This week's episode of Top Chef Masters was the most intense, the saddest, the most gut-wrenching of any I've watched, through any season. What happened to the chefs this week is something something that happens to everyone: things don't do quite what you want them to do, people don't behave in the ways you expected them to, everything is just off. From start to finish of this episode — both filming it in Las Vegas a few months ago, and watching it here in New York last night — I could feel tension in the air, that sense that anything that could possibly go wrong would.
But watching a room full of professionals dealing with as so many things went awry was, in a strange way, gratifying. For all the overloaded burners, the poorly-timed duck, the high tempers, it still all came together: the restaurant opened, the meal went on. The chefs composed themselves and faced the cameras. Still, the emotional tenor — then and now — left me speechless. Then, I could sense that the energy was amiss — now, having learned all the background details, I'm doubly impressed by the professionalism on display at the critics' table. No one sold anyone out. Patricia didn't get snarky on Kerry. Lorena didn't get snarky on Patricia (well, not reaaally snarky, anyway). It's a powerful lesson.
I was disappointed in the judging this week, which I seldom am. I felt that Kerry deserved to win based on the judges' appreciatiion of the dish and on the endorsement of the Thai chef. Kerry, I've noticed, has been working very hard for a win and was visibly deflated when he lost this one, too.
While I am not necessarily a devotee of Lorena, I was actually angry with Patricia over her behavior. On past Top Chefs programs, I have always been impressed by the respect shown by one chef for the others. No matter how frazzled, they drew the line at open criticisms and arguments. I felt that Patricia was way out of line and wrong to lose her temper over something so small.
Please try sitting on your hands while you deliver your critique. Your wild gestures are reminiscent of old fright movies, and they actually distract from what you are saying. As you grapple for the right word to use and clutch your fingers in front of you, it's become a signature -- and not a good one -- of your delivery. PLEASE! It is bothersome and is a topic of irritation on message boards all over the web.
I felt the same sense of unease as this episode unfolded. This almost felt like a regular Top Chef rather than a Master's competition. I think what sets the Masters apart, in general, is their sense of composure, camaraderie and total professionalism. I have never been to Las Vegas, but I seriously love Thai food as well. If I ever make it there, I definitely want to visit Saipin's restaurant.
Thank you for the descriptions of the flavors. A TV viewer can see the dishes and hear the spliced and edited judges critiques but sometimes we're left wondering why the judges didn't like the dish. I'm still confused as to why Chris won when even the Thai lady said Kerry's dish was the most authentic and she really enjoyed it. Describing the flavors and textures makes us say, "Oh...that explains a lot."