Each week, I try to pull some life lesson from Top Chef Masters, but this week, I was stumped. Looking through my notes, I kept coming back to one thing: Curtis cooking for the two remaining chefs, talking about how difficult it is to have critics judging your food week in and week out, especially since none of them had gone to culinary school. (I'll have you know that I did go to culinary school, but that's not the point.) What he said was true, especially of this episode. Here were these two incredibly talented Masters writing very personal letters and translating them into a tremendous meal, and we had to find some flaw in it all in order to declare a winner. It really is messed up.
So I decided as my last recap, I'd write my own letters, just like the chefs did for their final challenge. For the sake of space and your sanity I'll keep them short but sweet, just like the experience of making this season of Masters was for me. (Can you believe all of that happens in less than a month?!?) Anyhow, here goes:
When people ask what was the singular dish I connected with this season, I just keep coming back to you. I can say with confidence that you are the one. I'd judged your kind before, Tripe, but you opened me up and made be believe in an oft-forgotten protein. I know now that there's nothing awful about offal, and it's all because of you. I loved you in a way that I never thought possible. (You are a cow's stomach lining, after all.) Your tenderness, spice, and comforting tomato ragu were a warm embrace for a lost soul, and I hope our paths cross again. Perhaps someday we'll meet at Chris' restaurant, Incanto? I've heard you show up there form time to time.
SWAK (yeah, I just said that),
I am so immensely sorry that we couldn't deem both of you winners of Top Chef Masters. Your cooking has such finesse and soul, and that's reflective of your character. I truly respect your work, and admire the fact that you tried to bring back Alex Reznick's famous pea puree in the form of a flan. Honestly though, I really am looking forward to dining at your restaurant in New York.
All the best to you and your family,
Thank You Note
To all of the Masters,
I want to sincerely thank you for putting your careers, families, and most importantly your souls on the line to come out and cook not just for me, but for charity. I learned a lot about myself throughout this process -- like why eating poolside with half-naked Playboy bunnies is bad for your self-esteem, or why you shouldn't refer to Sriracha as “cock sauce” when taping for a major network -- and I hope you did too. Keep on cookin'!
Letter to Myself
I am so incredibly proud of you for forming a few coherent words during the finale. Seriously, when I think about the talent at that dinner table, I still get heart palpitations. I have to admit that I'm a little upset that you took Chris' beef heart and foie gras tartare for granted, though. A year and a half later, you aren't allowed to eat the stuff in California. Anyways, props to you for not getting gout and not passing out when you first met Curtis. Keep growing, and keep eating. (Just don't do it around the Playboy bunnies.)