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Jonathan Waxman

Jonathan Waxman

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Art Smith's winning dish of fried chicken Photo: Bravo TVThis week's episode of Top Chef Masters was truly a lovefest among the four master chefs who really showed an enormous amount of camaraderie and healthy competitive spirit.

Well, all except for one chef, but that is up to personal opinion and what I am sure will result in a lot of foodie fodder on the blogs.The four chefs in tonight's episode were Roy Yamaguchi, owner of 37 restaurants across the coasts, Art Smith of Table 52 and Art and Soul, MIchael Cimarusti of Providence and Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto.

Right from the beginning you could sense a very different vibe amongst the four chefs who each had quite distinctive personalities.

The youngest of the four contestants, Cimarusti actually worked for Waxman when he just started out as a chef and while surely an accomplished chef, he definitely was a little more quiet and conservative compared to the other three.The quickfire challenge once again paid homage to season three of Top Chef with the "Aisle Trial" challenge.

Each chef had to produce a dish using only ingredients from one assigned aisle in Whole Foods and a budget of $20.

This budget appeared to be quite unsettling for Art, who as we all know and are constantly reminded of, has cooked for the likes of Julia Child and President Barack Obama.Dealt probably the hardest hand with the baking and pastry aisle, Michael was victorious in coming up with a chocolate parfait which garnered him a perfect 5 stars.

Humble as always, a quality some of the other chefs could learn (that would be you, Jonathan Waxman), Cimarusti attributed his win to an unfair advantage of having chocolate.

With that comment, he stole my heart and probably many others.On the flip side, Waxman who "doesn't do cans and bottles," came up in last place with 3.5 stars for his roasted pepper and lentil salad.

Remember who was in first and who was in last place after the quickfire as we go into the elimination challenge.The elimination challenge was to create a Mystery Box of eleven ingredients for another chef whose name they each chose.

Although Waxman declared "sabotage and professional cooking do not coexist," one has to wonder if he was being sincere when he delivered a mystery box to quickfire winner Cimarusti that did not contain one ounce of seafood.� Hinting that he may be disappointed in what he would find in his mystery box, Waxman told Cimarusti, "It is better to give than receive."� Yep, sucks to be Cimarusti in this case.Now we all know Cimarusti is best known for his ingenious preparations of fish and seafood at Providence in Los Angeles, so once can't help but assume that he certainly was not being set up for success.

Too bad Roy didn't draw his name or we might be seeing him in the championship round.Unlike Jonathan, the rest of the chefs seemed to really join forces by putting together boxes that would highlight each other's strengths.

Roy seemingly created the picture perfect mystery box for Art allowing him to create something right in his comfort zone, fried chicken.

Not surprisingly, Art walked away with the sixth and final spot in the championship round, even garnering an elusive perfect score from critic Gael Greene.Waxman came in second with his "retro 80s" dish of pork chops, a fairly easy comeback from last place due to a generous Cimarusti who hand fed him the ingredients he was most comfortable with.With a box containing no seafood, Cimarusti struggled with incoherent ingredients that led to a somewhat complex dish of lamb chops and sunchoke puree.Poor Roy, too his own admonition, wasn't able to think quickly enough on his feet, and ended up in last place with a inconsistent mahi-mahi (since when does Kelly Choi have a say?) and a surf and turf dish that was more like two different plates rather than one cohesive dish.In the end, chef Art Smith will join Hubert Keller, Suzanne Tracht, Rick Bayless, Anita Lo and Michael Chiarello in the championship round.

One has to wonder, had the knives ended up in different hands, could it have been MIchael Cimarusti instead?�For more info: Top Chef Masters�

http://www.examiner.com/x-12124-Top-Chef-Examiner~y2009m7d22-Top-Chef-Masters-Mystery-Box-lovefest
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