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Chris Hennes

Top Chef: Masters

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I liked the show. I found it refreshing to see chefs of that caliber not be snarky and to be good sports about it all. The women judge with the hat got on my nerves. I purposely cook my risotto till soft in the center and prefer it over the other way of cooking it. The show was fun.

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I liked the show too, and I thought that the quality of food the contestants were able to prepare given the challenge was pretty remarkable, and certainly better than TC contestants.  Plus, I think this was probably the most restrictive "twist" for a top chef episode I've seen - I think even in the foo fighters one, they had more of an oven (no?)

As I recall it was toaster ovens and microwaves oiutside in the rain. The hawaiin guy made a makeshift grill.

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What I liked about this show was the same things that I enjoyed about The Next Iron Chef - real professionals, doing smart, good food and respecting one another.  Also NO drama - loved that.  I have never understood the draw of watching people behaving badly.  What I didn't like was Gael Greene.  She has always given me a major case of the creeps.

I so agree - I especially liked when Keller gave his mixer to the guy who's mixer didn't work. I also loved his ingenuity to use the shower to stop the pasta from cooking. He never even broke a sweat. Also liked the way Tim was able to change gears after he froze his veges.

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Liked the show-would have preferred a professional chef or a foodie -like Alton Brown adds to Iron Chef-rather than a car show model.

Doesn't she host a NY restaurant review show or something?

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I enjoyed the episode and was glad my pick for the round won (a little fun competition with some friends, loser buys dinner and I'm now one up on everybody).

If I'm finding the correct information, next up is Elizabeth Falkner, Suzanne Tracht, Wylie Dufresne, and Graham Elliot Bowles. That's a tough pick for me because I'm a huge fan of what Wylie Dufresne does but Elizabeth Falkner tugs at my pastry vote and Graham Elliot Bowles rocks. I'm probably going to go with Wylie but it's more of a fanboy-type vote than actual confidence.

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I liked the show. I respect the comments from some of the cheftestants who were judges on prior TC series, that they kind of felt obligated to put the shoe on the other foot and see how it felt to go through the challenges and be on the receiving end of the critiques. Turns out to be not as easy as it looked. However, due to it being for charity and having big name chefs, the critiques certainly are a lot softer than regular Top Chef (Collichio, Toby, etc. - do you think Rocco would dare guest judge on this?) It will make them much more knowledgeable judges in the future.

The Chopped format to get quickly down to the final 6, meaning 18 of the 24 chefs will only make a brief appearance on a single episode, is disappointing, but then it would require 23 episodes to do single eliminations. This will only take 11 or so.

I enjoyed the friendly camaraderie, and the dorm room challenge was a great way to constrain the talents of chefs. The cluelessness about how to work the microwaves was really funny, but also a positive reflection on their craft that they had rarely, if ever, had one in their own kitchens. I gotta try that drying the newspaper idea.

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I enjoyed the episode and was glad my pick for the round won (a little fun competition with some friends, loser buys dinner and I'm now one up on everybody).

If I'm finding the correct information, next up is Elizabeth Falkner, Suzanne Tracht, Wylie Dufresne, and Graham Elliot Bowles. That's a tough pick for me because I'm a huge fan of what Wylie Dufresne does but Elizabeth Falkner tugs at my pastry vote and Graham Elliot Bowles rocks. I'm probably going to go with Wylie but it's more of a fanboy-type vote than actual confidence.

Sounds like a good grouping, though Falkner drives me up the wall. I can't really stand her at all. Something about her just bugs the ever living crap out of me.

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I've said in interviews, and I'll say it here, that we were clear from the get go that this was part of the Top Chef family, but not Top Chef.

Do us critics have opinions? Oh sure. And of course, there's editing involved. But we deliberately, and with much careful thought, went for a different approach to the piss and vinegar of Top Chef.

And ladies and gentlemen: no, I ain't Toby.

Next week, Wylie Dufresne, Ms Tranter and crew. It's huge fun. trust me.

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I enjoyed the episode and was glad my pick for the round won (a little fun competition with some friends, loser buys dinner and I'm now one up on everybody).

If I'm finding the correct information, next up is Elizabeth Falkner, Suzanne Tracht, Wylie Dufresne, and Graham Elliot Bowles. That's a tough pick for me because I'm a huge fan of what Wylie Dufresne does but Elizabeth Falkner tugs at my pastry vote and Graham Elliot Bowles rocks. I'm probably going to go with Wylie but it's more of a fanboy-type vote than actual confidence.

Sounds like a good grouping, though Falkner drives me up the wall. I can't really stand her at all. Something about her just bugs the ever living crap out of me.

I don't know her personally but she does some really cool stuff and it's a cooking show so that's good enough for me. I'm pretty sure Wylie will be my pick though. He definitely has the skills but the first episode made it clear that they're going to be thrown a lot of curves. That will make trying to pick a winner each week much more difficult. Of course, ruling out Graham doesn't feel like a smart move either.

