As a native Angeleno, I spend a lot of time in Las Vegas blowing off steam with girlfriends, cutting loose at pool parties, getting risky at the roulette tables, and indulging some of the unsung culinary gems on and off the Strip. Thankfully, the mayhem, excitement, and excess that make me love Sin City carries over into this season of Top Chef Masters.
As with most good shows, it all starts with a dynamic cast: You've got Clark and Mark, who are in a 26 year-strong relationship and co-own a restaurant, competing against each other for a title; Chris and Art, are already getting into intense power struggles in Episode 1; and second-time contestant Thierry is so hungry for a win that he's willing to clean out the fish counter just to slight his competition.
As a former showtracker of Masters, these dynamics are really exciting. The nature of the series in the past has sometimes shown that the chefs respect each other a little too much to make for high-tensity TV. But this season breaks that mold right off the bat. In addition to the power struggles, you have Missy slicing off her finger on a mandoline because she's digging so deep for a win. Regardless of the extreme severity of her injury, the girl still wanted to keep competing! Now that's hardcore. Pair that with Lorena's extremely stiff horchata and tequila shooters and Chris garnishing his dish with a hardened smoked pig's liver that resembled mine after a night of Vegas-style drinking, and you've got the recipe for success. And I'm not just saying that because I'm on the show.
Too bad Sue couldn't adapt. Interestingly, a work colleague and friend visited me on a trip to the U.S. from her native India. One of the cuisines she enjoyed on her visit was Mexican, because of the spices. She also liked Italian because of the hot pepper flakes on the table. BTW, she did ask to cook with me, since I had cooked with her in India. I made a spinach and feta cheese quiche. She liked it. She said it was bland, but that she knew it was supposed to be "bland,: so it was good. I think it's flavorful, although admittedly not spicy. Just a little view of a truly Indian palate...