Top Chef Masters

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Mad Meals

The next day, everyone gets down to business in a very small kitchen. The lack of space ratchets up the pressure. Suvir and Sue feel pushed out because of the tight quarters, so much so that only apparatus available to Suvir to cook his veal is a deep fryer with which he's not entirely comfortable. With five minutes to go, Mary Sue realizes she won't get all her plating done in time if she doesn't take action, so she commandeers some space underneath the group workstation and starts putting down her take on deviled eggs. John, meanwhile, is finding many of his oysters uncookable, which is severely compromising his plan to offer both a classic take and a contemporary redux of his dish.

Without further ado, it's out to the party. Curtis reintroduces regular judges Ruth Reichl, James Oseland and Danyelle Freeman. John presents his mignonette pickled oysters with horseradish crème fraîche, collards and spicy bacon, and Mary Sue offers up a Japanese style poached egg with umeboshi and mustard miso mayonnaise. Everyone loves John's oysters better than the original and think Mary Sue's deviled egg take-off is amazing, even if it doesn't necessarily scream "deviled egg".

Both of the next competitors have broken down their original dishes, with George presenting a roasted chicken breast with lemon yogurt and seasonal vegetables in place of chicken a la King, and Traci plating a steak tartare and fried noodles instead of beef stroganoff. Only Ruth takes issue with the soggy bread in George's chicken dish, but everyone else agrees it blows the inspiration out of the water. They also like the beef stroganoff, though Christina doesn't think it has enough mushroom flavor, and Geoffrey thinks it's a little off that the noodles are the stand-out of the dish.

As Suvir plates his fried veal with mint, cilantro and tomato chutney and asparagus salad, he knows frying his veal was the wrong decision. Less Zen-like is Sue, who doesn't have time to get half of her plates finished. She presents what was supposed to be a crispy duck breast with spicy blood orange gastrique and pineapple-mango salad to the judges. On the verge of tears, she apologizes that she ran out of time to finish plating. Suvir chivalrously covers for her, saying her generosity in helping others backfired. Curtis tells her not to worry yet because it could be delicious regardless. The judges find Suvir's veal tough, bland and similar to "mystery meat." They like Sue's dish but feel like the cracklin she admitted she didn't have time to plate would have made a difference.

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Top Chef Masters




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