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Well, what can I say about our poor chefs’ Quickfire Challenge? Let me tell you, it’s hard enough being in an unfamiliar kitchen, cooking under extreme time restraints and against the best chefs in the country. But cooking with an ingredient that you have never cooked with before, that potentially grosses you out or, in Suvir’s case, simply goes against your beliefs — this had to be one of the toughest Quickfires in Top Chef Masters history.
I thought I was in for an easy ride with this job. Apparently not. I had to eat all of these dishes! Now it’s not the first time I had eaten an insect. I’ve tried crickets before in Thailand and actually quite enjoyed it. I’ve even eaten a large worm (10 inches in length) with an Aboriginal elder in the middle of the Australian outback, so I felt quite well-prepared. Trust me, I was not.
I take my hat off to the chefs as some of the dishes were actually quite tasty like Hugh’s tempura fried crickets with sunchoke and carrot puree. However I can still remember the horrible texture of the hornworm and coconut soup and the scratchy legs on the soy crickets. Now, understand: this not a criticism; I was really impressed that our talented chefs rose to the occasion and, in most cases, put something edible on the table.
The Elimination Challenge was something I was really excited for. There is nothing better than raising money for your charity and here we really gave our chefs the ability to turn on the magic. I have to tell you as a chef, the first thing you do when you have a dinner like this is make a timeline. Some chefs will be meticulous about it and write it all down and others will just do it mentally. Simply put, you work out what you need to do to create the food in time for service and divide that into individual jobs, including how long each should take. That way, you give each component the right amount of attention, and you know how long it’ll take to get the whole meal done. So, if you have 10 jobs to complete before service and they take on average 30 minutes each, it will take you five hours to prepare for service.
As much as I like Chef Tio, I cannot understand how on earth you can justify sending home a chef who "played it safe" with a perfectly-cooked risotto instead of someone who "played it safe" & cooked a less-than-stellar chocolate pudding. Makes no sense whatsoever.
As for the Quickfire - blech. Can we please have challenges that are about food, and not about drama? That's getting really old - and this is only the third episode. I was very glad to see Suvir stand by his principles by refusing to kill any of the creatures.
The challenge was pretty funny to look at, I wouldn't want to eat those dishes though.
What was going on with that so called Peruvian cebiche? I'm Peruvian and we never make a cebiche with avocado, that sounds to me more Mexican than Peruvian. Like my avocados but never in cebiche.
Top Chef Masters each year. I am always amazed at what the chefs serve. Having said that, I will not be watching another year if bugs, worms etc will be served. A challenge does not have to be gross!
John's dish was underwhelming, but more so than the gritty chocolate pudding? I think the viewers could have used some editing to that effect because that wasn't the impression I got at all.
John took on what he felt was the "Risotto Course" and made the decision to keep it simple. Everyone acknowledged it was spot on. Celina, on the other hand, botched chocolate pudding. Excuse me...puddin.
I was glad to see you replace Tom & Padma this season because a) in general it's always good to shake things up once in a while, and b) I believe they were becoming very predictable, and began to favor characters and drama over actual culinary talent. Favoring Celina over John this week makes me wonder if anything has really changed. Still a very entertaining show...Peace!
I think bugs went to the brains of all the chefs this year. The chef you let go perfectly executed his dish and he was the one sent home because he played it SAFE!!!!!! At least it wasnt an embarrasing gritty pudding. John won some early events and now he is gone. GO FIGURE!!!!!
Those chefs that show consistently good food on this show should be the ones that win. Usually judges struggle with decisions towards the end of the competition when decisions are tougher but this last night was a no brainer. I dont have smellavision but I could tell from your reactions to Johns risotto you were really stretching to find something WRONG and did not. So your alternative was to say he played it SAFE.
You had a good front runner in John from the first show and for some reason decided to let him go.
