July 08, 2009 10:57 PM by Britteny Elrick
Tonight onTop Chef Masters, chefs Anita Lo (Annisa), Douglas Rodriguez (Alma de Cuba), John Besh (Restaurant August) and Mark Peel (Campanile) will be competing against each other for a spot in the champions round… but not until a little magical intervention.I know what you’re thinking – there’s no better combo than fine dining and magic. Keep reading to find out what mysterious dishes thechefscreate to impress theircritics, including Neil Patrick Harrisand friends.
Kelly Choi greets the chefs and tells them that for the Quickfire Challenge they will need to cook an egg in 25 minutes, with one hand behind their backs. They will be judged by Gail Simmons (judge from Top Chef), Terry Reish, and Monica May. I was thinking along the lines of omelettes, but these guys are trying to be show-offs. Douglas Rodriguez makes open faced scrambled eggs and ham. Mark Peel makes fresh duck egg pasta with olive oil cream sauce. Anita serves a soft scrambled egg with shitake mushrooms that was presented in a half egg shell. Lastly, John Besh gives them a slow cooked egg that apparently didn’t have enough time to slow cook. Um, they didn’t like it, and I believe Gail said it tasted like cooked grease. Anita wins the round with five stars.
Their elimination challenge is to cook dinner for Neil Patrick Harris and his friends at the Magic Castle in Hollywood. Since Neil is a big fan of magic, Max Maven, magician and “mentalist,” stops by to give them a lesson in magic. Seriously, mentalist? He has them choose a card, pick a number, and do a bunch of other things that he says very quickly and I can’t understand. Eventually they end up with one of four cards: surprise, mystery, spectacle, and illusion, which will serve as inspiration for their dishes.
While they’re busy at work, the boys admit that they are secretly scared of Anita. Well, what do you know – Chef Tom, host of Top Chef, stops by to check in on the chefs. The only thing he regrets is not being able to actually eat the food. Before you know it, prep time is over and the chefs are headed to the Magic Castle.
Mark is presenting first and he has mystery. He serves tai snapper wrapped in a bag of some sort, along with a side of Saki. Well, I think that’s just cheating. John is working hard to make unexpected flavors for his surprise dish. He makes Salmon tartare along with a sauce that he makes right in front of the guests, with the assistance of Neil. Anita is having a hard time being creative with her illusion dish, and she ends up with braised Daikon that appears to be a scallop complete with “sand” made from rice krispies. Douglas is indeed creating a spectacle with his duck dish, cooked four different ways, and served with a coconut lit on fire. Yes, on fire.
The critics do their job and critcize the dishes, while the chefs do their best to state their cases. John gets a total of 12 stars, but is immediately eliminated when Mark acquires 18.5. Douglas only gets a mere 13 stars, so he is also eliminated. And lastly, it’s down to Mark and Anita, the one to beat. She only needs 14 additional stars to beat him. She ends up with a total of 22.5 stars and will move on to the champions round.
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Photo Credit: Bravo