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On tonight’s episode of Top Chef Masters:

For the Quickfire the chefs must cook a dish only using the microwave. Most of them go on and on about how they never use a microwave — blah, blah, blah, who cares. We know very well that they don’t use them, at least not in their restaurants, but the point of Top Chef Masters is to pull them out of their comfort zone, and this challenge does exactly that. And no one had better make anythig sashimi or tartare related because that’s cheating!

The chefs must cook for an edible science fair for the Elimination Challenge, not only serving what looks to be middle school students (you can never tell these days), but also educating them on science-y stuff through their dishes. I’m just hoping someone makes an exploding volcano out of mashed potatoes and red Kool-Aid.

And I am very happy to announce — drum roll, please — Ruth Reichl is back in her rightful place at the judges’ table! Huzzah! Oh, and Padma shows up because she can’t have another TC host showing her up.

Preview video highlights:

  • In the first preview video, Naomi claims that she didn’t have a microwave when she was growing up. It then cuts to a shot of her playing in the dirt with sticks looking like a feral child. Does Bravo want us to assume that a child brought up without a microwave is some sort of hippie-savage?
  • A photo of Hugh’s kids is shown during the Quickfire. Sadly, no unibrows (or at least they weren’t visible).
  • Mary Sue demos viscosity for her science fair project. I won’t even type what some of that stuff looks like on her petri dish. What is she serving those children?!

Check out the preview videos below.

Update: Okay, even though all of the new previews are up on Bravo’s site, there won’t be a new episode tonight. This episode will be airing next week. Way to go letting us know ahead of time, Bravo…

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Tune in to Bravo tonight at 10 pm EST/9 pm C, join our Twitter party during the show (Jeff: @JeffHouck, Katie: @culinarypirate), and listen to our podcast here tomorrow! (You can even download us on iTunes!) Check out our fellow Top Chef fanatics, Please Pack Your Knives And Go and All Top Chef, for the latest news (and some laughs).

Preview Videos:
Microwave Cooking
Getting All Science-y

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On tonight’s episode of Top Chef Masters:

For the Quickfire the chefs must channel their former college selves and create a meal with budget of $1. If their ingredients came from Wal-Mart, I’d say it’d be an easier task, but knowing Bravo’s hookup with Whole Foods I think they might have a harder time trying to stretch that dollar.

As for the Elimination challenge, the heat is on as the chefs must man the lunch rush at a Farmer Boys fast food joint (it’s like McD’s but with better quality food). They have to cook main and side dishes for 100 people that don’t require utensils to eat, and each order must be completed in less than two minutes. I’m sure at least a few of the chefs will reveal that they’ve formerly worked as a fast food burger flipper when they started out in their cooking careers — and you know there will also be those who are completely lost in this type of kitchen environment.

Top Chef Podcast listeners: We’re currently having technical difficulties (due to new site and server) with getting our podcasts on iTunes. Until further notice, please listen to them directly from the posts that we put up every Thursday afternoon on the CL Food & Drink site! We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for bearing with us. :-)

Preview video highlights:

  • Hugh: “…you’ve gotta be able to put something out.” And that’s what he said.
  • In the second preview video, it looks like some of the chefs need to ‘ketchup’! (Get it? Because they’re working in a fast food restaurant?) *crickets chirping*
  • Traci talks some shade about Mary Sue in the preview, calling her “annoying” and a “whirling dervish.” Hold onto your weave, girl, cuz them’s fightin’ words! (Seriously, I’ve cut a betch for less.)

Check out the preview videos below.

top_chef_300.jpg

Tune in to Bravo tonight at 10 pm EST/9 pm C, join our Twitter party during the show (Jeff: @JeffHouck, Katie: @culinarypirate), and listen to our podcast here tomorrow! (You can even download us on iTunes!) Check out our fellow Top Chef fanatics, Please Pack Your Knives And Go and All Top Chef, for the latest news (and some laughs).