Dont bother telling me it was because of his food and talents; obviously it was for TV. I am not interested in watching the rest of the competition when it no longer has to do with chefs abilities. Maybe you should have brought Tom and Padma to the judges tables after all.
as a topchef junkie, i cannot understand how the producers/writers/network has destroyed such a great Emmy-winning series...what a booorrringg and strange first 3 shows, hope it can only get better, but doesn't look promising, esp. after losing chef John; comments like "carnival freak show" and quickfire/challenges that are just weird, plus judges (and a host) that are seriously, i believe, not really qualified or invested in TopChef; should not have been put in those positions; yes of course i'd like to see tom & padma back, but a new mix can always be interesting (possibly), just hope this one gets better fast....meanwhile---watching reruns....sigh.....please fix it
oops scuse me forgot to say puddin'.........who really says that?? not in texas anyway, sorry i should say anyways
I also can't understand sending a chef home after perfectly cooking his selection and keeping a chef that under-performed their's. Let's make this about the food and not about the judges "concept". This group of judges seems to over-analyze each chef's performance rather than judging the preperation and presentation of their dish. Keeping individual chefs out of the discussion, the puddin course was not received well by the judges or the guests, yet another chef was dismissed because he didn't "Challenge" himself. I don't understand that at all!
So - a perfectly fine risotto is WORSE than a gritty chocolate "puddin' " or a ceviche with an overpowering pickle taste? REALLY? Come on - the dish was acceptable, properly cooked, and very edible, was it not? So why would Chef Currence be told to leave over Tio who, according to all of the critic-judges, had a bad tasting chocolate pudding? Poor choice. Yes, I know - we weren't there to taste the food. But when the show has all critics saying the risotto is GOOD, but the chocolate pudding is bad, and then you get rid of the chef who created the GOOD risotto? Bad form.
And just a quick note to JSThomasFL - Tom and Padma have never been a judge/host of Top Chef Masters - only on the regular season of Top Chef. So you wouldn't have seen them here anyway.
I don't get it. One makes a risotto with no errors and two others make bland gritty pudding and a pickled ceviche, yet the one with no cooking errors is tossed. Makes no sense. Bad judging.
My wife and I are huge fans of Top Chef and Top Chef masters, but last nights episode on cooking eating bugs was like a Fear Factor re run. I think the show should find another way to challenge the cooks other than using a grossout factor. Unfortunatley you have lost 2 viewers from this show-
You are the only one with any warmth on the show. You actually smile.
The judges are fussy and snobby. There should be more challenges that people, instead of these trying to hard people should judge.
let the chefs cook without insects and throwing curve balls like no running water...give me a break! I want to watch a cooking competion...not a Top Chef Masters Surviviour" show.. come back down to earth....one more episode like last nights and I will stop watching... (I have watched ever season of Top Chef, Top Chef Masters and the new Top Chef All Stars..)
Curtis - you are awesome! ...and to have legends like Ruth and James part of the team is fantastic.
The bug challenge was not my favorite (definitely had to fast-forward), but I still enjoy watching the Masters at work. It's great getting a glimpse into their actual personalities and how they work, think and interact with each other. Working out of their comfort zone is part of why they signed up (one would assume).
It's a fun show, with a ton of money going to many worthy charities. ...what's wrong with that?
Wow really?! People do eat this around the world. I didn't care to eat any of that bug food either and it was gross, but not enough to never watch the show again. Get over it and yourself.
Celena makes gritty bland pudding, Mary Sue makes ceviche tasting only of pickeled onions and John goes home for a risotto that was classic? No comprende judges! John....you got screwed and I'm sorry. I also admire your charity. Ending child hunger should be one of all of our goals to accomplish. Some really bad judgement this week.
I can not believe that unappealing chocolate pudding stayed instead of John's risotto. I have made both and not from a box either - perfect risotto is harder to achieve than good chocolate pudding. John may not have pushed himself outside of the box but come on if you can not make good chocolate pudding -whats up with that. Curtis love you has the host keep up the good work.
