Friday, October 9, 2009

Top Chef Las Vegas – Working In Pairs And Guys Shooting Off Their Mouths

We’re reminded of all the prizes. It’s sure a good thing that one of them wasn’t a feature in Gourmet. Then again, would something like that have perhaps helped the ill-fated magazine? Who knows?

We see palm trees. Kevin is making eggs for breakfast. Ashley (the guy) blathers on about why culinary school wasn't important for him. The more he talks about it, the more it seems like he has a chip on his shoulder. Just pipe down and let your cooking do the talking. (GSOHM#1)*

My feeling is that culinary school is NEVER a mistake. You learn the basics, you get lots of practice and, yes, it’s a piece of paper to carry around that DOES help in getting you in the door.

Of course, you can be successful without it and it definitely doesn’t make sense to borrow thousands of dollars to attend and then land the usual low paying cooking jobs that are out there. BUT if you can swing it, do it. Many of this season’s chefs are clearly out of the ordinary and amazingly gifted, so they obviously got the most out of cooking school.

Oh my! ASHLEY IS STILL TALKING about it. We get the point, Ash. You feel unworthy because you didn’t go to culinary school. Get over it. (GSOHM#2)*

Michael says he has always put cooking ahead of anything and that he has 9 and 5 year old daughters, from whom it’s very hard to be away. No mention of a wife. Hmmm. He’s 30. He’s a young daddy. He says it’s important for him to do well on Top Chef, or he can’t justify the time he’s away from them.

Are they setting us up for Michael failing this week? There was a promo of Ashley (the guy) saying EVEN Michael can overcook a fish. It is interesting how they edit stuff to give the episode a story line – Ashley feels he has to prove himself; Michael can screw up; Robin won’t shut up. Stuff like that.

Jen feels sick and nauseated. Ashley (the girl) says if she were that sick she wouldn’t want to be cooking food. Frankly, I wouldn’t want to be EATING food that someone sick has cooked. Could she have the same “thing” that Padma has?

Ooh, there’s Padma. She IS showing a bit…And the greatest chef daddy of them all is there - TYLER. Gosh, he is nothing but cuteness.

They’re doing a Quickfire Challenge with, where they have to create a dish incorporating three keywords. The keywords will tell them the mood (?), taste and texture and what kind of cuisine they’re making. They look thrilled. Not…Ashley (the guy) says he would type in “Lazy, Broke and Spicy.” That’s funny.

It’s a high stakes Quickfire, but Padma’s not saying what’s at stake. They have a slot machine with all the choices on it, with a lever which the contestants get to pull.

They have only 30 minutes to make their dish. Everyone who gets the word umami grabs mushrooms. I would have gone with parmesan. Oh, I guess that wouldn’t go with Asian elements.

Here are the dishes and judge Tyler’s comments:

Laurine - Romantic, Tart And Latin American

Crusted Goat Cheese Salad With Orange Jalapeno Vinaigrette & Hibiscus Flowers (It would take me longer than 30 minutes just to SAY all of that.)

Tyler: “Nice job.”

Kevin – Stressed, Hot and Spicy, Asian

Char-Grilled Pork With Vietnamese Herb Salad

Padma asks if this is a cuisine he cooks a lot. Kevin says he NEVER cooks anything Asian, EVER. Tyler says, “Well done.”

Mike – Stressed, Umami, Asian

Raw Mushroom Salad With Yuzu Emulsion

Tyler: “That’s great.”

Jen – Adventurous, Nutty, American (Remove the commas just for fun.)

Maine Diver Scallops With Pistachios & Salmon Roe

NO reaction from Tyler or Padma.

Eli – Stressed Umami, Latin American

Mushroom Ceviche With Avocado Marble (Whatever that means…)

Tyler says NOTHING.

Michael - Adventurous, Tangy, Asian

Yuzu Curd With Whipped Greek Yogurt & Seaweed Cracker

“That’s a great flavor combination.”

Robin – Stressed, Umami, Middle Eastern

Root Vegetable Hash With Cumin & Curry Oil (NOT a good choice, I don’t think.)

Padma says curry isn’t Middle Eastern. Robin reluctantly agrees.

