Thursday, October 22, 2009

Top Chef Las Vegas - Part One – Michael Is Rude And Full Of Himself

Hello JEN!!! She’s walking around in a striped bikini. PLEASE don’t make us see any of the guys similarly attired! She says she’s cooking today in her bathing suit and heels. Laurine feels good to still be there. She should, because it’s pretty clear she’s not going to be in the final few. (Let’s remember, though, that I am pretty often wrong.)

Kevin is sorry that Ashley (the guy) is gone and makes reference to the brothers arguing all the time. (That’s not as bad as their bad grammar.) Michael (HEY, I can finally tell them apart. YAY!) says the competition is going to get tougher. He adds that he was the instigator of their fights as a kid and he still is.

They get to the Top Chef kitchen and Rick Moonen is waiting for them. Kevin is happy because his Atlanta restaurant focuses on sustainability, which Rick is really involved with.

Padma says they can only go so far as individuals. Rick agrees and says it’s all about “a line of people working in synergy.” I feel sorry for the team that gets the dueling brothers, if they’re placed together.

Padma announces the “Tag Team Cook-off”. Jen is disgusted and says “What?” They draw knives to determine teams. They’re all blank except Jen’s, which says first choice and Michael’s which says second choice. THEY get to pick the two teams with Jen going first. She can’t decide whether to split up the brothers or not. She doesn’t.

The teams:

Jen, Kevin, Mike I, Laurine

Michael, Bryan, Eli, Robin

Robin says it’ll be a good opportunity for her to work with Eli and “face their demons”. Um…the rush of a Quickfire is probably not the greatest time for that.

Each team has to make one dish. The first chef cooks for 10 minutes. The next one for ten minutes and so on, until they’ve reached 40 minutes. The bad part…They can’t speak to each other…at all. Jen looks stunned.

I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that something goes terribly wrong in Restaurant Wars (we’ve already seen a preview) and Jen goes home. Of course, I don’t want to believe that, BUT THEY SHOWED HER IN HER BIKINI FOR GOODNESS SAKE. THAT HAS TO MEAN SOMETHING!

There’s an added challenge to this Quickfire. Until it’s each one’s turn to cook, each chef has to wear a blindfold. That’s funny and, thank goodness, it's not a bikini!. Kevin laughs. He tells us he thinks it’s ludicrous and insane. AND it’s a high stakes Quickfire.

I like (for the first time EVER) what Michael says. His team chooses Eli to go first and pick good stuff from the fridge; they pick Robin to screw up the second ten minutes and Bryan to rectify anything horrible that Robin has done. Then Michael says he “can pretty much put the period on any sentence that Bryan starts”. Finally, filial affection.

They follow the same philosophy on the other team. Jen will start, the weakest one, Laurine, will go second, Mike next and Kevin will bat cleanup. (Wait, I have to ask someone if that’s an appropriate phrase. After all, this is cooking, not basketball.) kidding…sort of.

The whistle blows. Jen does a good job. Her ideas include black cod, poached in olive oil; scallops; mushrooms and shrimp in a sauce.

Eli grills a strip steak. He starts prepping mushrooms and cleans greens and radishes. He says Robin’s flavor profile is somewhere east of Mars.

Jen is worried the others won’t follow her lead. Laurine is kind of clueless. When she sees the oil simmering away with a piece of thyme in it, she thinks the thyme is simply for a garnish. Finally, she realizes it’s to poach the cod.

Robin is amazed by how much Eli got done. Robin starts a dressing for a Caesar type salad.

Jen says Mike looks dizzy as he tries to figure out what she started. Then he says he sees the vision and the path. He sautés the mushrooms.

Bryan purées an avocado with lime juice and mixes yuzu with soy sauce. I’m not sure what his deal is. Michael will have his work cut out for him.

Kevin is discombobulated by having worn a blindfold for so long, as he tries to figure out what is going on. He does realize that the pot of oil is probably for poaching the fish and he decides NOT to do that. He butter roasts it in a pan.

Oy, Michael is painful. He says the hardest part of the challenge is that he’s finishing other people’s food and THAT’S NOT WHAT HE DOES. Yuckity yuck. He takes the idea of a narcissistic chef to new levels.

He gets the beef in the oven. He adds water to Bryan’s soy mixture, then he adds xanthan gum and makes a whipped miso in an iSI container.

Michael’s Red Team

Pan Roasted NY Strip With Whipped Miso, Avocado Purée & Pickled Vegetables

Eli says this dish isn’t that far off what he imagined at the outset. Rick says the whole process was really interesting to watch.

Jen’s Blue Team

Sablefish With Sautéed Mushrooms, Shitake Broth & Radish Salad

Jen describes her dish to Rick and says it’s pan-seared trout. Why did she say that? She said black cod at the beginning. Rick points out her mistake and Jen is appalled at herself. (Is this a hint of things to come?)

Rick says in general both teams did extremely well. He found the red team’s dish “very intriguing, very delicious and, although it was slightly rare”, he really liked the other components of the dish.

The blue dish, he says, had “a really nice finish to it’. He says this was because there was a stock that was started at the beginning. (Good thinking, Jen.)

Rick picks the blue team. They win $10,000, which they get to split.

Padma says the Elimination Challenge is Restaurant Wars. The chefs are talking as if the teams they’re in now are the ones for that challenge, but we haven’t been told that yet.

Rick says they’ll be cooking in his Mandalay Bay restaurant, RM Seafood and that it has two kitchens on two separate floors. That’s neat.

They ARE staying in those teams. The blue team gets to choose which of the two kitchens they’re cooking in. Luckily, this time the chefs are not responsible for the decor, which makes a lot of sense. Jen says, “GOOD.”