I have loved Top Chef Masters in the past. I'm not lovin this season's new format. I also agree that the wrong chef got the boot. On top of the pudding that wasn't good I don't belive that the chef challenged herself with that dish. Conversely, the risotto was cooked very well and is certainly a more challenging dish to make than pudding. I was shocked by this week's elimination. It made no sense! Theses judges need to follow Tom Collicchio's stance, "It's all about the food".
I thought this week was so much better than the first two weeks. I think Curtis and John have a point that the chef's are understanding the kitchen, the pantry and the tone of the challenges.
It was odd that John got sent home, I wonder if it was from the editing that made it perplexing.
I love that Curtis is the host, he is very warm and friendly and it helps me to understand better how challenging this really is from a chef's hosting point of view.
I have posted the last two weeks and have been appalled at the ways things have gone. I think this week was a lot better. Good job!
I love the show! My only question is, why is Celina still there still? John C deserves his place there. I was shocked and disappointed in the show. I'm so happy Hugh is back though
The worst tasting dish should be eliminated from competition, not the least innovative. Last night's decision was one of the worst, although I also disagreed with the first episode's elimination as well. Not sure what's up with these Top Chef Masters judges but they are really making me not want to watch, and it is hard to get me away from a Top Chef episode of any kind, no matter the series.
I don't like the format for these professional and well known chefs. You can see the fatigue in some of them already. During the round robin rounds, you really saw the chefs work at their best and cause less drama.
The bugs quickfire was quite fun. I was curious to see how the chefs would utilize the food that some people rely on. It made me realize these pro chefs aren't as well traveled as you would think.
As for the elimination of Chef Currence, all I can say is, "Huh?" I think Mary Sue Milliken is the black hammer of this season.
Top Chef & Top Chef Masters are my favourite shows. HOWEVER, this season is missing the mark. The beauty in Top Chef Masters to me was that the show was about the food, and not the tricks. Bugs are obviously for sensationalism. Your viewers are too smart for that, Top Chef Masters! Also, I felt that the past Masters had over a decade more experience than these chefs (not including tracy and a few others).Not to say that they're not good enough, but there's a problem when Top Chef contestants seem more skilled than the Masters contestants. The talent, most excitedly in season one, cannot be matched to what we're seeing here- and there was a genuine comradeship and passion for food illustrated only among chefs of that calibre. Think about the Season one finale and the talent displayed in dishes created by each Rick, Michael, and Hubert. These Season 3 chefs are obviously talented and experienced, but with the exception of a few, they don't seem like Masters compared with previous seasons. Sorry, I love the show and I hope you do better next time. Curtis, you're great- no complaints :). X
I was truly shocked at the judges' decision to eliminate John. The idea of chocolate pudding (I refuse to say "puddin", it bothered me every time she said it) and those Chinese-buffet style donuts seem extremely boring and "safe". From watching Top Chef for years I've learned that it takes certain skill to execute risotto, and with that said, John should have been given another chance to show more of what he could do, instead of Tio insisting on doing another dessert to prove she can, when she clearly can't. Bad move, TCM.
I can't believe you had them cook bugs.
We almost decided not to watch the season at all. I fast forwarded through that quickfire, but if there are bugs on there again I won't be watching. You might not care about just losing the two of us, but there are probably more out there who do not enjoy thinking about creepy crawly bugs.
Save the bugs for Zimmern. Let's stick with some form of animal, vegetable, starch. As for this season, it's missing the ingenuity, fun, and espirit de corps the first two seasons provided. The previous Masters were spunkier. This season? So far, blah. I've followed all versions of TC since the day one. But unless there's a turnaround quickly I'll be tuning out until the next season of TC. PS - safe risotto beats gritty puddin' every day of the week. Isn't it about the food?