Bryan – Adventurous, Crunchy, Asian

(Padma seems to be having fun.)

Seared Scallops With Bok Choy & Tempura Beads (I have no idea what Tempura Beads are, but I think I want some.)

Tyler: “I don’t think it’s Asian specific. I think it’s Asian in general.”

Oh, could that spell trouble for the golden boy?

Ashley (the guy) - Tired, Tart, Italian

“Pantry” Pasta Puttanesca

“Straight from the street in Naples. Very delicious.”

Ashley (the girl) - Blue, Cheesy, Middle Eastern

Feta Pudding With Sumac Dusted Halibut

(THAT’S original. And using sumac gives the dish an instant Middle Eastern sensibility, so that was smart of Ashley.)

“Good. Nice shot.”

The losers and Tyler’s comments:

Robin - “Curry oil with a lot of salt in it doesn’t mean Middle Eastern.”

Eli - “You killed any umami flavor by drowning it in a lot of citrus.”

Jen – “Putting caviar on top of scallops is not that adventurous.” Yeah, but doing it without hurling IS. Give the girl a break!

The winners:

Mike I. – “Light and fresh.”

Kevin – Tyler thought his dish was impressive considering he hadn’t worked with Asian flavors before.

Michael – “Great flavor combination.” I guess leaving those kids at home really paid off…

Kevin wins. He has the choice of immunity or $15,000 from the M resort. I would take immunity. He takes the money. What do I know?

Ashley (the girl) says she would have taken the money too, because they all want to live or die by their own dishes and NOT because they have immunity. Um, let’s see, I would still take immunity. They go back to the house.

Padma comes over to tell them about the Elimination Challenge. They will be cooking for the Macy’s Culinary Council - Tyler, Nancy Silverton, Govind Armstrong, Takashi Yagihashi and Tom Douglas.

They will be doing the cooking in their not overly-large kitchen in their house. They have to work in pairs (I hate that) to create one family style dish, each of which will be in the style of one of the guest chefs. They draw knives to determine pairs and ingredients. They have 2½ hours to cook.

They RUN into the kitchen. Eli stakes his claim right next to the stove. Mike is unhappy that he’s working with Robin, until he decides to just do his thing and pretend she’s not there.

Michael is kind of snotty as he says that Ashley (the guy) will be a great chef ONE DAY, if he keeps his head down. (You know, as opposed to himself, who is a great chef TODAY). (GSOHM#3)*

Robin says Mike I. is all about the “I”. GOOD ONE, Robin. She says (to us) that she doesn’t need to be in charge, but she does need to be “a part”. Mike says he’s giving her little things to do that wouldn’t affect the final product. That really sounds horrible, but I don’t blame him one bit. Then he says he’s going to throw out all the stuff that she’s doing. That’s kind of humorous, but it’s still GSOHM#4.*

Tom comes in and gives Eli the stink eye when Eli says he’s putting prawns on top of gnocchi. Tom denies it. Tom admits (to us) that there’s no way that soft gnocchi can support a prawn, but I say vamos a ver. Tom says the chefs that can figure out how to do the most in advance will probably do the best.

(Guy) Ashley and Michael are in trouble because the circuits keep getting tripped and they’re losing power. Their fish is screwed. Mike I. says Robin is overcooking the tuna. (GSOHM#5)* Ashley (the girl) says Eli is oversalting the gnocchi. Is ANYONE happy?

The judges are all seated outside at a table by the pool. It’s nighttime, but it looks hot as hell. Tyler gives a little spiel about the Culinary Council serving 10 million meals in conjunction with Feeding America. Can’t argue with that.

Ashley (the girl) And Eli

Grilled Spot Prawns With Red Beet Crème Fraiche Sauce, Gnocchi & Kale

I had never heard of spot prawns before. Apparently, they are prawns with four definite spots on them, which EVEN show through the shell. They are VERY delicate and meant to be eaten NOT overcooked in any way. The hilarious (and very hungry) Phyllis told me all about them. She wrote a book-long post on spot prawns that is fascinating.

Robin & Mike I.

Marinated Mushroom & Pickled Asian Pear Roll With Seared Tuna & Scallop

Oy, Mike keeps saying “I, I, I”. The judges are sure to notice that. Either he’s going home for being a pig or Robin’s going home for being a do-nothing.

