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Top Chef Masters: Mantuano still in it to win it

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Here's what you need to know about last night's Top Chef Masters:

-- Our only Chicago hope, Tony Mantuano survived, thanks to some perfectly cooked a la minute ouzo shrimp and a classic potato gratin (his mom's recipe).

-- Cool as a cucumber seems to be a winning trait in this competition, and while Mantuano does well in this category, Jonathan "Obi-Wan" Waxman has this down.

-- Susur Lee is nuts, and we love it.

Both challenges had the chefs split into teams. The quickfire was a tag team cookoff -- each team had to make one dish, the catch being each chef had to cook one at a time, they weren't allowed to talk to each other and while waiting their turn, had to wear a blindfold.

Mantuano's team -- Lee, Marcus Samuelsson and Carmen Gonzalez -- lost by half a star. "Now I'm pissed, I have to kick it up a few notches," warned glint-in-his-eye Lee, who in the previous episode called himself a kitchen ninja.

The elimination challenge was to cater a wedding reception for 150 guests. Mantuano's team cooked for the groom, a self-described meat and potatoes guy. The overachieving Lee went ... nuts ... with dessert, making an impressive croquembouche, raisin bread pudding, chocolate profiteroles and his first ever carrot cake ("When I lived in British Columbia, it was full of hippies. They made the best f---ing carrot cake!" Lee exclaimed). Mantuano stayed cool, though we worried when he admitted feeling really tired because, man, he looked it.

The judges thought the team's menu was too dessert-heavy and wished Gonzalez would have cooked more. (Points to Mantuano and, in a rare ego-less moment, Samuelsson, for defending Gonzalez at judges' table as the uber-organized one who kept them all on track).

Gonzalez got the boot, and Jody Adams continued her slow and steady march, winning the challenge with a lamb dish, despite the bride's declaration that she didn't much care for lamb.

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Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.

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This page contains a single entry by Janet Rausa Fuller published on May 6, 2010 2:27 PM.

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