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JULY 8, 2009 10:02PM

Iron Pundit vs. Iron Skillet: Top Chef Masters ep. 4

Rate: 11 Flag
John besh     


So here we are folks, back for another episode of Top Chef Masters after a break for the July 4th holiday.  Tonight, the chefs are apparently cooking for Neil Patrick Harris (aka Doogie Howser or Dr. Horrible, depending on how geeky you are).

I've been having a fantastic foodie day, lunching on poke tuna salad with our own Dorinda Fox, and cooking halibut poached in beer and brocolini sauteed with bacon and crumbled feta cheese, with a dessert of chocolate pot de creme.  But I'm pounding the diet coke because I am really really tired for some reason.

But enough about me... I'll soldier through this because I'm the Iron Pundit and that's how I roll, baby.

People have been having mixed reactions to this new spin on Top Chef.  On the one hand people are genuinely excited to see masters of their craft attempt these contests.  But there is also the lingering notion that there should be more conflict, more drama, more personality like in the amateur version.  Such is the hunger for “reality TV.”

Before we get too deep into waxing philosophical about it, let’s get on with the show…..

10:02 -- the first contestant is Douglas Rodriguez, who has "tortilla free" latin cuisine.  And Anita Lo is in the mix. She's a hardworking pro, that one.  She's going to be formidable.

10:03 -- and here he is, John Besh, who is a cajun hottie.  I am serious in lust with John Besh.  He's cute, charming, and can cook.  Ladies, what else does a man need?

10:07 -- and they are doing the egg challenge.  I actually love this one, because it is the maximum creativity.

 10:09 -- time is up.  Besh's eggs aren't cooking, he's got nuthin, Mark barely gets his duck egg pasta plated, even though his dad had one arm.

10:13 -- Douglas's eggs go over well.  Mark Peel's egg pasta does well but he's a little bland.  Anita Lo's presentation goes over incredibly well.  And she did it one handed?  Besh is stuck delivering one egg slow cooked in  pot.  He's not getting a whole lot of stars for that....

10:15 -- Anita Lo eggs the competition by getting 5 stars.  Poor Johnnie gets only one half.  (yes it was a bad, bad pun)

10:16 -- it only took about 2 seconds to get the "Doogie Hauser" reference in

10:17 -- the "mentalist" is truly hysterical.

10:18 -- I love Max Maven's voice. It's really amazing.  What's with the Kung Fu pajamas?

10:18 -- the word challenges are always slightly irritating. 

 10:19 -- Mark Peel opts to go for paper bagging it to get "mystery."  Uh oh, is John Besh thinking about liquid nitrogen?

10:20 -- I'm liking Rodriguez's brain.  I like how he thinks.

10:21 -- Anita Lo becomes the girl they're all gunning for....I like that she's so well respected by the boys.

10:25 -- John was a Marine?  Okay, now he's really, really hot....not fair!

10:26 -- Dougland Rodriguez is really amazing....he's got style.  Not hot like John, but I like him.  And here comes Tom Colicchio into the Top Chef kitchen.  I like that they are bringing him into this....

10:27 -- Anita Lo is using Rice Krispies.  I get why the women chefs often seem so workmanlike.  It's hard to communicate authority as a woman if you are joking around.

10:28 -- Tom is pinpointing exactly the challenge of word challenges. 

10:29 -- Sterno on coconuts.  This could end badly.

10:29 -- I like the magic castle.  It's like going to Jeckyll and Hyde's, that horrid tourista restaurant in New York.

10:30 -- the chefs are working busily.  It's interesting that Rodriguez has not been on the line in years.  Mark Peel is worried that he didn't time his fish properly.

10:32 -- Gail Simmons is back! Yay!  No nasty long haired snarky Brit!

10:33 -- Mark is hamming up the package.  The fish is going over pretty well.  Mark unwittingly hits on one of Neil's favorite drinks presenting a sake.

10:34 -- Besh is playing up the magic...even using NPH as his "assistant."  Bravo indeed.  The surprise is really in it.  John has hit a home run.

10:36 -- Anita Lo is amazing.  She has created illusion incredibly well, and NPH says it's his favorite. And here comes Douglas with his coconuts.

10:38 -- I LURVE fois gras!  I think the fire has totally flamed out. the diners and critics are now rating the dishes.  It's really hard to tell how they stack up.

10:40 -- and now for our nightly selection of the Chef date...isn't it obvious.  I would go on a date with John Besh.  The really hard part is actually deciding who would cook for us.  There is a part of me that would love to have Douglas Rodriguez cook (minus the coconuts), but there is a part of me that would want it to be all John Besh, all night.

10:41 -- Okay that last bit came out really smarmy....sorry.

10:43 -- so they are showing the dinner guests some magic.  The rabbit pees on Kelley Choi.  Payback for wearing the stupid flower in her hair again.

10:44 -- Kelley Choi is still stiff, BTW.  Her announcement of the initial challenge sounded like she was announcing for a tractor pull.

10:46 -- and here come the critics.  God that flower is really fucking distracting.

10:47 -- the creme fraiche sorbet was a miss because it was all too cold, but Besh's dish went well.  Anita Lo's dish was loved for it's trickery. 

10:48 -- Douglas Rodriguez is unhappy with his coconuts.

10:49 -- Mark Peel's dish is uncharacteristically un-Mediterranean, and obviously about mystery. They like the dish, and the pairings, and it seems he did really well, but the critics just don't sound turned on as they talk about it. 

10:50 -- Besh gets marks for performance.  Anita Lo gets marks for her interpretation and presentation.

