Top Chef: Masters (2009) s03e09 Episode Script

A Soldier's Story

Previously on Top Chef Masters Explode, explode, explode.
Five of the most acclaimed chefs in America put their reputations on the line in one culinary clash of the titans.
The chefs were asked to demonstrate various scientific principles through food.
Explain that, Augustine! So welcome to our edible science fair.
So watch what happens here.
Mary Sue received an a-plus for her presentation of viscosity in her fried churro dish.
- You're a great teacher.
- Thank you.
While Hugh flunked out with his weak mayonnaise demonstration.
I'm confused.
No, you're looking at me like I'm wrong.
Here, you explain that.
That cornmeal breading, it was almost like sand.
Please return to the kitchen and pack your knives.
Four chefs remain to compete for a spot in the finale, where one will win the grand prize of $100,000 for their charity, furnished by Kitchenaid, and be crowned as the winner of Top Chef Masters.
Top Chef Masters 3x09 A Soldier's Story We walk into the kitchen for our final quickfire, and the kitchen's looking kind of funny.
There are barriers dividing the work tables.
So, hmm, what's this one going to be about? Chefs, you've made it to the final four.
Congratulations.
I am hoping that this last quickfire is something that I can win.
Being in the final four, not having won any quickfire challenges, that's pretty embarrassing.
In our restaurants, we often ask other chefs to replicate our meals.
And that takes great communication.
For your final quickfire challenge, we'll test that.
Each of your stations has a divider, splitting your work station into two.
Each has the same equipment and ingredients.
You will only be allowed to use those to cook your dish.
On the other side of the divider is an identical set, and your mystery teammate.
You're gonna have 20 minutes to create and cook your dish.
At the same time, you'll be instructing the person on the other side of the divider to make the exact same dish.
I'll be judging your dishes.
And I'll be looking at how good they taste, and how identical they are to your teammate's.
Find yourself a station and put on your blindfolds.
Your teammates will now enter the kitchen and take their place behind the divider.
We don't know if they're cooking school teachers or children.
We have no idea.
I think the big challenge is can the person that's on the other side of the wall do the things I'm asking them to do? Your 20 minutes starts now.
Good luck.
What are we doing, chef? I can hear it's a man's voice.
But I don't recognize it.
What am I grabbing? - The fish.
- Hello? - Yes.
- Okay.
I can't really hear you.
Do you know what brunoise is? A little bit.
When I hear my mystery guest speak, I know it's a woman.
And I detect a slight Indian accent.
- Baking soda? - No, flour.
Hang on a second.
I can't get the flour open.
Who the heck is this person? I'm like, okay, they got me an Indian woman who's gonna make my life hard.
Hang on a second.
Rice vinegar.
Okay? - Is it down below? - Yes! - Parsley? - Parsley, yes.
Parsley chiffonade.
I'm sorry? - Chiffonade.
- What? Chiffonade.
I don't know that term, chiffonade.
Oh, you must not be a culinary student.
'Cause if you were a culinary student, you would know what chiffonade means.
Means mince it.
Mince it, okay, chef.
That seems to be a culinary term that he can get his head around.
I go ahead and chop mine up too, so it's gonna be the same.
What do we have? Do you see any soy sauce? No.
When it's just verbal, it's definitely challenging to describe every single detail of what you're doing.
We're making a little marinade.
So you have your ginger and soy sauce together? No.
Because it's so easy to explain it, I decide to make a spinach salad with shredded chicken.
It doesn't have to be too fancy.
Grab out the two strips of bacon.
I have no idea who's on the other side of the divider.
But there's no time to waste thinking.
So I just grab ingredients that sound good together.
Just two strips they're on the burner.
They shouldn't be on the burner.
They need to be in the pan, cooking.
I decide to make a fricasee with a poached egg.
No eggs.
You do have eggs.
You have four eggs.
Get your fish in the pan.
Mine's in the pan.
I'm gonna color it and take it out, all right? Did you want the shallots in the olive oil? I'm making sauteed Halibut with asparagus and brown butter balsamic vinaigrette.
Your fish is cooking, right? Yes, fish is cooking.
I don't have the ginger.
Where is the ginger? I'm going to do something really simple.
I'm making stir-fried shrimp with mushrooms and asparagus.
You have your mushrooms in the pan? Yes, I do.
You got spinach, cilantro, and parsley, right? How can I tell doneness? Put one in your mouth.
Is it tender? Pretty al dente.
Grab a shallot.
Do you know what that looks like? Hold on.
No.
Oh, my God.
