Cast Blog: #TCMASTERS

Food and Whine

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?

Food and Whine

Krista Simmons puts the Grand Canyon challenge into perspective.

Working as a food writer is one of the most indulgent jobs in the world, but I have to admit that on the days that I'm working 14 hours trying to balance multiple deadlines, sometimes I just want to throw in my bib and be done with it. There are moments when I despise the fact that I've become so hyper-analytical about something as pleasurable and joyful as food. When it comes to the big picture, the things critics split hairs over are so incredibly trivial: we quibble over minutiae such as salt levels, doneness, and the uniformity of knife cuts, many of us without the faintest notion of the sheer man power it takes to get that meal on the plate.

Though this episode had many highlights (Flying in fancy helicopters! Chris busting apart a grill like the Incredible Hulk! Chefs sneering at Art and Lorena's verbose dish explanations! And umm, duh, the B-52s!), my favorite moment was when the the judges' questioned one of the tribesman about what he thought of the dishes.

“We've lived by the chase for so many years, and we never thought about things like seasoning. What is really legendary is the commentary of these critics,” he replied with a slight twinge of snark. 
The judges laughed, acknowledging how silly their criticism must have seemed. There they were, over looking the Grand Canyon with the most spectacularly unique opportunity in the world basically being forced to find the negative.

Sure, I could whine about how I didn't get to take a helicopter ride over the West Rim, or how I didn't get to participate in what appeared to be the most epic long-table meals of all time. But what really bums me out is that I couldn't be there to experience that unique connection to our country's past and our culinary history.

I am so proud of the Masters for making such a thoughtful effort to honor the traditions of the land and the people through their dishes. I hope I can continue to approach my culinary reporting with the same intention — even on those dreaded 14-hour days.