As I expected and hoped, from day one, Rick Bayless won Top Chef Masters last night. Each of the chefs cooked the meal of his life and but there were stumbles. In Rick’s case, it was overcooked seafood. Hubert Keller’s triple blanched garlic clove was judged as too raw for the preparation. The table seemed a bit put off by Michael Chiarello’s fish crispy. Chiarello’s short ribs, however, were probably what moved him up to second place.
We expect to be eating at Frontera in the near future. (The wait for a table can’t get much worse, can it?) Now, I need an excuse to get to Napa and San Francisco so I can try Chiarello’s gnocchi and Keller’s stew.
I think it’s just best to skip over the quickfire challenge. I expected a lot more from all of the chefs. Lo didn’t recognize hoisin sauce? Come on! At least, it seems they all recognized ketchup.
Rick Bayless was in good hands when he chose Richard Blais to be his sous chef. Hubert Keller was Hubert Keller and he’d probably do well no matter who he chose. He just exudes chef-ness. It was apparent that they were doing OK, although I was surprised at Hubert’s scoring surge at the judges’ table. It all came down to whether Anita Lo’s decision to go with a raw bar in the hot sun was worse than Michael Chiarello’s decision to ignore the skills and talents of his team, thus getting well below their best.
Time to hop over to Skillet Doux and see who’s commenting there today.
I need to admit it — I do watch reality shows. I’m hooked on Top Chef and Top Chef Masters. I want to eat the foods prepared by the "cheftestants". I root for my favorites and I boo the villains. Is that wrong? Is it any different from "I’m a celebrity, get me out of here"? Probably not.
In any case, it was sad to see Art Smith go last week. It’s not that he’s a local boy made good. He’s cooking wasn’t up to the standard set by the other chefs, but I really want to eat at Table 52. I think that his Mac’n’Cheese and Southern Fried Chicken could be a subliime delight on par with anything I’ve had at, say, Ambria.
I’m continuing to root for Rick Bayless. I’ve waited two hours for a table at Frontera and felt it was worth it. The couple of meals at Topo are memorable for the complexity of flavor but openness of the dish. I don’t like food that has to be explained to me.
Looking forward to Wednesday night.