This week, the final episode of season 2 of Top Chef Masters, we find our three remaining chefs pitted against each other in a battle
The chefs are transported to LA's Union Station, which is mysteriously both empty and completely clean. Kelly Choi meets them and from a distance of about 25 feet, gives the chefs their final challenge. They must create a three-course meal that celebrates their journey as a chef. To the stirring strains of a Musak version of "Don't Stop Believin'" we hear her tell them that the first dish must be inspired by their first food memory, the second dish must be inspired by the experience that made each decide to become a chef, and the third course should describe them as chefs.
The chefs are then sent off to have breakfast in yet another abandoned spot in the train station and forced to reminisce. Afterwards, they are given wads of cash and are sent off to shop for supplies.
Back at the Top Chef Masters Kitchen, while "Who's Cryin' Now" plays softly in the background, the chefs cook and talk about their various food memories: how Rick Moonen caught clams with his Dad (which is why he's making oysters); how Marcus cooked Christmas dinner the year his grandmother was sick; and probably most affecting, the tragic story of how Susur Lee's first wife died in a plane that was shot down for allegedly crossing into Soviet air space.
♫♪♫ I'm forever yours, faithfully ♫♪♫
Breaking the mood, Kelly walks in wearing a short shiny red dress that would have made Heidi Klum proud, to give the chefs a surprise. No, not that kind of surprise. And not a horrible twist to the challenge, but rather something useful: help. We then see the sous chefs from their restaurant kitchens march in to the strains of "Open Arms."
The chefs now have even more time to do voice overs and reminisce about the past. Marcus Samuelsson shows a photo of a young girl whom he calls his "sister." He then says she is living in Africa and is struggling with the lack of water there. Now, Marcus, if that is indeed your sister, and you are a good brother, why the hell are you leaving her in Africa when you can give her all the water she wants in New York City?
Finally, the cooking is done and the chefs must serve the diners: Gail Simmons, Miss James Oseland, Jay Rayner, and the three finalists from season 1, Hubert Keller, Rick Bayless, and Michael Chiarello. While everyone loved aspects of all nine dishes, it seems that one of three courses for each of the chefs falls flat.
Back at Critics' Table, the chefs stand to get their star ratings from Kelly and the gang. They start off with Susur who gets 17 stars. Marcus is next with 17.5 stars. Finally, Rick gets 17 stars. In the end, Marcus wins the title of Top Chef Master and $100K by a mere half a star.
As "Separate Ways" plays in the background, the second season of Top Chef Masters comes to a close.
So what did you think of this season? Please leave a comment with your thoughts.