Friday, September 25, 2009

Top Chef Las Vegas - Not Much Magic This Week

I like that orange color in the bedroom.

For some reason, Mike I. is upset that Mattin got eliminated. He and his fellow chefs are going to wear Mattin’s ridiculous red bandannas “to represent him”. Then Mike goes on to say that Mattin is a better chef than some that are still there. He highlights Robin. Obviously, she’ll either go home this episode OR THE OPPOSITE! SHE WON’T! See? I’m cottoning on their tricky ways.

Then we see Robin telling some really dumb story about rattlesnakes. Jen tells us that “people” are getting fed up with her and that she’s just been lucky so far. This is clearly a dump on Robin episode. I don’t like her either, but I can’t tell if this is an obvious clue that she’s leaving OR that’s she’s not. Robin says the other chefs probably thought she was the one that should have gone last week. When she asks Mike I. for a red bandanna to wear, he VERY grudgingly gives it to her.

Padma is in the kitchen with Chef Michelle Bernstein. Oh good, there’s been an awful lot of testosterone lately in the judging department, so this will be good. But WHY does Padma have to introduce her as “the lovely” Michelle Bernstein? She does mention James Beard Award winner, but still, leave the lovely out of it and just mention her fantastic cooking pedigree.

This is a weird Quickfire Challenge. They have to make a dish that shows the battle between good and bad, angels and devils, healthy and unhealthy. Whatever… I’m waiting for Padma to say the dish has to include Masonic symbols as well and that Dan Brown will be one of the judges. How about let’s stay away from hokey and just see them cook?! The winner gets immunity.

Oy, NOW we can’t root against Robin because she tells us she had cancer and she knows that sugar is bad for her, so that’s her angel/demon thing…still wanting to have SOME sugar.

The Quickfire dishes:

Michael V.

Angel – Rillettes Of Salmon (I LOVE rillettes, REAL ones…with pork)

Devil – Confit Of Salmon & Ice Cream (OMG EWW!!!)

Michelle: “Very interesting.”


Angel – Halibut & Seasonal Vegetables

Devil – Deviled Egg Purée & Bacon

Padma:”That’s a big, fat piece of bacon, Kevin.” Where’s the bacon jam?


Angel – Chilean Sea Bass With Corn Hash

Devil – Chilean Sea Bass With Yucca

How do these folks do this all in 45 minutes?

Padma finds a lot of bones in her fish.

Ashley (the girl)

Angel – Scallop Crudo

Devil – Seared Scallop Puttanesca

Her seared scallop looks good. The raw one looks a bit floppy on the plate.


Angel – Scallop With Radish Top Pesto

Devil – Scallop With Brown Butter Risotto


Angel – Frozen Coconut, Lychee & Vanilla

Devil – Dark Chocolate Mousse

What a lovely idea.

“Thank you,” is Michelle’s only reaction.


Angel – Scallop Crudo With Olive Oil

Devil – Seared Scallop With Butter

Her scallop crudo is in skinny overlapping pieces. It looks so much better than Ashley’s.

“That sauce is actually very addictive,” says Michelle.

Ashley (the guy)

Devil – Spicy Asparagus Custard With Pink Peppercorn Shortbread

He says his biggest devil was time and he only got one custard done. We saw him having a hard time with his sweet coffee custard. It was too runny.


Angel – Arugula, Apple & Fennel Salad

Devil – Cardamom Apple Ginger Crisp

She plays the C card, saying she got used to raw and organic food. Actually, didn’t we know before now that she had lymphoma? Anyway, if Michelle says anything bad, she’ll be a complete curmudgeon.

“This is lovely. Nice and simple,” Michelle coos.

How about we bet that Robin will win this challenge?

More dishes to come?!! THERE ARE TOO MANY CHEFS!!! OY!


Angel – Chicken & Vegetable Consomme

Devil – Chicken Saltimbocca

I think consommé is an excellent idea for this challenge. How she did this all so fast is a miracle.

Mike I.

Angel – Cucumber Yogurt Soup

Devil – Rack Of Lamb Kabob Style

Seriously, I can barely unpack the groceries in 45 minutes.

“THIS is a little bit too salty,” Michelle tells Mike. He has daggers in his eyes for her.

