This is It Poolers! Okay, I can't stand it! I’m just gonna cut to the chase here and now and tell you…THE BRUINS WON!
Let’s get this party started and see who’s gonna buy me celebratory Stanley Cup drinks!
The Masters walk into the TC Dining Room and the Critics are standing there! Uh oh.
Curtis is next to The Barber (James Oseland), Ruth Reichl and The Hat is back! (Gael Greene in this mutha.)
The Final Elimination Challenge
Create a three course meal of a lifetime: first course inspired by the Masters’ first food memory, second course by the meal that made them want to be a chef and the third course by…a knife pull. Awww, I want it to be a knife fight! Tough Traci would laser their hands off and cook their internal organs with her mechanically enhanced optics!
Floyd pulls a knife that reads: The Barber.
Apparently the Critics have memories too. The Barber asks Floyd to make a classic Indonesian dish called rendang; Sweet Mary Sue gets Ruth who requests a lemon soufflé and Tough Traci pulls The Hat who wants fried duck. Traci is immediately comfortable with this.
They must serve 12 guests, have 8 hours to shop and cook, can go to any specialty food store they want and Curtis tells them they “invited an extra pair of hands.”
I’m pretty sure this is the “I better not get Chef Tio” face:
In walk the Masters’ Executive Chefs, yay! Floyd hugs his like a life raft and says he knows he can make the food he needs to now.
In the TCM kitchen, The Hat explains she had fried duck served with a béarnaise sauce in Vienna on her honeymoon.
The Hat wore a hat even back then?! Geez.
Ruth tells Sweet Mary Sue that her parents brought her to Paris and she had her first lemon soufflé there and was mystified by it. “It’s like almost a living thing.” Yeah, it looks a little too alive to me. Also I bet you it’s just wet bread at the bottom. I HATE bread puddingy kinda stuff that absorbs liquid and gets puffier and moisty-er EW!
The Barber reminisces on rendang and how it transformed his idea of what food could be. Floyd says (To Camera) that a rendang is a reverse braised beef dish that can’t be forced. It has to be cooked slowly. The Barber tells Floyd the heat of the dish and layers of flavor blew his mind as a 19 year old in South East Asia.
I’m pretty sure The Barber, present day, would have sex with himself at 19.
The Masters discuss their own food memories that made them want to cook with their Sous Chefs who really just don’t want to be fired for effing up on TCM or by leaving their duties at their bosses restaurants. Sweet Mary Sue saw a friend whip up a shrimp cocktail, Tough Traci had a quail dish, Floyd went to a fancy dinner with his father and had whitefish; then they get in their product placement vehicles with their product placement smart phones and shop.
Sweet Mary Sue wants lobster tails at Whole Foods but they only have two, rather than go frozen she gives it up and goes with shrimp. Tough Traci goes to a butcher and gets two kinds of duck, French and Peking. She decides to put them both on one plate.
Sweet Mary Sue is an LA native: “It’s a pretty rainy day and I know traffic is gonna be horrendous…So instead of going to different markets we get our groceries from” Product Placement “and rush into our” Product Placement “vehicle and get back to the kitchen to start cooking.” I guess they figured Mary Sue was so sweet she wouldn’t mind doing two commercials for products in one sentence?
Tough Traci arrives at Whole Foods and discovers a lot of what she needs is gone. Uh oh. Meanwhile all of Floyd’s dishes need several ingredients. Annnnd here where you know there’s gonna be a problem. This is Floyd in THE FIRST OF SEVERAL specialty stores where he says he needs to shop. They’ve already spent over an hour in the car (welcome to LA!)
Notice Floyd’s hands: empty.
Sweet Mary Sue and her Sous arrive at an empty TCM Kitchen with over four hours to prep.
Floyd is now thinking he’s not going to have enough time to braise his meat. Floyd, honey, have you been to LA before? It takes two hours to get five feet in that city when it’s Not Raining. I was there in the 90s when it snowed half an inch and people left their cars in the highway and ran away screaming. Tough Traci finally gets to the kitchen and immediately starts to make it happen. She asks where Floyd is.
Um, Floyd is in the back seat of a car, Doods.
Sweet Mary Sue has a memory of what her German mother used to prepare for the holidays.
Lookit how sweet Sweet Mary Sue is!
Her mother used to make her steak tartare.
Ewwww. Sweet Mary Sue eating raw meats for Christmas? See, something’s not quite right. She’s a secret serial killer. She happily chops meat as OMG, Floyd finally arrives.
Floyd: “I hate your city, Mary Sue!”
Mary Sue: “I’m soorrrry!”
Watch your back, Floyd, she'll kill you and turn you into tartare!
He has just under 3 and a half hours left and starts to prep ox tail and short ribs (wait how many proteins are we working with here?) and when he opens the fish (HUH? What are we making, Floyd!?) he finds the filets are all broke up and there are scales all over everything…
Tough Traci: “That’s a crime.”
