Top Chef Masters, Episode 9: Teacher Tribute

Top Chef Masters Season 5 Episode 9 Sang Tastes the Burgers

It’s the last Quickfire Challenge of the season. The burger. Or, as Curtis says, the “buuuhhhgaah.”

Jennifer is going for “Asian flare,” Douglas has a burger restaurant, David Burke remembers something about maybe having a burger in one of his four thousand restaurants, and Bryan has his head down and knives out. Surprise! Sang is the judge of the burger competition. David made a  lobtser and burrata burger that Curtis thinks is a weird combination. Jennifer’s beef burger with caramelized onion and bacon seems okay. Bryan’s bacon and cheddar beef burger with “special sauce” has a meatloafy texture. Douglas made a shrimp burger with shitake mushrooms, and Sang can’t taste the shrimp. Douglas and Bryan had Sang’s least favorite burgers. The win goes to Jennifer with her smokey flavored bacon burger.

So the Sous Chefs have been chopping away, and one of them won a spot in the finale for their Real Chef. The winner is Bryan’s Sous Chef, Graham. You have a spot in the finale, Bryan, so don’t screw it up! For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs will be going back to school. They must create a tribute dinner for teachers and administrators from the Los Angeles school district. There are four teachers being honored and four chefs, so they are each making a dish for one of the teachers.

Top Chef Masters Season 5 Episode 9 Sang Teachers Menu

I gotta be honest—this challenge is a total and complete bore. It’s chefs shopping in Whole Foods and cooking in a kitchen where nothing remarkable happens. The most interesting thing is watching The Cleaning Of The Squid. And then, David Burke begins making soufflés. With six mixers. He’s pretty excited about it, despite the fact that soufflés are notoriously testy, requiring precision and timing which are two things that are often in short order on Top Chef. So here I am, watching a cooking show and hoping for a failed soufflé. Sigh.

Douglas prepared the first course which is smoked salmon with cauliflower, cucumber and three count ‘emthree kinds of caviar. The judges call it luxurious, but Curtis finds it to be too “rich on rich.” Bryan is up next with calamari Bolognese with miso cavatelli, bacon and squid ink. It looks homey and delicious, and it stops the judges in their tracks because it’s as good as it looks. Jennifer is next, and Douglas suspects her lamb is undercooked but he says nothing because hey, it’s a competition. She presents rack of lamb with creamy grains, pear, fennel and red wine reduction. I like my lamb medium rare like all good people do, but that looks medium raw. The judges agree, but it sounds like the other elements of her dish are tasty. Last up is David’s bittersweet chocolate soufflé with orange peel and raspberry sauce. I want that right now, and then bring me another just like it every half hour until I explode. Unfortunately, the judge find it to be merely adequate.

Top Chef Masters Season 5 Episode 9 Final Four

At the Critic’s Table, the judges tell the chefs that Douglas and Bryan had their favorite dishes. The winning chef is Bryan, who will now doubly go on to the finale. Douglas has also earned himself a spot in the finale. Jennifer’s lamb was undercooked, and the texture of David’s soufflé was off. The judges send David home. Aww. That’s too bad. Sixty-two soufflés was a really ballsy move.

Next week, it’s the final finale.

Reprinted with permission from

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