Who is this person that doesn't know what a shallot looks like? What have they done to me? I can't hear you.
They're in the pan where the bacon was.
I don't even know what's going on with this guy.
I can't hear you.
You need to talk louder.
He clearly is a quiet talker.
- Mushrooms in? - What? Mushrooms in.
I'm finding myself getting really irritated.
How long do you want the bacon strips cut? The bacon I already told you.
Half an inch wide.
And it should be all in a pan together.
- Not hearing you well.
- Okay, listen! I don't think I could scream at someone in the kitchen.
I think if you give people a chance, they will do what you tell them to.
- Take the mushrooms out? - No, taste it! The more I could hear Naomi scream, the less I wanted to do the same thing to my guest.
Okay, hey.
Get back here! Good job.
Now you have your avocado.
Peel it and fan it.
You got the asparagus? Take the whole bunch, just the top.
An inch and a half.
Sorry? Cut off the top? When it's time to plate, it's very important that my partner gets instruction from me as to what I want.
And if they don't understand, our dishes are going to look very, very different.
How does it look? Good? Uh, it looks yucky.
Chefs, you have five minutes remaining.
Do not pour the butter into the dish.
Just squeeze with the tongs.
Will--will do.
Fish is done.
All right.
Put it on your asparagus.
Let the butter brown.
And then you're gonna add balsamic vinegar to the--to the bowl.
One of the easiest sauces that I do with fish is a brown butter vinaigrette.
It's one of those little kind of magic trick sauces that I teach people from time to time.
Okay, add a little water to it and boil it.
Crack all of the eggs directly into the water.
Most people can crack an egg.
Tell me when your eggs are in.
I'm like, Damn it.
We have to come to the plate, dude.
We have to, we'll get disqualified if we don't.
Okay, here we go.
I am not getting disqualified because you can't crack an egg.
I ain't going out like that.
You're going to get this done.
It's still a little runny, I think.
It should be runny, sir.
Cut them very, very thin.
The shrimp.
Hang on, hang on.
How do your salads look so far? Umnot very good.
- Still fishing.
- Dude, we have to plate.
Make sure your plate's nice and clean.
Parsley, cheese, egg-- Chefs, your time is up.
Done.
- Naomi.
- Curtis.
Did you find it tricky? We just couldn't hear very well.
Let's remove the divider, find out who your teammate was.
I feel really bad for this poor chap.
This is going to be very interesting to see who the guest is.
Aah! Let's remove the divider.
Let's find out who your teammate was.
This is gonna be very interesting to see who the guest is.
Aah! Oh, my God.
- You didn't know? - No.
Good thing I've been just yelling at my dad the whole day.
It's kind of appalling to think that Naomi's been screaming at this person on the other side of the barrier the whole time and it's her dad.
Yeah, this is my father.
He taught me a lot about cooking.
My dad is my favorite person in the entire world.
I mean, he knows my personality.
So I already know I have an instant free pass for acting like a maniac.
I thought she knew who I was.
- Right.
- 'Cause she talked to me like she always talks to me when she's in the kitchen.
Right? That's the thing about family.
You can be as blunt as you like, right? - Yeah.
- It's true.
Okay, what have we got, Naomi? A fricassee with mushrooms, bacon, shallots, and we threw a poached egg on the top.
All in all, it looks pretty identical, doesn't it? Oh, Naomi, your egg is cooked beautifully.
- Thank you.
- Just right.
Mm.
Yeah? Right on.
Okay.
The seasoning's a little bit different.
But the flavors are very, very similar.
Congratulations.
Well done.
Whoo! - So, Floyd.
- Hey, Curtis.
Let's find out who your teammate was.
Hi.
I hope I did you proud.
What the heck? I said cut the asparagus.
You never listen to me.
I'm very happy to see my sister Debra because she lives in Canada, and I wish I'd known it was her earlier, because she's a badass cook.
And we definitely could have done something more aggressive.
I was trying to get the accent.
I was like, "that's an Indian lady over there.
But I can't place the accent.
" What did you and your sister make? We made a shrimp stir-fry with asparagus and mushrooms.
They look fairly similar, although this one's a little bit, uh, overgrown.
Okay.
Debra's.
I love the crunch you get from the asparagus.
The depth you get from the mushroom.
Thank you very much.
Thank you, Curtis.
Hello.
- How's it going? - Good.
Do you have any idea who's on the other side of that divider? It might be one of my sisters.
Oh, it is my sister! How are you? My sister Chris lives in Omaha, Nebraska.
That's a long way to travel to make a salad.
Tell us about the dish.
