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Top Chef Masters: Season 3


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Who wants "Top Chef: Slightly Elevated Chefs?" I don't. And, being slightly snarky for a minute, if Chef Tio is going to hit every cooking competition on every possible channel, at least try to get Susur Lee, Ming Tsai and the other chefs who also failed The Next Iron Chef show. But, as noted above, this format doesn't permit any really established, really famous chefs to have the time.

I agree with you. I think the Top Chef All Stars contestanrs did a much better job at restaurant wars - and there were no labels left in their food - which did not get mentioned at critics table. Chef Tio was on Next Iron Chef - but so was Tracy de Jardins - she was in season one.

Edited by GwennP (log)
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  • 2 weeks later...

Yet another thing I like about this show (just watched episode 3, the bugs episode)

3 people as to-be-eliminated contenders.

2 messed up their dishs. 1 made technically ok food(was there because it was just an average dish, nothing special about it).

And my jaw dropped when the ok-but-boreing food was choosen to go home. This addresses a big problem that's been happening on Top Chef, the 'safe dish' of boreing food gets a pass while the chefs who push a bit and mess up are eliminated. Good for the judges! I would rather see chefs eliminated for making boreing food than eliminated for trying creative ideas and messing up.

(left out references to the food in case someone has not seen the episode yet)

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I would rather see chefs eliminated for making boreing food than eliminated for trying creative ideas and messing up.

I'm a huge fan of different and experimental and it does make for more interesting tv. Having said that, think about your statement above from the perspective of the person eating the food. It's all well and good that they try something different and use cool techniques... but in the end, it's food. If it doesn't taste good, we won't want to eat it. If we don't want to eat it, it's effectively not food. As big a fan as I am of experimental cuisine, I'd rather have unexciting food that tastes good than cutting edge food that doesn't. I've made a lot of fun things work when experimenting that might seem cool but were inedible. Being creative in a culinary sense is doing those cool things and having it be something that tastes good at the end. I'm not sure I like the judge's message that being creative just for the sake of creativity is ok.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I would rather see chefs eliminated for making boreing food than eliminated for trying creative ideas and messing up.

I'm a huge fan of different and experimental and it does make for more interesting tv. Having said that, think about your statement above from the perspective of the person eating the food. It's all well and good that they try something different and use cool techniques... but in the end, it's food. If it doesn't taste good, we won't want to eat it. If we don't want to eat it, it's effectively not food. As big a fan as I am of experimental cuisine, I'd rather have unexciting food that tastes good than cutting edge food that doesn't. I've made a lot of fun things work when experimenting that might seem cool but were inedible. Being creative in a culinary sense is doing those cool things and having it be something that tastes good at the end. I'm not sure I like the judge's message that being creative just for the sake of creativity is ok.

I agree with both points. At least for Masters. I think that since they can't torture 'masters' to produce drama, they should focus more on the cooking. Keep the silly quick fires since they're fun and don't mean much if anything. But the time limits for the eliminations should be more lax. Here, I'd rather see cooking than the drama we can't really have anyway.

With more time there would be less of an excuse for something that was just botched.

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If you read through the other top-chef threads here, contestants playing it safe has been a major issue and has spoiled several entire seasons. I'm not saying that bad food should get a pass if it's more creative than good food, just that (more) points should be given for creativity. I'm thinking like the iron chef scoreing, something like 25 points for flavor and 10 for originality. With 0 points given for originality as it has been in Top Chef eliminations, a smart contestant will not try to cook new/unusual dishs.

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I think points would spoil the Judges Table. This is an important part of the show. And this part of the show is one of the things that sets it apart from Iron Chef.

Although I'm not a fan of delaying results for drama, when it's done to include the debate I really like it.

Again, I think you can (in Masters) reward creativity by removing some of the time constraints.

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In the first two seasons, didn't they award stars to chefs?

If I recall correctly, they did. The public (when used) would vote using stars and then the judges offered their stars and everything was totaled for the contestants.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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In the first two seasons, didn't they award stars to chefs?

If I recall correctly, they did. The public (when used) would vote using stars and then the judges offered their stars and everything was totaled for the contestants.

