Liveblogging Top Chef Masters: Episode 2

Master chefs Wylie Dufresne (wd-50), Suzanne Tracht (Jar), Graham Elliot Bowles (Graham Elliot Restaurant*) and Elizabeth Falkner (Orson & Citizen Cake) take on the Season 1 vending machine Quickfire challenge, followed by an elimination which, as described by Bravo, sounds super cheesy, so I won’t tell you what it is so as not to spoil your child-like excitement before the show even airs.

I’m hoping to see Elizabeth Falkner snap Dufresne’s neck like a cheap pair of chopsticks.

*WARNING: Highly irritating flash intro and music upon loading.  Dear Graham Elliot: No.  Sincerely, Concerned Internet User.

10:00: Last week: No one was shocked that Hubert kicks everyone’s ass.  Christopher Lee chapped my hide.  Schlow had (and continues to have) an eminently ridiculous last name, and Tim Love was adorable but outclassed

10:02: Graham Bowles has tattoos!  He is a bad boy!  He cooks with pop rocks!  He is young!  Am I going to have to hate him more than Dufresne?  I don’t want to, but I will if I have to.

I like Suzanne Tracht from the words “pot roast.”  Also because her restaurant is called Jar.  She seems lacking on the personality front, but I can forgive that for a good pot roast.

10:03:  Every time I type Dufresne, I hear it in my head like “Newman…” on Seinfeld.  He’s friends with Bowles.  Why am I not surprised!

Can I ask: what is the point of Colicchio?  I mean, not in life (although I wonder about him ever since he started shilling for Diet Coke in a commercial that is a not-so-thinly veiled mockery of Grant Achatz), just on this show.  He’s like the Marco Pierre White of the show, but without the limp wrists.

Falkner is playing for Edible Schoolyard! Yay.

10:06: QUICKFIRE: Amuse bouche from a vending machine.  Bowles is ready.  But no one will ever be as awesome as

10:07: ILAAAAAN!

I don’t mean that in a good way.  Seeing him was so jarring, I couldn’t even continue the prior sentence and it’s too late to go back now. THANKS FOR NOTHING ILAN.  I’ve been to Harold Dieterlie’s restaurant, it’s quite lovely.  When’s yours opening?  Oh wait, it’s not. My bad!

Wait, they get sandwiches in their vending machines?  We’re playing fast and loose with the “vending machine” concept. I know an automat when I see an automat, and that is a tiny automat.

Yes, Bowles is definitely getting to me.  But any irritation is so totally eclipsed by the intensity of my loathing for Ilan Hall; I think I’ll just let it go.

10:09:  Dufresne: I don’t like him, but he can wield the hell out of a knife and he did just say this:

“If I had my druthers I’d have been a professional athlete, but I’m not particularly fast or strong.”

Unlike this sentence, which I never want to hear “Dr. Pepper Reduction Aioli.”

10:16: Dufresne overreduced his Dr. Pepper.  He gets middling marks.  It makes my blood boil to hear Ilan Hall criticize ANYONE.

10:17:  Did Tracht just serve Funyons?  And pull it off?  +2 chutzpah.

10:18: Michael, on Bowles: “This tastes just like my mom’s tuna salad.” You do not get points for making someone’s mom’s tuna salad.  Also, does Michael’s mom typically cook with powdered beef jerky?  Maybe she should be on this show.

Funyons take it!  Dufresne’s grilled cheese eats it.

Dufresne curses a lot.  It must be because he channels all his creativity into culinary pursuits, so there’s none left for the literary.

10:20:  Animal heads: unnecessary.

ELIMINATION CHALLENGE: Cooking for the creators of Kelly Choi’s favorite show, When Neck Tendons Attack.  I kid!  It’s LOST, and they have some fresh tropical ingredients and can select from a menu of canned ingredients.  Because, you know, the Island has magical polar bears but no fresh apples.

10:22: Bowles was in a band.  Because he is a young bad ass.  Do you know he DROPPED OUT OF SCHOOL to become a chef.  He’s a trailblazer!

