The chef-y competition begins afresh tonight as 14 renowned chefs don their aprons on Top Chef Masters season 4. Tonight we’ll learn a little about the backgrounds of the hopefuls in the Top Chef Masters 2012 lineup.
I can’t wait to hear more about the cheftestants on Top Chef Masters 4, and I’ll be providing commentary live as the show airs, so join me tonight for a Top Chef Masters 2012 recap.
I’m particularly excited to see my favorite TV chef as the host: Australian cutie Curtis Stone. With Around the World in 80 Plates coming to an end last week, I’m glad that Top Chef Masters 2012 is giving me a little bit more of my Curtis Stone “fix”.
Returning to judge Top Chef Masters 4 are ever-opinionated James Oseland, and the harsh but fair Ruth Reichl. With the talent on the roster, this should prove to be a very exciting season. Top Chef Masters 2012 has their most talented group yet.
It’s already apparent, as the initial intros are made, that the dynamics are going to be quite interesting this season, especially with a couple in the mix – chefs Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier.
The first challenge of the season splits the chefs into pairs, and has them dealt ingredients on cards, Blackjack style. All ingredients dealt have to be used, in the same dish. Most of the combinations didn’t seem so bad, except the tenderloin and bologna, which is bizarre no matter how refined you make it.
The cheftestants had 15 minutes to come up with something amazing, while working with chefs they had never worked with before. I’m impressed at how calm the kitchen is, considering the volatile nature of the situation. These are really top level chefs.
Surprisingly, the bologna dish turned out quite well, while some of the other, seemingly safer, combinations, didn’t fare quite as well as they should have.
Chris Cosentino and Patricia Yeo’s ribeye and catfish dish won $5,000 for each of their charities – the Michael J. Fox Foundation and Heifer International, respectively. Both quite noble causes!
The very first elimination challenge was a team one, a buffet challenge, with teams chosen by the host. This is where we start to see that chef attitude, with some personalities a bit stronger and harsher than others. Formerly overweight chef Art Smith, who recently lost over 100 pounds, seems to be one of the more soft spoken men, while Chris Cosentino is rather abrupt.
The gambling theme continued as Curtis Stone passed out scratch tickets with both prizes and negatives, such as $1,000 for the winner’s charity, immunity, or losing 30 minutes of your cooking time. Another interesting option with the tickets was a team switch, which could be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. The type of cuisine being prepared was also chosen blindly with cards, with the red team cooking Mexican food, and the blue team working with Indian flavors.
The red team got off to a slow start, as they decided to send Art Smith out for ingredients. Apparently his pace matches his slow southern speech, as he meandered around the store looking for ingredients, and taken much longer than his teammates expected.
Chef Missy Robbins became the first injury of the season, and had to be taken to the hospital after badly cutting her finger during prep.
I’m really digging Thierry Rautureau, by the way, with his fun accent, cute hat, and funny personality.
Missy Robbins’s finger injury was more serious than initially thought. The doctor told her that her finger will require a skin graft and at least two weeks of total immobilization. I feel bad for her. It’s so early in the competition. I hope she finds a way to try and stay in the game.
The teams were tasked with serving 200 Las Vegas performers, buffet style, as well as the judges, including new judge Krista Simmons and returning judges James Oseland and Ruth Reichl. The red team was at a slight disadvantage, given that they were one person short.
There were hits and misses on both sides. It will be interesting to see which team is chosen tonight, with misfires all around – such as the Indian-spiced chicken, as well as dishes that hit it right it on the head – like Art Smith’s dessert.
Missy Robbins decided to leave the competition rather than potentially ruin her career with further injury, but host Curtis Stone personally guaranteed her a place in the next season of Top Chef Masters should she choose to return.
The winning team tonight was the red team, with the overall winner being Chris Cosentine. It seems that his cocky attitude is backed up with talent, as he has started out quite strongly out of the gate.
When the blue team stood before the judge’s table, they were told that the bold flavors of India were missing from their buffet offerings. The whole team seemed to be pretty aware that they didn’t perform their best tonight, and no one made any excuses for poor execution.
After deliberating the finer points of each chef’s meal, and taking into consideration the immunity of chef Debbie Gold - whose dessert was one of the lower points of the evening – the judges came to a decision and made Sue Torres the first casualty of the season. Even though she was eliminated, Top Chef Masters will be donating money to her cause, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Previews of the season look very promising. I can’t wait to see what they cook up on Top Chef Masters 2012! (Pun intended.)