Laurine & Bryan

Halibut With Sherry-Chorizo Vinaigrette, Yellow Corn Cake & Avocado Mousse

I didn’t see or hear Laurine ONCE during the cooking.

Kevin & Jennifer

BBQ Kobe Beef With Cardamom, Tomato & Ginger Broth

I don’t like that in every single case of a guy paired with a gal, THE GUY IS DOING ALL THE TALKING!!! Let’s remember that men are thousands of times LESS verbal than women, except, apparently, when they’re shooting their mouths off about how great they are! (GSOHM#6, 7, 8)*

Michael V. & Ashley (the guy)

Pancetta-Wrapped Halibut With Egg Yolk Ravioli, Asparagus & Fennel Salad

Toby is there too. They all agree that the halibut is overcooked and the pancetta is undercooked. Tom doesn't like the idea of egg yolk and halibut.

The table agrees that Bry and Laurine’s halibut is much better cooked. They like the combination of the dish too.

They say the gnocchi is really salty and sautéing it took away its “fluffiness”.

Toby actually has a good line about Ashley (the girl) and Eli’s dish. “It was a Monet, good from a distance, not too great close up.”

Tom Douglas waxes eloquent about the delicacy of prawns and how they were mishandled. I feel like crying…for the prawns, not Eli and Ashley.

They’re all wild about Kevin and Jen’s dish. They like Mike I.’s dish with a few reservations. For the first time, we actually see Michael and Bryan relating well together. Michael is convinced he’s going home. Bryan ISN'T uncomforting. They show a little scene with Robin chatting, chatting, chatting and Mike completely ignoring every word. Funny.

Okay, let’s cut to the chase…

Winners: Laurine, Bryan, Jennifer and Kevin

HEY! Was there always an apostrophe in JUDGES’ TABLE?

Jen and Kevin say they worked well together and that Kevin cooked the beef. He should win.

Laurine is actually doing a lot of talking. The winner is Jennifer. OH GOOD! She wins a $10,000 gift card from Macy’s.

The losers:

Michael, both Ashley’s and Eli

In the stew room, Bryan gets very ill-tempered when Kevin asks him about Michael’s dish. Bryan says “You didn’t taste it, did you? I don’t want to discuss it.” EXCUUUUSE ME! When it’s his little(?) brother, all of a sudden he doesn’t want to dish? Actually, I think it’s good they’re showing a little brotherly camaraderie. It certainly took long enough. For all I care, he can bash Kevin all night for commenting on Michael’s dish.

In front of Padma, Tom, Toby and Tyler, Michael quickly mentions that he knows his fish was overcooked and that the power kept going out. Tyler comes back with the fact that a professional chef has to take control of a situation and losing power is no excuse. Tom says they used the wrong fish.

Ashley (the guy) stirs things up when he says that Michael had all the good ideas and he didn’t mind playing second fiddle. He said it was like washing paint brushes for Picasso and that Michael is an amazing chef. Even though Tom looks really amused, I still have to call it as GSOHM#9.

The judges go on for ages with Ashley and Eli debating the demerits of their dish. Finally, Tom sums it up nicely. He says the prawns were undercooked and the gnocchi was salty and tough. Maybe it will be Eli. Yup, that’s my guess.

And the person going home is…Ashley (the girl). I’m getting worse at this as the weeks go on. She’s “bummed”. I was liking her more, but, oh well.

By the way, in their texting poll, 87% of folks said they would take the money, instead of immunity. I am so far out of it… Which would you do? My thinking was that I would keep my eye on the grand prize and if I got eliminated THAT week, $15,000 isn’t going to make me feel better. You know the old expression “You gotta be IN it to WIN it”? But on second thought, $15,000 could go a long way to assuaging my hurt feelings.

*Guy shooting off his mouth.


Phyllis said...

I would have totally taken the money (and then used it for culinary school!) I wish they'd do a poll next week for who's more annoying, Robin or Mike I. Why the heck is Robin still there?! And I was patting myself on the back while watching this episode because I was FINALLY able to tell the Voltaggio bros apart!(lol, isn't the season almost over?)