Chris and I made a shredded chicken salad on a bed of spinach with avocado.
Your avocado's a little left of center.
Yes, it is.
I didn't hear the part about center.
I think they're both delicious salads, and with the exception of that avocado, they looked pretty much the same to me as well.
- Glad to hear that.
- Thank you very much.
Thank you.
Who do you think you've been cooking with? No idea.
I didn't recognize the voice.
Let's find out.
Let's remove the divider, please.
Hey.
We've been yelling at each other for the last 20 minutes.
I can't believe I didn't recognize your voice.
It's my little brother Mitch, and I look down at his plate, and it looks exactly like mine.
So, Mitch, do you cook with your sister often? I don't, actually.
She does it much better than anyone else.
Tell me about yours and your brother's dish.
So my brother and I made Halibut with a brown butter vinaigrette and asparagus.
Tell you what, it's pretty close, isn't it? The flavor's good.
I hope yours is as good.
I'm not sure which one I like better, Traci.
I love that little acidic flavor with the rich olive oil.
And vivaciousness of the asparagus is delicious with the fish.
Very good.
Thank you.
I actually have to give my little brother credit on this one, 'cause he knows my brain and he did an excellent job.
It's a good moment.
Picked the right family member.
I hope so.
I've gotta say that I just ate four sets of fantastic dishes.
If I have to start with a least favorite, Floyd, I'm sorry.
When I looked at the two plates, one was all neatly contained in the center of the bowl, and the other one looked like the asparagus had been growing for four months.
Another dish that wasn't my absolute favorite was Mary Sue and Chris.
They looked pretty much the same.
They looked as messy as each other.
I really wanted you to do something with just a little bit more difficulty than the salad.
So now, my two favorites.
Let's start with Naomi and your dad.
Delicious dish.
The flavor of the bacon and the mushrooms, it was very rich.
Thank you.
Was she like that at breakfast time when she was a bit younger? No, she would just take care of herself.
You know, now, when she comes home, she just runs the kitchen.
And we know how.
Shh! Traci and your brother Mitch.
The fish was cooked really nice.
Apart from the shape of the fish being a little different, they looked like they came out of the same kitchen to me.
- Impressive.
- Yeah, seems to love it.
My overall favorite was Traci and Mitch.
Well done.
Nice job.
You did awesome.
Traci, congratulations.
That's $5,000 for your charity, La Cocina, furnished by Lexus.
This is a good one for me, 'cause I've been at the bottom recently, and I'm glad to kinda have this boost going into the last elimination challenge before the finale.
My baby brother's come through for me in a big way.
You've served some lovely food.
Thank you all very much.
- Bye.
- Nice to meet you guys.
- Great job, man.
- Bye, daddy.
Bye-bye, hon.
Great to see your family members, I bet.
Yeah, it was.
- Awesome.
- Very cool.
Well, that's good, because family plays a big part in our next elimination challenge.
And this will determine which three chefs will compete for the grand prize of $100,000 for their charity, furnished by Kitchenaid.
Mary Sue, take one knife and then pass it on.
Marine Corps.
Air Force.
Navy.
Army.
Chefs, to find out what this means, please welcome our guests.
Each of our guests has a relative in one of America's armed forces.
Welcome to Top Chef Masters, everyone.
Cerissa, tell us about your relative.
My dad is Colonel Bruce Nelson.
He's a doctor in the Air Force.
And he delayed his retirement to spend the last year in Afghanistan.
And Jessica? My husband is Captain Eric Palicia.
He's an engineer for the U.
S.
army.
He's been in Afghanistan for the past year.
And he just got home a couple days ago.
What about you, Cesar? My brother Marlon, he's a corporal for the United States Marine Corps.
He just came back from a seven-month tour in Afghanistan.
And he also did a tour in Iraq.
Wow.
What about you, Rachel? My husband is MM1 Philip Dersham.
He is a nuke on a submarine in the United States Navy.
He's been away for months, and he just recently got back to find out we're expecting our second child.
Congratulations.
These servicemen make an incredible sacrifice to serve our country.
They miss their home.
They miss their families.
And they miss the food that reminds them of both.
Your job is to create an amazing meal and welcome them home and thank them for their service.
You'll serve this at a buffet for their friends and family at our Armed Forces homecoming meal tomorrow.
To learn more about your servicemen, their relatives are here to help you menu plan.
I think this is a pretty awesome challenge, because this is our way of being able to give back to our servicemen.
But I haven't cooked a buffet meal for a long time, so that's going to be really, really hard.
Chefs, your mission starts now.
Good luck.
Hi.
