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Top Chef Masters: Mark Peel steals the show but not the win

July 9, 2009 |  6:22 pm

TCM Ep 104 On last night’s episode of Top Chef Masters, Anita Lo, Douglas Rodriguez, John Besh and local chef Mark Peel duked it out in a battle that, yet again, resulted in gore.

You may recall Ludo’s disastrous beet dish from Episode 3, which resembled a crimson crime scene. Well, this week, James Oseland, TCM judge and editor in chief of Saveur Magazine, referred to Anita Lo’s surf-and-turf dish as “the Texas chainsaw massacre” when he cut into it.

The episode was filmed at the Magic Castle, which is a fine location for a murder mystery, except that wasn’t the challenge. The quickfire required the chefs do something snazzy with an egg. With one hand tied behind their backs. Fast.

Peel proved his mastery of Mediterranean cuisine by making duck egg pasta. The other chefs were wowed by his ability to do so single-handedly, but ultimately he got shut down by the judging panel, which included Nickel Diner's Monica May, because he forgot the olive oil.

Peel wasn’t the worst off in the quickfire though — John Besh only managed to put out one plate for the three judges, which they thought tasted like a poorly cooked fried egg. Lo delivered a stunning presentation of a soft-boiled egg placed on a shot glass filled with rice. She was off to a great start.

Peel confessed that he secretly fantasizes about over-salting all of her food because she's the one to beat. (I secretly fantasize about Peel's grilled cheese sandwiches.) Where's David Blaine when you really need him? But I digress...

For the elimination, the big dogs had to cook for Dougie Howser, who apparently is taking a stab at a dual career as a magician and television food critic. The contestants were given the assignment of making dishes based on magical words. Peel pulled "mystery," Besh got "surprise," Rodriguez drew "spectacle" and Lo was left with "illusion."

Rodriguez’s coconut spectacle was a flop and wouldn’t light, and Besh’s half-star score from the elimination left him out of the running. Peel’s papillote (parchment paper wrapped around Thai snapper) with sake pairing seemed to be a hit, but in the end it wasn’t enough to pull him through.  Lo’s “seascape” dish was a bit too reminiscent of Sandra Lee for my liking, but I can’t be mad that a woman brought all the male chefs into submission.  

While our local chef might not have managed to weasel into the finals, he definitely stole the show with his commentary and good nature.  We Angelenos know that if the quickfire were a grilled cheese challenge, Peel would have had it in the bag.

-- Krista Simmons

Photo credit: Bravo TV