Top Chef Masters Week Seven

Week seven of Top Chef Masters at Slurping Turtle… a full house of excited guests waited for the show to begin…

The theme throughout the episode was boxing.  A ring and rounds of challenges awaited the chefs. And, to top it off, legendary boxer, Sugar Ray Leonard was the special guest judge!

Photo Credit: Bravo

The Quickfire Challenge was based of prep work.  The chefs had to “roll up their sleeves” and to separate 18 eggs, grate two pounds of parmesan cheese, and portion a beef tenderloin into five 7.5-8.5 ounce filets without a scale! The two fastest chefs would then cook a meal with those ingredients for immunity from the elimination challenge.

Photo Credit: Bravo

Takashi was able to keep a steady pace and finished on top, with Kerry in second.  With 15 minutes on the clock, both chefs had to prepare a dish that would win their match (and seat for immunity) in this round. Takashi’s dish was a Sautéed Beef Tenderloin with Egg and Provencal Vegetables.

Top Right: Quickfire Challenge: Sautéed Beef Tenderloin with Egg and Provencal Vegetables. (photo: Bravo)

Bottom: Featured Second Course at Slurping Turtle: Bincho Grilled Pork Belly and Beef Tenderloin with a Sunny Side-Up Quail Egg and Endive Salad with Fennel, Apple, Orange, Maytag Blue Cheese and Sherry Vinaigrette

Unfortunately, Takashi struck out on that round, but he geared himself up for the first round in the elimination challenge.

Photo Credit: Bravo

ROUND ONE begins in the ring, with referee Curtis Stone announcing the competitors,

“In this corner, from Chicago, Takashi Yagihashi!”


The secret ingredient of the challenge was bacon! The chefs scrambled to come up with a creative dish using this simple, yet decadent ingredient. Takashi’s dish was a Bacon Steak with Mushroom, Figs and a Fennel Salad.

Photo Credit: Bravo

Strike Two. The judges seemed to think that Takashi’s plate of bacon steak with fruits and a fennel salad was a little too complex… giving Kerry the win of the first round. In an interview, Takashi compared tonight’s experience with baseball,

“some nights, you can hit a home run and others you can strike out”

With that loss, that meant that Takashi had one more FINAL ROUND to go.  His competitor was Patricia, and their secret ingredient was Chicken Liver! His dish was Chicken Liver with Prosciutto and Pickled Red Cabbage.

Photo Credit: Bravo
Strike Three.  It was just an off night for Takashi… unfortunately this lost cost him his seat in the challenge. The guests at Slurping Turtle all exclaimed their sadness for Takashi’s departure, but gave him a cheering round of applause for his achievements throughout the show.

Although he didn’t win tonight, Takashi really knocked it out of the park in the overall competition of the show. He was very well respected from all of the the chefs and always kept a level head and a sense of humor in every challenge. His fellow chefs called him a “legend”.  Even though he didn’t make it to the end, Takashi raised $20,000 for his charity the Red Cross, which is an amazing achievement.

Listen to more of what Takashi has to say in his exit interview below:

We are so proud of Takashi’s achievements throughout this season of Top Chef Masters. Thanks to all who have joined us at our viewing parties and cheered from home. This has been such a fun and exciting experience watching our chef’s amazing culinary talents! Cheers.

Top Chef Masters Week Six

This season of Top Chef Masters has been pushing the boundaries with featuring Playboy Playmates and burlesque dancers as guest judges. Well, why not? They are in Vegas! The Quickfire Challenge consisted of creating a sexy dish using ingredients that have an aphrodisiac effect. The queen of burlesque, Dita Von Teese was the guest judge.

Photo Credit: Bravo

Takashi created a Chilled Oyster and Sea Urchin with Yuzu-Truffle Vinaigrette. Dita described it as, “slippery, sexy and adventurous”

Wellfleet Oyster and East Coast Sea Urchin, with Truffle Vinaigrette and Summer Truffle

Takashi worried about what his wife might say about that reaction! Well, she couldn’t have been upset very long because Takashi’s dish was Dita’s favorite, giving him another win at the Quickfire Challenge. Second week in a row!  With that win he received immunity from the Elimination Challenge as well as $5000 to his charity the Red Cross.

Bottom left Photo Credit: Bravo

After the buzz of the Quickfire, the chefs were ready to be briefed on the Elimination Challenge. The chefs were faced with the task of creating their own Thai restaurant in the Top Chef Masters kitchen and attempting to create their own versions of classic Thai dishes. The icing on the cake was that the famous Thai chef Saipin Chutima was a guest judge for this challenge.