I'm Mary Sue.
- Hi, Cesar.
- Cesar.
Let's go over to my station.
Tell me a little bit about your brother.
What's his name again? Marlon.
Marlon.
And what's his personality like? He's a really kind guy.
He was always asking us, you know, "How are you guys doing financially?" And "Do you guys need money?" Yeah.
I'm loving this challenge.
It's driving home the idea of family.
And especially for the military servicepeople, they really deserve so much recognition.
Is this a picture of him? - Yes, this is him.
- Wow.
As soon as he got out of boot camp.
He became a U.
S.
citizen in Iraq.
- Oh, really? - Yeah.
- Where are you guys from? - Guatemala.
Cool.
Does he like spice? Yeah, yeah, little Chile.
- Uh-huh.
- Yeah.
I'm excited because Marlon and Cesar are Guatemalan.
And I feel really comfortable with those flavors.
I know he likes a lot of barbecued ribs.
Oh, good.
He's a-- he's a pretty easy guy to please, almost.
- That's your dad, right? - My dad, yeah.
So how long has he been in the service? Um, since before I was born.
I was born on an Air Force base.
Amazing.
That's so cool.
You must be really proud.
Yeah.
My mom grew up in a military family.
My grandfather fought in the Korean War.
And this is a really huge moment for me to give back to people who've given to the country.
- He's from Hawaii.
- Mm-hmm.
So he likes all that Hawaiian comfort food.
There's also a lot of pork in Hawaiian food.
- Yeah.
- And then he said it was really hard for him to get, like, good seafood over there.
Okay, cool.
This is my husband, Philip.
He's at boot camp.
Current family.
And this is when we went to a submarine ball.
Wow, life on a submarine.
- Not fun.
- No.
When he was on deployment, he sent me this menu of things that I was supposed to have prepared for him.
Oh, really? Meatloaf and mashed potatoes.
Peach cobbler.
Pie.
So we're talking pretty basic americana stuff.
I didn't grow up with casserole and meatloaf.
My dad was really not a fan of those kinds of foods at all.
So meatloaf's pretty much his favorite, huh? Yeah, he likes that.
I can make some fancy French dish easier than I can make meatloaf.
It's gonna be a challenge.
All right.
He's a good-looking guy.
Thank you.
I think so too.
So tell me what your husband-- what he likes to eat, what you like to cook for him-- Eric loves steak.
Uh, filet.
- Okay.
- Loves spinach salad.
One thing that my wife always makes when I come home from a long trip is her-- her goat curry.
And when I'm getting off the plane, I'm always thinking about it.
What's his favorite cuisine? Is "American" a cuisine? Okay.
American.
Does he like any kind of spice? He's not a big fan of hot.
Captain Eric doesn't like peppers or mustard or horseradish or wasabi.
And I can see the window immediately closing of what he does like.
- He likes clam chowder.
- Okay.
- I'll see you tomorrow.
- Nice to meet you.
- Nice to meet you too.
- It was super nice to meet you.
I hope I don't disappoint you.
No, you won't.
Now I'm kind of worried, because I've got to try and figure out something that's very interesting for Eric and still make it to the finals.
I see all these servicepeople getting reunited with their families, and it's a nice feeling.
- We got a lot to do.
- Yeah, we do.
Time to jog.
The challenge today is to create a homecoming meal for a military serviceperson.
And the diners are going to vote for the winner.
Come on.
We have to do the buffet with 1 main course and 2 sides for 100 people.
We don't have prep cooks.
So it's going to be tight.
I'm a proud American.
I'm glad there's someone who's making our country safe.
I became a citizen about 15 years ago.
I came to this country to have a better life for my family.
So being able to give something back to these people who've put their lives on the line every single day means a lot.
Wow, half an hour already gone.
.
A little quieter in here when I'm not screaming at my dad, huh? I think I'm making like a-- a French version of meatloaf.
It's gonna look more like a terrine.
And it's going to be totally, wildly delicious.
Along with meatloaf, I am going to make Caesar salad, mashed potatoes, and peach cobbler.
I think it's a really cohesive menu.
Oh, God.
Are you okay, Naomi? 400 portions of food.
4 people.
It's crazy.
- And you're the youngster.
- I know.
Just wait till you're in your 40s.
Oh, God.
I'm really excited about preparing Hawaiian food.
I'm gonna do pork, shrimp fried rice, and then a poke salad.
Poke is raw tuna.
I'm kinda afraid that people are gonna be freaked out by it.
But I am trying to make my serviceman feel at home.
And poke is like the national dish of Hawaii.
