'Top Chef Masters': Oprah's chef enters the fray


We had some big names last night on "Top Chef Masters" as Art Smith, personal chef to Oprah (and President Obama, to hear him tell it) duked it out with Mr. Fresh and Seasonal, Jonathan Waxman.


The chefs:


* Jonathan Waxman

Restaurants: Barbuto (NYC)

The Godfather trained Bobby Flay and opened Jams in NYC in the 80's, a hip hangout spot for top food luminaries like Julia Child, Wolfgang Puck, and James Beard.


* Roy Yamaguchi

Restaurants: Roy's (worldwide)

He's a triple threat: dozens of restaurants, a cookbook author, and a cooking show host in Hawaii, his home base.


* Art Smith

Restaurants: TABLE fifty-two (Chicago), Art and Soul (DC)

Oprah's personal chef. Nuff said. Except to add that I've actually eaten at Art and Soul, and it's pretty good. So there's that.


* Michael Cimarusti

Restaurant: Providence Restaurant (LA)

He's a seafood dude, and ten years younger than his competitors.


Quickfire:


The chefs have to make the best dish possible for judges who work at Whole Foods, using only one assigned aisle to shop. Jonathan has the international foods aisle and knocks out a roasted pepper and lentil salad. Michael draws the baking aisle (ouch), and settles on a simple but apparently delicious chocolate parfait dressed up with ginger syrup and sesame crackers. Roy lucks into the Italian aisle and attempts an Asian-style pasta, but it winds up being pasta with a fried egg. - Yeah. Art gets the rice 'n beans aisle and makes multigrain risotto with a crispy rice salad. Mmmm. Jonathan gets just 3.5 stars, Roy earns 4 stars, Art tops him with 4.5 stars, and Michael takes home the maximum 5 stars.


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