Top Chef Masters Episode 1 – June 10, 2009

I have to start by saying that the biggest benefit of this show is NO PADMA! The new host of Top Chef Masters is Kelly Choi. The biggest downfall of the show is NO TOM! Chef Tom Colicchio is probably one of the best Chef’s I have watched on TV and is a big reason why I tune into Top Chef. However, I am a fan of Top Chef Masters after watching the first episode. While I am not a fan of the Food Networks "Chopped", TCM is a mix of Chopped & Top Chef. Each week we will see 4 "master" chefs (like chopped) competing for one of the 6 spots in the final four episodes but we will still see Top Chef favorites like the Quick Fire & Elimination Challenge. For the Quick Fire each week they will take some of the past Top Chef QF favorites and let the masters battle it out but it doesn’t give any immunity or any additional help the quick fire is only there to give you a more stars in the end. For voting, each round is consisted of a "star" system. For the Quick Fire you get a score out of 5 stars. For the elimination challenge its the same thing but you have 4 groups (the customers and 3 judges) of 5 stars for a total of 20 stars in the challenge and 25 stars total in the episode.

This week’s "masters" are:
Michael Schlow – Radius Restaurant, Boston, MA
Tim Love – The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Fort Worth, TX
Christopher Lee – Aureole, New York, NY
Hubert Keller – Fleur de Lys, San Francisco, CA

Quick Fire – In the inaugural quickfire the masters must create a dessert (which has always been a fear of most Top Chef’s) for the judges who happen to be a group of junior girls scouts. A slight curve for the masters is that they only have 60 minutes for the quickfire, normally Top Chefs have 90 minutes.
Michael- milk chocolate cake, peanut butter chocolate candies, and honey almond cream – (2.5*)
Tim- strawberries three ways (chocolate dipped, chicken fried, and milkshake) – (3.5*)
Christopher- french toast with carmalized banana on a stick with maple syrup fluff- (3.5*)
Hubert-  swan & mouse in variations of mousse and creame with chocolate  – (winner – 5 *)

Elimination Challenge- The masters must cook a 3 course meal in a dorm room with only a microwave, toaster over, and a hot plate. lol, yea they are gonna have fun with this one…The critics (not judges) for this episode/season are: Gael Greene, James Oseland, & Jay Rayner. What did the masters make:

Michael Schlow- Soup of Cabbage, Smoked Bacon, Fennel and White Beans, Pork “A la Apicius,” Broccolini and Mushrooms
Tim Love- Squash and Corn “Pounceole”, Skirt Steak and Braised Kale
Christopher Lee- Creamy Risotto, Proscuitto Di Parma, Sage, Parmigiano Reggiano, Pan Roasted Pork Chop, Piperade, Crushed Red Bliss Potatoes, Mache and Fennel Salad
Hubert Keller- Creamy Mac n’ Cheese with prawns, mushroom & fresh herbs, Cold Scottish Salmon, & Hardy Carrot and Petit Pea Soup with Cinnamon Croutons

In the elimination challege it was funny because Hubert used alot of creativity I thought in making his pasta for the mac n’ cheese, boiled the water and cooked the noodles on the hot plate then rinsed them off in the dorm shower along with re-steaming them. Tim had a little bit of a problem before he even started cooking because instead of all of his groceries going in the fridge the night before they accidentally went in the freezer so everything he had was frozen the next morning before the challenge.

Here is the overall rankings for the day with the winner of the episode moving to the final 6:
Michael Schlow – eliminated in episode 1 with 13½ stars
Tim Love –  eliminated in episode 1 with 14½ stars
Christopher Lee –  eliminated in episode 1 with 19 stars
Hubert Keller – Won episode 1 with 20½ stars, moves on to final 6

I think Hubert was hands down the winner early on in the episode just because you could tell the difference between each persons meal and the way it came across on tv. I am looking forward to seeing the rest of the season because this show is different for the normal Top Chef, almost a toned down version and straight to the cooking.

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