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Top Chef Masters: The Gloves Actually Do Come Off

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Really Anita Lo? You can't identify hoisin? Peanut butter? The supposed "master" chefs took part in an all time favorite Top Chef quickfire stunt in last night's episode, the blind tasting. Each chef, after being blindfolded, had to identify 20 ingredients including ketchup, peanut butter, dashi, corn, and the like. And surprise: these guys are just as bad (or worse) than the regular Top Chef contestants. To be fair, a high stress blind tasting in front of cameras isn't necessarily the perfect palate tester, but still. Embarrassing!

After the QF (Michael Chiarello won with seven out of 20), Kelly announces that former Top Cheffers will be helping out the Masters in putting on a buffet meal. In this segment we learn to no surprise a) no one likes Spike or Suzanne Somers (Betty), b) Spike is still kind of a jerk, c) Dale (of Buddakan) has temper issues—an aside: is screaming at a Master chef on national teevee really the right move for you, Dale?— and d) Fabio is still good for a hilarious one liner. Case in point: "I'm sweating like a mountain goat at the beach."

The most important lesson of this whole episode: San Francisco's Michael Chiarello is (earmuffs!) a total dick. Maybe it's editing, but the season's adorable charmer turns out to be a two faced villain, running around like a maniac, starting fights over the frdige, screaming at everyone, blaming his sous chefs when he fails. Sad.

In other news, Hubert Keller rocks it, Rick Bayless is the cool uncle Richard Blais always wanted and never had, and for once, the judges are actually mean to the contestants, old school Top Chef style (though Jay Rayner was still totally flirting with Hubert). In the end, Hubert wins even though he had the lowest quickfire score, and Anita Lo, our sole New York chef, lost for her unambitious and poorly planned raw bar and for identifying peanut butter as tahini.

But the question is now, after seeing all these challenges and quickfires again, won't viewers have Top Chef fatigue just in time for TC6 to debut? Maybe those four month breaks between seasons were there for a good reason.
· All Top Chef Coverage [~E~]
· Gawker Commenters Live Blog Top Chef [Gawker]
· So do Serious Eats Commenters [SE]
· Dale Explains What Happened Between Him and Chiarello [Bravo]
· Runaround Sous [TV Guide]
· Padma Lakshmi Visits Cubicle Confessions [TV Guide]