Photo Credit: 

To gain inspiration, the chefs congregated for a traditional Thai meal at Saipin Chutima’s critically acclaimed restaurant, Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas. As Saipin presented the chefs with her favorite dishes, the chefs started to think about what they wanted to create for their Thai dish. Takashi mentioned his love for Thai food and that he was going to create a curry.

Takashi with guests at the viewing party

The chefs gathered ingredients at Ranch Market, an international grocery store that carries some of the rare spices and Thai ingredients that the chefs needed. Creating this style of food wasn’t the only hurdle that the chefs needed to overcome, they needed to work together seamlessly as a team to pull this off. With limited time on the clock and a stressful kitchen environment, this proved to be a challenge for a few of the chefs.

As a result the Thai dishes did not completely blow Saipin away. Although, she thought the chefs did a good job for the amount of time and knowledge they had. The critics believed that while the dishes weren’t 100% authentic Thai, they still had merit and were for the most part, delicious.

Sauteed Gulf Shrimp with Scallop and Fish Cake, with Crispy Noodle, Napa Cabbage, Enoki Mushroom and Curry-Coconut Broth

Back at Takashi, guests enjoyed the 7 course Omakase tasting menu and was able to cheer for their favorite chef as he prepared their special meal for the evening.

Top left: Amuse Bouche
Center: Washugyu Beef Tataki, with Oregon Wagyu Beef, Marinated Trumpet Royale Mushrooms, Garlic Chips, Citrus-Pepper Sauce
Bottom left: Roasted Indiana Duck Breast, with Duck Rillette Roll, Baby Turnips, Green Bean Salad
Bottom right: Soy-Ginger Caramel Pork Belly, with Pickled Daikon Salad, Steamed Buns


Week six is in the bag! Cheers to another great week of incredible talent. What’s in store for next week…stay tuned!


Week 5 at Takashi

On Wednesday evening, the guests at Takashi eagerly awaited another exciting episode of Top Chef Masters. Week 5 began with a Quickfire Challenge of creating a classic duo of a meat and vegetarian dish. Very often in restaurants, a vegetarian dish is overshadowed by its meat counterpart. Creating two dishes that were of equal merit was the goal of this challenge.

Top Chef Masters invited the musicians, the Indigo Girls to be the guest judges. Amy Ray, being a vegetarian was the “veggie” judge, and Emily Saliers took the reins as judge of the meat dish. With 45 minutes on the clock, the chefs focused on their own skill sets to get through this challenge. Takashi’s dish was Agedashi Tofu and Eggplant with slight differences in both the vegetarian and meat dishes.

Meat:  Agedashi Tofu and Eggplant with Pork, Ginger and Japanese Mushrooms

Vegetarian:  Agedashi Tofu and Eggplant with a Veggie Somen Noodle Roll

Photo Credit: Bravo


As Amy and Emily tasted the dishes, Takashi’s tofu and eggplant seemed to be the favorite among the group… giving him the win of the Quickfire! This win also gave him immunity from the elimination challenge plus $5,000 to his charity, the Red Cross. So far in this season of Top Chef Masters Takashi has raised $20,000 for tsunami disaster relief in Japan. Now that is something we can all be proud of! Way to go Takashi!

Back at Takashi the guests cheered in support of their beloved chef’s win while enjoying the Omakase, the 5 course chef’s tasting menu.

Top left: Tempura Roll with Tofu and Eggplant; Top Right: Sautéed Maine Scallops and Soba Gnocchi; Bottom: Fried Tofu with Braised Pork Belly and Spicy Bearnaise Sauce

The Elimination Challenge was announced as former Playmate and Las Vegas showgirl, Holly Madison walked through the door.  Surprise, surprise! Holly’s request was to create a Las Vegas style poolside brunch for over 100 of her friends. (she also mentioned that were more than likely going to be hungover from the night before!) Therefore, some serious comfort food classics as well as some healthy options were in order. Further requirements of this challenge included creating their dish in canapé sized portions without using onion or garlic! All of the chefs gasped with blank stares at that curveball…

Photo credit: Bravo

With $450 and only 30 minutes, the chefs quickly put together their bite sized brunch portions for their poolside party guests. Takashi created a Panna Cotta. (shown below)

Sheep’s Milk Yogurt Panna Cotta with Citrus Gelee, Fresh Berry Compote and Almonds

Photo Credit: Bravo

Although Takashi had immunity for this challenge, the Panna Cotta was well received among the judges and Holly. The unfortunate ending of this episode was Thierry’s departure. His dish did not make the cut for this challenge due to some issues preparing his sandwich. As a dear friend of Takashi and the rest of the chefs, it was sad seeing him go.

