Top Chef Masters: Hubert Is Not Your Bitch, Bitch
We begin with a lengthy introduction from Kelly Choi, hostess. For you Top Chef fans, we’ve gone crazy with the knife sound effects and Gail Simmons will be making appearances. Gail?!? Gail?!?
Anyway, we meet our four chef masters (or is it master chefs?) and the charities they are playing for on the show: Michael Schlow of Radius (Cam Neely Foundation), Hubert Keller of Fleur de Lys (Make-A-Wish Foundation), Christopher Lee of Aureole (and Orthanc) (Autism Speaks), and Tim Love of The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro and Love Shack (March of Dimes). The winner of this week moves on to the final. But first…
Quickfire! Kelly explains they are bringing back one Quickfire from a past episode of Top Chef. This week it is to make a dessert. Michael is concerned. I’m even more concerned when we learn the judging panel is composed entirely of Girl Scouts. While the Girl Scouts cover their eyes, Tim takes a shot of tequila and talks about how he’s never had formal or famous training. But it looks like Michael should have the tequila because he’s sweating bullets over his dish that doesn’t seem to be coming together.
So what did everyone make? Kelly talks creepy-like with the girls as they eat dessert. First is Michael, who makes a cookie and candy thing. One thinks it tastes like a Tagalong and the others don’t like it. Tim serves a strawberry milkshake, a “chicken-fried” strawberry, and chocolate-covered strawberry. The ginger girl is the most critical of the lot. Hubert serves up a masterpiece with all the food shaped like animals because he’s Hubert and that’s how he rolls. One of the girls says it looks like a Trefoil and I’m convinced this is an ad-buy from The Girls Scouts to promote their cookie sales. Finally, Christopher’s gourmet dish is too, well, gourmet. The winner is Hubert, who got a full five stars from the girls. Then Christopher and Tim with 3.5 stars, and Michael with 2.5 stars. These scores will be added to their final scores.
Elimination Challenge. Create a three course meal for Pomona College students using only a microwave, toaster oven, and a hot plate. This is hilarious! Anyway, they shop at Whole Foods (natch), and back at the kitchen, Tim doesn’t know the difference between a freezer and a refrigerator and he accidentally freezes half of his groceries, including (wait for it, Top Chef fans) his scallops.
Off to Pomona. They are each given an occupied dorm room to serve as their kitchens. While they set up, we see great photos of DJ Hubert. (Where’s that spin-off, Bravo?) As they cook, their respective students walk in and out and look confused, probably because Hubert took his bucket of pasta, drained, cooled, and reheated it in the common shower. The guy is MacGyver.
Service. In addition to the students, this week’s critics are Jay Rayner, Gael Greene (assisted by a stupid-looking hat), and James Oseland. First course: scallop carpaccio (Tim), salmon crudo (Michael), snapper ceviche (Christopher), Scottish salmon mi cuit (Hubert). Second course: cabbage soup (Michael), risotto (Christopher), hearty carrot and petit pea soup (Hubert), squash and corn pozole (Tim). Third course: skirt steak and braised kale (Tim), pork a la apicius (Michael), creamy mac and cheese with prawns (Hubert), and pork chop (Christopher). Overall, the critics and students are impressed at what these chefs achieved with their limited resources.
Critics Table (sans apostrophe). We begin with TMI about Hubert showering with his pasta. Gael was disappointed with Michael’s overcooked pork but she’s amazed they could cook anything on such a small hot plate. Tim talks about his frozen food issue and how he made that lemon into frozen lemonade (figuratively). And Christopher surprised everyone with the quality of his risotto. The judges deliberate by reminded us (again) of how difficult this challenge was. As with the regular Top Chef, it’s mostly useless filler.
Results. Michael with 13.5 stars, Tim with 14.5 stars, Christopher with 19 stars, and Hubert with 20.5 stars. Hubert wins! I’m sure we’re all not surprised by this result. And Hubert will return for the final in a few weeks and Make-A-Wish is $10,000 richer. Now if I were a terminal child, I’d wish that Top Chef were as good as this episode. No drama, no bitchin’ about the challenges, and just pure cooking the way God intended.
Later this season: Neil Patrick Harris, a laser at your crotch, and a flaming coconut. I’m not sure where to start with any of that but it should be fun!
Season 1, Episode 1: Masters Get Schooled (originally aired June 10, 2009)
For another opinion on this episode, check out Just Like Mario Party by Jaimie Campos.
Listen to The J Factor with J.B. and Jaimie here or on iTunes.
For more on Top Chef Masters, click here.
Wednesdays at 10/9c on Bravo
Photographs courtesy of NBC Universal, Kelsey McNeal