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'Top Chef Masters' ups the spice for L.A.'s Mary Sue Milliken and John Rivera Sedlar

April 13, 2011 | 10:17 am

Mary Sue Milliken called it "my evil vacation." John Rivera Sedlar considered escaping to Paris.

Professional chefs are used to cooking under intense pressure, but the two Los Angeles restaurateurs battling in "Top Chef Masters" underestimated the gastronomic challenges — particularly the ruthless time pressures — that awaited them in the just-launched new season of the culinary competition.

Milliken (Border Grill, Truck) was nearly eliminated in last Wednesday's premiere episode for a chocolate cupcake that was dismissed as insipid by the judges, while Sedlar (Playa, Rivera) sent out a rack of lamb that was not only nearly raw but also featured a garnish flecked with produce labels. "I served 55 perfect lambs," Sedlar said over a recent downtown lunch with Milliken. "And then the last five went out to the judges." Read more in today's Calendar section by John Horn:


--Get ready to meet your next 'Food Network Star'

--'Chopped All-Stars:' Did the best man win?

--Season 2 of Jamie Oliver's 'Food Revolution'

Photo: Top Chef Masters contestants John Rivera Sedlar and Mary Sue Milliken. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times