Friday, November 13, 2009

Top Chef Las Vegas Drags On; Thank Goodness Nigella Spices Things Up...A Bit

Plus Toby Says Some Odd Things About Michael

Bryan is talking to his young son on the phone. Yawn. That’s not nice, but I still kinda mean it.

Jen is being subjected to more chatter from Robin. Jennifer needs to get an energy infusion and step up her game. What IS the deal? Her out of control hair mirrors what her cooking has been like lately. Messy and needs shine.

They arrive at the kitchen of The Venetian. That place looks like fun. They get a call from Padma, saying they’ll be preparing breakfast in bed for her and Nigella Lawson. They’re both lounging in thick bathrobes under the covers, waiting for their food.

Some of the chefs are concerned. Jennifer says she does room service all the time, so it’s not a big deal. Then WHY did she choose such an unappetizing dish – Creamed Chipped Beef? Maybe she thought because Nigella was English she would appreciate something nasty like that.

I don’t know how they do their dishes in 30 minutes. Michael has to work in Robin’s station and she rushed out of there, so he spends 5 of his 30 minutes cleaning up after her.

Robin goes first.


Blintz With Goat Cheese, Caramelized Pineapple & Blueberries

She goes on for way too long. We hear no comments.

Eli comes in next. This is kind of weird. Nigella looks glorious in bed being served breakfast, but Padma looks kind of like an invalid. The whole scenario is a little strange. If Mike I. were still there, he probably would have jumped them.


Fried Egg Reuben Benedict With Thousand Island Hollandaise Sauce

He had me at fried egg.

This would be “a really great…hangover breakfast” comments Nigella.

Michael is finishing up and Robin gets in his way. He’s kind of brutal when he tells her to get out. She is clueless about stuff, though, and I could see how she would be underfoot without realizing it.


Huevos Cubana With Banana Purée, Rice, Bacon & Arugula Salad

What is it with him and bananas? Remember when Michael added bananas to polenta and Natalie Portman called him Picasso?

Nigella remarks that you can eat breakfast at any of time of the day. Michael’s not one for small talk and looks like he just wants to get out of there.


Steak & Eggs With Crème Fraiche, Aged Cheddar & Green Onion

Padma: “Everything is nice and warm.” She seems slightly unwell. Isn’t she past 3 months in this episode?

Jennifer thinks Nigella looked at her plate with distain, as she put it down in front of her. It's probably Jen's non-lustrous hair that Nigella is thinking about.


“S.O.S” Cream Chipped Beef With Toast, Potatoes & Tomatoes

Bryan actually giggles as he enters the room and sees the two ladies in bed.


4 Minute Egg With Vanilla Beurre Fondue, Crab, Asparagus Spears & Corn Polenta

Nigella instantly smells the vanilla. The minutes he leaves, she tells Padma, “The vanilla has thrown me off slightly.” She would have adored the dish without the vanilla.

I wonder if their legs have gone numb after lying there all that time being served 6 different dishes. Do you think they were allowed out-of-bed breaks?

They all meet up back in the suite. Padma and Nigella are actually up and dressed, although their hair looks like they just got up. (What is it with hair this week? Maybe their hair dresser was busy playing craps.)

The first loser is Bryan (because of the vanilla). Nigella didn’t like breathing in vanilla and eating crab at the same time. Robin is the other loser. N says there was not enough contrast in her dish.

Robin says she wasn’t proud of what she did…as usual. WHEN IS SHE EVER? Okay, this is it. I don’t care what happens the rest of the episode. Robin HAS GOT to go this week. I mean it!

Her favorites – Kevin demonstrated an understanding of the challenge. And “Eli’s take on the Rueben had wit. I felt the tang of the sauerkraut slapped the jet lag out of me.” Eli wins. His Quickfire recipe will be the only one in the Quickfire Challenge cookbook from a chef this season.

The Elimination Challenge is to create a dish inspired by a casino. They each get to visit a different casino (alone, kind of weird) and use their impressions to create the dish. They’ll be catering for 175 people of “Las Vegas’ elite”. Is that an oxymoron?

Are you getting a bit weary of this season? It HAS been the best one so far...of the regular Top Chefs, but it doesn’t come close to my Mikie on Top Chef Masters. (Great video of him on the Today Show.)

I am so sorry they wasted a week on that dumb dinner party. We’re more than 2½ months in and we still have a month to go until the finale, which I believe is on December 9th.

They each visit their respective casinos. Michael visits New York, New York and thinks of fire fighters.

Jen visits Excalibur and sees a show, where you’re fed a meal from the Middle Ages and have to eat with your hands. She’s sitting in a huge long row of seats at a table and she’s the only one in her row. Really strange. And she leaves with absolutely no idea what to make.

Bryan goes to Mandalay Bay. He checks out the shark aquarium and reads about sustainable fishing. That’s kind of a no brainer. He tells us he misses his son in the same tone as someone would say I have to cut my toenails.

Robin goes to The Bellagio, which I think she said she had never heard of. She loves the Dale Chihuly glass sculpture in the ceiling (who wouldn’t?) and she says she considers herself mostly an artist. I hope her fine arts are better than her culinary ones.

Kevin arrives at The Mirage and notes the waterfalls and tropical setting. He says he’s not just a redneck, but that he supports slow foods, organics and less is more in cooking. He says he doesn’t believe in flashy food, just as we see him walking in front of a rock face shooting steam and fire shooting out at the edge of the water. I truly hope that’s supposed to be ironic.

Eli gets to Circus Circus and thinks he should be seeing circus stuff. He sees a lot of junk food, but that’s it. I’m getting tired. I wish we were we further along.

They have 3½ hours to cook. They’re rushing around. Robin chatters. Bryan bores, Jen is not confident…the usual.