An hour left, guys.
- Traci.
- Yeah? What do you think of oysters in a clam stock? - I would say don't do it.
- No? I want to make my jus so that I can do the clams and the jus at the same time.
There's a lot of steps that need to happen.
I'm making roast tenderloin of beef with porcini jus.
Spinach salad, garlic smashed potatoes, and a tamarind Margarita.
Doing a tenderloin on a buffet is next to suicide, because it can overcook and dry up very, very easily.
So I have to pull it out at the right time.
Just about 30 minutes left, you guys.
You know, I love my prep cooks and dishwashers.
I treat 'em like kings.
But now I'm gonna go back and treat 'em like bigger kings.
I'm making ribs with a spicy tomatillo barbecue sauce, avocado corn relish, and potato and rajas, which are a huge favorite at border grill.
Also, I'm going to make an apple bread pudding.
I just wish I had more time.
3:19.
And one nanosecond.
Oh, dear.
It is very hard, trying to live up to someone's expectations when they're coming back from a hard tour with memories of things that they want.
Everybody wants to do a good job.
And everybody wants to be in the final three.
Can I leave that stuff in there? What? No.
You need to take it out? I need a hand here.
Well, that wasn't hectic or anything.
All right.
Here we go.
Good luck, everybody.
We walk into the American Legion.
It's an old, beautiful-looking place.
There's this huge flag above the stage.
I normally don't wear a chef jacket.
In my restaurant, I try to create a more relaxed atmosphere.
But today I'm trying to honor the men and women in uniform.
I'm scrambling.
I need to get the glaze put on to my ribs.
I have to get my potato and rajas reheated.
I have all my avocados to dice.
I'm not sure I'm gonna get all of this done.
Are you okay? I'm thrown for a loop right now.
Buffet is not my style.
I'm waiting for about 18 minutes left of time so that I can start cooking my tenderloin.
It is driving me crazy, because I don't want to get it overcooked.
14 minutes.
The pork is done.
But everything still needs to be seasoned.
And I'm just not finding time to do everything.
I'm trying to caramelize pineapple.
At the same time, I'm trying to prep my salad.
And I'm just behind.
People start trickling in.
I'm feeling like I've just run a marathon.
And I'm not quite done.
Is this your little girl? Hi, darling.
But these men and women have been working their tails off on our behalf.
So I want this food to really give them and their families that taste of home.
Como estas? Nice to see you.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Top Chef Masters Armed Forces Homecoming meal.
This is our small way of saying thank you for their hard work and years of service.
Please welcome Colonel Bruce Nelson from the U.
S.
Air Force.
Curtis is doing introductions, and I look up and I see my serviceman.
And I'm like, wow, cool.
Like, I have to cut this iceberg.
Captain Eric Palicia from the United States Army.
I'm looking across the room, and I see all these servicepeople getting reunited with their families.
And it's a nice feeling.
Corporal Marlon Chajon from the U.
S.
Marine Corps.
MM1 Philip Dersham from the U.
S.
Navy.
Welcome home, everyone.
Now, I want to introduce you to our critics, who will be dining with you.
James Oseland, editor-in-chief of Saveur Magazine.
Ruth Reichl, former food critic for The New York times, and Danyelle Freeman, founder of Restaurant Girl.
Enjoy, guys.
Have fun.
Welcome home.
Yum.
- Tamarind Margarita? - Oh, yes.
The buffet's open, and before I realize it, there's a line of people and I'm beginning to slice my beef.
And it looks beautiful inside.
And I am so happy right now.
Wow.
I've got to say, it's nicely cooked.
The serviceman that I'm cooking for is from Hawaii, so it's in honor of Hawaii.
So I cooked a lot.
I've got more than enough for seconds, thirds.
I know that servicemen are hungry.
There are just a sea of uniforms.
There are people looking like Five-Star Generals.
I'm not sure.
They just have a lot of medals on.
Enjoy.
Come back if you need more.
Can I help you out, since you've got a handful of baby there? It's a lot of people all of a sudden.
And they're big eaters.
The Caesar salad and the mashed potatoes are going a little faster than I kind of want them to.
You're welcome.
There you are.
Hi, Cesar.
You must be Marlon and Cesar's mom? - Yes.
- How are you? Good, thank you.
I hear you're an excellent cook.
James comes through with Marlon and his family.
And they're really warm, nice people.
Are you big rib fans? When I serve them, I can just see all their faces light up.
Hi.
How are you? I'm Mary Sue.
Thank you for your time.
Appreciate it.
Thank you.
Welcome home.