Sue said...

Hi Phyllis,
Good point about the money, but these folks are chefs already. And if they win, they get $100,000, plus enough baggies to last a lifetime. So isn't forfeiting $15,000 today worth it if immunity gets them a little further?

Tell me how you can tell them apart! I completely can't.

Dona said...

I was watching a 2006 Iron Chef America today and noticed Eli was a sous chef. The not-iron-chef was Blais. Small world

Cate O'Malley said...

I would definitely have taken the money. While I don't think Ashley will win, I was sorry to see her go ahead of some of the others.

Emily said...

If I were as good as Kevin I would have taken the money, too.

I can tell the brothers apart now also. One has the deeper voice. I can't remember which one, though. Haha. I think it's Bryan.

I don't think Ashley should have gone home - I felt like she was kind of the dark horse. Someone who give the other contestants a run for their money at the end. I thought Ash should have gone home because he got all stupid at the end. Or Eli, because he didn't contribute or do anything.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Another one I slept through. I needed the recap badly.

Ashley looked as if she was staring to improve and the judges were starting to like her. I guess it really is true that a contestant is only as good as the most recent dish. Then again, if Ashley were up against someone like Kevin for the worst dish, would they really have sent him home over her?

Sue said...

Hi Dona,
Really? That's interesting. I love watching the ones with Mario as the Iron Chef and Anne Burrell as his sous chef. She's such a warrior. SHE should be an Iron Chef. I guess she's too big now and doesn't need the headache.

Hiya Cate,
Gosh, I am so out of it. I would have been so relieved to take immunity.

I was surprised at myself for liking Ashley (the girl) more. I wish it had been Ashley (the boy) who was sent home.

I guess NO ONE agrees with me.

That IS true. Bryan has a deeper voice, but unless you hear them right after each other, it's still hard to tell.

At least we agree about Ashley. I think you owe me a batch of brownies for disagreeing with me about the money.

How could you SLEEP through such riveting television?!! ;-)

Gal Ashley was improving, cooking AND personality-wise. Yeah, I think the judges do whatever they want. They make excuses if they want to keep a chef that had a crappy dish (Michael) and they use that as a reason to send them home, if they want to get rid of a particular chef (Ron).

Shays’ Rebel said...

Why exactly did they send Ashley (the girl) home? I thought Eli over-salted the gnocchi. I haven’t been paying much attention this season. It’s been kind of boring, and the brothers act like they and the judges are the only people there and everyone else is just filler. But I did like Ashley (the girl) and hated to see her go. Ashley (the guy) acted like a total sycophant praising Michael like he did.

I would have taken the money. You know, you can be arrested for being in possession of “too many baggies.”

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, I've somehow missed all of your posts. . .they aren't showing up in my reader! I've been watching and thinking, "I wonder what Sue thinks about this!"

Like the guy (Eli?) who said Robin won the quickfire because she said she survived cancer twice.

Or how come the girl Ashley had a problem with the wedding challenge, "because gays can't get married," but not the cook for the military challenge, even though gays can't join the military.

Sue said...

Hi SR,
Yeah, Ashley the guy was a bit of a brown-noser.

You're funny. You're right, you can definitely have too many baggies.

I LOVE that you wondered how my strange mind was working. That's such a compliment! Thank you.

I think I was having trouble with my RSS-ing. It may have been because my posts were so long. I tweaked stuff a bit. Let me know if stuff isn't showing up.

Good point about Ashley the girl. She seemed to have settled down a bit and wasn't so on edge about everything and then she gets bounced!

Andi said...

I would absolutely take the money. The chances of Kevin (arguably the best chef in the competition, or at least in the top 2) being eliminated at this point in the game were almost nil.

And even if it had been a less worthy chef on the line...I'd have still taken the money. That's real money in your hand right now. And I think I'm just not a gambler. :p

Other thoughts from the show: I was disappointed and surprised to see Ashley go. I'd had her pegged as ending up in the final 3. I could be wrong but I think this is the first time she was ever in the bottom, and she got sent home.

It should have been Robin or Ash. Robin is obviously only being kept around so long because of the tension and drama she's causing with the other chefs.