Padma says it’s all about the experience they give the diner, the menu etc. and the front of house and service. Plus she says the chef in charge of the front of the house is also responsible for the conception and execution of one dish. Two members from each team will get one hour and $1500 to shop at Whole Foods. The other 2 will have the same time and money at Restaurant Depot.

Rick has one request – that they follow his 100% sustainable seafood guidelines. They will be judged on that as well. So I’m guessing if the dishes include a tuna fish sandwich (made with longline Albacore Tuna, except from Hawaii), that chef might be in trouble.

Oh, there’s another wrench in the works. They can forgo the ten grand to be split now, and IF they win, they EACH get ten grand.

NO, don’t do it. A bird in the hand…as they say. (I’m not good at guessing these things, but I say take the money NOW.) Let’s see what they do.

They decide to “Let it ride” and NOT take the money now. BIG MISTAKE. Don’t worry, I’ll admit when I’m wrong, but I think 2500 dollars in your hand is better than the chance of $10,000. Do y’all disagree with me on this too, like you did for the take-the-immunity or the money question?

The blue team decides not to do a dessert and Laurine says she’ll do front of house.

Michael is “shooting down” some of Bryan’s ideas. They definitely don’t work together as well as the other team. Eli and Robin go to Restaurant Depot. The brothers go to Whole Foods. Eli tells us they have “Sprint mobile phones” to stay in touch. What else are they going to shill? Robin actually pushes Laurine out of the way in the Restaurant Depot, because she thinks Laurine is spying on her sparkling water selection.

Back at the house, Eli models his look for his front of the house job. (He looks messy with his shirt untucked.) I guess it’s smart to have him there, so the brothers can ignore Robin in the kitchen. If she were doing the front of the house, they couldn’t control her.

Michael comes up with the name “REVOLT” for their restaurant. It stands for Robin, Eli and the Voltaggio brothers and it refers to them “standing up and just cooking the food they believe in.” That name could work against them if things go wrong.

The other team calls theirs “Mission” to relate to Mission style architecture. I sure hope that’s what the restaurant looks like.

Bryan, no wait it’s Michael (I forgot which brother is which again), gives Robin’s dish a classical spin.

Mike, Kevin and Jen (where’s Laurine?) worry for a sec about not doing dessert, but Jen says anyone that does dessert always goes home. Mike says ending with a strong meat dish from Kevin is going to be a lot better than any dessert.

The blue team picks the fine dining restaurant of Rick Moonen’s two Las Vegas offerings. The red team gets the casual one. Kevin says he’s opened a couple of restaurants before and the idea of having 3 hours on one day to do it is ludicrous. (He likes that word this week. Where has he been the rest of the season?)

Michael is barking orders at the rest of the team. Robin says he should have “faith in her ability to be a contributing member” of the team. I agree that might be hard based on what she’s cooked previously. Michael tells us that Robin is out of her league and that some feelings are going to be hurt and that’s not his focus.

Jen says they’re looking for “simplicity, refinement and seasonality” in their menu. She says she worked at Le Bernadin for five years and that’s what she learned from Chef Ripert. She’s worried because they’re running behind in their prep.

Michael says it’s going to come down to who executes better.

Tom greets the various chefs and chats to them in the dining rooms and the two kitchens.

Both teams are running behind. Oy, Laurine is in the kitchen, while people are stacking up in the lounge. One customer is confused by the name Revolt. (It’s spelled with a backwards “E”.)


Anonymous said...

Revolt was a ridiculous name. After Michael explained his gobbledy-gook rationale of what it meant, I yelled at the tv, "No it doesn't, it means nasty!"

And I probably would've let it ride too. But, I just paid off my law school loans and don't have a house anymore, so don't need the $2500 to pay off any debt.

Shays’ Rebel said...

The show is finally getting good after the dreadful episode of cooking in the desert and sleeping in tents, and the one where they cooked for the famous French chefs and I caught just a glimpse of my boyfriend, Hubert, the aging French hippie (my favorite look), so what was the point? Do they ever consider my feelings?

I thought there would be a surprise ending too, like maybe Robin would win. I kind of wish she had because of the way they gang up on her.

Isn’t Bryan the one with the adorable little smile? Bryan, good; Michael, bad. Michael looks like he was the inspiration for an old English novel where the author describes baying wolves in dark, misty moors, just as the evil Dr. Smythe turns into a werewolf.

I think the Red Team thought the name “Revolt” made them sound like “revolutionaries” and, well, it doesn’t so it fell flat. Now off I go to read Part Two; I so enjoy your recaps that I like to drag it out and take my time. Oh, and YES, I would have taken the money too.

Sue said...

Why couldn't Michael hear you? Actually, it wouldn't have mattered. You're a female and he doesn't listen to those types. His explanation of the name was pure dumbness.

But let's be honest, the other name has nothing to do with anything. If their "mission" was to produce great food, they flopped.

CONGRATS on no more law school loans. AND with little babies too!

Hey S's R,

I laughed so hard at your Bertie (that's MY pet name for him) reference.

I didn't want Robin to win, I just wanted them to stop treating her like dirt.

Funny "Bryan, good; Michael, bad" except Bryan can be jerky too. And I can totally see Michael lurking around, ready to be on the attack...especially for imperfect cuisine, which is a lurkable offense I guess.

Thank you sooooooo much for reading. And, FINALLY, someone agrees with me!

Emily said...

Oooh I just watched this today. Yes, Revolt was a stupid name. So was Mission.

Hmm is Jen as good as we thought in the beginning?

I love Bryan, but yeah, Michael is an ass. Mmkay, on to part two.

Sue said...

I'm also beginning to wonder about Jen, especially in recent episodes. I think it's not her's her confidence that's the problem. And when you don't have that, there's no way you can compete in that testosterone top heavy kitchen.