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What an amazing season it's been on Top Chef Masters. I've been so honored to watch our chefs compete, often under brutal circumstances, and to eat their outstanding dishes. The food they served over the past ten weeks was some of the best I've had in the States, and I was blown away every week by their creativity, knowledge, and love of food.
But now we've come down to the final three -- Mary Sue, Traci, and Floyd. Tonight's Elimination Challenge was so special, because cooking is all about heart and soul and love. It's really so personal. Giving our chefs the task of cooking a three-course meal inspired by their favorite food memories (and one memory from our judges) was an opportunity for them to show off their culinary credentials and express their personalities through food. You could taste the emotion in every single dish.
Over the past few weeks we've continually taken our chefs out of their comfort zones, and it was pretty gratifying to finally give a little of it back to them by bringing in their executive chefs. Chefs of this caliber are used to having a strong team of chefs around them, and I was excited to see what they could pull off with their right-hands there to help.
In the meantime, I had to come up with lunch for them. As the host and bearer of the rules, I've felt a wide range of emotions for our chefs this season, from understanding to empathy to admiration. I've even felt pretty sorry for them with some of those challenges. So I loved being able to take the pressure off by cooking for them. Thankfully, I didn't have a time limit!
What can I say about the final meal our chefs served? Any one of the chefs could have been crowned Top Chef Master. Mary Sue's lemon soufflé was so unbelievably good -- it really did give me the shivers. Traci showed off what makes her such an outstanding chef by serving quail and sweetbreads that were perfectly cooked, flavorful, luxurious and down-to-earth at the same time. But it was Floyd who shined. His three courses played off of each other flawlessly. From the subtlety of his wild mushroom polenta to the touch of spice in his flaked snapper dish to that rendang, which despite major time constraints, was braised to perfection. While he never won a challenge during the competition, Floyd has always been a contender. He's a creative and bold chef and a wonderful human being, and it was such a pleasure to finally be able to reward him for his incredible skill.
But win or lose, every one of the chefs on this season has my admiration. They are all truly masters of their craft.
Until next time, bon appétit,