Top Chef Masters Season 5, Episode 2


Reprinted with permission from

Eleven Sous Chefs are chopping and prepping and slicing and dicing for their mise en place challenge, and the ingredients (pomegranate, celery root, lamb, and squid) will become the ingredients in the Real Chefs’ thirty-minute Quickfire Challenge that’s also an Elimination Challenge. Sang’s Sous Chef wins the challenge, so he’s the only Real Chef without any prep work to complete, and he has immunity. With ten minutes gone, several Real Chefs are still struggling with the mise en place.

Richard is the last to complete his prep, with only eleven minutes to cook a delicious dish. Thankfully, someone named raw meat “tartare” and decided that it was gourmet, so Richard decides to “cook” lamb tartare. Jennifer’s seared lamb sounds tasty, Sang’s baby squid looks beautiful, Sue’s seared lamb loin is called “tender,” and the pistachio’s take it to a new level, Lynn’s grilled lamb falls flat because of the celery root, Jenn’s lab tartare is well-seasoned, Richard’s lamb tartare is inconsistent in the knife work, Doug’s lamb tataki hot pot has murky broth, Bryan’s carpaccio of lamb is better in concept than reality, Odette’s lamb chops don’t mesh with the ratatouille, Franklin’s squid with lamb shwarma blows Curtis’s mind. Gail’s favorite dishes were from Sang, Sue, and Jenn. She gives the win to Sue. Gail’s least favorite dishes were from Lynn, Odette, and Richard. The least successful dish was Richard’s tartare, and he is eliminated from the competition. I’m guessing he’s also going to fire his Sous Chef.

It’s another Elimination Challenge. The chefs must choose a classic American dish and put an Asian twist on it for a pop up food market. The Real Chefs will have the help of their Sous Chefs for two hours of prep before two hundred hungry guests arrive. Cutting, slicing, water baths, lobsters are bathing in boiling water, and a meatball sub is being transformed into a bahn mi sandwich.

Francis Lam, Gail Simmons, and James Oseland are the judges. Jenn serves them a pork meatball bahn mi, but the bread is too…bready. Franklin made a Peking-style burger which is a hit. Odette turned spaghetti and meatballs in to glass vermicelli with fish balls that everyone finds too fishy. For some reason, a likely-drunk Kathy Lee shows up to make dirty jokes. Bryan’s gyoza dumplings are tasty, but Neal’s Panko-crusted chicken with coconut has mixed reviews because some people don’t love chicken hearts. Sang cooked fried shrimp heads that James talks about in poetry. Lynn made pulled pork on scallion biscuits which everyone finds delicious. Jennifer created a B.L.T. that’s too much like a B.L.T.. Sue made a lobster roll that Curtis calls smart, but James and Gail both found shells. David cooked up a ginger BBQ chicken dumpling that makes sense in the mouth. Douglas did a play on cookies and cream with coconut and something else that James thinks is gross because he hates the mix of savory and sweet…until he tastes it, and then he’s a

The critics ask to see Bryan, Douglas, and Sang. Cheer up, boys, you had the critics’ favorite dishes. And the winning chef is Sang, who is now a double winner. I guess dried shrimp heads are something that people like to eat? The critics then ask to see Sue, Odette, and Jenn. Odette’s fish balls were gluey, Sue’s lobster salad was flavorless (except for the shells), and Jenn’s bahn mi’s bread was too much and all sorts of wrong.  Ultimately, the critics send Jenn home. Ah well.

Next week, the chefs cook for the cast of Days Of Our Lives, which I thought was cancelled decades ago.

(images via)

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