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And ladies and gentlemen: no, I ain't Toby.

No, you aren't and I am so very, very glad! :biggrin:

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If you want to know what the chefs will be working with this week, here is a story about Lost. Yes, the TV show Lost has something to do with this week's episode.

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I caught a replay of the first episode last night. I'm glad Chef Keller did so well-he's a heck of a nice guy in person in addition to being a great Chef. He tends to get less press than some of his contemporaries, but he's every bit as talented as any Chef in America today. His show on PBS is very good.

I wasn't at all bothered with his trip to the shower to wash the macaroni. For a moment I flinched, but then I thought, "what a great solution." I suppose on the regular "Top Chef" show he would have been marked down for not technically doing all the cooking in the actual dorm room. But I think for "Top Chef Masters," given the light personality of the show and the fact that they are working toward charitable donations, I think the rules will be a little looser.

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I caught a replay of the first episode last night.  I'm glad Chef Keller did so well-he's a heck of a nice guy in person in addition to being a great Chef.  He tends to get less press than some of his contemporaries, but he's every bit as talented as any Chef in America today.  His show on PBS is very good.

I wasn't at all bothered with his trip to the shower to wash the macaroni.  For a moment I flinched, but then I thought, "what a great solution."  I suppose on the regular "Top Chef" show he would have been marked down for not technically doing all the cooking in the actual dorm room.  But I think for "Top Chef Masters," given the light personality of the show and the fact that they are working toward charitable donations, I think the rules will be a little looser.

He is a total "class act." I am rooting for him to go all the way (having eaten at Fleur de Lys in SF - one of my most memorable meals). But, I love Michale C too!

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I've said in interviews, and I'll say it here, that we were clear from the get go that this was part of the Top Chef family, but not Top Chef.

Do us critics have opinions? Oh sure. And of course, there's editing involved. But we deliberately, and with much careful thought, went for a different approach to the piss and vinegar of Top Chef.

And ladies and gentlemen: no, I ain't Toby.

Next week, Wylie Dufresne, Ms Tranter and crew. It's huge fun. trust me.

And you know, Jay, I'm kind of glad it's not the same piss and vinegar as the regular Top Chef. I like the lack of (contrived) drama and I like that the chefs are being treated with a reasonably amount of respect. I like the critic comments, I thought they were pretty spot on.

All of the 24 competitors - whether they win or not - have proven they've got some better than average cooking chops and shouldn't be treated to the usual Top Chef historonics. Frankly, I find the lack of snarky comments rather refreshing. :cool:

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I've said in interviews, and I'll say it here, that we were clear from the get go that this was part of the Top Chef family, but not Top Chef.

Do us critics have opinions? Oh sure. And of course, there's editing involved. But we deliberately, and with much careful thought, went for a different approach to the piss and vinegar of Top Chef.

And ladies and gentlemen: no, I ain't Toby.

Next week, Wylie Dufresne, Ms Tranter and crew. It's huge fun. trust me.

And you know, Jay, I'm kind of glad it's not the same piss and vinegar as the regular Top Chef. I like the lack of (contrived) drama and I like that the chefs are being treated with a reasonably amount of respect. I like the critic comments, I thought they were pretty spot on.

All of the 24 competitors - whether they win or not - have proven they've got some better than average cooking chops and shouldn't be treated to the usual Top Chef historonics. Frankly, I find the lack of snarky comments rather refreshing. :cool:

Ditto.

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The Chopped format to get quickly down to the final 6, meaning 18 of the 24 chefs will only make a brief appearance on a single episode, is disappointing, but then it would require 23 episodes to do single eliminations.  This will only take 11 or so.

The format is probably by design -- it'd be impossible to get these guys away from their kitchens/business managers for three weeks while they film it all. The way they did it is probably easier -- two days an episode, then a call back for the final.

I enjoyed the show -- good, laid back television.

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Look, we never watch TV (except the one week a year that we travel which happened to be last week), but I had to watch tonight because I have such respect for Wylie (and I wanted to know how to pronounce his last name). It was a lot of fun and a bit disappointing that Wylie was such a screw up. Here's my theory - that guy lives in his head - that's why he is so great. He is intellectually pushing ideas and limits with every plate - that's his shtick and what makes him great, but it doesn't translate well into a show like this. The best chefs seem to be the ones that are more innate, gut level chefs. Just a theory I'm playing with. Anyway, a fun episode, now I'll just read everyone else's posts to know who wins.

edited to add: Can someone explain his sous vide egg trick - I didn't quite get it. It sounded like it was soft/gelatinous - if that's that case, how did he get it out of the shell? Does anyone have details on the technique?


