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Top Chef Masters Review: “Lucha Vavoom”

With just five chefs remaining, the competition is definitely heating up. This episode of Top Chef Master featured a combination of accordions, Lemony Snicket and Mexican wrestling that prove one thing: things are about to get weird.

Top Chef Masters Photograph

Quickfire Challenge
Daniel Handler AKA Lemony Snicket is showing off his accordion skills as well as food judging chops during the Quickfire Challenge. But there’s a twist (isn’t there always?): The Quickfire Challenge will be created by the chef who’s sous chef won the Battle of the Sous Chefs. Of course that means it’s Douglas. We knew it couldn’t be Sang, as he has worst sous chef record here, but seriously? Doug?!?

As if this guy needs any more ammunition to be an arrogant loudmouth. So, after a 10 minute prep time, Doug and his sous chef come up with the challenge of highlighting ketchup in a dish. This is aimed at Sang, who notoriously hates ketchup, and Doug couldn’t look more smug, which is irritating.  

The weird comes into play during any moment that Daniel Handler is on the screen. He’s bizarre and quirky and at times, just plain awkward. This behavior works great on paper, but not so much in person. There is a rare moment when Daniel speaks with perfect clarity and it’s to say that Doug is in the bottom of the Quickfire challenge!

Ah, what goes around comes around. Maybe that will wipe the smirk off his face. In the end, Daniel choses Jennifer’s Scallop with Ketchup Sauce as his favorite dish.

Elimination Challenge
The chefs Elimination Challenge revolves around the show Lucha Vavoom: where masked Mexican wrestlers, comedy and burlesque collide. And yes, it’s as bizarre as it sounds. Doug has immunity from the Battle of the Sous Chefs *sigh* and Sang and Jennifer’s sous chefs end up in the bottom, which means that they will have to swap sous chefs while cooking in the Elimination challenge.

For the challenge, each chef will have to create 2 Mexican-themed dishes for 300 guests, ringside at the Lucha Vavoom show. The atmosphere is colorful, loud and like nothing this show has seen before. At one point there is a burlesque dancer and the next, Doug and Bryan are wrestling in the ring. While this entire challenge makes me question the sobriety of the show’s producers, it’s hilarious to watch. The chefs are having a good time and all of the Mexican recipes getting cooked up look incredible.

Critics Table
The critics were most impressed with Jennifer’s and Bryan’s dishes. In the end, it’s Jennifer’s Ceviche and Posole recipes that bring her the win. That is both a Quickfire and Elimination challenge for her in one episode and that is quite a testament to her abilities as a head chef.

The critics least favorite dishes were Douglas’, David’s and Sang’s. In the end, Sang’s Thai-style Mexican food didn’t jive with what the critics were looking for. I can’t help but agree.

With Sang going home, I seriously worry for the fate of his sous chef’s job. Tom’s performance was pretty lacking, and Sang seems like a chef who wouldn’t take that lightly.