It's nice to meet you.
These are my tomatillo glazed ribs.
And this is potatoes and rajas.
It's roasted peppers with potatoes and cotija cheese.
And this is a fresh apple and cream cheese bread pudding topped with crema.
- Thank you very much.
- Enjoy.
You guys are of Guatemalan descent, is that right? Born in Guatemala, but primarily raised here in the United States.
When I was in Iraq, that's when I got naturalized to become a U.
S.
citizen.
Wow.
How does it feel to be home? Feels great.
There's no feeling like it, being home next to your loved ones and family.
How do you like the food? Oh, the food is great.
It still has that Latin flavor in it.
It's good.
I've never tasted anything like this.
How does it stack up next to your mom's food? Uh-oh! No comment! The green avocado-ey stuff on top, very good.
- Thank you.
- Enjoy.
Thank you.
I see Bruce come through the line kind of out of the corner of my eye because I'm busy trying to do a million things.
But I really hope that this is a great homecoming meal for him.
Hi.
I made my barbecued pork.
I put guava and coffee barbecue sauce on it.
Perfect.
His family's coming through the line, and they're like, "ooh, like, poke is my favorite.
" And I'm nervous.
I know those flavors, but it's not my forte.
- Hey, Naomi.
- Hey, how are you? - I'm good.
- So, um, just a Hawaiian-inspired meal.
So I did a little Ahi poke salad and an iceberg wedge with shrimp-fried rice served chilled.
And then barbecue pork that has a guava and coffee barbecue sauce.
And then I also did a dessert.
Panna cotta with caramelized pineapple and ginger tuille.
Enjoy! Thanks.
What was the food like in Afghanistan? We had a lot of kebabs, and the bread probably is the best bread you'll ever eat.
- Really? - It was great.
But it was same food every day.
Tell me what you missed most.
Wellyou're gonna hate this.
Uh-oh.
Since we're originally from Hawaii, what I really missed was spam.
Spam.
So what did you all think about the poke? This was good.
I kind of liked that you could really taste the fish.
And, you know, pork like this tends to be dry.
But this one is very, very tasty and creamy.
And what about the friend rice? I'm not so sure about that.
It's a little different.
Uh, the shrimp, mine's undercooked.
That's never a good thing.
What do you think of the poke? Have you ever eaten raw fish? - I've not tried raw fish.
- We cook our food.
I'll hand you guys plates.
Okay, how are you? - Good.
How are you? - Having fun? Yeah, this is my husband Philip.
Hello, Philip.
Try out the meatloaf.
Oh, that sounds good.
Nice to be making food for you guys.
So how's it going, Traci? I've got some lovely meatloaf here for you.
A little bit of mashed potatoes and Caesar salad.
And I also have some peach cobbler for you.
All right, Curtis.
- Thank you very much, Traci.
- You're welcome.
You want a bite? So, Philip, how is it being back from Afghanistan? It's really great.
In fact, my son when I left could just roll over.
And when I was on the pier, he actually walked to me.
Those are the first steps I ever saw him take, so really incredible feeling.
Unbelievable.
So how's the meatloaf, Philip? Very good.
Don't make it quite like this on the submarine.
Did Rachel do a good job of picking your favorite meal? She did.
She knows me pretty well.
I was looking for ketchup at first, because in the military, you get meatloaf, if you're not drowning it in ketchup, then you're not gonna choke it down.
You guys are awesome.
The energy is tremendous.
You feel proud of being an American.
I didn't let anybody serve themselves.
I served them.
I felt that was the right thing to do.
Because they serve us.
And when I see the guests coming back again, I think maybe I could beat Mary Sue finally.
What have we there? Red potatoes for you.
And I know you like red potatoes with garlic.
And you like bacon.
There's bacon everywhere.
Brilliant.
I love this.
Eric, it's a pleasure.
Hi, Floyd.
How you holding up? It was a very hard challenge because Eric's wife told that he doesn't like spice.
My choice was, should I cook for Eric or should I cook to win it? The challenge is to cook for Eric.
Exactly.
That's a tamarind Margarita.
And then he wanted tenderloin, and this is porcini jus.
A spinach salad with pomegranate walnut, bacon, broccoli, and then I have a clam chowder.
Enjoy.
Thanks, Floyd.
You were stationed in Afghanistan? Right, I was in change of building any kind of infrastructure that the Afghan army, police, Air Force needed.
Did they have anything nearly as good as this spread? Not even close.
I lost 26 pounds being over there 'cause the only thing you had was goat of questionable quality.
But I'm pretty minimalist in most things.
