Canyon Cuisine

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?

Canyon Cuisine

Curtis Stone explains why Takashi Yagihashi and Thierry Rautureau's dish was tops.

I always find it tough to describe one of those once-in-a-lifetime meals. Everything just resonates on a higher level. The food is amazing, of course. But it’s the spirit of the meal, played out in all five senses that collides to make for a truly extraordinary—and indescribable!—experience. I had one of those meals on this week’s episode. 

But before we get into that, another legendary experience—having the B52s Kate Pierson and Fred Schneider as guest judges in the salad bar Quickfire Challenge. Being veggies, these two had high standards for a satisfying salad. What our chefs pulled together in just eight minutes was truly amazing. Lorena took a huge risk firing up the grill, but her smoky Grilled Cauliflower with Lemon Vinaigrette elevated the salad bar to a whole new level.

One word our chefs used over and over during the Elimination Challenge was “honored.” It’s easy to understand why. Flying in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon, you’re struck by the vastness of this breathtaking ancient land. It’s awesome in the true sense of that word. The Hualapai Tribe has such a gorgeous relationship with the land, seeing it not only as something of great beauty but as the source of materials they need for food, medicine and crafts. To have the chance to break bread with them on the reservation on the edge of the Grand Canyon was truly a privilege.I’ve cooked for indigenous people in the past. Whether it was for the Australian Aboriginals or the Berbers in North Africa, the key part is to be sensitive to the culture. Our chefs did an amazing job with this, using the foods of the Hualapai Tribe in creative, vibrant, and respectful ways that celebrated their cuisine. Patricia and Chris were superstars on this front. The Rabbit and It’s Bits, Acorn Squash & Agrodolce was a culinary feat that also showed reverence for the food. Takashi and Thierry, though, really captured the essence of the challenge by working together to create a dish that wowed both the critics and the Hualapai. Every part of the Grilled Venison and Banana Yucca Cake with Figs worked so seamlessly with every other part. Thierry played magician, making a truly magnificent cake out of an ingredient that he’d never so much as seen. And while it would have perhaps been too bitter on its own, it was a perfect complement to the rich complexity of Takashi’s venison. 

Not every plate worked so nicely together. Clark and Kerry’s Spiced Beef Filet & Corn with Sage Pistou & Chili Ragout felt like it was put together by two chefs that hadn’t communicated with each other. The textures were too similar, and Clark’s corn simply too bland. I felt for Clark. He had to play it down to try and balance Kerry’s bold flavoring.  But in the end, his dish was lacking. Best of luck back in Maine, Clark!