Yes they did. I preferred it that way for three reasons. One was to make it different than the the regular top chef. The second was that the total included some stars from the quickfire, so blowing off the quickfire wasn't a good idea. The third was because it let the viewer know what the critics/judged actually thought, which can the difficult to ascertain from the limited amount of discussion we get to see.

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I have watched every season of TC and TCM and this is nothing other than a train wreck. The host is awful and the 'Master Chefs" are unfortunately not Master Chefs.

Get rid of the idiotic and useless host and wait until you can attract a better roster of Master Chefs before putting this mess on the air again.

Please make it stop!

The only think worst than this nightmare was the Marcel Quantum thing on the SyFy channel. Now that was an utter unwatchable bore fest.

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I disagree; well, at least partially. I've already made my thoughts known about the host, so yes he can go...far, far away.

But I think there are some damn good chefs here. Alex Stratta, Floyd Cardoz, George Mendes, Mary Sue, Traci, et.al. can all hold their own...I think it's the challenges that have failed to bring out the best in them.

Oh, and wouldn't it be nice to have a real food heavyweight do the judging on one of the shows at least? Say Robuchon or someone like that?

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Oh and two more things...does this Hugh Acheson dude always have to look like he's sucking a lemon. Lighten up, man.

And two - I think had something "more" transpired in the car between Restaurant Girl and Curtis, everyone would be watching next week's show.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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  • 2 weeks later...

So, Alex Stratta got the boot this week. And it was yet another episode that really hampered their ability to deliver in the elimination challege. I will say I was impressed with the quikfire in this episode. Lots of good looking stuff in that very short time frame.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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I get that that the show is simply a piece of TV entertainment. But surely they can come up with challenges that are challenging without being silly. At least, they should eb able to fo the "masters" version of Top Chef.

It's like if they seem some interesting results with bizzare silly circumstances, every challenge has to be silly.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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Upcoming predicaments for Top Chef Masters elimination rounds

- prison kitchen

- flop house hot plate

- Restrepo military outpost on Afghanistan/Pakistan border

- Manhattan one room apartment

- zero gravity

And my favorite, deli dumpster dive.

Larry Lofthouse

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I get that that the show is simply a piece of TV entertainment. But surely they can come up with challenges that are challenging without being silly. At least, they should eb able to fo the "masters" version of Top Chef.

It's like if they seem some interesting results with bizzare silly circumstances, every challenge has to be silly.

When it comes to Top Chef: Masters, I think the first commandment is "Thou shalt do no harm to a Master's reputation." Therefore, the sillyness is required. Nobody is going to lose their reputation for not being able to cook pasta in a dorm room bathtub. But, as in the last episode, you could acheive fame among your follow-on peers for having pulled it off (Hubert K).

Although it may seem counterintuitive, TC: Masters cannot be viewed as some sort of Superbowl event. It's more like the events surrounding the Pro Bowl where the top quarterbacks are trying to drop a football into a moving basketball net. The real game (not the Pro Bowl) is deadly serious. This is for fun.

Top Chef: Regular is where they can make people cry and make or break careers for our entertainment. As such, it's more compelling.

Still, some of the concessions they make in Masters are interesting. Such as letting the chefs view the quickfire judging on a TV in another room and letting them say what they want. I really like that twist.

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I think IndyRob makes a lot of excellent points about the practical ramifications of these various challenges for someone at the level of most of these chefs.

He's really right in terms of practical Real Chef/Real World issue and I know it but that said, I've pretty much disengaged from this TM season, from the start. I explained my reasons much earlier in the thread, as well as how I think the new format has killed the show. But what little was left of my attempts at loyalty (or just interest in foodie television) pretty much flew out the window after the green horned (fanged?) worm challenge.

Yes, they did come back a lot with very legitimate challenges afterwards (like cooking a gourmet and tasty version of healthy, low-fat, low-salt, low-calorie cuisine) but to me, they'd already "jumped the shark." (It's a bloody annoying phrase that I despise, and I have probably used it only twice in a decade. But one of those times will be here. Because that Andrew Zimmern-like challenge was just asinine and lost whatever little good-will was left in me for this show.)

