June 12, 2009

Top Chef Masters

Filed under: Not Tech, Top Chef — Chris @ 3:47 pm

To cover it, or not to cover it? That is the question. On the one hand, this blog has suffered from a lack of content since Top Chef: New York went off the air in February. On the other hand… Well, I like the fact that the vibe is more laid back, good natured, and collegial; that the skill and ease of the contestants genuinely earns the “masters” label; that the “critics” (not “judges”) are more respectful and attentive; that the tenor of the conversation runs towards “here’s why this dish wasn’t perfect” as opposed to “here’s why you’d have to be an utter fucking fool to think this dish could ever work at all.”

But the lack of drama is going to be a problem.

As much as I like to act all contemptuous of the Hoseas, the Leahs, the Arrianes, and so on, and pretend they have no place on Top Chef, I’m in the snark business over here. Writing a snarky blog post about Top Chef Masters is going to be like preparing an amuse bouche with ingredients from a vending machine. I don’t want to turn out the blog equivalent of a Snickers bar with a Cheeto sticking out of it.

Let’s wait and see. Hopefully, somebody douchey or arrogant or humorlessly homosexual will turn up and make a run at the finals.

This week, Hubert Keller had everybody out-classed. In the Quickfire, instead of condescending to little-girl tastes (e.g., chocolate-covered strawberries), he put out a whimsical and appealing plate of meringue swans and parfait. In the Elimination, he had the good sense to stay away from cuts of meat that would need to be to be “seared” on a hot plate (somehow Tim Love got away with this. I suppose skirt steak is more forgiving than pork chops).

Christopher Lee made the rookie mistake of trying to make a risotto (Rule #4). Tim Love got a little cute, making a “pozole” without hominy (Rule #4.2.1); that one slid by because it just happened to be delicious. (BTW, why was James Oseland so desperate to convince us that he enjoys football and tailgating and all of the manly pursuits of men?) All four contestants cheated a bit by preparing a raw first course, untouched by dorm room appliances. Overall, the quality of the dishes look pretty high. I can only imagine the parade of insipid “duos” and “trios” that would have been produced by a regular Top Chef cohort.

Next week’s contestants are Wylie Dufresne, Elizabeth Falkner, Suzanne Tracht, and Graham Elliot Bowles.

Prediction: I’m going to proceed on the assumption that the most famous chef always wins. That would be Wylie Dufresne, I think. Though he’s going to have a hard time pulling off anything molecularly gastronomical.


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