Many cultures have a soul food tradition; they just don’t call it that. In France it’s the Cuisine de Grand’Mere (literally, grandma’s cooking). In Italy, they intone the name of Nona (grandma, all over again). Whatever the name it refers to food with a domestic pull and, most importantly, the visceral reach of childhood: an armed assault on the immature vascular system, by love, saturated fats and carbs. There is, however a difference between what goes on in Europe and what goes on in the US. In France and Italy there is a direct line between those homely, domestic dishes and the product of the most ambitious, gastronomic kitchens. So serious French chefs do riffs on cassoulet, pot au feu and the venerable daube. Likewise, every Michelin three star Italian restaurant will have on its menu great reworkings of classic pasta dishes.
For decades in the US the same was not true. Soul food was soul food and you didn’t screw with it; didn’t try to gussy it up or try to make it fancy. If an ambitious American chef wanted to get all haute they too headed for the comforting shores of the French or Italian. Only in very recent years have serious US restaurants started to work up riffs on milk fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, grits and lobster rolls and gumbos. And even then, with a wry and ironic nudge to the ribs.
So getting five big beasts of the kitchen – and I include wonderful Carmen in that title, even though she could win a limbo competition without bending her body – to cook soul food was always going to be interesting. On the one hand this is a cooking competition. On the other, as Marcus put it, ‘you don’t want to compete with grandma’. No, indeed, you don’t. Cos grandma can get awful cross. Which may explain why David Burke did so poorly: personally I liked his egg, with its crab, bacon and corn topping, more than the others. (It had shards of crisp bacon in it. What’s not to like?) But he appeared to have pirouetted too far away from the mother lode.
I couldn't agree more, Jay, that Monica deserves such kudos. She is soulful indeed! Bravo should bring her back in some capacity.
You are so funny! "Carmen could limbo without bending her body." LOL!!! Seriously, wasn't her food left out overnight? Wouldn't that make it dangerous to eat? Eeeewwww. How could she win without a major component (the yucca mash)?
At the critics table, you all praised each chef. However, the scores given were so stingy. There was a serious disconnect there. So far this season, the chefs seem less professional and knowledgeable about the food (Thierry had never made a grilled cheese sandwich). Other than you clever repartee, so far, this season is disappointing.
Jay - I'm so excited to have Masters back on this season! I really felt for Monica in the end because I agree, she might have let her own dish suffer in her efforts to help Carmen, but what a generous spirit! I'm in Dallas and can't wait until my next trip to Houston to visit Monica's place!
Was there NO concern about Carmen's oyster stew that appeared to have been left unrefrigerated overnight? Wow! All the hair touching on the regular Top Chef is disgusting enough, but to see this in a Top Chef Masters episode was very disturbing. It's not just the 125+ people at the party that could have gotten food poisoning - but all the viewers that might get the idea that they can safely eat food that has been left out all night! Shame on Bravo and Top Chef!
watching the edited version may it appear that the winning dish containing sausage was left out on the shelf for overnight. I hope everyone survived the likely GI assault the next day from consuming unrefrigerated meat stew!!!
I have a question regarding the stew Carmen made for the elimination challenge. The episode showed the covered tray left on the shelf overnight . Unless the shelf was in a walk-in refrigerator, the ingredients were at room temperature for many, many hours. It was unsafe to eat. No mention was made of this. Am I missing something?
i didn't like marcus's attitude and the whispering he did in monica's ear after he won. bad form. poor sport even though he won. something about learning a "lesson"
So far this season, I find the show drifting off course. The chefs seem random and unmasterly in their field. Thierry had never made a grilled cheese sandwich. Carmen forgot her food. Marcus lacked compassion and good humor. Yikes!
The only thing left to savor, is your clever wit. I love the banter between you and James. You usually get the better of him. 'Loved the "Carmen could limbo without bending her body..." LOL!! Thank you for that! Plese, sir. I want some more.
I can not believe that the winner of this chalange left her food out overnight. I work in a kitchen and would never serve anything that sat on a shelf overnight. Very disappointed in you and the rest of the judges.
Am I the only one who was grossed out that Carmen ran back to the Top Chef Kitchen pick up and then go on to serve food that was sitting out all night? I can only hope that the production assistants actually caught her error , refrigerated it and then set up the pick yp scene the next day. I'm not a professionally trained chef but I wouldn't serve anything that sat out all night which should have required refrigeration.
Yes - I am also very curious and concerned about the tray of food Carmen went back to the kitchen to pick up. Logic tells me there had to be a lot more of it made for a party than one tray, but life is not always logical. I am also reminded of Tim Love's experience in the TCM season one when he put his produce in a freezer. The production team had video of that, and they didn't rescue his produce from the deep freeze. Because of that, I'd be amazed if anyone would have moved Carmen's item into a fridge. I'd love to more about what happened.
I was disappointed that Carmen is moving on to the next round. Clearly, Monica should be in her place. Never on any of the Top Chef challenges has a Chef been able to return to the Kitchen if he or she forgot something once the time has ended. It is disgusting that Carmen was able to serve her food that was left out...wonder how many party guests suffered from stomach problems... Furthermore, Carmen only served 1/2 of what what listed on her description. DISQUALIFICATION is what should have happened....oooh and did you happen to notice when Carmen took the wrapping off the cheese...she got BLOOD on it??! I feel that in this episode a HUGE error was made. Please remove Carmen and replace her with the True winner...Monica..not only was her food beautifully executed..she was the only Chef who stepped in to help a fellow chef and in turn caused her to fall short of winning.
I agree Carmen won with store bought sausage ! Top Chef Masters is not about a store bought incredient , this was the issue with Art Smith last year when he had store bought rice milk ice cream as a ingrediant thus his down fall last season.
As long as the UNPROFESSIONAL dale is not invited back. He has no respect for anyone and I would never eat his negative energy'd food!
Carmen's food was not left out overnight. I had first thought the same thing but if you watch the video closely you'll see as all the chef's are leaving the kitchen some are dragging coolers and if you take close notice Monica is in the outfit she wears to the birthday event. The audio might have been about the elimination challenge for the next day but the video was of the actual "next day". Honestly, do you really think Bravo would have let her serve something that had been cooked and left out overnight. Food poisoning is not something they would want to be associated with.