You would think as the star of Mad Men, Christina Hendricks might have a fondness for food from the show's era, but not so. She and her husband, Geoffrey Arend, flat-out hate food from the 1960s ... or did before they appeared as guest judges on this week's episode of Top Chef Masters.
The chefs were tasked with remaking some of the period's classic food into something Christina and Geoffrey could stomach. They randomly chose their assignments via fondue forks, and got some interesting recipes to make during the elimination challenge -- everything from deviled eggs to chicken a la king and ambrosia *shudder*. They were asked to take the classic dishes, give them a modern twist, and turn them into appetizers.
The kitchen was beyond crowded, and the chefs fought for space to prepare and plate their dishes. Tensions ran high, as in addition to all the other pressure, they were cooking for one of Hollywood's hottest stars. Some of the resulting dishes blew her and the rest of the judges away.
John Currence wowed them with his take on Oysters Rockefeller; and they loved Floyd Cardoz's ambrosia, which he turned into a fondue. It was Mary Sue Milliken's Japanese take on deviled eggs that took home the win, however. Curtis Stone even demanded the recipe.
Those that Hendricks and Arend didn't care for included the unintentional deep-fried Veal Rockefeller from Suvir Saran, who complained about a kitchen full of divas, and the bread pudding from Alessandro Stratta, who had never cooked the dish previously. In the end, it was Sue Zemanick's willingness to help everyone else that got her sent home. She ran out of time and served only half-done dishes of duck a la orange, so she was sent to pack up her knives ... and go back to her successful restaurant.
And that is the problem I'm having with this show -- not much is hinging on the success or failure of the chefs, and I find myself not even getting excited to see who will win or lose. These aren't the young and hungry, this-is-my-one-shot minded chefs we see and care about on other shows. These men and women have made it, which is why they were selected for the show, and they're just playing for money for charity -- nice, but not as high stakes as when someone's personal financial future hangs on it.
So Hendricks and Arend were a nice surprise, but I fear it's going to be a long and less-than-gripping season as we move forward.
What do you think of Top Chef Masters?
Image via bravotv.com