With food, it's kind of the same way.
I like to try to keep things as simple as possible.
And you can't go wrong with bacon on anything, so Do we have a table favorite among Floyd's dishes? The steak.
This is exceptional.
Floyd obviously knows what he's doing.
To do a tenderloin in a toaster oven is not easy.
It's just like-- it's missing something.
That's a strong Margarita.
He's not kidding around with that Margarita.
So all in all, a pretty good homecoming meal? I think so, yeah.
I'm pretty full.
I'm ready for a nap, I think.
The ribs was great.
I don't know what that sauce was she put on 'em.
We really liked her mashed potatoes.
I think it's safe to say that Eric probably thought Floyd's dishes were the best.
Yes.
Overall, my money's going for Floyd.
- They ate a lot.
- Yeah.
There is a lot of pressure on me right now because I have the least amount of money for my charity.
And my chances are running out.
But I was very proud of what I put up, because the most important thing for me was to give Eric what he wanted.
For the amount of effort that you put forward into this, I want to give you this.
When that means a lot to them, it should mean a lot to you too.
And it does.
Okay, chefs, so the moment of truth.
All of our diners here have voted for their overall favorite dinner.
That person will receive $10,000 for their charity, furnished by Lexus.
And you're guaranteed a place the Top Chef Masters finale.
And the winning chef is Mary Sue.
Congratulations.
I'm blown away.
These men and women have been working their tails off on our behalf, so it's been very enriching for me, and I'm just thrilled.
And as a little thank you, all of military families will be receiving passes to Universal Studios, which is the entertainment capital of Los Angeles, ladies and gentlemen.
- Thank you.
- I wanted you to win.
- Thank you.
- Have a great evening.
Hey, Floyd, thanks again for everything.
It's a pleasure.
You really did great for the army.
And as a small token of my appreciation for the amount of effort that you put forward into this, I want to give you this.
What it is-- in the military, when we're appreciative of something that someone's done for us, we usually exchange coins.
And a little piece to remind you that I really appreciate everything you did for me and how much you mean.
- Thank you.
- Thanks for making my time coming back to the United States special.
Thank you.
It's huge, and I think it will be my good luck charm.
When--when you get a gift from someone and it means a lot to them, it should mean a lot to you too.
And it does.
My goal in this challenge was to make Eric happy.
And I did.
That's sweet.
Very touching.
It's great.
Oh, boy.
Look at you, girl.
Big winner.
Total dominance.
Well, how long was I supposed to let you be in the lead? Just for a second.
Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch! You guys, extraordinary.
- Yeah.
- Mary Sue.
- What an honor.
- I know.
- Let's go, guys.
- Good luck and hurry back.
Well, chefs, it was a fantastic homecoming meal for our servicemen and women.
But unfortunately, one of you will be eliminated tonight.
Naomi, were you inspired by our servicemen? So inspired.
Feels great to be of service to people who've been such a great service to us.
Naomi, this feeling you're describing absolutely came through in what you cooked tonight, and I really, really do appreciate that.
And we're at the splitting hairs stage.
Of course.
I had the pleasure of eating with Bruce and his family, which was just great.
They loved the poke, and they loved the iceberg wedge.
But I didn't think that the rice salad worked very well, and my shrimp, half of them were seriously undercooked.
Huh.
Traci, I had the pleasure of dining with the people that you're actually cooking for, Philip and his wife Rachel.
And they really enjoyed the dish.
Oh, good.
And that was-- you know, that's what it was.
It was, you know, about them for me.
I was really happy with your mashed potatoes.
It just wasn't a very attractive plate.
It was down-home americana, you know? And that was my intention.
The salt that you were using when you made the meatloaf, was that a salt that you were familiar with? - Did you find it salty? - I did.
Wow.
Okay.
I'm surprised.
Floyd.
Eric happened to be sitting at my table, and he loved it.
You gave him what he wanted.
I just wonder why you didn't do more with the meat.
As well as I thought it was cooked, it was almost like you were scared to be yourself a little bit with that.
He was very specific that he wanted it very, very plain.
For me, though, the riddle on the plate was the salad.
It got muddled.
It's like you've got your baby spinach leaves.
You've got your broccoli.
But then there's pomegranate seeds too.
I can't just put spinach on a plate and say, "Here's your salad.
" I couldn't place heat in there because he didn't want heat.
And, uh, I said, "I want to cook what he wants.
" He actually gave me this coin as a thank you.
Which blew me away.
I won today.
Chefs, all three of you cooked for really inspirational people tonight, and I hope you all feel really special about it, because you made them feel really special.
