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'Top Chef Masters' finale redux

June 10, 2010 |  1:57 pm

Topchefmasters"Top Chef Masters" competitors might not be as cutthroat as those on the original "Top Chef," but the established chefs on the show certainly do convey an important message about food: It's so much more than competition, pleasure and artistry -- it's an integral part of what defines us as people.

As it did last year, the finale challenged the chefs to make three dishes based on their culinary history -- the first to represent their first food memory, the second to represent what inspired them to cook, and the last course to exemplify where they currently are in their careers.

Marcus Sameulsson stuck true to his roots, refusing to stray from his African/Scandinavian background even though he knew that some of the plates at the table might not be ready. Textural elements of his African hamachi dish had judges confused, but ultimately his luxurious foie gras flan catapulted him toward the title (and onto PETA'S most-wanted list).

Rick Moonen and Susur Lee illustrated their lives with equal passion and precision, but there were a few bumps for the two: Moonen made some undercooked pork belly and chewy gnocchi, while Lee prepared a pincushion of a tuna dish that had judges underwhelmed. Judge Jay Rayner even went as far as to question Moonen's dedication to sustainability because of his decision to use New Zealand venison. That being said, Lee had the dish that I'd most like to taste: lamb Thailandese, Chiang Mai sausage and green curry sauce with polenta.

One thing that did strike me as odd about the finale (aside from the Lee upset, that is) was that while Sameulsson was playing to support the UNICEF Tap Project, the contestants were drinking ever-so-controversial Fiji water. Viewers can look forward to more of that shameless product placement in next week's premiere of "Top Chef."

So how do you feel about the finale? Are you still liking the "Masters" series? And on a personal level, what are some dishes you make that embody your life story?

-- Krista Simmons

Photo courtesy of Bravo TV