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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Top Chef Masters: Family Ties

Posted By on Thu, Jun 9, 2011 at 9:52 AM


We were unsure of how we'd manage without Hugh(nibrow) on Top Chef Masters, and for the first episode without him, we were tweezed in two. Luckily, we still managed to stay tuned.

For the Quickfire, the cheftestants had to have their cooking station divided and work with a mystery teammate on the other side to create an identical dish with only verbal commands. In fact, these mystery people were the chefs' family members. Classic twist! Here we go.

Traci yelled "Chiffonade" many times before she realized that her mystery man (her brother) didn't know the term and had to settle for mince. She then knew this obviously wasn't a culinary student.

But no one was more embarrassed than Naomi, who incessantly screamed at the man later revealed as her own father, "Who doesn't know what a shallot looks like?" "I'm not getting disqualified because you can't crack an egg."

Traci and her younger brother, Mitch, made identical plates and Curtis admitted that he couldn't decide which he liked more. The halibut with asparagus in a brown butter balsamic vinaigrette was a winner, and won yet another $5,000 for La Cocina.

The family theme stuck around for the Elimination, assigned to work with a relative of someone in the military. The challenge: create a homecoming meal for military servicemembers returning from overseas. Their relatives spilled the beans on their favorite foods -- and some of the chefs were in for a heavy battle.

Traci remarked, "I can make some fancy French dish easier than I can make a meatloaf." Mary Sue, of the Border Grill, was so glad that her guy was Guatemalan, meaning she could use spice and cook the food she loved. Floyd, on the other hand, got a guy who liked his food bland; beef, spinach salad, and clam chowder were the only approved foods. No problem, Floyd worked it. He was also charming as hell, saying that he served everyone that night because it was only right -- after all, they served us. Floyd was the only one to receive a special military coin from his serviceman as a token of gratitude. He got teary and later brought it out when questioned for his bland tenderloin, reassuring himself that he cooked for the right person.

Mary Sue and her tomatillo barbecue ribs with avocado corn relish and potato and rajas were deemed the winner, and she was served with the first spot in the finale.

The other three chefs were sent to judges' table and hairs were split on the biggest cooking mistake: Floyd's tenderloin too plain, Traci's meatloaf too salty, or if the shrimp in Naomi's fried rice were underdone. In the end, Naomi, the youngest of the remaining chefs, was sent home. We didn't mind; we wanted to send her home after she said poke was the "national" dish of Hawaii, which is, of course, a state. Screw your former independence, Hawaii! You belong to us now!

Which, of course, means that San Francisco's very own Traci Des Jardins is in the finale. We hope that she will pull a Yigit and bring another Top Chef crown to the city! The finale will be next week, and of course we'll be watching and reporting.

Read more from Carina Ost at
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Carina Ost


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