Sheep’s Milk Yogurt Panna Cotta with Yuzu Gelee: Compote of Summer Berries, Green Tea Macaron, Mango Sorbet (5th course of the tasting menu at Takashi)

The competition is getting tougher as the weeks progress! Thank goodness Takashi is still holding strong!


Top Chef Masters Week 4

A full house of guests gathered at Takashi on Wednesday evening to celebrate week four of Top Chef Masters.  The show began with a fun Quickfire Challenge of taking salad bar ingredients and making them “pop” for their popstar guest judges, the B52′s.

With 52 (how fitting!) ingredients to choose from and 8 minutes, Takashi concocted a salad of romaine and arugula with beets and pickled radishes.Photo credit: Bravo

Meanwhile back at Takashi, the kitchen was bustling preparing dishes for the Omakase, the chef’s 5 course tasting menu.

For the elimination challenge, the chefs traveled to the Grand Canyon to cook for the Native American Hualapai Tribe using sacred ingredients from their land. When a helicopter arrived to pick them up Takashi’s fear of heights kicked in.

He said, “I don’t even like to change a lightbulb!”

Fears aside, the crew made it to their final destination safely. Takashi was relieved that they had made it, and felt honored to be a part of the preparation of the meal. Takashi and Terry were paired together and were given the traditional Hualapai ingredients of venison and yucca. They had two hours to prepare their dishes that would be served “family style” to 24 guests.

Hualapai meal | Grilled Venison and Banana Yucca Cake with Braised Figs
Photo credit: Bravo

The meal was beautifully set near the rim of the Grand Canyon at a long communal table. What an extraordinary place to have a meal!  The chefs presented their dishes to both the critics and the members of the Hualapai tribe. Creating a dish to impress both the critics and the tribe was a very humbling and challenging experience for all of the chefs.

Top left photo: Venison dish created for the Omakase tasting menu at Takashi

However, Takashi seemed to step up to the challenge quite well. His grilled venison was a hit with both the critics and the tribe. Francis Lam described the venison as, “rich, complex flavors going in different directions in every bite”. A woman from the Hualapai tribe described the experience of the venison as an “adventure”. Terry’s contribution to the dish was a banana yucca cake. This also impressed the judges with the creative use of this complex ingredient.


Four of the chefs were called to the critics table including Takashi and Terry. Their dish was the crowd favorite which made them the winner of the challenge! Takashi received $10,000 to give to his charity, the Red Cross for tsunami disaster relief in Japan.

The guests back at Takashi celebrating his win!


What an achievement! Congratulations again Takashi.




Week Three at Takashi

Week three of Top Chef Masters started off excellent for Takashi with the Quickfire Challenge. This week’s challenge was to cook seafood without using heat. Who else to take on this task but the Japanese master himself? An ice bar was filled with a variety of seafood options. Takashi decided to go with sashimi paired with sea urchin, heirloom tomatoes and daikon apple salad. {pictured below} In Olympic spirit, Brian Boitano was the guest judge and decided that Takashi’s dish was worthy of a gold medal.

Bottom right photo courtesy of Bravo

Meanwhile back in Chicago at Takashi, dedicated fans clapped as Takashi won. Then, the gold medalist himself came out into the dining area for a round of applause! With this win Takashi also received $5000 to go to his charity, the Red Cross for Japanese Tsunami Disaster Relief.

The featured sashimi dish on the show inspired the first of the five courses that Takashi presented to the viewing party, Sashimi of Kanpachi and Uni.

First course:
Sashimi of Kanpachi and Uni: cucumber, seaweed, miso mustard

With the win and having immunity for the elimination challenge, Takashi did not let that get to his head. The next challenge was a difficult one for all of the chefs. It was to create a dish using the traditional Japanese Teppanyaki grill, “Benihana Style”.  None of the chefs had training on this type of grill. The chefs were divided into teams of three, Takashi with Clark and Patricia. Takashi’s dish was Sauteed Calamari with Savory Okonomiyaki Pancakes. The Teppanyaki grill’s temperament with heat provided a challenge, but that didn’t stop the team from making it to the next round!