Least favorites:

Ashley, the guy

BRYAN!!!! Huh! Wuh! She loved the concept, not the execution.

Laurine – “Nothing new, nothing inspiring.” I am keeping quiet from now on!

Favorites – (Okay, so my silence didn’t last long. I bounce back quickly.)

Michael, Eli and ROBIN. Told YOU!!!

The winner is ROBIN! Wowee. I wish I had been betting good money.

EVERYONE else looks stunned, po’ed and as if Michelle is insane.

Oh, Eli is bitter. He saying kinda nasty things…okay, so I said them too. Tell people you have cancer and you win.

Penn and Teller come into the kitchen. Eli looks thrilled. They do “the classic” cup and ball trick, with a bit of juggling (or misdirection) thrown in. The Elimination Challenge is to deconstruct a classic dish.

Know-it-all Michael explains (to us) that that’s putting the separate elements of a dish on a plate and by the time the diner has taken the last bite, they’ve basically put it back together…bite by bite. Or something like that.

Oh, they don’t decide what to cook themselves. They draw the names of the dishes that they have to make. Ron is thrilled he got paella.

They have 30 minutes and $125 to shop. They have 2 hours to cook the first day. Mike has no idea what Eggs Florentine is. He says he’s doing his own food and that folks are going to like it.

Michael says he’s baking his own bread. Bryan says (to us) that Michael is a showoff.

You know this whole rivalry thing between brothers is getting a bit old. Can’t you imagine a situation in which siblings had each other’s back and they actually liked being together and depended on each other?

I can’t help but think that their parents did a really lousy job when the younger one was born, in not giving the older one enough attention. Or maybe they ignored the younger one, while worshipping the older one. You know? Anyone want to weigh in here? Bryan? Michael? Plus don’t you think Bryan carries a little bit of a chip on his shoulder, because his parents misspelled his name?

Jen can’t decide what to do for her deconstructed meat lasagna. Ron thinks he’s going to win. Eli thinks he doesn’t understand what deconstructed mean. We hear (again) about how poor Ashley (the girl) was. Eli’s slightly broken pressure cooker explodes.

Laurine is getting angry at Robin for talking out loud about everything AND asking her to take out her pancetta.

Ron says he needs luck and asks Tom for any tips when he comes into the kitchen. Eli and Kevin actually try to help Ron at night with paella suggestions. They’re all talking about how Robin’s winning got them mad.

They’re cooking in the kitchen of Marinelli’s in the M resort.

What a beautiful dining room. Toby is back at the table with Padma, Tom, Michelle and Penn and Teller.

Michael V.

Caesar Salad – Chicken Wing, Parmesan Jelly & Brioche

It looks amazing.

Mike I.

Egg Florentine – Braised Kale Roll, Egg Emulsion, Crispy Phyllo

It’s too bad his dish is being served at the same time as the beautiful plate by Michael V.

Toby “didn’t care for” the Egg Florentine. “It wasn’t a deconstruction as much as a reinvention.”

They all liked the Caesar salad, but Toby was disappointed that the dressing didn’t EXPLODE. Penn says that would kill him, if it had.

Why is it that Mike I. always acts as if he’s one of the best chefs there? As if he’s in Bryan and Michael’s class, but his food is never good? What’s up with that? I guess if you talk a good game, you can get away with a lot. (Gee, I wonder how I know that.)


Reuben – Tuna, Warm Mayo, Thousand Island Flavors, Rye & Gruyère Cheese


Fish & Chips – Halibut, Zucchini Relish, Tomato Confit & Parsley Chips

Laurine says she poached the fish in oil. I love that technique. Finally, something I can understand and DO.

Michelle doesn’t love (or even like) Laurine’s fish. Tom says it’s dry. They don’t like any part of it.

Michelle and Tom love Bryan’s dish. Penn doesn’t think it tasted like a Reuben, but he says he DID manage to eat everything.

Ash was dumb and did his parsnip purée in the food processor and it got gummy. If there were potatoes in there, he should have known better, so he substituted a pea purée.

Ashley (the guy)

Shepherd’s Pie – Lamb Chops, Leeks, Glazed Carrots, Pea Purée & Madeira Jus


Meat Lasagna – Steak, Mascarpone, Béchamel, Tomato Sauce & Parmesan Crisp

Michelle and Padma love Jennifer’s. Tom likes the parmesan crisp.