So congratulations.
We've had a lot of fun.
- Yeah, it's been a lot of fun.
- What an honor.
Please join Mary Sue while the critics make their final decision.
Thank you.
Tell me what happened.
Danyelle said her shrimp was undercooked.
Personally, I think if my shrimp is curly and hard, I think it's overdone.
I mean, making meatloaf is not comfortable for me.
Right, right, right.
I'd much rather make, you know-- But we all said it was about our guys, you know? Right, it was about the people.
It wasn't about us.
We're now looking at three talented chefs who've done amazingly well up until now, but only two of them are going to end up in the finale.
Now if Floyd had have chosen a different piece of steak, it probably would've held better in the buffet, would've been better suited for tonight.
I think he took exactly the prescription of what his serviceman wanted and gave him something better than he expected.
Okay, but here's the thing.
Do you guys feel that what Floyd cooked tonight was worthy of making it to the final round? I think Naomi had a particularly difficult challenge because she had to incorporate a couple of the dishes that her family wanted, one of them being raw tuna.
But I didn't feel that she really, really understood this dish, poke-- Well, my family, who she made the poke for, they were ecstatic with it.
And I loved Naomi's pork.
I really thought it was delicious.
But tonight, it was like eating a puzzle.
What's a panna cotta doing with a poke? With a pork shoulder? I understand that some of the stuff didn't work, but she's been pushing the boundaries.
She's fought--she's never played it safe, and that's what I love about her.
I'm torn about Traci's dish, because on the one hand, she did exactly what he asked for, and that's really admirable.
But Traci could've added a sophisticated touch that made it her own.
I want to see more than a plate of food that I feel like I could get in most people's homes anywhere in America.
You would not get those potatoes in any home in America.
You're right.
I felt very safe in her hands.
I mean, she gave us dishes which were all technically correct.
The saltiness of Traci's meatloaf did not make me feel safe.
It seems like you know who won't be going through to the Top Chef Masters finale.
- Yes.
- Yeah.
Okay, let's bring them out.
So sweet.
I think I want to frame it.
That's a good idea.
Before I did this, I never had a connection with anybody in the armed forces.
And to see them as these really warm people, it makes it feel all the more worthwhile.
I loved my family too.
They were a really sweet bunch of people.
This is a great challenge.
Especially at this time.
We should all be so thankful to have those hardworking men and women protecting us and keeping us safe.
It's lovely.
Well, chefs, that was a great homecoming meal for our servicemen and women.
Unfortunately, only two of you will move on to the finale.
Floyd, the sincerity that you brought to your cooking tonight was so fabulous.
But the salad was really bizarre.
Naomi, tonight, maybe you were a little too ambitious.
The shrimp were undercooked, and the dishes didn't really go together.
Traci, tonight you served us something safe.
But unfortunately, it wasn't particularly Top Chef Masters material.
The chef who won't be moving on the finale is Naomi.
Thanks, you guys.
Naomi, you've cooked some beautiful food through this competition.
You've showed amazing creativity.
I'm really sorry to see you go.
It's been a pleasure and an honor to be here.
Incredible company.
Having gotten this far, I just felt like, "Let me make it to the finale.
" And so to be so close and not make it to the finals really sucks.
Naomi, you've managed to raise $25,000 for your charity, the Seed Savers Association, so well done.
- Thank you.
- It's really been a pleasure.
Thanks.
Congratulations, Traci and Floyd.
You're both through to the Top Chef Masters finale.
Well done.
Naomi, I'm sorry, but it's time to pack your knives.
Love you guys.
Thanks.
Thank you.
Thank you, guys.
Thank you.
Bye! I don't-- - No.
- Yes.
It's been such a pleasure.
Traci and Mary Sue are really inspiring women to me, because they've designed their lives so that they can spend time with their families too.
You are just unbelievable.
- You are.
- You really are.
I've missed my daughter tremendously, and I'm excited to figure out how to spend even more time with her.
She's been amazing this whole competition.
She got a lot of guys out, more experienced than she was.
- I know.
- Totally.
And then there were three.
Next time on the finale of Top Chef Masters Where are we going? Kind of hate to think there's one more surprise in store for us.
Let's get in the car and just go.
This traffic sucks.
We are so late.
Where'd Floyd go? There's $100,000 at stake.
Is he really gonna shoot himself in the foot today? Ugh! I have just totally screwed up everything.
What have I done? I think this is just heaven.
You're almost right.
You think of Louisiana cooking, you're thinking spice, and it's not getting it here.
The winner of Top Chef Masters is