Cast Blog: #TCMASTERS

Carte Blanche

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?

Carte Blanche

Kerry and Lorena winning the Quickfire, Patricia going home -- what does it all mean?!

Bienvenue sur mon blog! (Shout-out to Kerry!)

Let's put last week's episode behind us -- as entertaining as it was, Lorena and Patricia's drama left a bad tatse in my mouth, and I'd rather forget that Takashi -- the cutest guy in the world -- went home. So, it's fitting that this week's episode is all white. A blank slate if you will. But before we get to that, let's get in to the Quickfire Challenge. 

Did this week's Quickfire give anyone else a case of the Full Houses? I'm talking of course about this week's challenge where we sort of cruelly split the chefs into groups of two, put a line down the center of the kitchen, and only let one chef near the burners.

Patricia and Chris miraculously select each other, which left Kerry and Lorena as partners. Even though there hasn't been a real rift between these two, it has seemed a bit tense. And if there wasn't a rift before, there very well might be now. See, Chris -- who makes a duck dish -- and Patricia -- who makes one with tuna, work together splendidly. Even Lorena calls their collaboration "like heaven." Well then, we don't want ot know how she'd describe her own, so we'll just call it, um, difficult. Lorena needs to use the burners to make her salmon the same time Kerry needs them for his shrimp, so Kerry cooks Lorena's first, causing her to worry that it will be ruined by the time her dish is judged. Lorena says that she can handle multiple dishes on a burner at the same time, which makes me wonder why she didn't man the burners in the first place. I actually wonder if Kerry would have objected to that. Kerry does say "I'm in it every day for me."The fat on Chris' duck seemed to be the biggest problem for his and Patricia's team, and although he made it seem like Curtis and the guest judge just didn't like duck fat, it really didn't look rendered enough for my liking either. 

Kerry and Lorena nab the win. Sooo, since I learn everything from Top Chef and Top Chef Masters, I'm searching for a lesson in Kerry and Lorena's win. Not listening to your partner gets you a win? Bookies love pasta? Who knows! It was in fact Kerry's dish that won it for their team because when our Eugene Levy doppelganger guest judge announced the win, he literally sid "Kerry and Patricia pasta." Hey, there was salmon there too! To be fair, if Lorena is very particular about her rice, perhaps she shouldn't' have attempted to make it. Kerry is thrilled about his win, somehow channeling an elderly Jewish woman, with the line "Mr. Heffanan, hitting his stride late in the game." Me thinks he's seen Crossing Delancey one too many times. (If you've never seen it, do!)

On to the Elimination Challenge, where the chefs would participate in a Diner en Blanc. I'd actually never heard of the tradition before, but after a bit of research, I learned it's quite popular and seems like fun! So basically, it's a high-end picnic, sans sandwiches. Joey Tribbiani would not be into a Diner en Blanc. The chefs are psyched -- Chris is ready for whatever "art project" this is, and Lorena Garcia thinks she's the one to beat. Just ask her. She said it. On the third person. Lorena, we've talked bout this. (Also, does :orena kinda look like Celine Dion? I just noticed that this week, but can't tell if I'm crazy or not. I'm sure you'll let me know in the Comments below.)

The biggest hurdle in this challenge, besides the large number of people they have to cook for, is that the food must stay overnight in takeaway boxes. I say "takeaway" and not "doggy bag" or "leftover," because I miss London and that's what they call leftovers there. If you've ever refrigerated your food leftovers for a night and looked at them again in the morning, then you have some understanding of what the chefs are dealing with. But even with these limitations, the chefs rise to the challenge. Antoher thing to remember is that it is effing hot out there -- Las Vegas in summer hot -- and the meal is being served outside, so there's that. I probably would've put some Coronas in a box and called it a day. But that's just me.Before they serve, Patricia gets in one more jab at Lorena, saying she has a "bigger depth of knowledge and a bigger range in which to choose from." Eek! But then again maybe Patricia's just cranky -- since she'd apparently rather be ziplining, which you can watch her do HERE! We see the entire event get set up, all the diners brining their own tables, chairs, etc. Seems like a lot of work to me, but then again, I'm lazy. We meet the two founders of these dinners, and I might have a little crush on the Aymeric Pasquier. He's so perfectly groomed! But then again, i'm super-lazy. Lorena serves first with her chicken salad, potatoes, and jalapeno chocolate mousse. She wanted to mix it up by having a sweet main and a spicy dessert. I just bought a boatload of Jacquest Torres' wicked hot chocolate mix, so I'm all about a little spice in my chocolate. Ruth thinks maybe Lorena's dish was a little too sweet. Her potatoes were great, but the mousse's consistency changed overnight. Aymeric suggests adding cheese to it and Curtis gives him Curtis' kind of side-eye, where he's not really, but I imagine that in his head he's just thinking "Bitch, please."

Next we have Patricia, who came up with a pretty interesting inspiration for her dish -- Marco Polo's Silk Road route. Apparently the concept was great -- it was! -- but it wasn't executed well enough. Patricia bemoans the time difference between creation and serving, but everyone had the same time constraints. If your food would taste better hot, than make something else!

Now let's take out a moment to comment on the jester attacking all he women in sight. No means no, dude!

