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2 YEARS

'Top Chef Masters' Recap: Lifestyles of the Bleached and Hungry

A "diner en blanc" flash mob pits the final four against each other in a picnic that will decide ... everything.

Top Chef Masters Foodie Flash Mob Episodic - P 2012
Isabella Vosmikova/Bravo

The Quickfire divides the final four into two teams, and the kitchen into two, as well. One chef on each team is relegated to the pantry/supply side, the other chef is assigned cooking duties on the hot line.

Patricia Yeo and Chris Cosentino draw knives on the same team, thrilling both the culinary sorceress and her bespectacled apprentice. They literally finish each other's sentences. That leaves Kerry Heffernan and Lorena Garcia, who have far less chemistry together. Lorena is worried Kerry will sear her salmon took early, but he insists he has to to give him time to sear his shrimp, too. Poor Lorena looks crestfallen.

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But Kerry takes the challenge, giving both of them $5,000 for their charities.

The Elimination Challenge involves preparing 75 cold lunches for a "Diner en Blanc," which is basically a high-falootin' picnic where people dressed up in white set up a dining space in a public place, flash mob-style, then talk very pretentiously about the food they are eating. (It originates in France.) Whoopie.

Another harried shopping excursion to Whole Foods later (did you know Whole Foods carries giant bison steaks?), and they are back to the kitchen to cook their fingers to the blanc bone. Chris takes a big risk with a tureen, which requires baking in a warm bath. They look incredibly unappetizing, but are a triumph, according to Chris as he tips them over onto a plate. Everyone packs up their 75 meals in individual white boxes in time, which is pretty amazing.

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The next day, the chefs arrive at the courtyard of The Venetian hotel, where the all-in-white diners arrive en masse. A clown annoys them, and Robin Leach has apparently been spending a lot of time eating, en blanc and otherwise, since last we saw him on Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous.

And now for the food. Lorena distributes boxes of Huancaina-style potato salad with aji amarillo and, you guessed it, cilantro; jerk chicken salad with mango and caramelized pine nuts; and a jalapeno chocolate mousse for dessert. 

Patricia, after taking requisite potshots at Lorena's limited palate and skill, hands out her overly complicated dish tracking Marco Polo's journey from Venice to Asia. That includes a daikon, radish and edamame salad with whitebait; Uyghur spiced bison with chili jam; and sumac dusted flatbread with curried cauliflower and red chief lentils. 

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Chris offers swordfish conserva with green beans, tomatoes and olives; marinated wild mushrooms with toasted pine nuts; and pork and chicken turrine with hazelnuts and truffles. 

Kerry offers cauliflower soup with saffron coulis (it's white!); hericot vert, orzo and mozzarella with pesto; and griled chicken and kielbasa with peppers and paprika coulis that Francis thinks shows he's shooting for the rafters.

At judges table, Chris wins the big $10,000 prize for his Michael J. Fox Foundation. Never underestimate the power of a well-executed turrine! And Lorena and Patricia, rivals to the core, are up for dismissal. 

Patricia, who has emerged in these final weeks as the closest thing Top Chef All Stars has to a villain, says "the better person will stay in the competition."

Well, I guess the better person is Lorena, because Patricia is sent packing. Buh-bye! Chris sheds a tear for all of us as he hugs her goodbye and says, "The student is never supposed to beat the teacher."