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Top Chef Masters Recap: Art Smith Teppanyak-ity-yaks

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Thu, Aug 9, 2012 at 2:30 PM
click to enlarge Brian Boitano and Curtis Stone - VIA BRAVOTV.COM
  • Via bravotv.com
  • Brian Boitano and Curtis Stone

Who says a Quickfire has to involve fire at all? On last night's episode of Top Chef Masters, raw was the name of the game for the chefs, who found themselves surrounding a massive ice sculpture adorned with seafood they had to serve up sans heat for a chance at immunity.

And as is appropriate for an episode that airs mid-Olympics, Brian Boitano served as judge for this challenge. You know, Brian Boitano -- gold medal figure skater and once world champion. Brian Boitano, who won out in the famous 1988 "Battle of the Brians."

No? That's not how you know Brian Boitano?

Oh, right, you know Brian Boitano from the South Park movie.

Yep, this fantastical little ditty catapulted Brian Boitano further into fame than any pair of ice skates, and without it, we'd never know he was such a foodist worthy to judge Top Chef , considering it led directly to the short-lived yet kind of amazing Food Network show What Would Brian Boitano Make?

So here we are with foodist figure skater Brian Boitano (and yes, we always have to say his full name) as he tastes about a dozen sashimi-style plates. Sticking with the sporty theme, he didn't just pick a winner -- he gave out bronze, silver and gold awards, dubbing Takashi Yagihashi's raw mackerel the best. Then they played the Japanese national anthem. No, just kidding, they didn't do that.

We kind of hoped Brian Boitano would stick around, if for no other reason than he puts that zippy little tune in our heads, but when the ice melted he bowed out to make room for an elimination challenge that, even for Top Chef, was a bit of a curve ball. In teams of three, the contestants were to cook a meal teppanyaki-style, or as many strip mall-loving Americans know it, Benihana-style.

click to enlarge Chris Cosentino, Thierry Rautureau and Art Smith going at it teppanyaki-style - VIA BRAVOTV.COM
  • Via bravotv.com
  • Chris Cosentino, Thierry Rautureau and Art Smith going at it teppanyaki-style

No easy task, we'd imagine. It's not as if we're talking about a foreign ingredient or a major time crunch here. This is a whole different way of cooking at which none of these chefs are practiced. Worse yet, peers and former Masters contestants Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger, Jonathan Waxman and Rick Moonen all served as judges. If humiliation was on the horizon, it was going to be big.

Chefs Kerry Heffernan, Mark Gaier and Lorena Garcia were up first, and while their attempt was noble, no one on the team remembered to pack the salt, and the judges complained that all of their dishes were woefully underseasoned.

Boitano's boy Yagihashi, Clark Frasier and Patricia Yeo went next and fared a little better (chefs mostly digging Yeo's lettuce wraps) but failed to wow.

Enter Thierry Rautureau and frenemies Chris Cosentino and Art Smith, whose dishes finally got the judges sitting up straight. Smith went first, talking talking talking away and barely near plating by the end of his time limit, causing Cosentino to politely suggest he flip those griddle cakes a little f'ing faster. This trio came out on top in the end, with Smith, chatter and all, taking top prize for his shrimp and corn cakes.

Unfortunately for Gaier, his unsalted scallops with bok choy sent him packing, to the particular dismay of his business and romantic partner Frasier. How will Frasier fare without his hubby?

Tune in next week, when somehow the Grand Canyon and The B-52's are involved.


Follow Ali Trachta on Twitter @MySo_CalLife. Follow Squid Ink at @LAWeeklyFood and check out our Facebook page.

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