Top Chef Masters Season 2, Episode 5: Luckiest Wedding Party Ever
Both teams coincidentally make a very similar dish. The red team starts with Carmen Gonzalez, who pulls ingredients and does prep work. Susur Lee intimidates the ingredients into forming a dish by glaring at them before handing them off to Tony Montuano, who tinkers with the dish some more. Bringing up the rear is Marcus Samuelsson, who volunteered to go last because he thinks he's the strongest chef there. I don't think so, but I like his moxie (and his smile reminds me of Carlton Banks).
The blue team begins with Susan Feniger laying the groundwork before passing things off to Jody Adams, who remembers last season's contestant Jen's words of wisdom to get started on a broth (ImissyouJenandwishyouwonlastseason), so that's exactly what she does. Meanwhile, Susan stands on the sidelines worrying that Jody may have put the mussels in too soon, thus running the risk of getting overcooked (thankfully, that doesn't happen). Rick Moonen gets all "I love fish, so juicy sweeeeeeeet" and works his magic, and Jonathan Waxman serves as the anchor for the team. He gets claustrophobic being blindfolded for 30 minutes, but pulls it together and adds his Obi-Wan touch to the dish, which turns out to be a mussel and scallop stew with orange and fennel. Jay Rayner samples both dishes and crowns the blue team as the winner, despite the somewhat overpowering fennel flavor.
The main challenge is Wedding Wars, and the teams look mildly disgusted by the idea that they'll be working for 2 straight days to cater a wedding absolutely gratis. The lucky sons of bitches who get to have eight highly talented chefs cook for their wedding show up, and they are the pickiest assholes I've ever seen. The groom is all about meat and potatoes and shoots down fois gras or anything remotely exotic. The bride seems to fancy herself a slightly more adventurous eater, saying she loves French food and Asian food, but refuses to eat shellfish or lamb and gives the chefs a few other dietary restrictions. This is unreal - if my boyfriend and I were the lucky bride and groom, we'd beg the chefs to make anything remotely delicious and shove our faces full of their signature dishes. My wedding dress would be popping at the seams. It'd be the best night ever.
Because the blue team won the Quickfire challenge, they get to choose which menu to prepare, the bride's or the groom's. Since the bride isn't quite as much of a picky bastard as the groom, they elect to make her meals, leaving the red team working with Mr. No Pork, Please. While they're cooking, all of the chefs reminisce about their wedding day and Susur has one of the funniest sound clips of the entire season, talking about how he and his girlfriend had one kid and she said they should get married, and when they had another kid and he finally proposed to her, she inexplicably proclaimed, "Fuck you, I'm not gonna marry you!" He follows this gem up by talking about how the groom's dad likes carrot cake and he's never made one before, but he's lived in British Columbia, which is "full of hippies who make the best carrot cake," so he figures he can whip up a decent one. I officially love Susur Lee. He can join the Thierry Rautureau and Fabio Vivani foreign chef variety hour.
The blue team makes a couple hors d'oeuvres, and Jody defies the bride's wishes by making a rack of lamb. Even though the bride and her woefully inappropriate cleavage won't touch it, the judges love it so screw you, picky eater. It's at this point of the episode when I realize that Jody did a very smart thing by catering more towards the judges than the wedding party. If you think about it, the judges scores make up a possible 15 out of 20 stars while the wedding guests only comprise of 5. Strategically, it's better to make something that resonates with the judges and run the risk of alienating the guests than to play it safe and please the guests but leave the judges unimpressed.
Rick makes a seafood mixed grill, which was criticized for being overcooked and having a too-sweet sauce, and Jonathan cooks a delectable roast chicken. Jody does bananas foster to order despite the fact that she's never made them before, and they turn out surprisingly well. Susan whips up an Egyptian semolina cake that looked like a kindergartner decorated it. Rick described it as "the Charlie Brown Christmas tree of cakes," which is about as perfect a description as anyone could make. Oh, and apparently it tastes terrible, too.
When it comes time to judge the meal, the blue team once again reigns supreme, with Jody winning top honors and receiving $10,000 for her charity (it appears as if we interviewed an especially strong contender). The red team comes out so one of their chefs can get axed. Carmen is eliminated because she only made a couple of minor dishes. It's a bummer because she did a lot of non-cooking work to ensure the team stayed organized and on-point, but in the end, the judges can really only score her on her food. And just like that, we're down to seven contestants.
Next week on Top Chef Masters, the chefs cook for some of The Simpsons' voice actors, and Andrew Zimmern drops by to eat bull penis and have a third world country native spit healing potions onto his naked, pudgy body.