Top Chef Masters Episode 4: Love BitesBy Graham Kates
August 15, 2013
Perhaps the most time-honored tradition in the Top Chef universe is the one in which the accomplished chefs praise the culinary virtues of whatever random product has plugged into the Quickfire challenge. (Remember when cheftestants on regular Top Chef made all those flawlessly executed dishes with culinary mainstay Diet Dr. Pepper?) In episode four, the cheftestants are so familiar with the qualities of various Goose Island brews - one of which must be paired with each dish - that it appears few even need to take a sip before deciding what to cook.
Their challenge is to create a curry in 30 minutes and pair it with one of the beers. The cheftestants don’t love the idea of hastily throwing together curry, which typically takes a long time to stew. Sang Yoon - apparently a music lover - explains: “You want curry to taste like an Arcade Fire song. Lots of layers, orchestral.”
Yoon also immediately recognizes the relatively obscure guest judge for the quickfire, Jason Bentley, the music director of Los Angeles radio station KCRW. We’re not saying there’s any inside baseball being played, but Yoon wins the challenge. He’s now won two of four quickfires and an elimination.
But, we find out that once again, Yoon’s sous chef has finished in the bottom three of the Battle of the Sous Chefs, along with those teamed with Bryan Voltaggio and Lynn Crawford. Voltaggio’s pissed.
“This is the second time my sous chef, Graham, has been on the bottom of one of these challenges,” Voltaggio says, grimacing, to the camera. “He’s gotta turn things around.”
Douglas Keane’s sous chef wins the challenge, so he gets immunity and can choose his team for the elimination challenge. He goes with David Burke and Sue Zemanick. The sous chef losers are put on a team and the third group is Franklin Becker, Jennifer Jasinski and Neal Fraser.
Host Curtis Stone tells the teams they’re making food for a party being thrown by James Oseland, but when Stone exits, Oseland tells the chefs they’re actually making a surprise engagement party for Stone. (Bridal magazines take note: what a great way to save on catering costs!) They’re introduced to Stone’s fiancee Lindsay Price, who gives the chefs tips on what to make, including curried crab, chocolate and Korean barbecue.
During prep, Team Becker/Jasinski/Fraser has all sorts of problems. When Jasinski has issues rolling out pasta, Fraser has to assist, leaving Becker stranded during a two-man operation and perhaps dooming the Becker dishes to failure. Stone seems legitimately surprised, but one has to wonder if he really wanted to work through his own party. Team Keane/Burke/Zemanick pull down the win with their Korean barbecue surf ‘n turf, crab beignets, umami broth and Burke’s signature cheesecake lollipops.
Meanwhile, the dysfunction of Team Becker/Jasinski/Fraser lands them on the bottom. The judges consider giving Becker credit for preparing two dishes (salmon with citrus, avocado and pickled cucumber and a pink sake guava coconut cocktail), but ultimately they really hate the cocktail so much that there is no choice. Becker bids the show adieu and swears never to take on bartending again.