'Top Chef Masters' Recap: Thai a Yellow Curry

Top Chef Thai - H2012

Top Chef Thai - H2012

It's a sensuous start as host Curtis Stone unveils a table of aphrodesiac ingredients and encourages the chefs to create a "sexy dish" for the Quickfire Challenge -- making this a gourmet quickie. 

Takashi says he finds raw fish sensual (for the way it feels in your mouth) and Art says he likes his meringues big, like "some men like their breasts." Could have been worse.

Guest judge Dita Von Teese emerges to sample their sexy wares, and advises that "the tease is important but there better be a payoff at the end."

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Art's Ile Flottante offered a bowl of soupy chocolate sauce, in which Dita wants to "bathe naked" -- turning Curtis red with embarrassment. Takashi's oysters and sea urchin excites Dita. Patricia's asparagus dish is called a "three-way on a plate" by Chris.

Dita ultimately goes with Takashi's dish, for the way the oysters felt "sliding down my throat." Bad for Takashi's married life, but good for his charity!

The elimination challenge requires the crew to open a Thai restaurant in just 12 hours, with the menu set to be judged by Chef Saipin Chutima of the Lotus of Siam restaurant, a big deal in the world of Thai cuisine.

Lorena is nervous, having primarily worked with Latin foods, while Patricia grins like a Cheshire Cat, having lived in Thailand for two years. Takashi is confident, too, but Kerry admits his only familiarity with Thai food comes from ordering take-out.

As the minutes tick away, things get tense between Patricia and Lorena. But it's all smiles, sort of, as the first guests begin trickling in.

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The prickly critics take their seats with Saipin, and sample Lorena and Chris's dishes first: piscco chicken soup with galangai, cilantro and lime, and steak larb tartare. Chris' dish is a little too unorthodox for Saipin, but judge Francis Lam likes it. (Ruth Reichl is missing in action this week.)

Next is Art's cashew-crusted chicken and Takashi's yellow curry with shrimp. Art's is deemed uninspired, while Takashi's dish is only liked "a little" by Saipin.

Finally, Kerry's braised pork belly and taro puree and Patricia's seared duck breast and massaman curry go out -- but Kerry's poor timing forced Patricia to start from the top, ending up with an undercooked duck. Saipin wished the flavors in the duck dish were bolder, but everyone loves Kerry's dish. 

Chris' tartare was a favorite at judges' table, as was Kerry's "Thai twist on meat and potatoes." Chris wins the challenge, though, earning $10,000 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.

The bottom three are Art, Lorena and Patricia. Judge James Oseland expressed an appreciation that Art "threw some Southern jazz hands" into his dish, but felt the cashews were too chunky.

Patricia's undercooked duck comes up, giving her the opportunity to utter one of the great reality TV cliches: "I'm not going to throw anyone under the bus." Kerry fesses up to his hand in DuckGate.

But Patricia will live to cook another week: It's Art who's sent packing for his un-Thai-like chicken dish.

Farewell, Art. Your Southern sassiness will truly be missed.