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JULY 22, 2009 9:56PM

Iron Pundit vs. Iron Skillet: Top Chef Masters ep. 6

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kelly choi

So tonight blogging Top Chef Masters has been something of a odyssey in juggling.  You see, I have been captivated by the season premiere of BBC America’s science fiction drama “Torchwood,” featuring the amazingly sexy John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness, who has been currently filling the void in my life left by the absence of suitably drool-worthy space captains.  Until now, that is. As an ubergeek, I have a thing for hot space captains.  Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Captain Tightpants (yes, I am a “Firefly” fan), and now, Captain Jack.

Captain Jack
Gratuitous Space Captain Goodness....[sigh]
The proof that I love you people is that  I am blogging here instead of watching the end of day three of the season premiere of “Torchwood.”  Thank god for DVR technology or the sacrifice might have been too great.


But I digress….

This evening’s Top Chef Masters represents the last week of “cook off” episodes pitting four chefs against each other for a single spot in the final episodes.  Tonight we will meet (among others) Art Smith, who comes from a long line of people who have risen to fame on the coattails of Oprah Winfrey.  Also Michael Cimarusti, Roy Yamaguchi, and Jonathan Waxman. 

So let’s begin…..

(And for the record, if ANYONE posts any comments that spoil the ending of Torchwood, I will be very, very angry. Angry like a bad robot with superhuman strength angry. You don't want me that angry.  Trust me.)

9:58  -- The end of ep.5  Michael Chiarello wins.  Apparently there are some who think Chiarello "cheated" by convincing diners to help him plate.  Really?  Oh come on!  He used every resource at his disposal.  Charm is part of being a master chef.  Oh, and Lachlan is still cute.

10:00 -- And so it begins.  With Jonathan Waxman, Art Smith, Michael Ciramusti, and Roy Yamaguchi in Los Angeles.  Waxman is talking about his life as a musician.  Waxman is the guy who brought us Bobby Flay. 

10:02 -- Roy Yamaguchi is a king of fusion cuisine and has a ridiculous number of restaurants. 

10:03 -- And here he comes, Mr. Oprah chef Art Smith.

10:04 -- Michael Cimarusti is known apparently for his seafood.  he is also LA based.  I sort of wonder whether that isn't a benefit when the competition is based in LA.

10:05 -- Kelly Choi shows up, and you can tell she's feeling more confident, but unfortunately I don't think that translates into being more likable.

10:06 -- It's the aisle of the grocery store challenge.  I actually kind of like this challenge.  It's the one that I think I could kick ass at if I was ever on Top Chef.

10:07 -- Waxman is stuck with the canned food aisle.  Ciramusti is on the baking aisle, which apparently has little selection.  Yamaguchi got the pasta aisle.  Art Smith has got the canned bean aisle.   

10:09 -- I do love the fact that the Whole Foods employees are judging. 

10:10 -- apparently Roy is NOT used to cooking so much anymore on the line.  Waxman is trying to operate a pressure cooker with limited success. 

10:11 -- If Art Smith keeps talking about cooking for Oprah and Obama, I am going to puke.  Name dropping is so crass.

10:11 -- Cimarusti is going with a chocolate mousse or pudding or something.

10:12 -- Roy is not feeling terribly confident. 

10:16 -- Roy's dish is up first....pasta with a fried egg.  Art Smith is proving this week's most colorful/annoying commentator so far.

10:17 -- Waxman's up next.  The lentil dish is going over very well.

10:17 -- Now comes Art Smith.  They like the dish a lot, especially the texture.

10:18 -- the dessert dish is up.  Everyone loves it. Now comes the stars...

10:18 -- Waxman only gets 3 and half.  Roy gets 4.  Art Smith gets 4 and a half, Michael gets 5 stars.  He is now the man to beat.  But he is being kind of humble, saying chocolate gave him the advantage.

10:20 -- I'm liking Waxman a lot.  I like his attitude.  The challenge is interesting.  They create pickboxes for a fellow contestant.  This should get interesting.

10:21 -- It sounds like everyone is trying to be nice with the boxes.  We'll see.

10:24 -- Roy Yamaguchi reminds me of my dad.

10:25 -- they are all coooking together with Kelly Choi in her kitchen.  Does this happen every time, why have they not shown this before.  I now hate Kelly Choi for an entirely different reason now -- she's gets to cook with these guys in her house.  Damn her.

10:29 -- The elimination challenge mystery boxes will be revealed.  Art got a box put together by Roy Yamaguchi.  It's all his favorite things.  He got Chicken for the protein.  Roy played to Art's strength.

10:30 -- good thing too...Roy got his box from Art Smith.

10:30 -- Michael Cimarusti gives Waxman his box.  Pork chops.  There is this mentor-mentee thing going on with these guys that is truly neat.

