Cast Blog: #TCMASTERS

Hugh Acheson is Becoming a Monk

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?

Hugh Acheson is Becoming a Monk

If he has to hear Franklin Becker talk about sex one more time...

So, in the last episode of Battle of the Sous Chefs, the sous cheffians saved scraps. Little did they know that these little morsels and bones would be the only protein that their Maestros have to cook with. So much for rewarding good butchery. 

Each Maestro has a package of said scraps. I miss Jenn Louis. Next time Portland, next time. There is no time to make a bone soup or a nice terrine with pistachio and duck breast inlay. That will have to wait. This, my people, is a Quickfire Challenge. 

Vinson has left no obstacles and absolutely nothing for Franklin to work with, except a little piece of his heart and his entire ego. Neal finds that Jason has left him a duck with a note pinned to its carcass that says, “Sorry for this.” It is a big package. Neal is growing on me as he makes a David Burke special of duck with cavatelli. Sue is concerned. She has found a bone and some tiny bits of meat to feed a family of 12. She has yet to cry today. Bryan is making coffee, oats, and Vinson. I mean venison. This happily irreverent, yet fantastically skilled outlook on gastronomy is what makes this chef a badass. 

Burke has smuggled a duck press into the show. That’s pretty awesome. Lynn Crawford doesn’t know that her sous has won the previous Battle of the Sous Chefs, but that will soon be divulged and make her a very happy Canuck. 

Let me talk about how much time I actually spent with the Maestros: not much. The sous-chefs and I would be burning the midnight oil after the fancy tapings had wrapped. So, I didn’t really have time to get to know them much beyond the already-established relationships. That will come afterwards, as we bump into each other in the strange circuits of our industry. I guess I am lamenting that Neal and I have yet to have a beer together and make fun of each other. I’d like that Neal. I really would. (Chest bumps and totally platonic hugs to follow.).

Anyhow, back to the show. We have bespokely-dressed artisan butchers who like Neal’s cavatelli. Douglas’ duck breast gets criticized by Curtis for not being rendered enough, but Curtis is dressed up like Barney the friendly dinosaur and so his opinion doesn’t really count. Was Barney a dinosaur? I will never know because I am stubbornly refusing to Google dat. You have to draw the line somewhere. Lynn made a bangin’ carbonara which is deemed rich. Sue made a pork bone soup. Looks tasty. Not to blow smoke up his arse, but Voltaggio’s morning hunt dish looks awesome. Bryan explains the idea to everyone because once again, no one understands him. His dish does get an “amazingly moist” comment, which makes some molecular gastronomist somewhere get a woody. Not me. I am not that into that stuff. Little Ultratex here, little Crisp Film there, but that’s about it. Google dat. Prawns have been pressed, and maybe the Burke dish is underseasoned. Sang’s larb is kicking butt, though, and his simple approach -- seemingly born out of not knowing what to do -- may be the most complexly-flavored dish out there. 

Sang wins. From the blood of stones and bones comes larb. Kudos.

The Elimination Challenge has some daytime TV angle that I will ignore, just as I did when I was 13 and my older sisters would watch. I preferred the lush life of wandering aimlessly to the comic book store and hanging out with some older punks at the Subway, listening to Hüsker Dü’s Celebrated Summer

Make a dish based on a dramatic scene from a soap opera… that’s the challenge. I would have made two dishes that were exactly the same, showing the closeness in the evil twin characters, both portrayed by the same actor. Some guy named Drake Hogestyn is very mad at me right now.

I said I wouldn’t talk about the daytime TV aspect, but that show has been on since 1965. That is nuts. Six years wiser than me. Then again, I am just a wise ass, not a wise man. 

So, they shop and get the goods. Neal announces that he wants to have sex with Lynn and David, and the Lexus SUV is roomy enough for that. That should be an official J.D. Power and Associates category for car awards. Franklin, evidently the man you need to talk to about the ways of the hands and the heart, is going to do something he’s calling “fourplay.” Franklin is a strange bird. 

Neal takes Odette for a spin on the grocery rascal. I picture some sullen elderly guy looking at them with disgust as they have take the only power assisted cart for a joy ride.

Having Lynn and Franklin talk more about sex has me Googling “how to become a monk.” The Google gives results, and I may be blogging from Tibet next week. Do they have Bravo there?

Shopping concludes. They have their stuff. They get back to the kitchen and the losers from Battle of the Sous Chefs have wrought some dramatic timeouts on their Maestros. Bryan, Sang, and Franklin all get the treatment. Some play along more than others. 

To the food. There are various actors from Days of our Lives eating. Sang is rushing to get plated and misses the mark. Twice-cooked chicken foot never will tread on this dish. Jennifer has made a stabbed duck. Odette has made a ravioli with “poison.” Sang has made a very complex, yet unfinished dish. They seem to really like Jennifer’s dish, and that Drake guy is pretty harsh on poor Odette. Franklin says “climax.” I book a ticket to Tibet and buy a robe. 

Neal has a threesome. Burke has breakfast in bed, and Lynn overdoes it in a very snuggly way. Snuggling is off limits on TV. 

They love Franklin’s dish. They think Neal is not a sexy wingman to a romantic encounter. Ruth refuses David Burke’s advances with an untraditional haiku that reads: “Go away.” Lynn has made food that is not deemed worthy of a cuddle. 

Bryan must plate up the concept of greed. He’s just a little chuffed by his brother driving around L.A in a Lambo. Bryan’s shrimp is salty for most, yet loved by Curtis. Salt is what killed the dinosaurs. Do not Google that because it’s not true.

Sue gets rave reviews because the eaters have figured out that she is the only person to have ever really sat through an hour of their daytime fantasies. 

No one seems to be a fan of Doug’s dish, except that devil’s advocate, Ruth, who claims that it is a very refined dish. He’s got a lot of stuff going on in it.

These chefs do seem to be having much more fun than our crew did. We were a pretty serious bunch. They play seal games. 

Sue, Jennifer, and Franklin are tops. Curtis knights Jennifer as the soap opera boss. She dances around and revels in the moment. She’s badass. Jorel, her sous chef, also has a great moustache, which gets you bonus points in this cooking game.

Bottoms are Lynn, Douglas, and Odette. Lynn has immunity so she’s an outlier. Douglas gets modest criticism, but most of it is kind of tame, about aggressive spice work and whatnot. I really thought Odette’s dish looked great, but I wasn’t tasting. I was probably napping. She goes home. 

Follow me on Twitter. This week I have been posting a lot about the purgatory of shopping for school supplies and my thoughts on Kierkegaard. You know, just basic stuff. Oh, and cat pictures. I love those. 

@hughacheson