Cast Blog: #TCMASTERS

Mama Said Knock You Out

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?

Mama Said Knock You Out

Patricia Yeo was a little mean, huh?

Welcome back my little prize fighters. This recap is brought to you by the word "yuzu." What an episode, huh? I know I’ve probably written this in every recap I’ve written so far this season, but I think every episode is better than the last. This week’s episode started with a mise en place relay race -– my favorite of all the Quickfire Challenges. This time around the chefs had to crack eggs, shave cheese, and filet beef into perfect pieces weighing between 7.5 and 8.5 ounces. Lorena is particularly worried about this challenge, and I gotta say, I’m kinda worried for her. Chris, a possible frontrunner (at least in his mind), makes his filets too small and is immediately given the boot. As is Patricia. Takashi, the cutest man to ever grace this Earth, moves on. As does Kerry, leaving Lorena behind, but not disqualified. Kerry and Takashi move on to cook against each other with those mise en place ingredients. I watched this Quickfire Challenge hungry, which is always a mistake, and I have to say I wanted to dive into Takashi’s dish. I’m a sucker for a grilled vegetable, but Kerry was victorious! He dethroned the Immunity King! Kudos, Kerry.

With his win, he sat out the Elimination Challenge which was…

To compete in a head-to-head challenge. And not any head-to-head challenge but one in a boxing ring, judged by none other than Sugar Ray Leonard. I know I just said how cute Takashi is, but I have to mention how handsome Sugary Ray Leonard is.

LET'S GET READY TO SAUTEEEEE!The first challenge is Chris vs. Takashi. Am I the only one who wished 50 Cent and Justin Bieber were there to walk the chefs in? Probably. Back to the challenge. The ingredient? Bacon! Everything is better with bacon. The two chefs help each other throughout the challenge when the other struggles, and I wonder if I would have done the same. I’d love to say yes, but who knows. In the end, Chris’ play on a Mexican breakfast wins over Takashi's dish. Chris will compete for the challenge win, leaving Takashi to cook again to just stay in the competition.

Next up is Lorena vs. Patricia. Patricia has made some pretty harsh comments this episode. While there were tense moments the last few episodes between these two, Patricia flat out questioned Lorena’s palate and knife skills -- them’s fightin’ words, and I kinda thought they were low blows. These two are just like oil and water -- I don’t think they'll be opening up a restaurant together any time soon. They too had to compete with bacon. And although Patricia finished first, even cleaning her station, Lorena won! This probably had to hurt Patricia. So Lorena is on to compete for the title and Patricia will eventually compete against Takashi to save herself. 

Next, we move on to Chris versus Lorena, and it seems everyone is cheering for Chris, but this time the ingredient is sugar! And everyone got worried. There has to be a savory dish that could've been made right? Tomato sauce? Something? Either way, both chefs went the dessert direction. Chris made a simple zabaglione and Lorena made chocolate cakes and grilled pineapple. I prefer fruit in my desserts -- I've never been a fan of soufflé or molten chocolate anything, so I would’ve loved Chris’ dish and half of Lorena’s. Again, Lorena wins! And we give her maybe the gaudiest belt known to man. Way to go, Lorena. You are our heavyweight champion!So, now it’s time for Takashi and Patricia to fight for their lives. The ingredient? Chicken liver. I’ve never been a fan of liver, but I've also never had it cooked by a Master. Takashi has some trouble with his and, unfortunately, he is eliminated. I’m really going to miss Takashi. He was just such a pleasure to watch, and it was so nice to see how much the other chefs respected him. Farewell, Takashi-san. 

Until next week, Have a Nosh!

 

Curtis Stone's Lemon Creams with Poached Cherries

Curtis describes cooking for the finalists. Recipe included!

Well done, Doug! He put in a cracking effort this season. Were you happy to see him go all the way to being crowned the Top Chef Masters Season 5 winner? It’s great that he won 100K for his charity, Green Dog Rescue, Inc. Congrats, mate. 

The finale is the most exciting time in the entire competition, and it was a seriously great night for the critics and me. Each dish that was served up to us was absolutely bloody delicious. Jen, Bryan, and Doug should be so proud of themselves. 

These chefs are truly at the top of their culinary game, which makes it even more exciting and daunting for me to cook for them. Chefs love cooking for other chefs, but it’s also pretty nerve-wracking. We cook for critics, customers, and celebrities all the time, and that’s par for the course, but no one can break your food down like another chef. We only got to see the spot prawns and lemon cream on tonight’s episode, but I also got busy in the kitchen and hand-made some beautiful ravioli and chilled soup too. (My lemon cream recipe can be found below). I’ve put these three chefs through the ringer for 10 weeks, thrown a bunch of crazy challenges at them, and have said some not-so-great things once or twice while critiquing their meals, so it’s safe to say I was a little nervous awaiting their reactions. They seemed to enjoy the dishes a lot, and it was great to just sit down, reflect, and celebrate their accomplishments.  

Bryan is a total superstar and has elevated his career more than anyone could have imagined going from Top Chef finalist to Top Chef Masters finalist. It’s just unbelievable. It’s kind of like going from playing local football to suddenly being in the premier league. 

It was also amazing to watch Jen come back fighting like a champion in this competition. She really fought hard and deserved a place in the final after going from being eliminated to winning her way back in, and then winning a handful of challenges. 

I think Doug had that winning edge in the end due to a number of key factors. He’s an accomplished chef with years of experience and has a vast amount of knowledge to draw on from his travels and training. Doug’s spent a lot of time behind the stoves and has never turned his back on them (well, only when he is working and playing with his beloved dogs). He’s got an admirable roll-up-the-sleeves, resilient attitude and gave each challenge a good crack. And we can talk about him facing his fears of skydiving? A lot can change in 10 weeks, huh? I had a ball filming this season, and it was a pleasure to work with such a talented group of chefs, critics, celebrities and the crew. I’m already thinking about next year and the chefs on my wish list to lure into the Top Chef Masters kitchen. I’d love to see April Bloomfield from NYC’s The Spotted Pig, husband and wife team Karen and Quinn Hatfield from Hatfield’s Restaurant and The Sycamore Kitchen, Josef Centeno from Bäco Mercat, Christopher Elbow from Kansas City (his chocolates look insane), and I’d also love to see Missy Robbins come back to us. 

Thanks for a great season, everyone!

Cheers,

Curtis

Lemon Creams with Poached Cherries

This dessert is a bit of a calorie killer, but hey, what the hell. It’s dead easy, but you’ll need a thermometer. Use two lemons if you like a subtle lemon flavor, or three for more of a zing. I like using frozen sour cherries to cook with -- fresh cherries should be eaten fresh. 

Serves: 6
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

Lemon creams:

3 1/2 cups 35% whipping cream
Finely grated rind and juice of 2-3 lemons
6 oz instant dissolving sugar

Poached cherries:

Finely grated rind of 1/2 orange

7 fl oz red wine (Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon)

1/2 cinnamon stick

1 whole clove

1 tsp instant dissolving sugar plus extra, if needed

7 oz frozen sour black cherries, defrosted 

 

Method

To prepare the lemon creams: 

In a saucepan, heat the cream to 160°F. Remove from the heat and cool to 150°F.

Add the lemon rind, juice and sugar to the cream mixture, and mix well. Allow to cool, then pour into six 6-inch dariole moulds (cups, ramekins, or glasses will do if you don’t have molds*). Place on a tray and put in the refrigerator to set, about fur hours.

To poach the cherries:

Place the rind, wine, cinnamon, clove and sugar in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Add the cherries, bring to the boil, and taste for sweetness. If necessary, add a little more sugar to neutralize the tannin of the wine, while retaining some zing. Simmer for five minutes, then cool.

When ready to serve, carefully up-end the moulds over serving plates and give them a shake; the creams should just slip out. If this proves difficult, run a small knife around the edge of the mould to release the cream and try again. 

Serve each lemon cream accompanied by 5-6 cherries. Drizzle a little of the syrup over each one. 

*You can also make molds from 3-inch diameter PVC pipe from a hardware store cut to depths of 1 1/4-inches. Sand the edges and then seal the bottoms with plastic wrap.