Speaking as a viewer of the current Top Chef Masters I stopped feeling sorry for Susur Lee when I heard him belittling Carmen for being female on the Wedding Challenge and watched him harassing good-natured Tony. These kitchen dramas are hidden from us at the critic's table.
This week the iron ninja seemed almost vulnerable as he fumbled with the challenge of feeding 100 football fans at a USC tailgating party. Clearly he was thrown off balance. Tailgating? Football? This kitchen master who spent most of his life in Hong Kong and Toronto toppled into the culture gap.
Not that he seemed to lose confidence. Indeed all the survivors at this stage of Top Chef Masters Round 2 are definitely getting more competitive. Even Jonathan in his sleepy laidback mode exudes an air of confidence – boldly baiting the USC fans by professing an allegiance to Stanford.
Do I just imagine that the camaraderie of the first few challenges has faded? Could it be linked to the fact that one by one, the women chefs have been packing their knifes and going home? Am I being too feminist? Do you agree with me?
Anyway tonight we see Rick leaping in with his typical macho guy enthusiasm for sports. Tony seems to think pizza will win the tailgating crowd. Marcus seems subdued. He did not grow up in America either. Jonathan is his usual seemingly laid back old timer, admitting he will probably be rooting for the other team.