Friday, December 6, 2013
Olympics? What Olympics?
Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier
While Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings spiked volleyballs in the sand on NBC Wednesday night, Maine chef Mark Gaier went long at the Whole Foods checkout counter in Las Vegas and won the foodie gold medal for catching a package of pork belly.
Gaier, his partner Clark Frasier and eight other master chefs frantically shopped for a wedding supper and reception on the Bravo network's "Top Chef Masters," vying for $10,000 in an elimination episode for their favorite charity.
With their time about to run out at the cash register, another chef who desperately needed pork belly lobbed it in Gaier's direction, and he caught it like a champion.
Gaier and Frasier, owners of Arrows and MC Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, are competing independently on "Top Chef Masters" Season 4, hoping to win big bucks for their charities, Equality Maine and Outright Lewiston/Auburn. The last chef standing takes home the $100,000.
At the beginning of Wednesday's show, host Curtis Stone introduced the chefs to a Filipino couple who had a tragic wedding story. Just before they were to be married, the maid of honor -- the bride's best friend and future sister-in-law -- died in a terrible accident.
When the couple tried to get married again, the wedding venue suddenly disappeared into thin air, along with the couple's deposit money.
Stone told the chefs there would be no Quickfire challenge this week, just an elimination challenge in which they would all work together to prepare a delicious cocktail hour, dinner, wedding cake and dessert for the couple.
As they prepared their dishes, the chefs talked about their own weddings and what made them special. When Stone got around to Gaier, he asked about Equality Maine, which is fighting to legalize same-sex marriage in Maine.
"To me, it's very sad that everyone can't be married -- gay, lesbian, whatever," Gaier said.
Gaier explained that he and Frasier have been together for about 25 years.
"That's a long time not to have the benefits of a married couple," he said. "It's not right."
Viewers got a glimpse of the normally mild-mannered Frasier's temper when someone moved his ingredients around on his cart. He looked angry, and it seemed as if every other word had to be bleeped out.
"Clark is bossy," Gaier said. "He knows it."
At one point, Frasier asked Gaier for help, noting that he was making 100 lettuce cups, "which are very tedious."
"Of course I want Clark to do well," Gaier said, "but I have 20 minutes and it's a little distracting."
Gaier made a sesame-crusted baked Atlantic salmon with egg noodle cakes. He was shown carrying a large tray of salmon to an oven.
"Mark's walking a tightwire between the fish being overcooked and undercooked," Frasier said. "He wants it just so."
But, Frasier added, his partner isn't used to cooking salmon for 200 people.
Luckily, the bride told the judges she liked both Maine chefs' dishes, because the judges complained that Gaier's salmon was way undercooked.
"I'm so glad she got a perfect plate because mine was still swimming upstream, said judge Krista Simmons.
The judges' three favorite dishes of the night belonged to Chicago chef Takashi Yagihasi, Boston chef Patricia Yeo, and San Francisco chef Chris Costentino.
Yeo, who made a mackerel ceviche appetizer, took home the $10,000 prize for her charity, Heifer Project International.
The three worst dishes, according to the judges, belonged to Gaier, Kansas City Chef Debbie Gold and Art Smith, who tried to make a pineapple upside-down wedding cake like the one he made for Lady GaGa's 25th birthday.
In the end, the judges sent chef Gold home, and Gaier was saved to cook another day.
Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at: