In this season of 'Top Chef Masters,' each chef got to bring his sous chef - his protÃ©gÃ©e - for what both thought would be a collaborative, competitive effort. Instead, the sous chefs find themselves competing in a high-stakes 'Battle of the Sous Chefs' each week, with the winner earning a big prize - such as immunity - for his boss while the losers' "paralyzing penalties" may doom theirs, says series host and judge Hugh Acheson.
To say the sous chefs look anxious at the start of the first episode is to dramatically understate the state of affairs. They're stunned at this turn of events. Some of them look like they'd like to throw up. "I didn't sign up for this!" says Lora Kirk, sous chef for Canadian celebrity chef Lynn Crawford.
The first challenge? To execute a dish that embodies their Top Chef Master's culinary style in 45 minutes. While the sous scurry frantically around the kitchen, the master chefs sip wine and profess their utter faith in their sous' abilities. But when the dust - and salt and pepper - clears, there's a clear winner (Drew Glassel's seared scallop with hon shimeji mushrooms and shiitake broth) and some not-as-impressive dishes, including an Angry Spiced Shrimp and a Pan-Latin surf-and-turf dish with chimichurri. "Your Top Chef Masters will have to work a little bit harder," Acheson tells the bottom three.