Edited by gfron1 (log)

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I'm finding this show entertaining, and not as focused on the harsh criticism aspect of the competition as some of the other 'cooking competition' shows (as others have mentioned.)

And I'm well aware that 'reality' shows have only as much reality as the producers wish them to have, but I found some of the fine print at the end of the show to be quite odd:

Winning and elimination decisions were made

by the Judges in consultation with producers.

Some elimination decisions were

discussed with Bravo.

My reaction to that notice was, WTF??? I guess the cooking is not necessarily as important as the telegenic aspect of the cheftestants. Or something.

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I was VERY pleased with the outcome, albeit, VERY surprised too ! I love Suzanne Tracht, she's local, she's a woman in a predominantly man's field, she's SUCCESSFUL in that field, and she's just plain cool.

I also had my birthday dinner last year at her resteraunt in Long Beach, called, obviously enough, Tracht's. And it was spectacular, one of the best meals I've had, and certainly close to the best I've had locally.

But I never, ever, EVER expected her to win her round. She's so low-key and really I think under the national radar. I'd bet most viewers had never heard of her. Especially up against Wylie Dufresne and Elizabeth Faulkner, both of whom I totally respect and have national reputations. Wow. GO SUZANNE !

But again, it was very cool to see the personalities and the camaraderie between the cheftestants and how they really worked together, helping and advising each other. Again, as with last week, I'd have eaten any of their dishes, quite happily.

But I was really surprised to see how Wylie crashed under pressure. Good analysis gfron1, I think I totally agree. I've known a TON of brilliant Ph.D.s in my life that need help crossing the street.

And Human Bean, I think that disclaimer is standard even for the normal Top Chef.........


Edited by Pierogi (log)

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Do people think Dufresne really crashed that badly? He acted awkward-- editing might have been used to enhance this; god knows they have done that to others-- but the judges really liked his main creation. I would totally eat in his restaurant based on the pictures of the chicken, and I don't even like chicken.

I loved the way Tracht blew everyone out of the water with that crazy bowl. Bowles is the one who mentioned living in Hawaii, but her dish reminded me of some of the cool things you can eat there, only dialed way, way up. In fact everyone's food (outside the quickfire, which is always iffy) looked fabulous except for the yam-papaya puree. Ick.

My partner said that giving the number of DUIs by Lost cast members in Hawaii, they should have soaked all the food in booze.

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Tess - I think his crash has more to do with editing than anything else. He just appeared to be a fish out of water like many chefs who don't have control over their pantries, kitchens, etc. And I can't help but think that between that waiver, and seeing Keller as a judge on TC on premier night that they aren't fishing for talent.

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My sense is that WD usually puts great development time into his dishes including false starts, testing, and refinements until a dish is perfect. The short time frames of the challenges may be too confining for a chef with WD's thought processes.

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Look, we never watch TV (except the one week a year that we travel which happened to be last week), but I had to watch tonight because I have such respect for Wylie (and I wanted to know how to pronounce his last name).  It was a lot of fun and a bit disappointing that Wylie was such a screw up.  Here's my theory - that guy lives in his head - that's why he is so great.  He is intellectually pushing ideas and limits with every plate - that's his shtick and what makes him great, but it doesn't translate well into a show like this.  The best chefs seem to be the ones that are more innate, gut level chefs.  Just a theory I'm playing with.  Anyway, a fun episode, now I'll just read everyone else's posts to know who wins.

edited to add: Can someone explain his sous vide egg trick - I didn't quite get it.  It sounded like it was soft/gelatinous - if that's that case, how did he get it out of the shell?  Does anyone have details on the technique?

Your post could be mine. I came to the conclusion that Wylie is not an off the cuff guy. Some are very good at this and obviously that is a skill that is needed in a competition of this sort where you decide in two seconds what you are doing.

Wylie, like most scientists, is trained to think, hypothesize and test. That is a slower process.

And yeah what about the egg? The bravo site has no clue although more praise for the dish.

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I didn't think Wylie crashed but he was not in his element.

I am really enjoying this show. The lack of major drama is refreshing but I guess that's why I don't watch reality TV to often. I'm not into the staged drama.

One thing I miss on Masters is the lack of our knowledge of meal development. I mean you have almost no idea what they are cooking until it is brought out to the judges. I like to see some of the prep and thought process that went into their plate. This is my only real criticism of the show. I want to see more cooking.

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Do people think Dufresne really crashed that badly?

Folks - he scored the second highest score by half a point in the money round even after failing to plate a piece of chicken for a judge (BTW, if you don't think the producers made sure that the empty plate went to a judge....). "best chicken ever" etc... I'd say he represented himself very well, people are waaaaay overanalyzing his failure to create a 100% perfect sauce on a brand new dish under time pressure. Big whoop.


Edited by sickchangeup (log)

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