Top Chef Masters S3Ep5

Nine chefs.

Quickfire – presented with a table of food that all have prices on them. They have to make an appetizer for $1. Prize is $5K plus immunity. 20 minutes.

Chefs run to the table and carefully figure costs, eliminating ingredients. Celina makes carrot soup. Floyd makes couscous. Hugh notes that any mistake will cost money. He loses an egg. Mary Sue won’t taste her bacon because it will reduce the amount. Naomi is using a single cherry tomato.

Guests are Brendan Newland and Rico Gagliano, who have an NPR show. “Dinner Party Download”

Celina made spicy carrot soup with lime-pickled shrimp. Very flavorful and delicious. 96 cents, but would pay #15.

Mary Sue made a bacon, lettuce and tomato salad with celery seed vinaigrette. Too much smoke.

Naomi made asparagus and bread salad with cherry tomato and lemon vinaigrette. Really liked it.

Hugh made a lyonnaise salad with poached egg, frisee, radicchio and bacon. It was balanced and put fast food to shame. Hugh thinks “The Dollar Store” would be a great restaurant concept.

Alex made spiced squid with garlic, olives and almonds. For $1? I’m impressed. They love it – it’s skillful.

George made grilled calamari salad with cucumber, tomatoes and almonds. It looks…precious. Underwhelming. Not super-awesome.

Traci made a chicken palliard with asparagus, lemon and brown butter. Simple and elegant. Very good.

Floyd made a ficassee of shrimp and asparagus with beef and tomatoes on couscous. Heavily spiced and moist, and they like it.

Least faves – George was bland. Mary Sue – too salty. Highlights – Alex and Celina and Naomi. Naomi wins.

Main challenge – main dish and side, mystery location and diners won’t have utensils. They have to plan and shop without any more clues than that. They shop for 30 minutes for $300, and for 100 people. They are very frustrated and confused. Traci is doing burrito. George is making pork loin and clams.Doesn’t want to play it safe.

They’re at “Farmer Boy’s”, a fresh made fast food restaurant. Doing lunch rush and drive through. Food must be between five and seven minutes. Half in kitchen, half take and serve orders and then swap.

Prepping, preppy. Floyd adjusts his menu. Celina is making a wrap. They don’t all know fast food protocol. George is using his original dish. Naomi has immunity. Floyd is making a fish taco now.

Floyd, George, Traci and Naomi (drive through) working floor first. Hugh, Celina, Alex and Mary Sue are back of house. And there is a long wait for food. Not clarifying to go or here, sides….

George is not accustomed to fast food. Hugh compares it to an architect who can’t make a lego house.

Traci runs in to help.

Critics arrive. Curtis and Danyelle by car, James and Alan inside.

Hugh made banh mi of pork and liver pate, chili watermelon with serrano and feta. No one loves it.

Mary Sue made a skirt steak quesadilla diablo with quinoa fritters and sweet pepper garlic mayo. James likes it. Curtis loved the fritters.

Alex made a salmon fish taco with fennel and apple slaw and butternut squash fritters. It’s more of a burrito. Curtis doesn’t like salmon in a taco,and James thinks its too small.

Quesadillas and fish tacos most popular to order.

Celina made lamb, pork and garbanzo “wrap” (it’s unwrapped) with pickled cauliflower. Everyone remarks on how it’s not wrapped and not finger food.

They go for round two and the swap. So they’re making their own food, and the menu swaps.

The car people swap with the inside people. Alex is runner, Mary Sue does drive through, Hugh is doing cash register, in his own little world. Celina expedites.

Long time passing. It’s moving very slowly – slower than the first bunch.

George made pork and chorizo skewer with clam, cucumber and olive side. And they’re laughing at the food. It’s ugly.

Traci makes a chicken burrito chili verde with jicama sticks and tortilla chips. Looks nice. Curtis pounds the table. Everyone loves it.

Floyd makes a chicken frankie (Indian street food) with cucumber, daikon and grape slaw. James loves the fresh made wrap.

Naomi made a rib-eye steak sandwich on ciabatta with caesar salad w/herbed croutons. Nothing bad; nothing special. She has immunity. Also, salads aren’t finger food. Danyelle and Curtis are flirting HARD.

Critics call Alex, George and Celina first. Traci is confused because these were not the best dishes. It was rough behind the counter. Service was so bad. These were the least favorite dishes. Celina thought hers was out of the box. They didn’t like it wasn’t wrapped and it was underseasoned. James liked the cauliflower. Hugh’s clam in cucumber was hard to eat. It wasn’t really fast food. Alex was out of his element. Wasn’t a fast food side dish. Practical burrito, but too sweet.

Mary Sue, Traci and Floyd. They could tell the order was reversed, with winners second. Great dishes. Floyd’s frankie wrap was perfect and delicious and the slaw worked with it. Curtis was in love with Traci’s burrito. Mary Sue took a gamble that there would be a fryer. Fritters were dynamite. Mary Sue wins. 10K.

Taco wasn’t great – not great salmon, and distracting. Too sweet. Celina’s dish was impossible to eat without utensils, tasteless filling. Flapjacks. George – no one knew was the side and the main. No sauce, sparse and ugly. Didn’t adapt well. George goes home.

The real challenge here was the environment. While high end restaurant cooking can be likened to very expensive short order, it’s very different than fast food, and the chefs were all but unable to handle the pace and organization necessary to make a McDonald’s run.

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About mamadeb

I'm a devoted fan of Adam Lambert, but also of cooking, knitting, science fiction and pretty anything pop culture. I'm @_mamadeb on Twitter.
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