Hm. Did you commit it?
I’m just saying you’re talking like you had something to do wi-
Okay! (Thanks for lasering my eyebrows through the teevee, btw, my left one was a little long…)
From the microchip in Tough Traci’s robutt assassin brain that has stored her "human memories,” she recalls her grandpa in Louisiana who used to drive to the coast, 2 hours away, to buy fresh seafood. She makes shrimp creole in his honor. Mary Sue is also making shrimp, a hot rigatoni and a cold crab salad. The two of them seem extra chummy.
Meanwhile Floyd labors over a dish he used to have every day for snack at 4pm in India when he was little. He decides to add chicken stock for flavor and some diced vegetables but knows it’s a risk since it’s not very complicated. Overall he makes subtle dishes, working on the stocks for everything, knowing he doesn’t have much time and saving the meat for tomorrow (yipe.)
Tough Traci is still deciding how to prepare the duck dish with the two types she bought.
Mary Sue makes lemon soufflés and gives each Master, including their Sous Chef (!) a little ramekin.
Mary Sue: “This is a test.”
She’s the sweetest show off ever!
Floyd recalls that every time he’s gone up against Mary Sue he’s come in second. He eats the soufflé. It’s delicious.
Floyd: “Okay Mary Sue I’m gonna go home already.”
In the morning the Masters are driven into the Hollywood Hills.
Baby pardon? What’s going on here?
Are they cooking the finale dinner someplace other than the Top Chef Dining Room...?
Sweet Mary Sue: “What if they have another challenge for us? Because, I’m not doing it.”
Yeah, Mary Sue! Boycott this Ish! You guys have the meal of a lifetime to make and you’re knocking on a door to find…
Surprise! Curtis Stone in chef whites in some house the production company rented in a weak attempt to show he actually has cooking skills.
They have mimosas. Sweet Mary Sue (reading from cue cards most likely): “Curtis is an accomplished chef.”
He serves a hamachi app and sun choke soup but there are no ingredient rundowns or close ups of the dishes.
Uh huh, seewhatI'msayin'?
Sounds like Bravo catered a meal and wardrobe threw him an apron. SCAM!
Finally, they run into the TCM kitchen to finish what they started but Sweet Mary Sue’s lemon ice cream isn’t freezing -they don’t have an ice cream maker! (They don’t?) She has to Richard Blais it with liquid nitro!
4 minutes left!
Tough Traci says it’s almost impossible to get someone's “food memory just right.” Floyd isn’t getting the flavor he wants in his polenta. He keeps adjusting. Floyd: “I’m thinking, man, this is not gonna work.”
Seated are Tom Colicchio, Restaurant Girl, The Hat, The Barber, Jody Adams (chef/owner, Rialto), previous TC Masters: Jonathan Waxman, Rick Moonen, Susur Lee, Grub Street Editor Systma and Susan Feniger (former TCM and Sweet Mary Sue’s business partner) who raises a glass to her as soon as she walks in.
Sweet Mary Sue says it’s a great boost to see Susan.
She jokes that she let’s Susan try things first (Susan tried TCM first and she used to be married to her husband. Susan “tried him out and then she introduced us.”) Okay. Okay, calm down.
Tough Traci’s modernized version of her Louisiana grandfather’s shrimp creole is ambitious according to The Barber. Waxman says it’s deconstructed and ballsy.
Colicchio: “You’re thinking Louisiana cooking, you’re thinking spice, cayenne, things like that. I’m just not getting that here.”
Well you haven’t been able to get the hair you wanted in a long time, Colicchio, you got used to not getting that.
Ruth says the more attention you give Floyd’s wild mushroom upma polenta with kokum (a spice from the West Coast of India) and coconut milk, the more the flavors start bouncing around in your mouth. (Ohhhhkay.)
The Hat says Floyd’s dish is a little too simple. Waxman likes it. The Hat: “That’s a very Jonathan Waxman philosophy.”
Well Hello animosity!
Waxman: “Are you trying to blow people away with every dish? No.”
The Hat: “I think if I were in the Finale of Top Chef Masters I would try with every single dish, yes.”
Colicchio: “I agree.”
This is a table fulla haters, save Waxman. Moonen is just eating and saying nothing at this point.
Susan sings that it’s time to eat Mary Sue’s steak tartare. Restaurant Girl (seated with The Barber and Systma from Grub Street) tells her to try not to be biased. Susan says it’s impossible.
What you say no longer counts.
At Table Hate- Colicchio doesn’t think Mary Sue’s tartare went far enough. It needs more soy and sesame. Um, can we get you a Diet Coke, Colicchio? Or just another fat payroll check from Diet Coke. Someone is surly as sh*t!
