Top Chef Masters Season 5, Episode 8: Lucha Vavoom

Top Chef Masters Season 5 - Episode 8 - Lucha Vavoom - Curtis

Reprinted with permission from 

The remaining chefs are met by Daniel Handler, an accordion player who turns out to be the writer of theLemony Snicket books. He introduces the Quickfire Challenge. The winner of the Sous Chef competition and the corresponding Real Chef will decide what the challenge is (and gets the coveted immunity for the Real Chef), and the winning Sous Chef is Paul, Douglas’s replacement Sous Chef.  They decide on a dish featuring ketchup because Sang doesn’t permit ketchup in his restaurant. Oh, also? Sang and Jennifer’s Sous Chefs were on the bottom of the competition, so they’ll have an obstacle later in the competition.

Top Chef Masters Season 5 - Episode 8 - Curtis and Daniel Handler

So what did Douglas make for his own challenge? Duck breast with ketchup and mustard red miso, blood turnip and scallion. It looks murky. Sang prepared karaage fried chicken with sweet chili sauce and grilled enoki mushrooms which looks delicious, but I’m a little unclear on where he hid the ketchup. Jennifer cooked scallop with ketchup sauce, fermented black beans, avocados and blood orange. Bryan was thinking pub food and made buffalo chicken wings with celery emulsion and blue cheese snow, which is another dish that doesn’t seem to feature the ketchup. David prepared a grilled cheese and scallop sandwich with ketchup soup and salad with ketchup dressing. Cheese and fish? Isn’t that a no-no? The least favorite dish is David’s soup, salad, and sandwich combination because yes you are never supposed to pair cheese and fish. Also on the bottom was Douglas, who thunked up this challenge. The winning dish is Jennifer’s scallop and ketchup sauce.

So…Lucha Vavoom…a troupe of Mexican wrestlers who are also into burlesque and maybe some comedy bound into the Top Chef kitchen. The next challenge is to cook a Mexican meal for three hundred guests for one of the wrestlers’ shows. The chefs go to a Mexican market and try to sort through ingredients that many of them are not so familiar with…except for Jennifer who has been cooking Mexican food for her entire life.

Because Sang and Jennifer’s Sous Chefs were on the bottom on the Sous Chef competition, they have to switch Sous Chefs which totally screws them up because a) there’s the possibility that the Sous Chef will try to throw the competition; and b) the Real Chefs already coordinated their dishes with their Sous Chefs. It proves to be a huge time suck, especially for Sang.

Top Chef Masters Season 5 - Episode 8 - Sang's Menu

The chefs begin serving their food to the most bizarrely costumed guests ever on Top Chef. The tequila doesn’t hurt, either. There’s a tiny hint of a wrestling match, and then it’s time to judge the food. David made shrimp and chorizo quesadilla with chipolte and watermelon and a red snapper Veracruz with pumpkin seeds and cactus. The judges take issue with David calling it a quesadilla because it’s so not a quesadilla. Bryan’s dishes are shrimp and chorizo with plantain and yellow corn porridge, and chili masa dumplings, braised beef tongue, salsa verde and avocado. There’s talk about the texture of the shrimp, and a dirty joke about tacos.

Now it’s time for some wrestling, and Curtis is pretty much digging it. Jennifer made shrimp, bass and scallop cheviche with papaya, mango, pineapple and plantain crisp, and a guajillo chile posole with shaved cabbage, lime, cilantro and queso fresco. The judges are loving the flavor of Jennifer’s dishes, so she clearly knows her Mexican cuisine. Chef Sang, on the other hand, went in a different direction. He made Thai-style shrimp cocktail with avocado foam and tortilla strips, and then brought it back to Mexico with pork barbacoa with sweet corn sope and radish cabbage stew. Lastly, Douglas prepared bloody Maria with spicy tequila, tomato and citrus, and chorizo and corn fritter with scallion and garlic aioli. Even though the judges love their booze, they are not blown away by the cocktail. But Douglas’s fritter is a big hit.

Top Chef Masters Season 5 - Episode 8 - Douglas Dish - Corn Fritter

It’s time for the critics to weigh in, and they ask to see all of the chefs. The favorite dishes were from Jennifer and Bryan. Jennifer was able to layer amazing flavors in a short amount of time, and Bryan’s dishes were also surprisingly flavorful (except for his oddly-textured shrimp). The winning chef is Jennifer. Douglas has immunity, so that means David and Sang are up for elimination. The judges felt that the fish sauce overpowered the Mexican elements in his dish, and the pork was salty. As for David’s dish, there was too much tortilla so it was dry and bland, and the olives overwhelmed his snapper dish. And with that, Sang goes home. Wow. That’s too bad, he was fun to watch.

Next week, the chefs are cooking for teachers.

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