Chris Cosentino on Winning Top Chef Masters and Helping Parkinson's Research

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Bravo TV
Top Chef Masters winner Chris Cosentino.
San Francisco-based chef Chris Cosentino of Incanto restaurant is the newly-crowned winner of Top Chef Masters Season 4. We predicted as much before the first episode even aired, but Cosentino tells SFoodie that he never felt like he had the competition in the bag as he discusses winning $282,000 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research and learning more about what makes himself tick as a chef.

See Also:
- Cosentino Watch: Top Chef Masters (complete archive)

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Top Chef Masters: Cosentino Watch, Episode 10

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Bravo TV
Chris Cosentino and his chef de cuisine Manfred Wrembel give Curtis Stone a taste of victory.
Welcome to Cosentino Watch, where we recap the moves of San Francisco chef Chris Cosentino as he competes in Top Chef Masters. Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Finally, we're at the finale, and we know what we came here to do. Chris Cosentino and Kerry Heffernan have swiftly eliminated their competition over the past two months, and it's all come down to one final meal.

Host Curtis Stone explains that there is no Quickfire Challenge this time and only one four-course dinner separates them from the chance to win $100,000 for their charity. The final challenge is to bare their soul on the plate by writing four letters and translating them into a four-course meal. They'll need to write/serve a love letter, an apology, a thank you note, and finally a letter to themselves.

"There's a lot of emotion involved," Cosentino says of cooking. "I think that's what food's about. We put everything we have on the plate, our heart and our soul, to showcase who we are."

See Also:
- Top Chef Masters: Cosentino Watch, Episode 9
- Top Chef Masters: Cosentino Watch, Episode 8
- Top Chef Masters: Cosentino Watch, Episode 7

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Top Chef Masters: Cosentino Watch, Episode 9

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Bravo TV
Chris Cosentino in high school.
Welcome to Cosentino Watch, where we recap the moves of San Francisco chef Chris Cosentino as he competes in Top Chef Masters. Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Episode 9 is called "Old School, New School." We've already seen from the preview commercial that the remaining three Masters (Chris Cosentino, Lorena Garcia, and Kerry Heffernan) will be working with teenage culinary students, but who is repping the old school? The answer is quickly revealed in this week's Quickfire Challenge.

See Also:
- Top Chef Masters: Cosentino Watch, Episode 8
- Top Chef Masters: Cosentino Watch, Episode 7
- Top Chef Masters: Cosentino Watch, Episode 6

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Top Chef Masters: Cosentino Watch, Episode 8

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Bravo TV
Chris Cosentino scores another victory.
Welcome to Cosentino Watch, where we recap the moves of San Francisco chef Chris Cosentino as he competes in Top Chef Masters. Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Episode 8 is called "Foodie Flash Mob" which conjures images of our fair chefs shuffling through the Thriller dance for their dinner. But before we can learn the meat of this week's show, the Final Four must go through a Quickfire Challenge.

The chefs are shown a line dividing the kitchen space between the hot line and the pantry area. Host Curtis Stone explains that they'll divide into teams of two in order to prepare two dishes -- but the chefs will have to decide who stays on which side of the line on the ground. Chris Cosentino and mentor Patricia Yeo are thrilled to draw matching knives and work together, while Lorena Garcia groans at the possibility of having to work with Kerry Heffernan again; they have been a terrible, un-teamlike team in the past.


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Top Chef Masters: Cosentino Watch, Episode 7

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Bravo TV
Chris Cosentino feels his meat.
Welcome to Cosentino Watch, where we recap the moves of San Francisco chef Chris Cosentino as he competes in Top Chef Masters. Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Episode 7 is called "Culinary Knock Out," and that could have been the name of last week's show, which featured burlesque star Dita Von Teese. Instead, we learned from preview commercials that boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard would be in the house.

But first, the Quickfire Challenge: Separate 18 eggs, grate two pounds of parmesan cheese down to the rind, and portion five 7.5-8.5 ounce cuts of meat from a beef loin (without benefit of a scale), with no time limit. Cosentino looks stoked.

"At the restaurant, I butcher whole animals on a regular basis so I'm totally cool," he says in an interview. "I love it."

Cosentino works like a whirling dervish and finishes first, but when host Curtis Stone checks his work and weighs the meat, it turns out that Cosentino has made his cuts too light so he's disqualified. Chef Kerry Heffernan, who has lurked in the background for the past six weeks, wins the challenge as well as immunity, which means he's got a guaranteed slot in the Final Four.

Everyone's jaws drop as Sugar Ray Leonard appears in the kitchen to present the Elimination Challenge. The chefs will be engaging in one-on-one battles in a culinary "arena." Leonard tells them that a good chef is very similar to a good fighter; both must think on their feet.

Knives are drawn to determine who will fight each other. Cosentino will face off against Takashi Yagihashi, who has quietly been one of his toughest competitors thus far in the game.

