little better than merely resorting to cloaked prejudice.
Hands down, Susur is my favorite. For a thousand reasons and then some - a near perfect 19.5 stars, his dessert spread at the wedding wars including the carrot cake (without a recipe) and the croquembouche, his passion, his style and his ninja like precision. His handling of the Simpsons challenge and the Greek Gods challenge when he did not know the background/context was near flawless.
OK I am gushing. But that is not all. Recently, I traveled to Toronto (I live in Virginia) to sample his fare at LEE. Amazing, tantalizing and so satisfying. I recommend the Singapore Slaw with Salmon Sashimi. It is to die for.
And I had the privilege of meeting Susur - he is so amenable and down to earth and warm and welcoming. I beamed ear to ear as my husband took a picture. You are the best, Susur Lee. And this is what I have to say to you. Some chefs want the title and some need it - You, on the other hand, are above and beyond it.
i think all three chefs are great,but getting to the end i fink marcus stood out and he truly deserves it.Congrats Marcus.I ope people remember he won the challenge before the finale.
Unbelievably biased voting in the end resulted in Marcus winning. The judges should really get together and vote again if want to maintain the credibility of the show.
They were well picking flaws in Marcus' dish but when it came down to rating him, they were all throwing 4.5 and 5 stars at him as if avoid being criticized for not liking his African dish.
Susur was amazing too but everyone was clearly blown away by all of Rick's dishes and yet the guy somehow didn't win. Rick was the one guy that really pulled out all the stops in the finale. Two of the judges had to give him a mere 4 stars to rob the guy off his title.
I would have been happy if either Susur or Rick won.