‘Top Chef Masters’ review: American food, Asian style

Ready for controversy? -For the second week, “Top Chef Masters” delivered a tale of two challenges. The first was annoying, and perhaps a poor use of their “Battle of the Sous Chef” twist, given that it also tied into an elimination of someone much too early in the season. The second, meanwhile, was excellent and it gave us a new taste of Asian and Los Angeles culture.

Challenge 1 – Using the ingredients prepped by the sous chefs (yes, the gimmick lives), the chefs have to craft the perfect dish. Many of the ingredients were similar, but we saw everything from salads to soups to plenty of raw dishes.

Winner – Sue Zemanick. Yes, salads can win competitions! This was an interesting take on the ingredients, and there was balance, something that Gail always tends to celebrate as a judge.

Eliminated – Richard Sandoval. We absolutely hated the idea of an elimination happening in the quickfire, especially since it turned Gail Simmons into the judge and jury to determine someone’s fate. Richard’s dish looked pretty tasty from this standpoint; but remember, we’re not a critic. We’re just a guy who digs food.

Challenge 2 – An excellent idea: Taking traditional American food, and then making it Asian for a pop-up event in some hipster room that seems more suited for “Girls” than a show featuring millionaire chefs. Oh, and Kathie Lee was there to be quite possibly the worst judge in history! She was completely finicky, and watching her being pushed into trying these dishes she had no interest in was a reason to applaud and/or point and laugh. Also, she didn’t even stay for the whole thing!

Winner – It came down to Bryan Voltaggio, Sang Yoon, and one of our personal favorites in Douglas Keane, who came up with this crazy take on cookies n’ cream made funnier by James’ reaction when he realized it wasn’t terrible. Sang won for basically making fried shrimp that incorporated the head with some very unique slaw.

Eliminated – The bottom was Jenn Louis, Odette Fada, and Sue, despite her great performance earlier in the episode. This was an interesting one, given that Jenn’s only real flaw was just using bread that she got from the store and not doing enough with it. That’s how high the level of competition is; she didn’t really do anything wrong with the stuff that she actually cooked, but was sent home, anyway, thanks to some of what she put on the plate.

What do you think about this “Top Chef Masters” episode, and do you think that the right choices were made? If you want to check out some more news on this season so far, just be sure to check out the story over at the link here.

Photo: Bravo

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