LA's own Suzanne Tracht (chef-owner of Jar, Tracht's) handily won last night's Top Chef Masters battle, serving up a potluck plate of uni risotto and wild boar to the creators of Lost with a calm professionalism that could have been mistaken for indifference. Just the right attitude, really, if you were trapped on a tropical island with hungry, dangerous cast members. Or a Bravo reality show.
Tracht and fellow Episode 2 contestants Elizabeth Falkner (Citizen Cake, SF), Graham Elliot Bowles (Graham Elliot, Chicago) and Wylie Dufresne (wd-50, NYC), were put through the requisite Top Chef drills. A vending machine Quickfire. A trip to Whole Foods, shopping carts like bumper cars. Public service announcements for worthy causes. Masters play for charity instead of seed money, although with this economy, Bravo might want to rethink that one.
Dufresne (“molecular gastronomy doesn't sound sexy”) livened up the otherwise sedate show with some polite profanity and Falkner, in pastry chef default mode, baked cookies during a break. Host Kelly Choi, dressed for a Vogue cover shoot, and judges James Oseland of Saveur, Jay Rayner and iconic restaurant critic Gael Greene (we can ID you in that hat) tried their level best to inject dramatic tension. Sigh.
It's definitely more satisfying to watch veteran chefs play this game than cocky neophytes who often can't cook; it's just a little boring. Maybe next week Ludovic Lefebvre (LA's Ludo Bites) can sous vide a yellowtail he pulls from the Malibu surf. Or maybe Bravo can commission Christo to wrap the set in all that mercilessly-hyped Glad plastic wrap.