On this penultimate episode of Top Chef Masters, our final four competitors get two somewhat difficult challenges. First: the Quickfire involves pairing up for a "Cookbook Swap" in which each member of the pairs has to cook a recipe from his partner's book. The recipes are pre-selected and a box of essential ingredients is provided to each chef. Marcus cooks from Jonathan's book (and vice versa) and Rick prepares a dish from Susur's book (which I just received in the mail yesterday, btw) while Susur cooks from his.
Marcus decides to change Jonathan's recipe to reflect his own background. Jonathan chooses to make Marcus' curry dish less-spicy. Susur is upset because he didn't get a reference photo of the dish and he "cooks with his eyes" and he "doesn't read English very well." (I'm pretty sure that last statement was pure bullshit.) Rick is just plain concerned, since Susur's recipes aren't exactly simple.
After much cooking time has elapsed, Kelly Choi flounced back into the room to announce a twist: the recipes must become soups that retain the integrity of the original dish.
Much bitching ensues. Time's up and the dishes are brought to Ms James Oseland for tasting. In the end, Marcus gets 3.5 stars for his brothy interpretation of a Jonathan Waxman dish.
Next, Kelly tells the chefs that they get the night off and are being sent to see a performance of the Groundlings, the improv troupe that produced the likes of Will Farrell, Jimmy Fallon, and Chris Kattan (and STILL we allow them to exist). The chefs get into their civilian clothes and head off to see the show in a relaxed mood. Eventually, they realize that they don't actually have the night off, particularly when Jim Rash (Community) starts asking the audience to shout out colors, emotions, and foods. And suddenly it's a rehash of the Elimination Challenge in Top Chef season 4 episode 7 in which Dale Talde and Richard Blais win with their interpretation of "green perplexed tofu." (A similar version of the game was played in a Quickfire in Season 6 episode 7 in which the cheftestants were assigned moods, tastes/textures, and ethnicities via slot machine.)
The chefs get to choose the trio of words with which they want to work, starting with QF winner Marcus who chooses "violet, pleasure, salmon." Susur takes "chocolate, lust, peanut butter," Rick has "red, anger, bacon," which leaves Jonathan with "burnt sienna, depression, avocado." Then it's off to Whole Foods to shop and then 2.5 hours to cook their themed meal for the Groundlings cast.
During the cooking, we find that: Jonathan plays the trombone; Susur is 15 at heart, what with his idea of using bananas and a cookie tuile "vagina" in his dish; the kitchen has an immersion circulator but not a vacuum sealer; and Marcus has no idea what color "violet" really is (a hint: it's neither red like beets, nor is it purple).
The critics for this meal are Gail, Jay, and Ms Oseland. There's criticism all around although Susur seems to get the least. Despite this, he's beaten out by half a point by Marcus, despite the fact that his plate looked like a crime scene and there was no violet to be found (the critics obviously had no clue, either).
Jonathan, who made a nice homey meal of chicken with avocado, scored a paltry (poultry?) 11.5 points and was sent packing. So sad to see Obi Wan go! :(
So next week is the final battle between Marcus Samuelsson, Susur Lee, and Rick Moonen. The winner was spoiled weeks ago, but who do you think it will be?