There are times in which “Top Chef Masters” simply just feels like a less intense version of the “Top Chef” franchise, but we really want to give Wednesday night’s credit for bringing us one of the coolest and most beautiful challenges the show has ever produced in four seasons.
For the elimination challenge, the chefs all took off via helicopter to Arizona, where they had the opportunity to not only cook outdoors, but do so with the Grand Canyon as their backdrop. To make things then even more fascinating, their challenge was to use local ingredients that were perfected over the years by Native Americans. They then served the critics their dishes along with members of the Hualapai Tribe, who were able to give their impression on the authenticity of the food. It was a great way for the show to honor a demographic that are often forgotten in our country, and to show us what sort of exquisite beauty and culture there is even out in the desert.
As far as the cooking goes, what Takashi Yagahashi and Thierry Rautureau managed to create were things of culinary beauty — especially for two people who were so far out of their comfort zone (and one man who did not even know what a yucca plant really was before the challenge). This challenge was so cool that it was hard to even see someone go, especially Clark Frasier given his enthusiasm for the region and his biggest mistake simply being trying and make his food rustic and familiar.
Overall, we really wish that all episodes of “Top Chef Masters” were like this — something that not only showed off some of America’s finest chefs in interesting ways, but also told a story about a region and a sort of food that we don’t often see on a regular basis. If this were to happen, this could very well become the go-to version of the franchise.
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