I've got to comment on Naomi. Some chefs did not appreciate her assertiveness in the kitchen - helping to plan, organize, etc. If Naomi was a guy, the cooks would have had respect for the "guy in charge." That is so the way of the world. Naomi was wonderful - and made a great soup! Simple, granted, but a great, flavorful soup! From one assertive gal to another .. You go, Naomi! Granma
I generally love all things Top Chef, but I just can't do this season of Masters. While you're a great improvement over the previous host, Curtis, everything else is disappointing - the 'new' format that doesn't fit Masters, the mystifying elimination choices, the lack of Jay to balance out James, and the mostly boring/grating on-screen personalities of the chef's themselves (or, more likely, the editors' preference to highlight drama instead). I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to pass on the rest of the season.
Believe me, I am ALL FOR judging more harshly for "playing it safe". Nothing irks me more in Top Chef when chefs coast by , by making simple dishes that don't taste bad, while another chef reaches for greatness and falls short. But with that said, I don't understand this decision at all. Had the other two chefs attempted something great or with a high degree of difficulty, I would have liked the decision, even if the risotto tasted ok. But ceviche and pudding? These are also simple dishes, and more simple to execute than a simple, but perfectly executed risotto. Grainy pudding? That does not sound appealing at all. Very odd decision.
Curtis - so glad you are heading up TC Masters. I wish that you would list if any other chefs got money for their dishes. It would be interesting to see the ranking. I too like so many others feel strongly that Celina should have had to PHK. I didn't like it when the judges were saying that Suvir was in his comfort zone. The man is cooking from his heart. As Suvir said he is trying to introduce us to Indian flavors. Look at past TC - Fabio cooked Italian, Angelo - Asian, Marcel foams ... Many chefs cook from their heritage. I see nothing wrong with that. I also didn't like the complaint that Hugh made dessert for 2 and half hours. Hugh stepped up with Naomio and made service happen. Most chefs would have pulled a Jamie and tried to hide or acted like they were cooking as to avoid serving. How did those tables get set? The bug challenge was interesting. One of the chefs said that in some parts of the world eatting these bugs is like eating chicken. I am hooked on the show and have favorites. Thank you for your blog. OliveAnne FloridaFan
Making professional, accomplished chefs run around in response to "twists" is ridiculous. It's humiliating for them and a distraction from the food. TCM once was the more sophisticated older brother. Now it's a twin. The new blogger "judges" are terrible, unwatchable, and most importantly have no credibility. Just because they have a food blog, go out to eat a lot and write about their experiences does not in any way qualify them for criticism on the taste and presentation of a meal prepared by some of the country's most accomplished chefs. As we say in the media business, "your demographic is showing." A blatant attempt at pandering to the blogger community is going to lose you viewers and ruin the show. Is this really the best TCM can do? If so, I'm gone.
I'm sorry to post this on a blog about a previous show but I couldnt find a more suitable appropriate place to do it: I found tonight's show very poignant. I have been a chef for a while and I never understood when friends would ask me how I was able to maintain my figure while eating all I had to in a normal work day. I always took it for granted that snacking on whatever as long as it was in small doses was a normal way of life. However, in the last year, I've been (successfully) battling ovarian cancer. It took me out of the restaurant and parked me on the couch for months on end. Being 100-115 lb all my life, it was very hard when I gained 20 lb. I've only just been able to get back in to my old routine but, during my break, I've been battling the weight with calorie counting. Now, I'm really enjoying having my full buffet of snack privelages back without the guilt.
Why does this show change camera angles every 3 seconds? ....seriously. Stanley kubrick would be ashamed of this over editing of video footage.
I have to admit I totally sympathesize with Curtis Stone. I had my mouth covered the whole time watching them cook the bugs...and then, poor guy, eating them. Really pretty gross. In a lot of cultures it is completely normal to eat these insects and arachnids (like the scorpions), but for us Americans, not so much. When I was in culinary school it was cicada season the first year and all of my chef instructors just plucked them right off of the walls and challenged each other to make a dish out of the big, stupid insects. One of the prettiest was made by the pastry chef, chocolate cake with chocolate covered cicadas decorating it. I'll try just about anything, but I'll admit insects are something I haven't quite gotten over the stigma of. :-)