Top Chef Masters Recap: Do you even know your own family?

We’re finally here – the second to last episode of Top Chef Masters! Then the show looks to be going on break for awhile until Top Chef Something-or-Other debuts and makes me want to gouge my eyes our or drink heavily (if it’s Top Chef Just Desserts, it will be both).

With Curtis welcoming the chefs into the kitchen while wearing an outfit I’m 99% sure I own, the chefs are tasked with the final Quickfire. Each station was partitioned and the chefs would have to make a dish and the person on the other side would have to make the same dish with only verbal instruction.

But here’s the catch – each chef got paired up with a family member without even realizing it. I’m sure the guests weren’t allowed to inform their siblings and children who they were but the notion that all four chefs had no clue they were yelling at family members for half an hour is astounding. Even Floyd commented that the woman sounded Indian and the lights never turned on!

So after much yelling and compromising when people didn’t know simple things like what is a shallot or how to chiffanade something, everyone managed to plate their dishes.

Naomi lost it when she realized she had been yelling at her dad for the last 30 minutes while making a fricassee of mushrooms, bacon and shallots with a poached egg and parsley. Her dad did a good job but the seasoning was different.

Floyd somehow dropped the ball and his sister missed a few important steps in the cooking process so her asparagus was full sized instead of cut into one inch pieces. Their shrimp, mushroom and asparagus stir fry didn’t wow Curtis.

Mary Sue and her sister seemed to do just fine on the shredded chicken salad with toasted crumbs and sesame seeds, minus an avocado snafu. But the dish was simple and unexciting.

Traci got teamed up with her little brother and made halibut with asparagus in brown butter balsamic vinaigrette that looked identical – the only difference were the cut of the fish! With that, Traci won another $5,000 for charity.

The elimination challenge kept with the theme of family as each chef drew knives from the Knife block of Destiny with a different branch of the military on each knife. So the chefs learned they would be tasked with making the welcome back feast for several military families. The overall theme seemed to be making some boring food and lots of it since people wanted stuff like steak and meatloaf.

But this caused a lot of issues with the critics over what would win the challenge. Mary Sue took it home again with her elaborate spread of tomatillo barbecue ribs and avocado corn relish with potato and rajas along with an apple and cream cheese bread pudding with crema. It was flavorful and wonderfully executed and she quickly was told she had a spot in the finale.

But with Floyd and Traci, it soon became a debate about what the challenge was. There was agreement that Floyd’s tenderloin didn’t taste like a Top Chef Master’s dish, but the soldier he was cooking for loved it. So can you really make the perfect meal as the challenge asked and still go home? The critics decided that he was safe but had played it too safe.

Traci faced a similar situation with her meatloaf and mashed potatoes with a Caesar salad that was just bland looking, but again, the soldier she was cooking for adored being able to eat home style food after such a long time on a submarine. But the critics seemed less than impressed.

Finally there was Naomi who tried to be the most ambitious with her Hawaiian infused dishes. Her barbecue pork was over salted and couldn’t compare to Mary Sue’s ribs, but the kiss of death was the prawn and cucumber rice salad that was undercooked and disconnected from the whole plate. And so the youngest chef remaining was told to finally pack her knives.

So next week is the final three in a free for all of some sort. There’s a mystery as always, Mary Sue messes something up and Floyd gets lost in traffic. Then we will be free of this!