10:51 -- Douglas is regretted.  Mark's dish is loved for it's taste.  Mark did take the mystery thing pretty literally.

10:52 -- no one is clearly in the lead here, so this is going to be interesting.  Anita Lo's decisive win in the early challenge may prove to be important if the dishes are all scored really closely.

10:55 -- John Besh goes first.  He had 2 stars from the diners, the judges are mixed...3 stars from all the judges.

10:56 -- Mark Peel gets 4's from the judges, and knocks John Besh out of the competition.  It's okay John, you still win with me....

10:57 -- as expected, Rodriguez's flaming coconuts fizzle out with a paltry 13 stars.  I really do believe that Anita's win early on will really win it for her.

10:58 -- They love her presentation.  She's getting 4's and up.  Anita Lo WINS!!!!!!

10:58 -- I love that there are now two women chefs in the finals. 

10:59 -- Next week, they are cooking for 100 diners, without sous chefs.  This is probably every exec chef's nightmare...

Thanks for coming out if you did...if you didn't, there's always next week!  I'll be here, of course, ready to dig in.


Signing off.....

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Dr horrible, geek I am.
Kelly Choi is Billy Mays reincarnated.
Love the egg challenge.
I have to admit, I'm a BIG Dr. Horrible fan. Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, Doogie, musical theatre's like someone raided my subconscious and produced a film from all the stuff I secretly lust for.
Neil, Magic Castle, Tom Collichio, be still my heart.

James Oseland looks like the mad scientist in "Nightmare before Christmas".
Tom Colicchio -- next in a long line of hot bald men.
As a Southerner, Besh is my man. He took a chance with the liquid nitrogen and hurried it. Not good.

Who is Anita Lo and why does she have no smile muscles - or personality for that matter?
I'm amazed that for the most part, these chefs seem to be doing no better, and often worse than TC Amateurs (or whatever we call'em). I think the lack of recent line experience may be it. In particular, alot of them are sucking on the QuickFires (which is always my fave part of the shows). I mean, there's now been at least 2 of them that basically had nothing to present for their QF efforts. That only happened once to the amateurs in all the QF's I've seen many more of them do, IIRC. I think the "Masters" are too used to other people cooking while they just come up with ideas, taste and kibbetz. And they really don't have the chops (food pun!) to work at speed any more.

I was glad Anita won. She did cool stuff and didn't brag on herself. And really glad there are at least 2 women going to finals.

"And here comes Douglas with his coconuts."

I won't even tell you what pictures this conjured (magic pun!) for me.
you would make John Besh cook for you on your date?!...seriously loved this piece...since i have no tv right now, i will turn to you for my food network fix...
Ugh. No matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to watch these kinds of shows. I don't know why. It must be seeded is some dark recess of what's left of my mind, but tonight on Discovery Channel at 9 o'clock (EST) there is a tribute to Billy Mays on Pitchmen, another show that I've never watched, but I will try. I ove Billy Mays. It's just so sad that that Michael Jackson went and upstaged his death. Just sad.
Missed the show but this was just as good as watching. And I was wondering if you and Dorinda would get together, so I was happy to see that you did.
"halibut poached in beer"


hunger pangs here
I don't like to see the star chefs do poorly. Somehow takes away the magic, which is one of the reasons I don't watch this much. Also, less drama, I guess. Btw, NP Harris was discovered in New Mexico by my friend Mark Medoff, and he put him in one of his plays when Neilwas a child in Las Cruces. It was so great to see how well he did as the Tony host.
I expected a bit better out of Besh... wasn't he the one that came in second to become the next Iron chef on Food Network? IIRC he did really well on that show, throwing me for how he kinda flubbed this. he really does have the skills under time pressure, or he used to anyway.
Maybe next week, cooking for 100 sans sous chef they should have Robert Irvine!
Stellaa--my problem is that they're still using Gail Simmons! We can't stand her on this version of Top Chef or on the "regular" one. She's pretentious and vapid.
Julie, Anita Lo is a New York chef. And I think that she's so serious because (a) as a woman in the kitchen you have to be serious to be taken serious sometimes, and (b) that's just who she is. She still works the line even though she's an exec chef, something a lot of the other guys don't do.

Stellaa, I do wish we were in the same time zone. for a LOT of reasons.

Silkstone, I think you are right that the pros havfe a whole lot less drama than the regular cheftestants, but some of that lack of urgency is the fact that they aren't playing to realize their dreams of becoming a famous chef. The pros are competitive, but this is for charity for them, so the urgency, the life-or-death aspect just isn't there for them.

mistercomedy -- I've cooked for dates, why shouldn't one cook for me? But actually, since last week I wanted Rick Bayless to cook but didn't have anyone I wanted to actually date, maybe I combine eps 3 & 4 and have Rick Bayless cook for my date with John Besh. yes, I think that works quite nicely.....

Michael -- I don't think I can watch the Billy Mays thing. I mean, it's sad that he's dead, but honestly, do we need to have a show mourning him?

maryt -- what I'm most sorry for is that I can't get to Boulder....[sigh]

Brian, did I mention is was Duvel?

Lea, I don't think any of the chefs did poorly. I like that they find it difficult because it helps me realize that it isn't easy.

Walter -- I rather like Gail Simmons. Yeah, she's not Gael Greene or Ruth Reichl (god, wouldn't it be great to see her on a panel?) with an encyclopedic knowledge of food at her command, but she does have a decent palate and she's so much less annoying than Kelley Choi I am willing to forgive her. A panel full of eggheads would get really boring.