Vegas, Baby

Curtis Stone understands why the Blue Team took a chance with their ingredients.

I couldn’t be more excited to return to host the fourth season of Top Chef Masters in Sin City. What was once a strip of seedy casinos and girlie shows has blossomed into one of the most dynamic culinary spots in the world. With restaurants from such renowned chefs as José Andrés and Joël Robuchon, Vegas is a food lover’s playground. Good thing our 12 award-winning chefs are ready to play. It’s going to be an amazing season.

Anyone who has found himself hunched over a blackjack table for eight straight hours knows that Vegas has a way of rubbing off on you. From the first moment our chefs walked into the kitchen at The Cosmopolitan, you could see it too. Excited and a little over-the-top, they had the look of real players. 

They needed that competitive focus for the Quickfire. Combining two randomly chosen ingredients is tough. Some teams got lucky. Art and Lorena had a perfect combination of duck breast and peaches. Others weren’t so lucky. Clark and Debbie had an interesting duo of langoustines and quinoa. But Kudos to Chris and Patricia. They had to think across two stations to pull together their Beefalo de Gato Pescado, and they did it beautifully.

As often happens with Elimination Challenges, the buffet challenge started off pretty straightforward. But handicapping some with a 30-minute delay and switching up the team definitely put the pressure on. However it was telling them, after they had done their planning and shopping, what type of food they had to make really threw a wrench in the works.It’s so interesting to see one team of master chefs hedge its bets, while the other decided that even with innovation, certain key flavors can’t be missed when you’re trying to serve a particular culture’s food. The Red Team’s decision to send Art back for cilantro for their Mexican buffet turned out to be wise. Their food showed off the freshness of the cuisine. With the talent on the Blue Team, it’s understandable that they would bet on getting by. But without the vibrant layers of spice that’s characteristic of Indian food, their dishes were way too bland.

It’s so incredibly difficult to be the first chef to leave Top Chef Masters. All of these chefs are so skilled and experienced. Sue’s chicken had spice, which made it lively, but it was dry. As Ruth stressed, a typical yogurt marinade would have made that dish Indian and likely would have kept Sue in the game.

We were all so sorry to see Missy leave the competition. I was looking so forward to tasting her food. She’s an amazing chef, and I hope she’ll be back in a future season to battle for Top Chef Master.

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