Is Suzanne Tracht on downers?  I like her, but is vocal inflection so difficult?

10:25:  Dufresne and Bowles are total BFFs in the grocery store.  When you put the two of them together you’d think you’d have twice the annoyance.  But no!  It increases exponentially.

10:28: Suzanne: “Women in the kitchen have come a long way.  It’s really exciting.”  Said completely deadpan.  At least throw me a semi-grin, a smirk, anything.

Seriously, the boar head is really, really unnecessary.

10:30: Dufresne thinks whimsy is important, and that’s why he’s making…chicken.

Falkner is impressed by molecular gastronomy, and somehow the immersion heater for sous vide-ing food has become an exciting innovation and not something that enjoyed its heyday in 2007.  Adrian Feria spits on Wylie Dufresne, and I bet he knows it.

10:33: Flight-suited waiters swoop in and start taking Falkner’s plates before she’s actually done saucing her plates.  Because that’s the kind of thing that happens on the island.

There’s boar, there’s ancho, there’s yam pudding.

British guy with hair: “What might have helped was a bit more saucing.” Dang.

10:34: Having watched too many episodes of Iron Chef where Mario Batali tries to take me around the world with his dishes, Bowles is leaving me empty.

Dufresne forgets the chicken on one dish, and he actually looks stunned, as though there will actually be some kind of repercussion.  Also: slow poached egg?  Pulling an Ilan with the re-used restaurant dishes.  Also also: there is a LOT of crap on that plate.

10:37:  Tracht’s uni risotto gets raves.  Meanwhile, she couldn’t even muster a gram of energy in front of the judges.

Judge: “What have you prepared?”
Tracht: “I don’t remember.”

Which could have been funny, except for the monotone and dead eyes.  I can’t even give an A for effort.  And yet, I’m calling her for the win.

10:41: JUDGING:  Kelly Choi’s giant hair accoutrement is causing her head to list.

Gael, again with the hats, is resplendant with feathers.  I can’t even concentrate on the chefs.

Brian: “They (Bowles and Dufresne) should just get a condo together, look at them giving each other the eye.”

10:44:  Really, I’m immobilized by the hat.

10:45:  Okay, I can’t take much more of Tracht.

Judge: “How did you find this challenge?”
Tracht: “Well, I love to cook.”

Aargh.  Other real examples from her life:

Doctor: “How was that childbirth for you?”
Tracht: “I like kids.”

State Trooper: “Do you know how fast you were going?”
Tracht: “I drive a car.”

Police Officer: “I’m sorry to have to tell you, your father died in a freak instance of spontaneous human combustion.”
Tracht: “Yes, fire is hot.”

10:47: Am I the only one who thought the Dufresne chicken-and-egg thing is not actually that whimsical?  I’m not just saying that because he irritates me: is it really that original?

10:49:  Tracht’s plate had a real “generosity of spirit.”  Which I suppose means good.  So just say it was good, let’s?

I know this is all very sparse, but really, the hat. So many feathers! But she can really pull that shit off.

10:52:  Falkner bakes cookies during the break.  I really think it would add to the show if they shoved them in the Official GladWare Stew Room with a case of beer and then had Tom Colicchio come in to berate them, or possibly just throw things at them while they improvised protection with GladWare.

10:55: Shockingly, very little of the viewing audience wants to be stuck on a desert island with Tracht, but they all would take Wylie.  Brian: “Maybe his head floats.”

10:57: I feel like I might like Dufresne better if he would just wash his hair.  Also, he’s the first to go.  But he’s not bested by Falkner, who chokes big time, although I bet Bowles paid off the servers to sabotage her.

It’s down to Tracht and Bowles.

Look, she’s almost smiling!

10:58: Judges: “You’re the winner!  You move on to the challenge round and receive a 10k donation!”

Tracht: “I was happy about the result.”


NEXT WEEK: Rick Bayless, and French guy who I totally know but whose name I can’t remember.