The Buck Stops Here
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Order Here
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Last night on Top Chef Masters:

I have to say that I love the fact that the chefs had to cook with live insects for the Quickfire Challenge. I mean, when do chefs get the chance to work with these odd proteins? Yeah, they’ve eaten brains and entrails and brains, but when have they ever scarfed down a scorpion? I also enjoyed their grossed out reactions when watching the guest judges sampling their dishes. Hugh ended up taking the win with his tempura fried crickets and sunchoke puree.

For the Elimination, the chefs were charged with creating a ten-course tasting menu for a charity dinner. Sounds easy enough, right? In the middle of cooking their dishes, the water gets turned off in the kitchen. Then Curtis walks in with a double whammy: the chefs have to plate up 30 minutes early and they must be the ones to serve the guests. Panic sets in, tempers flare and mild chaos ensues (definitely nowhere near the level of regular Top Chef, though).

Want to know what happened? Listen to the podcast to find out! (Note: This episode was a bit disjointed — to say the least. Just listen along, laugh and bear with us.)

The Fabio plea video for Katie (as discussed in podcast): A personal plea… from Jeff Houck on Vimeo.

Tune in to Bravo every Wednesday at 10 pm EST/9 pm C, check out our own live Tweets during the show (Jeff: @JeffHouck, Katie: @culinarypirate), and listen to our podcast here every week! (You can even download us on iTunes!)

Check out our fellow Top Chef fanatics’ blogs: All Top Chef gives us their uninhibited reactions and Please Pack Your Knives and Go is just plain hilarious. And check out TalkingTV’s rules for the Top Chef drinking game here.

Listen to this week’s podcast:
Download the podcast here.

top_chef_logoOn tonight’s episode of Top Chef Masters:

For the Quickfire, Chef Hotpants McGee (a.k.a.: Curtis Stone) tells the chefs they’ll be “going back to their roots” and have to create dishes with roots, herbs and some fierce-looking insects. I just want to know if they’ll have to kill the bugs themselves or if they were given live ones for gross-out effect.

As for the Elimination Challenge, Bravo is giving us no clues this week, but it looks like something challenging, stressful and it has to be executed in a short period of time (just going out on a limb here). It looks like, whatever the challenge is, Naomi Pomeroy steps up and takes charge of the kitchen, making sure everyone’s dishes are in line with what’s going on their menu. (Group challenge?). Anyway, some folks aren’t too happy about being “bossed around.”

Preview video highlights:
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tcm_logoOn the latest installment of Top Chef Masters:

We viewers got a nice surprise when we found out that Hugh Acheson was back to to compete in the show, but were sad to find out that it was because John Sedlar had to leave the show for personal reasons. I am happy that Hugh’s wit and talent is back on the show though.

For the Quickfire, the master chef’testants had 30 minutes to grind meat with a hand cranked grinder for the meatballs they were to create for singer Kelis — you know, the “Milkshake” gal? Apparently she has “culinary training,” but it looked like no one gave her training on how to critique dishes by chefs of this caliber, as she was serving up quite a lot of criticism and cojones with not much experience or decent reasons to back it up with. Hugh Acheson called it “pointless criticism,” and I think many of us viewers agreed with him. In the end, she preferred John Currance’s Vietnamese-style chicken meatball over all the others.

As for the Elimination Challenge, the chefs had to take classic (as in “classically awful”) dishes from the 1960s, put a modern spin on them and serve them in bite-sized form at a cocktail party where Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks and her husband Geoffry Arend would be critiquing them. They also had to make a miniature version of the original dishes to serve alongside the new creations. So, two apps: one fancy, one old school, one hot redhead thrown into the mix. Got it?
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top_chef_logoOn tonight’s episode of Top Chef Masters:

Kelis is bringing her milkshake to the Top Chef Masters yard tonight, charging the chefs with grinding their own meat and making something delicious from it (these previews don’t give me much to work with), as well as acting as Quickfire judge. Did you know she was a trained chef? News to me.

As for the Elimination Challenge, my girl crush for Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks is fully realized when she and her husband, actor Geoffrey Arend, give the chefs their challenge of modernizing some popular dishes from the ’60s. I’m hoping to see both a Jell-o mold and some form of meatloaf revamped with a fabulous new makeover — and will sneer at any chef who creates some deconstructed mess. (Extra points for any Firefly references during tonight’s live tweet party.)

