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It’s up to us critics to identify the extremes of what we eat during the Elimination Challenge — good and bad. As the cheftestants themselves realized when they judged themselves during the Quickfire, someone has to win, and someone has to lose. Even allowing for the conditions in which the food was prepared, the Red Team had a poor showing. Each course had something working against it. Celina made the bizarre choice of pairing her spanakopita with couscous; Floyd served a salad that may as well have been pre-bagged, and a steak that was simply boring.
But it was Alex who, alas, took the fall this week: he made not one but four dishes, not a single one of which hit the mark. His decision to take responsibility for so much of the menu was a commendable act as a team player, but he spread himself so thin that his food suffered as a result: the tapioca pudding was al dente, the breading on the turkey cutlet was hard, the seitan enchilada was flavorless, and that plate of soggy pasta was just plain crummy. Unfortunately, when it comes to the Critics’ Table, it’s not about good sportsmanship, or picking up the slack; it’s about how the food tastes.
I know — and the other critics know — that Alex can do better than he did on this episode. He’s a terrific cook, with a vast repertoire of dishes and techniques up his sleeve, and a deep and varied knowledge of different types of cooking. We’ve seen his skill before on the show: his masterful fricassee on Episode 1 set a high bar for all the other chefs to meet. But this week, Alex prioritized the group over himself, and he suffered for that. If Alex had poured his all into just one or two dishes and thrown his teammates under the (tour) bus, he might have still been standing at the end of the day. I think I can safely speak for the other critics when I say that he will be deeply missed.
Obviously the season is all done and recorded BUT this is ONE AWFUL Top Chef Masters with challenges after challenges with silly reality based challenges.
These are OK for maybe Top Chef with up and coming stars or even Food Network shows like Chopped and Next Foodnetwork Star, etc.
BUT these chefs are master chefs. Give them the best ingredients and the best work place. Let the audience see what they are made of and maybe tempt them to make reservation and eat at these chefs' restaurants.
Take Iron Chef for example. Yes they get a secret ingredient BUT then everything else is just supreme quality from pantry to cooking utensils to support staff. Let Top Chef Masters be that way too.
No matter how good a winner's dish is I am not going to eat at one of these chefs' restaurants that made food in 7 mins or in a RV! I am not going to spend a $100 per person meal at one of these chefs' restaurants based on the aforementioned kind of challenges and food made.
James, it seems you do everything but keep things in context. World class chefs in a fast food kitchen, cosmopolitan artists over a tour bus burner and your comments are anything but respectful of what it took to present their offering to you. Somewhat disheartening.
I getting frustrated with the gimmicky challenges. I don't think they are worthy of discerning the chef's culinary abilities.
James, I just want to express my admiration for your respectful critiques of the chef's. Your love for the chef's and the food comes through and I really appreciate it. I love that you are a critic on Top Chef Masters and learn much more about the challenges and outcomes from your blog. Thank you.
The Quickfire was a blast! Tom Colicchio's burst of culinary speed was a delight to watch in the All-Stars challenge, and several of these chefs looked like they could go toe-to-toe with him (uncooked, crudo dishes aside). The elimination was a bit more difficult, but I was so impressed with how the Black Team went at the challenge. They each took on a manageable number of dishes, cooked within their strengths, and added the fun of a cocktail to the mix. Their food even looked better tasting! That said, I have loved the thoughtful commentary of Chef Alex, and will miss him.