Top Chef Masters Recap: Better Than A Mess Hall

Categories: Rants
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​Last week my favorite cheftestant, Hugh, was sent packing for his mayo as science project (which is ironic because I always thought of mayo as more "weird science" than condiment).

That leaves Mary Sue, Floyd, Traci and Naomi to duke it out for spots in next week's finale.


The cheftestants have 20 minutes to create and cook a dish while simultaneously instructing another unidentified person to create the exact same dish.

The catch is that they can't see that other person of show them visually - the other "chef" will be working behind a screen so the cheftestants can only bark orders at them. And bark they did....

Traci gets pissed that the other person doesn't know what chiffonade is. Because obviously everyone polled at the local mall knows chiffonade.

Naomi is working with someone who doesn't know what a shallot looks like.

Floyd asks his partner how her food looks and she says "really bad".

Mary Sue is patient and diligent with her partner. That's so un-chef-like.

So we know there's going to be a "twist" that we all saw coming but I can't fathom the cheftestants didn't realize (unless they were told to act dumb or they're really stupid, that is). The cheftestants all know their "mystery partners"! Told ya you'd never see that one coming...not!

Naomi's secret partner is her father and they make fricassee of mushroom, bacon and shallots with an egg.

Floyd's teammate is his sister and they prepare shrimp stir fry with asparagus and mushrooms.

Mary Sue's been working with her sister and they make shredded chicken salad on a bed of spinach with avocado.

Traci has her brother as partner and they prepare halibut with brown butter vinaigrette and asparagus.

The winner is Tracy and her brother Mitch. Maybe Mary Sue should have been meaner, after all.


Each cheftestant draws a knife to represent a branch of the military (since the Coast Guard is not represented, we're going to assume that's because they don't have anyone in Iraq or Afghanistan. I think).

The cheftestants will have four hours to prepare a meal, buffet style, for service people and their families coming home from their tours of duty.

When the cheftestants interview the families, they get answers they're not too happy about. Forget the pate and foie gras and molecular gastronomy - these people coming home want meatloaf and barbeque and cobbler.

Mary Sue (Marine Corps) makes ribs with spicy tomatillo barbeque sauce, avocado relish, and apple cream cheese bread pudding

Floyd (Army) makes roast tenderloin of beef with spinach salad, clam chowder, and a tamarind margarita (which the military families notice has plenty of alcohol in it)

Naomi (Air Force) makes barbeque pork, shrimp fried rice, and iceberg wedge, and tuna poke salad. Plus a pineapple panna cotta for dessert.

Traci (Navy) makes meat Loaf, Caesar salad, mashed potatoes, and peach cobbler.

The winning chef by popular vote is Mary Sue.

Judge's Table

Traci, Floyd and Naomi are at Judges Table, where Naomi is sent home. Ruth Reichel says her dishes were too ambitious and didn't go together. Floyd shows off his commemorative coin he received from his soldier about 10,000 times. 

Next week - the finale, which looks like the cheftestants will be driving in traffic with $100,000 at stake, along with appearances by Gael Green and Tom Colicchio!!!

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(since the Coast Guard is not represented, we're going to assume that's because they don't have anyone in Iraq or Afghanistan. I think).This is so not true.  The Coast Guard has been a part of every conflict since even before the Civil War.  And even before the war in Iraq, the Coast Guard has had a major presence in the Middle East.  I'm still trying to understand why the Coast Guard was the only Military service that was excluded.  I've proudly served with the CG for over 12yrs in the States and overseas.  


I am in agreement with John L. Chefs of this caliber should be presented with challenges that test their culinary skills in a real world setting with the pressures and constraints usually encountered. Bravo will never lure top talent with fairy tail chalenges

John L.
John L.

I think Bravo really dropped the ball on this episode and presented the chefs with a very poor challenge for the second to last one. The idea of cooking an all-American meal for veterans is a good one, but it's a formula better presented in the early goings of a season such as this. By forcing the chefs to cook to the servicemen and women's likes and dislikes, they took away the opportunity for a high firepower culinary battle. Instead we got steak and potatoes and poke. And a buffet setting, no less. Really, Bravo? From the moment we found out Mary Sue had the Latin family, it was like - OK, she's winning. 

So in the end, the elimination didn't prove a whole helluva lot. This Top Chef Masters has been an extreme disappointment. Hopefully the next season of Top Chef is as good as the last was. 

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