10:31 -- Michael did not get fish from Waxman, even though that is his speciality.  Interesting.  The old wolf is not ready to surrender the pack to the young wolf yet.

10:32 -- Roy Yamaguchi has just gained a new respect to his line cooks.

 10:33 -- Waxman is grilling his porkchops, and is doing classic stuff. 

10:34 -- And Roy is having issues with getting it done on time.

10:35 --  here goes the plating.  Everyone is under the gun, and Michael Cimarusti didn't get to sauce all the plates.

10:36 -- Art Smith is scared of James Oseland.  How cute.  The panel is there along with some culinary students.  Gail Simmons likes how Art cooks from the "Heart."

10:37 -- Roy does a surf and turf with mahi-mahi.  Gael Greene likes it.  THe Culinary students are a bit harsher.

10:38 -- And here comes Cimarusti. 

10:38 -- The meat was apparently fantastic, but the rest was not terribly impressive to the judges, especially not Oseland.

10:39 -- Waxman comes out and explains he's not used to using so many ingredients.

10:40 -- Art Smith is drinking Stoli.  The others are drinking wine.

10:41 -- And now for the "Chef I'd like to date" portion of our evening....this one is kind of hard.  None of them are particularly charming me.  Roy seems a little too spacey, Art doesn't swing my way, and Waxman is maybe a little too laid back. Michael Cimarusti sorta wins by default in that case, but he's not really turning my knob really hard either.  So tonight I shall date.....NO ONE!  I will stay home and wash my hair.  And have someone deliver me a takeaway meal by Art Smith.

10:44 -- The critic's table.  Cimarusti gets filleted by Gael Greene.  they are getting into the ingredients.  I don't know if they are doing this because of the challenge or because they had a problem with his ingredients.

10:45 -- The cats are chasing each other around the living room.

10:46 -- Art Smith is going over well, sticking to his identity.  The critics are so very happy with him.

10:46 -- Roy is grousing over 13 portions.  Geez, I've done dinner parties bigger than that alone Roy....for chrissakes man up!

10:47 -- Roy is not getting the love.  Waxman is unhappy with his plate. 

10:48 -- Waxman's inquiry from the judges gets really philosophical.  I don't know whether that means they liked the food or hated it.

10:49 -- The judges re-hash:  They love Art.  Roy is "conflicted" -- so the imperfections in his dish apparently came out.

10:50 -- Michael Cimarusti had an excellent sunchoke puree.  But his plates were not finished.  Waxman's dish went over decently, but Oseland is really picky, though he proclaims Waxman's dish is "connected."  What, like the Mafia?

10:53 -- I can tell you who didn't win -- Micheal Cimarusti and Roy Yamaguchi.  But it's not clear between Waxman and Art Smith.  They may give it to Smith, and if it is close, the first challenge will of course play in favor of Art.

10:55 -- Waxman is getting 4 stars across the boards.  He has 20 stars.  Not insignificant.  Poor ROy is a legend, but can't muster even 3 and a half stars from anyone.

10:57 -- Cimarusti gets killed like Roy.  No one gives him more than 3 and a half stars.

10:57 -- Art Smith got 5 stars for his dish from the diners.  Only 3 from Oseland!  Gael Greene gives him 5 stars.  He pulls it out in the end.  He's going to the finals.

10:58 -- I'm not sure how I feel about Art Smith winning, although he is the only one of the six chefs moved to tears by his win, so I'll give him that.

10:59 -- So next week the real competition begins.  We see six chefs go head to head in the style we are all used to.  This oughta be GOOD.


Now, back to the end of Torchwood and more drooling over my hot space captain..... 

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Guess everyone is watching the end of Torchwood.....
Thank you Liz. I did see this, and you did a great between-the-lines blog of it. The finals should be really great.
I've been able to predict the winner of each episode thus far before it starts... maybe I'm psychic... or maybe it's just rigged for the most recognizable chef to win... and last night there was too much love... it was like a Harlequin Romance version of Top Chef...

Great post :)
The dynamics especially of this quartet of chefs is an interesting contrast with the interactions of the "regular" Top Chef contestants.
That wasn't Kelly Choi's house - when she said, "Welcome to my humble abode" she was just kidding. It's a loft near LA's Chinatown that they rent out for events and filming. I got married there.
Waxman kicked Smith's butt. And he knew it. Not sure what was going on there, but Gael giving him 5 stars was BS.
I missed the first half of this, so quickly read your summary up to that point and no further, then went back to the rest later. Gael Greene absolutely poured on the drama with that drawn out---five stars--didn't she? I love Roy Yamaguchi's restaurants, but he didn't fare well in that environment. Probably we should credit Art's win to the Stoli.
I used to watch Chiarello's show on PBS and one of my favorite pasta recipes came from him. I love him.