At the risk of ruffling all the same feathers that I ruffled during the most recent season of Top Chef: Regular Version, I will repeat my prior comment: At some point, AND/OR for some chefs (particularly on a Master's version), I think there needs to be much LESS lazily-put together, Survivor-like challenges than that which we have recently experienced.

There is a middle ground. There really, really IS!!!A challenge like the Quick Fire that tested speed or the health quotient is much more justifiable, logical and rational than one which tested one's ability to cook with green-horned worms. I'm sorry, but there is simply no excuse for that in my opinion. Same thing with requiring semi-finalists to waste time by "diving" <koff> for their conch, etc.

In an attempt to be positive though, I have to say, Hugh Acheson has a hysterically wonderful, dry, self-deprecrating, slightly caustic sense of humour. The man may conjure up slighlty distorted images of the original Nosferatu from the '20s and he may occasionally freak me out with his clearly intentional over-acting, his glares and his (now, self-acknowledged) monobrow, but there is no doubt that he has a wonderful sense of humour.

Sad as it may be to say, he's one of the few redeeming features of the show for me by now. As a former SF-ite, I suppose I should really root for Traci des Jardins, but I'm afraid I just can't manage it. She's a really talented chef, but somehow, even when in SF and eating her food, she left me cold. I was disappointed to see Alex Stratta go home, but bringing that up will probably raise the old issue of: people trying and being sent home -- vs---- people colouring within the lines, being boring, never trying to stand out and, therefore, staying in the competition.

From my phraseology, you probably can guess my opinion of this week's outcome, as well as the essentially "salad in a bag" Floyd or the consistently, generically mediocre Celina Tio.

"There are dogs, and then there are German Shepherds.... "- Unknown

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A part of me feels rather badly for the chefs on this show because TC:M suffers from the same judging schizophrenia that many reality shows seem to experience: being safe is hugely rewarded up to a point until .... BOOM! Suddenly, it's not. And, suddenly, NOW, you're being chastised for doing the same sort of food that got you to the middle ground or end rounds, with nary a word of issue before.

I'm not sure there is any way around that sort of judging problem, given how subjective judging can be. But I've always found it very tiring on Top Chef: Regular Flavour when contestants continuously skirt by on being blandly average and mediocre, while other chefs are sent home for being extremely adventurous and/or taking on too much, then.... suddenly..... those same, safe, chefs are called out for not providing something "inspiring" or exceptional.

When Floyd gets a pass for serving -- essentially -- "salad in a bag" but poor Alex Trotta gets sent home for trying to be a leader and preparing the majority of the dishes (which even the vegan judge thought were pretty cool for a vegan dish), then I find it a bit disconcerting when *THIS WEEK,* the judges act like cooking "safe" is a truly horrible, terrible thing. I've never been hugely impressed by Chef Tio, so I'm not saying that the ultimate decision was incorrect, but I *do* get frustrated sometimes by the inconsistency in the judging valuation, even though I realise it sometimes can't be helped in this sort of medium.

"There are dogs, and then there are German Shepherds.... "- Unknown

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Can someone please explain to me what "cooking down to..." means, and why that is a bad thing? As far as I can tell, "cooking down to a guest" simply means cooking something that the guest wants. WTF is wrong with that?

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Can someone please explain to me what "cooking down to..." means, and why that is a bad thing? As far as I can tell, "cooking down to a guest" simply means cooking something that the guest wants. WTF is wrong with that?

I have to agree with this sentiment. I adjust heat and spice levels often for guests who may or may not have the tolerances in certain asian dishes, avoid cream and butter in sauces for my lactose intolerant girlfriend, and make plain grilled meat for one of my best friends. Also I wouldn't exactly serve uni to someone grandparents. Oseland is a snob.

Edited by GordonCooks (log)
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... Oseland is a snob.

After his frequent use of the word "pedestrian" (again, what does that even mean???), I was coming to this comprehensive explanation too.

Quite frankly, the whole "cooking down to" goes beyond snobbery: I think it's head-up-your-ass ignorant...but these types of comments really bother me, so maybe I'm biased? :hmmm:

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