Cast Blog: #TCMASTERS

Diving into the Deep End

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?

Diving into the Deep End

Curtis Stone sympathizes with the plight of the vegetarian.

 

I recently ate with a group of people at Waterloo & City, one of my favorite meat-loving gastropubs in Los Angeles. My mouth was watering as I read through a menu boldly full of game meat terrines, sweetbreads, and smoked tongue. The vegetarian sitting across from me likely had a different reaction as she quietly navigated the menu and negotiated with the waiter over substitutions the chef could make that would still give her an amazing meal. 

These days it’s not unusual for any group of diners to include a vegetarian. What I hear over and over is that, even in the best restaurants and in the hands of the most amazing chefs, the veggie option feels like an afterthought. (Remember the Indigo Girls’ Amy Ray describing Thierry’s Fricassee of Vegetable Basquaise as the meatless side dish you’d get at a wedding?) 

So I loved that the Quickfire Challenge this week asked our chefs to consider the vegetarian option as seriously as the meat option. Kudos to Art, who hails from the meat-loving South for making a truly delicious and satisfying Mushroom and Wilted Arugula Pot Pie with a Parmesan Savory Crust. But it was Takashi’s Agedashi Tofu and Eggplant with a Veggie Somen Noodle Roll that showed off the complexity and potential of inspired vegetarian food. 

After last week’s spiritual journey to the Grand Canyon, you’d be forgiven for having a bit of whiplash as we jump right back into classic Vegas territory: the pool party, complete with bikinis, Bellinis, and Playmate Holly Madison. Holly wanted to throw a brunch party, which wasn’t much of a restriction for our chefs, as brunch can cover a range of savory and sweet dishes. Making them all canapés was more of a challenge, but restricting the use of garlic and onions was, for a chef, crippling. Art defied this last bit, but luckily his Turkey Burger with Garlic Chutney was so delicious, Holly couldn’t resist. The rule of thumb with pool party fare is, keep it simple and make it easy to eat. While Chris’ Watermelon and Tuna Bacon with Golden Tomatoes and Pistachios was masterful (I would have loved to have been at a dining room table dissecting the flavors), it was just too complex for a pool party. Kerry’s Chilled Red Pepper Coulis with Crab and Corn Fritter was more like it. Loads of flavor but simpler in scope and a snap to eat. Lorena’s Bunuelos with Fresh Berry Compote, White Chocolate and Condensed Vanilla Sauce were cooked to perfection, though. Slightly crispy on the outside, soft and custardy on the inside, they would make any brunch, anywhere, truly special. 

I was heartbroken to see Thierry go. He’s such an incredibly talented chef with a deep passion for food. His Croque Madame with Bechamel Sauce and Tomato Vodka Shooter was a great concept that came up short in execution. You’ll be missed, Thierry, but next time I’m in Seattle, I’ll see you at Rover’s or Luc.