Floyd’s rice flaked snapper with tomato & fennel broth and carrots. Rick Moonen thinks the rice is a bit crispy (uh oh), Curtis likes the spicy broth. The Hat says the fish is overcooked.
Waxman: “That’s you, Gael, you like it raw.”
Then he straight up laughs at her! Colicchio bites his tongue to keep from guffawing.
These two are gonna go at it!
Sweet Mary Sue’s duo of shrimp: shrimp & chervil (a parsley related herb) mousse stuffed rigatoni, crab & shrimp salpicon (which is just a fancy word for mixed) salad has a heavy sauce according to Restaurant Girl. The Barber loves the 1960s aesthetic. Um, screw aesthetics, it’s food? Does it taste good? Come on!
Traci’s roasted quail salad with sweetbreads, mushrooms & pancetta is met with Waxman asking The Hat what she thinks because she’s “the sweetbreads expert.”
The Hat: “You said that as if you don’t believe I’m the sweetbread’s expert.”
Waxman: “No I do, I remember because you said something many years ago about my sweetbreads and you were almost right.”
These two are either gonna scrap or ride the magic hobby horse!
Susan says this is what Tough Traci does all the time, she takes something precious and brings it down to earth. Restaurant Girl and Systma are like- Yah Right! You heart Mary Sue!
In the kitchen, Sweet Mary Sue jumps the gun on the lemon soufflé and whips her egg whites too early! Apparently this is a non-issue and Floyd and Tough Traci and their Sous help her plate. Then she and Tough Traci hug and Mary Sue spins her around a bit and then they both hug Floyd.
When they go out to intro their last dish, - more hugs?! Susan runs over to Mary Sue before anyone can speak and hugs her tight.
Floyd: “Can somebody come and hug me, please?”
Yeah, get yours, Floyd! Waxman obliges and has to hug Tough Traci too or she'll kill him.
Her crisp duck with béarnaise (pan roasted) and braised duck leg (cooked and breaded with mustard) salad is uneven. The Hat said one duck was wonderful, tender and full of flavor and the other was dry and hard to cut. Ouch.
Floyd’s rendang two ways: oxtail (braised for five hours) & short ribs (with wine) and tapioca pilaf with diced potato and peanuts was deemed “salt of the earth food but elevated,” by the Barber. Colicchio said it had heat and good flavors.
Sweet Mary Sue’s lemon soufflé with rhubarb compote and lemon hazelnut meringue cake AND lemon ice cream (KAPOW!) was the best dish Colicchio had all night. Ruth said she would have had an even greater love affair with lemon if she had eaten it years ago. She sounds like me and Hostess cupcakes. Sadly, or fortunately rather, that affair is dead and gone.
In the kitchen, everyone hugs like crazy. Hugs drive Tough Traci Robutt Mad!
And then, it’s time for The Final Critic’s Table…
Restaurant Girl was reminded that she’s a novice in this realm-
It was just Curtis, Ruth, The Hat and The Barber -BURN!
Then the ambiguity began: Ruth loved the texture of Sweet Mary Sue’s tartare but The Barber didn’t think her shrimp dishes spoke to each other. Ruth thanked her for another eureka moment, “that lemon meringue brought it all back for me.”
Ruth thought Floyd’s polenta was brave, The Barber didn’t like the rice on the outside of his red snapper but thought the rendang had soul.
The Hat was looking for a long-cooked creole flavor from Tough Traci but she said her grandpa used red wine. "It’s different for everyone." Ruth shakes her head in agreement.
The Hat told Tough Traci one duck was perfect and one was dry but the béarnaise was great.
Curtis sends the Masters away so the Critics can debate the millionth free meal they’ve had.
When the Masters return…he says only one of them can win and Tough Traci and Sweet Mary Sue look at each other.
Then Curtis announces that
the winner of Top Chef Masters is…
Floyd: “Oh my God! I can’t believe it! I’m shocked!”
Floyd’s charity, The Young Scientist Cancer Research Fund, receives $100,000!!!
Sweet Mary Sue is thrilled for Floyd. Tough Traci says getting this close is a little disappointing. I’m sure it’s MORE than a little…
In the final seconds Curtis tells Floyd he has one more thing for him:
Oh yeah, that’s great, he needed a rag to wash his Toyota Hybrid (WTH?)
And so that means Q, Jenna, Bertsch and Daisy are the winners of the Top Chef Masters Pool!!!!
And the city erupts!
OMG, Daisy is that you?
Thanks for another great season, Poolers!
Oh and Bertsch, you’re the newbie so here's the way it works, I’ve purchased myself two new pairs of shoes with the cheddar and I mail one shoe to each of the four of you!
You’re welcome to try to sell it on eBay or return it to me (that’s what everyone else does.)
I keed, I am keeder.
The checks are in the mail!
And the Stanley Cup is in Boston where it belongs!