15 thoughts on “Liveblogging Top Chef Masters: Episode 2

  1. I’m not so worried about Kelly Choi’s neck snapping, as I am about her jaw unhinging and her eating a contestant.

  2. And I’m not so sure that referencing “the chicken and the egg” has been innovative in the last 15 years.

  3. I would pay $297.59 for one of the judges to find one of those greasy Wylie hairs in their food. It would seriously make my year.

  4. Good lord, the man from Saveur wants to have a baby with Wylie. Relax–I’m sure he’ll give you a good seat in his restaurant.

  5. I miss the fact that the stakes aren’t as high for these contestants–they seem so nonchalant when they get criticism or even when they get booted off.

  6. You know, I kind of liked the Graham Bowles – Wylie Dufresne “bromance”; it was kind of funny. Not like the HoseLeah fauxmance… And another throwback to last seasons *Top* Chef, maybe Suzanne Tracht is the Yin to Carla’s Yang. I mean, they both cook with love, have some kind of funky eye thing going on, but Carla’s excitement is as positive as Suzanne’s is not. I understand why Collichio is involved as he has been integral in the Top Chef series, so I don’t begrudge him being there. But could we seriously replace Kelly Choi’s headgear with Padma’s thermal indicators, please?!?!? Great blog this week as always, and I look forward to next Wednesday night with Rich Bayless and his ass-kicking mustache!

  7. “Resplendent with feathers” made me pee a little. And have you considered the theory that Tracht may actually be a robot? Sort of like Vicki from that hit 80s tv show, Small Wonder? Sure, she looks real, but try to take her swimming and you’ll electrocute the shit out of yourself. I’m just saying.

  8. Mother and Child Reunion is like . ..well it’s the antithesis of original or whimsical. Jupiter’s balls. So yeah, you are completely correct.

    It reminds me of people who read shakespeare who decide it’s trite because “it’s so full of cliches…”, not realizing that *this* is the source of the cliche.

    Bloody apathetic planet, I just don’t know…

  9. I was distracted by trying to figure out who was the more unfortunate looking one: Wylie or that British Hair dude. Ewww, and one time they showed Wylie tucking that nastyass hair back behind his ears and then TOUCHING FOOD.

    I could tell Suzanne was going to win in the first 10 minutes. I didn’t know, though, that one could get microgreens from a vending machine! Sweet!

  10. I keep forgetting you’re liveblogging this!

    Dufresne and Falkner both irk me so much, it made me like Bowles. But I was really glad Tracht won, and totally understand why she’s not a TV chef-lebrity. To say the least.

  11. Wait. Did anyone actually see Kelly Choi eat one single bite of anything yet? And did anyone else notice that she looks like she’d snap like a flower’s stem in a stiff breeze? I wish someone would have used some of their vending machine money to buy that girl a KitKat. Her skinny self was WAY more distracting to me than the peacock sitting on Gael’s head.

  12. Agree with Rebecca. When they noticed that hirsute British critic didn’t have any chicken on his plate, they conveniently found it on Kelly’s plate… which looked to be empty after they removed it. Coincidence? Or eating disorder run amok? Also, does Kelly remind anyone of an asian Giada DiLaurentiis, except without the gratuitous cleavage?

  13. kimbaa, everything you said.

    gaines, thanks! i’m psyched for bayless too. but i still maintain that the colicchio cameos are pointless.

    leena, i didn’t consider that, but i’m not sure i buy into it; vicki was way more emotional.

    tad, thank you for pointing out my shortcomings. it’s refreshing after all the bowing and scraping and toadying.

    fuzzy, re: the shakepeare thing – heh.

    peggasus, i’ve definitely never seen that vending machine. (and wasn’t the original challenge to shop out of a gas station quickie mart?)

    nothing they did brought me as much joy as the look on suzanne goin’s face when mike served her the cheeto stuck into the ground-up snickers bar.

    jesse, stop forgetting! brian and i both called tracht from pretty early on, although she was so lifeless that she actually started to suck the personality out of us.

    rebecca, i can’t say, because i’m usually so busy typing that i’m listening to everything rather than watching. i’ll have brian monitor kelly choi’s food intake next week.

    mike, YES to the giada. even the big scary smile.

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