This dish also inspired the third course of the tasting menu at Takashi, Pork Belly Okonomyaki with Grilled Calamari.

Pork Belly Okonomyaki

Grilled Calamari

With our beloved chef Takashi taking top honors of the night, the viewing party left with their tummies happy and an undeniable sense that they were a part of something special. What is next for our master chef… we can’t wait to find out!


Top Chef Masters: Week Two at Slurping Turtle

After an exciting premiere of Top Chef Masters last week Wednesday, a new crowd gathered at Slurping Turtle ready to cheer Takashi on for week two.

This week’s episode started off with a bang. The chefs were immediately introduced to their main elimination challenge, catering a dream wedding!

A young couple, Jay and Christine, had a series of unfortunate events in the planning stage of their wedding and needed some help picking up the pieces. They needed to find a caterer that would be able to create a menu reflective of their Filipino heritage and could serve 200 of their guests within 24 hours! Who else to solve this task but the Top Chef Masters…

The chefs raced to the grocery store to gather ingredients as a team. As they were almost out of their allotted grocery shopping time, Takashi noticed that the key ingredient for his dish was missing. He yelled,

“Where’s the pork belly!”

The chefs then sprinted through the store to the meat counter and tossed the package of pork belly to the others at the register like a competitor in a relay race. Who knew that grocery shopping could demand such athleticism? A potential spinoff opportunity… “Top Chef Masters Culinary Olympics”!

Takashi’s dish was a braised pork belly on a steamed bun with pickled onions and cucumber. This dish was also featured on the 4-course tasting menu at Slurping Turtle as pictured below.

Week two featured dish:
Pork Belly Snack: Soy caramel and ginger glazed pork belly served on a steamed bun with an arugula salad tossed in sweet onion vinaigrette.

Top left: Course #1 Sashimi of Kanpachi & Uni
Bottom left: Course #3 Tori Ramen

The braised pork belly was very well received by the judges and it placed Takashi as one of the top three contestants! The crowd at Slurping Turtle cheered and gave a roaring applause in support of his success.

 Congratulations again Takashi for another amazing week!

Top Chef Masters Premiere Night

Last night, an excited crowd gathered at Slurping Turtle for a viewing party in support of Takashi on Top Chef Masters. As the premiere of the show approached, the energy in the room was palpable. When Takashi was announced on the show, the entire restaurant rooted and cheered as if it was a sporting event! The game was on.

At this premiere event, Slurping Turtle featured a four course tasting menu reflecting dishes Takashi prepared on the show as well as some Slurping Turtle classic style dishes.

The first course, a steamed salmon and shrimp dumpling was a dish that Takashi prepared on the show in the first elimination challenge. In this challenge, the chefs were divided into two teams and were assigned the task of creating a “Las Vegas Style Buffet”. Takashi and his fellow blue team were given the extra challenge of making their dish in the Indian style. This twist was given to them after they had already bought their ingredients. This was indeed a very difficult challenge that only a Top Chef Master would be able to accomplish.

 Course #1:
Steamed Salmon and Shrimp Dumpling: Braised Swiss Chard, Sautéed Onions & Mushrooms with a Yellow Curry Coconut Sauce

The remaining courses of the night were Slurping Turtle favorites.

Course #2:
Soy-Ginger and Caramel Pork Loin: A salad of Red & Green Cabbage with a Sweet Onion Vinaigrette

Course #3A:
 Japanese Fried Rice, Stir Fried Vegetables served with Grilled Beef Short Rib

Course #3B:
Jar Jar Men:
 Wheat Noodle, Braised Pork Shoulder, Naruto, Aromatic Vegetables served with a Spicy Bolognese Sauce

Course #4:
 Egg Shooter, Macaroons and Coconut Puff Pastry

Overall it was a successful and exciting night at Slurping Turtle and a one of a kind dining experience. Takashi making it to the next round of the Top Chef Masters was the icing on the cake to a wonderful evening. Congratulations Takashi! 

Stay tuned for information on our next weeks viewing party. Keep in the loop with Takashi on Top Chef Masters 9pm CST on Bravo.

Learn from Takashi: Takashi’s recipes from Top Chef Masters

Win a $100 Gift Card!

Come to Takashi Restaurant for dinner between Monday, July 9th and Sunday, July 22nd to enter to win a $100 Gift Card to Takashi and Slurping Turtle. The winners will be announced (and posted to our website) after the premiere of Top Chef Masters on July 25th.