Top Chef Masters Recap: Better Than A Mess Hall

Last week my favorite cheftestant, Hugh, was sent packing for his mayo as science project (which is ironic because I always thought of mayo as more "weird science" than condiment).

That leaves Mary Sue, Floyd, Traci and Naomi to duke it out for spots in next week's finale.


The cheftestants have 20 minutes to create and cook a dish while simultaneously instructing another unidentified person to create the exact same dish.

The catch is that they can't see that other person of show them visually - the other "chef" will be working behind a screen so the cheftestants can only bark orders at them. And bark they did....

Traci gets pissed that the other person doesn't know what chiffonade is. Because obviously everyone polled at the local mall knows chiffonade.

Naomi is working with someone who doesn't know what a shallot looks like.

Floyd asks his partner how her food looks and she says "really bad".

Mary Sue is patient and diligent with her partner. That's so un-chef-like.

So we know there's going to be a "twist" that we all saw coming but I can't fathom the cheftestants didn't realize (unless they were told to act dumb or they're really stupid, that is). The cheftestants all know their "mystery partners"! Told ya you'd never see that one coming...not!

Naomi's secret partner is her father and they make fricassee of mushroom, bacon and shallots with an egg.

Floyd's teammate is his sister and they prepare shrimp stir fry with asparagus and mushrooms.

Mary Sue's been working with her sister and they make shredded chicken salad on a bed of spinach with avocado.

Traci has her brother as partner and they prepare halibut with brown butter vinaigrette and asparagus.

The winner is Tracy and her brother Mitch. Maybe Mary Sue should have been meaner, after all.


Each cheftestant draws a knife to represent a branch of the military (since the Coast Guard is not represented, we're going to assume that's because they don't have anyone in Iraq or Afghanistan. I think).

The cheftestants will have four hours to prepare a meal, buffet style, for service people and their families coming home from their tours of duty.

When the cheftestants interview the families, they get answers they're not too happy about. Forget the pate and foie gras and molecular gastronomy - these people coming home want meatloaf and barbeque and cobbler.

Mary Sue (Marine Corps) makes ribs with spicy tomatillo barbeque sauce, avocado relish, and apple cream cheese bread pudding

Floyd (Army) makes roast tenderloin of beef with spinach salad, clam chowder, and a tamarind margarita (which the military families notice has plenty of alcohol in it)

Naomi (Air Force) makes barbeque pork, shrimp fried rice, and iceberg wedge, and tuna poke salad. Plus a pineapple panna cotta for dessert.

Traci (Navy) makes meat Loaf, Caesar salad, mashed potatoes, and peach cobbler.

The winning chef by popular vote is Mary Sue.

Judge's Table

Traci, Floyd and Naomi are at Judges Table, where Naomi is sent home. Ruth Reichel says her dishes were too ambitious and didn't go together. Floyd shows off his commemorative coin he received from his soldier about 10,000 times. 

Next week - the finale, which looks like the cheftestants will be driving in traffic with $100,000 at stake, along with appearances by Gael Green and Tom Colicchio!!!

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times, covering the restaurant and bar scene in South Florida. She has been featured on Cooking Channel’s Eat Street and Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race. Doss won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature on what it’s like to wait tables. In a previous life, she appeared off-Broadway and shook many a cocktail as a bartender at venues in South Florida and New York City. When she’s not writing, you can find Doss running some marathon then celebrating at the nearest watering hole.
Contact: Laine Doss