Cast Blog: #TCMASTERS

My Lightbulb Moment

Best of the Best

Francis Lam: What's on the Menu?

Curtis Stone's Lemon Creams with Poached Cherries

Bryan Voltaggio: "I Thought I Won. I Know I Won."

Jennifer Jasinski Was a "Great Miracle"

Lesley Suter's 'Ratatouille' Moment

What it Takes to Be Top Chef Master

The Finale Countdown

Doug and Sang: Bad Romance?

Sang is Back!

David Burke Has Titanium Balls

See Ya, Suckers!

Why Jennifer Jasinski Didn't Go Home

James Oseland's Teacher Tribute

Gail: "I Still Can't Believe Sang was Eliminated"

The Strangest Episode of 'Top Chef Masters' Yet?

Lesley Suter: On Tongue, Flautadillas, and Birthday Cake

What Has Curtis Stone "Spewing"?

A Series of Unfortunate Culinary Events Leaves Blood on the Mat

Gail: "We Couldn't Excuse Neal"

Lesley Suter: Hey, Chefs, Why So Raw?

Pull it Together, Sang!

Francis Lam: I liked Sang's Fish

Curtis Stone in Nacho Libre

Gail Simmons: "Neil Went for Our Bellies"

The Evolution of Sue Zemanick

Curtis Stone: Throwing Curveballs

Ruth Reichl: "I'd Rather Be Training a Nation of Food Warriors"

When Plex Met Toodee

'Top Chef Masters' ' Toughest Critics Yet

Gail Simmons: No "Chef" in Lynn's Dish

Restaurant Wars: 'Getting' Busy

Francis: A New Kind of Locavorism

What Being a Chef Really Means

Ruth Reichl's Perfect Los Angeles Restaurant

Restaurant Wars' Controlled Chaos

Franklin Just Did Too Much

Curtis and Lindsay: A Perfect Pairing

Curtis Stone: This Episode Sends Hearts Racing

Franklin, Can You Hear Me?

My Lightbulb Moment

It involved a chicken, an egg, and a little science.

When it comes to molecular gastronomy‹or mad-scientist cuisine or postmodern
cooking or whatever you want to call the kind of kitchen magic people like Top Chef Masters competitor Wylie Dufresne are famous for, I’d always been a nonbeliever. Don’t get me wrong; I get the appeal: chefs want to push the boundaries of cooking by concocting fanciful edibles (“spherified” mashed carrots, for example) made with unorthodox tools (immersion blenders,
vaporizers), and diners are dazzled by their inventions. But paying serious cash for the privilege of eating such food had always struck me as silly. My idea of good eating is a well-crafted meal made with basic ingredients, like the dishes I learned from friends when I was living in Indonesia: crisp salads made from vegetables just gathered from the garden out back; vibrant curries seasoned with local spices.

Then Episode 2 happened. About two-thirds of the way into the show, I made a pretty big pronouncement and said, “Molecular gastronomy is profoundly not my thing.” Sure, I’d eaten Wylie’s food before, and I’d liked (though not necessarily loved) some of it. But the dishes he created for the “Lost Supper” episode — the chicken and the egg cooked in the immersion circulator the delectable mustard sauce — caused me to see the light. His cooking was far
more honest and direct than I’d expected it to be. I forgot instantly that it involved utensils that would be at home in a science lab. It was just soulful food made by an inquisitive chef. Wylie transformed those ingredients into something new and wonderful, not just for the cerebral
effect but for the sensory pleasure of the diner. I liked what the other chefs prepared for us that night: Suzanne Tracht’s satisfying “holiday” boar; Elizabeth Falkner’s yam-papaya pudding (yes, it looked like baby food, but so what? It tasted great); Graham Elliot Bowles’s knockout tuna niçoise. Still, for me, Wylie was the real winner. Was I disappointed that Gael, Jay, and the “Lost” judges didn’t agree? Sure, but at least I got to have my lightbulb moment.