Tom says that Ashley’s lamb is not cooked properly. Toby says the fact that there are no potatoes is interpreting the challenge “too widely”.


Seafood Paella – Lemon & Herb Oil, Chayote & Peas


Sweet & Sour Pork – Pork Rillettes, Broccoli Purée, Sweet & Sour Sauce

“Severely overcooked” is how Michelle characterizes Ron’s paella. She misses “the lovely crisp” bits that you usually find in a paella. Tom: “It’s a sad bowl of food.“ They mock Eli’s pork balls presentation, but they really like the taste.


Pot Roast – Seared Strip Loin, Potato Purée, Crispy Shallots & Carrot Foam


Chicken Mole – Chicken Croquette, Mexican Coffee Fig Jam, Pumpkin Seed Romesco

I think Kevin’s sounds sooo good.

Penn must agree. He says he never wants to have any other kind of mole after having this. Michelle is really impressed by the work that went into it.

They all LOVE the pot roast, as well.


Clam Chowder – Fennel Flan With Potato Crusted Clams & Crusted Bacon

Toby finds the texture repulsive. Padma says it was congealed. Toby agrees.

Back to Judges Table...

Ashley (the guy) makes a snotty, and perfectly justifiable, remark to Robin in the stew room about how he should have done something simple like she did and HE could have gotten immunity. She says that’s the kind of food she likes to cook.

Ashley (the girl), Michael, Kevin and Jennifer get called in first.

WHY do the judges always look mad before they tell the first group they’re the winners? Michelle says she fell in love with (the girl) Ashley’s dish. Toby liked Jennifer’s confidence in keeping it simple.

The winner is…I think it should be Kevin…and it is KEVIN. YAY me!!! And him! He wins a special prize. A set of nonstick calphalon cookware. Heh? That’s not really chef’s stuff.

Laurine, Ron and Ash, the guy, get called in. I say Ron is going home.

Toby is mad that there were no mashed potatoes in Ashley (the boy)’s dish. The purée he decided not to use DID have potatoes in it. (I knew it!) WHY did he put it in the food pro? THAT was dumb. Tom says the meat was cooked inconsistently. Ashley (the boy) tries to defend his other cooking.

Laurine admits that her fish was overcooked. Toby missed the the fries.

Ron says he’s never done deconstruction…EVER! He agrees with Tom that he couldn’t think of a way to do it. Definitely Ron is leaving.

The chefs go out of the room. Tom and Toby argue over how to say paella. Toby says Pie-Ella. Gawd!

Padma says it’s pretty clear who needs to go. And it’s…RON! I’m batting a thousand. He’s sweet, but he was never gonna win, so he might as well go home. I like him, but, clearly, his cooking wasn’t up to some of the others.

I think I may be getting over this season, even if the cooking is great. This was not a riveting episode. Everything was kind of so-so. There’s no villain in the group and there’s no completely charming and lovable Carla-type. I do like Kevin and I want Jennifer to win, but I think it will be Bryan. I just don’t want to wait weeks to see that happen.


DebCarol said...

Oh thank you for resurrecting Carla . . . now she was FUN, really she was, what a huge personality. This episode with the whole deconstucting thing - what the heck is that anyway. It just seemed so unnecessarily complicated and silly and boring. Hey, even Toby the snark was boring this time. snooooooze .....

Sue said...

Hey DC,
Carla was great. You just had to root for her. Yup - boring and silly perfectly describes this episode, although, now that I think about it, Ron asking Tom for cooking advice was pretty funny.

Tracy said...

I'll weigh in on the sibling thing. I have two boys and everything is (and was) a competition. I think it's testosterone at work. Mine would be the same way -- and believe me, nobody gets more love and attention than the other.

I agree with you about this episode and season. While I would like to say that the contestants should be chosen for their food alone, it's the personalities that make interesting TV. There's nobody as fun to watch as Fabio or Carla -- I think last year was my favorite.

Sue said...

I'm so glad you said that. Okay, so that's just the way boys are. BUT wait a sec. You have kids or youngish men, right? Should it STILL be like this, way into adulthood? Shouldn't they alternate competition with just a bit of concern...every once in awhile? Of course, any affection may be on the editing room floor...