Chris' dishes were met with a warm reception, especially his pate. He was worried about it drying out, but it was perfect. Finally, we had Kerry's dish. Poor Kerry couldn't get any of the diners to respond to his Frenchifying everything -- until he got to the judges. Kerry starts with a cold soup which I would say was definitely a risk. He followed that up with an orzo salad -- I love an orzo salad. If you're looking for something quick, Whole Foods has a good one in their prepared food section. Even Robin Leach says his food was "primo for a picnic," which makes him a winner in my book.

And so we come to Critics' Table. We find out that Lorena didn't taste her food today. Yikes! Kerry says Chris and Patricia have been amazing helping him. Burn! Chris and Kerry end up on top, and Chris eventually gets the win. And as the chefs await their fate, Patricia says "I think of it as the better person will stay in the competition." Well, Lorena stayed. So what does that mean?! Probably nothing. Patricia will be just fine. And now Lorena has made it to the final three against Kery and Chris. Mazel tov, Lorena! I, for one, can't wait to see who makes it to the finale.

Until next week, Have a Nosh! We'll be off drinking with that random Diner en Blance dad whose son said "My dad really liked the wine… as usual."

 

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

Bryan compares his Top Chef Masters finale to his Top Chef Season 6 finale.

Bravotv.com: How are you feeling going into the finale? Tired? Reinvigorated?
Bryan Voltaggio: Certainly not tired. This is something we do every day, day in and day out, cooking. Going into the finale, I am feeling excited and nervous -- I want to do a great job and win.

Bravotv.com: What went through your mind when you found out Graeme won the last Battle of the Sous Chefs?
BV: I was very excited for Graeme because he finally had an opportunity to shine and he brought it all to the table. I felt a great sense of redemption for him because he got to win a challenge when it counted the most. I strongly believe that Graeme helped us get all the way tothe end-- he clinched it to get us to the finale.

Bravotv.com: Can you elaborate on your menu planning? How did you decide which dish will go for which course?
BV: When it comes to the menu, and what I learned the first go round on Top Chef, you need to cook what you know. There are time limitations, surprises (planned and unplanned), so you need to do what you can to troubleshoot and get good results on the plate. You can't bring anything to the challenge that you've never done before. I go back to dishes we've created at VOLT, things that Graeme and I both know, things that I don't even have to speak to Graeme about.

Bravotv.com: You had a little over 20 minutes less than you thought you would have to prep because of traffic. How nervous were you that you wouldn't get it done?
BV: Traffic was a big factor, but I knew the food, I knew the menu, and I knew I could get it all done. It was worth going to get the extra ingredients (the proteins), and it was worth it in the end.

Bravotv.com: How do you feel each dish turned out? Was there anything you would have done differently?
BV: I was very proud of every plate I put forward. I thought that every dish was done flawlessly, and I achieved every goal I set out for.

Bravotv.com: What made you include an element from Michael's repertoire in your dish (the seaweed mashed potatoes)?
BV: I wanted to put out some sort of element that represented Michael because he's not only family, but I also respect him very much as a chef.

Bravotv.com: As the judges critiqued your food at Critics' Table, what did you think?
BV: I thought that I had nothing but positive comments -- there wasn't anything glaring that made me feel like I misstepped. I felt really good after Critics' Table.Bravotv.com: After the heavy comment about your beef dish? Did you think you won?
BV: Yes, I thought I won. I know I won.

Bravotv.com: What went through your mind once the critics told Doug he won? How did it differ from when Michael won?
BV: I thought for sure they were going to call my name because I felt confident about my food. Maybe they saw something in Doug's dishes that put it over the top. Compared to when Michael won, it wasn't a proud moment for me because I wasn't playing and rooting for both myself and my brother. I really wanted to win the money for my charity and it was an opportunity for redemption. If anything, I owed it to Michael to win because I wanted to compete again and go for the win.

Bravotv.com: You are on a roll in our Viewers' Choice. Anything you'd like to say to your fans?
BV: I appreciate all the support, and the fans need to know that their efforts will go to feed many hungry children across the country. I encourage everyone to continue to reach out and support Share Our Strength.

Bravotv.com: How's your relationship now with the other contestants?
BV: My relationship with everyone is great. We all got along, and I felt respected amongst the group. At first, they were nervous when I came in because I had competed before. That just goes to show that it was a tough competition, and we're all good at what we do. I still communicate with everyone from the group -- mostly David Burke.

Bravotv.com: What was your favorite overall challenge?
BV: Favorite challenge was the last one. It is always best to cook the food you want to cook- that's where I've always put my best food forward.

Bravotv.com: What was the hardest part of the competition for you?
BV: Being away. There are always two sides to it -- one of the greatest things when you are in a competition, all your focus is on that and not on outside influences. It's a break from the day-to-day restaurant life, but the other reality is that you want to be back home with your family and at your restaurant.

Bravotv.com: Did anything funny happen behind the scenes that you can share?
BV: I had a lot of fun with the Face Juggler app behind the scenes. We were acting like children a lot of the times behind the scenes which kept the grueling schedule and challenges bearable.

Bravotv.com: Anything else you'd like to add?
BV: I want to thank Graeme for everything and helping me along this journey. He is a big player in how we got all the way to the end, and I appreciate all his hard work day in and day out at VOLT.