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Top Chef Masters: Cosentino Watch, Episode 6

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Bravo TV
A victorious moment for Chris Cosentino.
Welcome to Cosentino Watch, where we recap the moves of San Francisco chef Chris Cosentino as he competes in Top Chef Masters. Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Episode 6 is called "Thai One On," but thankfully it's not a full hour of puns. It's the first time all season we get to see host Curtis Stone turn red and lose his composure, but most mere mortals would do the same at the sight of burlesque queen Dita Von Teese, who appears for the Quickfire Challenge. Chefs have 30 minutes to create a sexy aphrodisiac dish for her.

Von Teese seems pleased with Cosentino's presentation of foie gras and figs in a rose, fig, and Champagne sauce, but she ultimately declares her love for another: Takashi Yagahashi wins the Quickfire Challenge for the second week in a row with a "slippery and sexy" oyster dish. We have visions of Cosentino battling Yagahashi in the final round, but we'll see what happens.


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Top Chef Masters: Cosentino Watch, Episode 5

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Bravo TV
Cosentino's Elimination Challenge dish: Watermelon and tuna bacon with golden tomatoes and pistachios.
Welcome to Cosentino Watch, where we recap the moves of San Francisco chef Chris Cosentino as he competes in Top Chef Masters. Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Episode 5 is called "Holly Madison's Pool Party" so we know that there are going to be some pretty girls (Madison was once Hugh Hefner's longtime gal-pal) in this hour. But first, the Quickfire Challenge: Masters have 45 minutes to create a meat dish and a vegetarian version of the dish to serve to recording artists the Indigo Girls. Amy Ray is a vegetarian, while her partner Emily Saliers is an omnivore.

Cosentino dives for the portabellas, explaining that the fungus has been an amazing meat substitute since he started cooking. His finished work is a beef Bordelaise and a portabella Bordelaise, each served with mashed potatoes and spinach, and it's a hit. Ray is "digging" the shroom, which she says isn't used enough in cooking in general, while Saliers finds the meat "nice and rich." It's a big difference from last week, when the B-52s weren't really feeling Cosentino's food.

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Top Chef Masters: Cosentino Watch, Episode 4

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Bravo TV
"This is bullshit!" Chris Cosentino reacts to the B-52s calling his salad "bland."
Welcome to Cosentino Watch, where we recap the moves of San Francisco chef Chris Cosentino as he competes in Top Chef Masters. Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Episode 4 is called "Grand Canyon Cookout," and we've seen from the previews that the Masters will be making something from great heights. Before that Elimination Challenge, however, the contestants are indoors for the Quickfire Challenge. Chefs have eight minutes to create a lovely salad from a salad bar with 52 common ingredients, to be judged by Kate Pierson and Fred Schneider, otherwise known as kitschy Southern singing sensations the B-52's.

"I love produce," says Cosentino. "When you look at my food costs [at Incanto], I spend more on produce than I do on anything else."


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Top Chef Masters: Cosentino Watch, Episode 3

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Bravo TV
Chris Cosentino.
Welcome to Cosentino Watch, where we recap the moves of San Francisco chef Chris Cosentino as he competes in Top Chef Masters. Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Episode 3 is called "What Would Brian Boitano Eat," a play on the Olympic figure skating champ's Food Network series, What Would Brian Boitano Make? Boitano bops in for this week's Quickfire Challenge. The chefs are given 20 minutes to create a seafood dish without the use of heat. Cosentino grabs some mackerel and makes a spicy fra diavolo sauce to put on top of raw slices. He brushes a charcoal mixture on the plate to give it the illusion of being cooked, a trick he uses at Incanto with a raw beef heart tartare. Boitano calls Cosentino's dish a "nice little starter to a meal" and awards it second place, or as he calls it, the "silver medal."

Host Curtis Stone tells the competitors that Top Chef Masters alumni such as Mary Sue Milliken, Jonathan Waxman, and Susan Feniger will judge the Elimination Challenge, which is to create an entertaining teppanyaki meal such as what's served at Benihana. Cosentino doesn't seem fazed by the premise, but the judges make him nervous.

"Holy crap!" he says. "We're awestruck. They've all been in our shoes. It still doesn't make it any easier."


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Top Chef Masters: Cosentino Watch, Episode 2

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Bravo TV
Welcome to Cosentino Watch, where we recap the moves of San Francisco chef Chris Cosentino as he competes in Top Chef Masters. Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Episode 2's title, "You May Now Feed the Bride," offers a clue to what's going to happen even before it begins. The chefs immediately find out there will be no Quickfire Challenge and that they're going straight into an Elimination Challenge.

A young couple who wants to get married have faced horrible obstacles, including the death of the groom's sister/maid of honor and being swindled out of deposit money for a wedding venue, and so it's (as host Curtis Stone says) Top Chef Masters to the rescue. They've got 24 hours to cook a feast for 200 people.

"I'm really excited to try to make this day everything that they thought it'd be," says Cosentino.

He mentions how he and his wife didn't have much money when they got married and that he prepped and cooked a lot of the food -- his wife had to drag him out of the kitchen on the day they got hitched.


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