Preview video highlights:
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top_chef_logo_lgUnless you live under a rock, you were fully aware that the Top Chef All-Stars finale was last night — and if you were a loyal fan, you were watching it live.

We were lucky enough to have Joe Yonan from the Washington Post (better known as @WaPoFoodLive) as our special guest for this podcast. He dished up all of the hot, behind-the-scenes Top Chef gossip from the D.C. season and snarky commentary on last night’s finale.

As for the episode: the little amuse bouche challenge with the 15 chopped chef’testants was a great twist to the episode — Blais and Jersey Mike having to blind-taste their offerings to determine who’d be on their teams for the finale’s “Restaurant Wars” challenge. Funny how Mike said he didn’t want Jamie on his team and then he picked her! What did I say about karma a few weeks ago, kids?

The rest of the episode was a definite nail-biter. Bias aside, Jersey Mike was putting out some stellar-looking dishes! I was getting scared. Blais, on the other hand, was showing a lot of restraint. Too much, though? Was he true enough to himself in his dishes? It seemed they were toe-to-toe in their courses — Mike having two great courses and the same for Blais.
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top_chef_logo_lg The two remaining chef’testants are hitting the ground running during the Top Chef: All-Stars finale tonight! I’d say there are two distinct groups of fans who will be watching tonight’s final showdown: Those who desperately want Blais to win and those who desperately want Jersey Mike to not win. Of course, there will be some centrists as well.

Right after Blais and Mike learn that they’ve made it to the real finale, Tom gives the gents their final quest: “We want you to create for us the restaurant of your dreams.” I’m taking it as this will be a Restaurant Wars-style showdown. After learning that 15 of the chopped chefs will be returning to act as sous chefs for the challenge, Blais and Mike are deliberating over who they want on their team. Little do they know, it won’t be as cut and dry as picking out their team like they did during kickball games in middle school gym class.

Back in the kitchen, Padma charges the 15 returning chefs to create an amuse bouche for Blais and Mike, who will then have to choose their sous chefs based solely on a blind taste test of those offerings. I’m sure by now finalists have a decent idea of the other chefs’ cooking styles so that they might be able to match the dish to the chef.

Preview video highlights:
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top_chef_logo_lgThree chefs remained at the beginning last night’s episode of Top Chef All-Stars and

The Quickfire was an interesting twist on Top Chef challenge twists: each chef choose the other’s challenge (i.e.: one-pot meal, canned food, etc.), then chose the second round of twists which were revealed halfway through the challenge (cook with one arm, use no utensils, etc.). Was anyone else as confused as I was? Anyway, they all ended up finishing on time, Carla made a guest appearance, they were judged by Wolfgang Puck and then Jersey Mike won the challenge.

As for the Elimination, the chefs had to each cook the requested last meal of a famous chef/guest judge, and the lineup included: Wolfgang Puck, Morimoto and Michelle Bernstein. Since Mike won the Quickfire, he got to choose who Blais and Antonia would be cooking for. Mike chose Bernstein for himself, who wanted fried chicken and biscuits; Blais got Puck, who wanted goulash, spaetzle, and apple shtrooodulll; and Antonia had to cook Morimoto’s requested meal of miso soup, pickled mushrooms and sashimi.
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top_chef_logo_lg It’s the second to last episode of Top Chef: All-Stars tonight!

For the Quickfire, the remaining chefs have a pretty easy challenge: prepare a one-pot meal. But, as we’ve seen in the past, there’s the potential to over-think a dish and it turn out to be a mucky mess.

In the Elimination Challenge, it looks like the chefs will be paired with some big names in the culinary world: Wolfgang Puck, Morimoto and Michelle Bernstein (if I remember correctly), and they have to prepare a meal indicative of those chefs’ styles. Mike says he’s going to go out on a limb and trying something new for him for this challenge. Um, Mike, have you not seen many other chefs do this so close to the finale in past seasons and fail miserably?

Preview video highlights:
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