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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Top Chef Masters: Traci Des Jardins Hosts Her Own Party

Posted By on Thu, Apr 28, 2011 at 12:41 PM

Watching Top Chef Masters from Public House. - CARINA OST
  • Carina Ost
  • Watching Top Chef Masters from Public House.

SFoodie got word that cheftestant Traci Des Jardins would be having a Top Chef Masters viewing party at her casual dining joint, Public House. It was, of course, open to the public, so we headed down there for a seat at the bar. The sound of the show was piped through the entire restaurant and bar, but only a few of the TVs were tuned to Bravo. As compensation, Public House was broadcasting the East Coast feed, so we were getting the info early -- with butterscotch pudding and an Allagash White, to boot. Not too shabby.

Traci was at a big table with family and friends. At first, we were shocked to hear people cheering at weird moments in the show, and then we realized that some of the customers were watching a hockey game. The crowd gave off the biggest gasp when one of the chefs was sent to pack up knives. But let's rewind to the TV show:

Last night's Top Chef Masters started off rather cheesy. The Quickfire: create a masterful cheese dish. The always-skeptical Traci remarked that this was too easy for Masters. Then came the twist: The chefs had only 12 minutes to make it. As our Hugh(nibrow) noted, "12 minutes? It takes me longer to shave."

We then got to hear Chef Curtis pronounce Gouda as "gowda" more times than we want to remember. The chef who really worked the cheese for the guest judge, the owner of the Cheese Shop in Beverly Hills, was our Traci. She made a colombier and prosciutto carpaccio with arugula and croutons -- according to the judge, the pairing allowed the cheese to "talk." The crowd went wild: Another $5,000 for La Cocina.

The elimination challenge that followed was majorly loserish and reductive. Out walks the host of The Biggest Loser with a table full of fatty foods. "Gut-bomb central," noted Hugh. The foods turned out to be the Biggest Loser contestants' favorites before they went on the show, and even though they were on the weight-loss path, they still had cravings.

Here's where the chefs came in: They had to work in teams to create breakfast, lunch, and dinner under 1,500 calories total. Each dish assigned to each cheftestant normally contained more than 1,500 calories alone. Most of the chefs mentioned how foreign the thought of calories was to them. (Be scared, diners, be very scared.) Some chefs simply shrank the original dish, while others took substitution risks and huge creative license.

The most shocking dish presented came from Suvir, the now very well-known vegetarian chef. His biggest loser loved and craved bacon cheeseburgers with fries; his version was a veggie burger in a pita with an Asian slaw. Aside from the tomato, there was nothing present in the dish that his loser wanted. Suvir also presented the dish with a long talk about red meat being an enemy to the heart, which angered the heart of Hugh(nibrow), who had to present his red meat dish right after. In his well-shaded eyes, a line was crossed. Hugh presented his flank steak as "good and not as sinister as Suvir made it out to be," and a talk was had in the kitchen, with a lot of sarcastic "sinister" lines dropped.

The winner: Floyd's buffalo balls. His substitute for a meatball sub was a buffalo meatball -- the meat is apparently much leaner than beef -- over farro, with spinach, cheese, tomato sauce, and asparagus.

Unfortunately, Suvir strayed too far from the task and had to pack his knives for not satisfying his customer. The crowd let out a loud boo and a gasp at Public House -- and our night of public Top Chef Masters viewing was over.

Read more from Carina Ost at
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Carina Ost


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