Down for the Count

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?

Down for the Count

Curtis Stone steps out of the ring to assess the competition.

After two seasons hosting Top Chef Masters, I recognize this moment in the competition. The chefs are tired. They still have their competitive edge—that’s hard-wired into them, after all—but the strain starts to bubble up to the surface. The stress can look different for different chefs. Some start making bad choices. Others just get crabby. 

It’s pretty easy to see how this is playing out for Patricia, who has grown increasingly frustrated (and vocal) about Lorena. For Chris, it probably contributed to his loss in the Quickfire Challenge. It’s not easy to portion meat to an exact weight, in this case between 7.5 and 8.5 ounces. But with a little extra time and a bit more caution, I suspect Chris would have nailed it. It was great to see Kerry win a challenge. He’s been due for sure and what a great week for immunity. 

It was fantastic having Sugar Ray Leonard as our guest judge this week. An amazing fighter in the ring, he was super insightful about what it means to be a competitor in any profession. 

In the first round of the Elimination Challenge, we had two very different match-ups. Chris and Takashi, both amazing chefs, were still able to approach the battle with mutual respect. Chris needed an egg? Takashi gave him his. Takashi misfired the bacon count -- Chris handed over his extra piece. Anyone who thinks nice guys finish last should take note. Chris’ generosity didn’t handicap him. He won, purely on the merit of his beautifully rustic Cal-Mex Bacon and Eggs.Watching Patricia and Lorena was an entirely different show. First, the two work so differently. Lorena’s flare and flourish was so markedly different than Patricia’s cool-headed precision. Both ended up creating amazing food that reflected their style so clearly. Lorena’s winning Potato and Bacon Soup with Corn and Bacon Sofrito was luscious and sensual while Patricia’s Bacon, Leek and Tomato Salad was balanced and restrained. 

In the Championship Round, Lorena’s fire, speed, and risk-taking proved that she’s the dark horse in this competition. It took serious guts to bake a flourless chocolate cake in 20 minutes and even more never-say-die passion to make Caramelized Pineapple and Dulce de Leche Sauce as a backup. Chris’ Zabaione and Summer Fruit was exactly what a zabaione should be, a light and frothy custard that played perfectly with the sweetness of ripe fruit. But Lorena’s two beautifully rich desserts won out.

The Elimination Round was heartbreaking. However the votes fell, a truly talented chef was leaving the competition. Best of luck Takashi! I can’t wait to eat more of your Michelin-starred food the next time I’m in Chicago.