Eli agrees with me that Robin really has to go.

They get to the World Market Center, where they will be catering on the rooftop overlooking the strip. They have one hour to set up.

The judges arrive and go to Jennifer first. A producer probably told them she was completely not ready. She puts their plates together really quickly.

Jennifer – Excalibur

NY Strip With Red Wine Reduction, Beets, Truffles & Herbs

Uh-oh, Nigella says she needs Excalibur to CUT the steak. That can’t be good. She picks it up, saying she has to be very unladylike and takes a bite. “This is the stone.” Arrrrgghh. Jen has managed to NOT do it again.

Kevin – The Mirage

Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon With Napa Cabbage & Cucumber

He wants them to eat the dish and then slurp up the tomato water at the end. They love it. Tom says the tomato water is stunning.

When was the last time you heard that said about tomato water? When was the last time you heard OF tomato water?

Michael – New York, New York

Boneless Chicken Wing Confit With Curry & Blue Cheese Disc

Michael says he confited the wings (of course, he did) and then pulled the bones out. I actually was wondering how he boned 200 chicken wings. Nigella and Padma love it. Toby doesn’t love the flavor of the blue cheese. Maybe he doesn’t get the whole chicken wing and blue cheese combo thing.

Robin – The Bellagio

Panna Cotta

She goes on way too long and actually shows them the failed sugar garnish which was her homage to Dale Chihuly. Robin is a nut. I’M voting her off right now. Even if she comes back next week, I’m boycotting writing about her.

Predictably, her dish is a failure. There’s way too much gelatin. It’s too solid, Toby says, and the syrup tastes like the kind in a slushy.

BryanMandalay Bay

Escabeche Of Halibut With Bouillabaisse Consommé, Parsley Coulis & Garlic Chips

Do you think that name is long enough?

They all like it. Nigella says it has fantastic balance. Tom says the sauce is really nice. Toby says it tastes like a professional dish.

Eli makes the huge mistake of saying he went a little risky.

Eli – Circus Circus

Caramel Apple Peanut Soup With Popcorn & Raspberry Froth

They get TINY tastes. Nigella is “more frightened than (she) can say” and she refuses to be the first one to “go in”.

Padma looks ill and says she doesn’t like it at all, but she’s looked pale the entire episode. Tom says he could have used some of Robin’s gelatin.

Toby “admires Eli’s willingness to go all in…Death or glory… Like most people who have to Vegas, he gambled and lost.” I’m liking Toby so much more these days.

Back at Judges’ Table, they call in Kevin, Michael and Bryan. They love the texture of Kevin’s. Toby loves the broth. Nigella says Bryan’s dish was quiet and elegant. Interesting. The quiet part, at least, describes him to a T.

Tom is impressed by Michael’s ”reworking” of chicken wings and coming up with something much better than the original.

THIS is weird. Toby tells Michael he loves his dish, because it really showed who he is and that it was really delicate and somewhat effeminate. DID HE REALLY SAY THAT?...not that there should be anything wrong with that.

Wait, let’s hear that again. Yup, Toby DID just call Michael’s food (or him, maybe?) effeminate, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

And then Michael says, “I’m a strong believer that your personality is definitely on the plate.” Did he not just hear what Toby said? I’m confused. I don’t think of Michael as being delicate or effeminate. Bryan is biting his cheek as he hears all this.

And the winner is… Michael. I guess cooking like a girl is a good thing. He wins a bottle of Terlato wine and a two day trip to their vineyard. They call the others in.

Okay, make this snappy and just send Robin home.

Jennifer says she didn’t have a clear vision of what she wanted to do. Tom says she should have used tons of spices to season her meat. Toby says there wasn’t enough sauce.

Robin talks. Mistake. She says she screwed up with the sugar. Nigella says it was too stiff. She says a proper panna cotta should have the quiver of a courtesan’s thigh. Nigella could say, “Soup’s on,” and it would sound learned and lush with her accent.

They hated everything that was going on in Eli’s dish. Padma says of Eli’s dish, “I personally would never want to eat that again.” Okay, okay, just deep-six Robin.

The judges agree they were all bad. Nigella says Jennifer’s dish was almost hostile, it was so bad. They say Robin’s was such an elementary dish that she should have been able to make it. Nigella says she had to bring every bit of her upbringing to bear NOT to spit out Eli’s.

Nigella has been fabulous. Every word she says is worth listening to…even with the sound off, you can still look.

Robin is talking in the stew room and no one is listening.

And the loser is…Robin. Finally. Amazingly, the guys are gracious enough to give her a hug as she leaves. She’s proud she made it through 11 elimination challenges. SEE? This really has been going on for way too long. I liked it when 2 people got eliminated one week.

We have Thomas Keller to look forward to next week. I love Michael’s quote next week, “The food that Kevin cooks is the food I cook on my day off.“ At least, we can’t accuse him of being boring and at this point in the season, I'm grateful for that.


Tom said...

The Venetian is a neat place -- but the best thing about it is Thomas Keller's Bouchon. It's the best deal in Las Vegas!

Sue said...

Hey Tom,
I wish I could say I've been there. I would have a list of restaurants so long that it would severely cut into my stripper shows and craps time.

DebCarol said...

Finally. The guy with the hook woke up and pulled Robin off the stage. But I was really thinking it would be Jen this time - that huge hunk of beef sitting sadly on a little plate was unworthy of a Jr. High Home Economics class dropout, let alone a chef. And I agree Sue - the quickfire thing with Padma and Nigella bundled in their robes eating in bed was oddly disturbing. Now if they had been lolling about together in one queen size bed . . . that would have raised some eyebrows !!

Asha @ FSK said...

my favorite comment of the episode was the one on pannacotta and 17th century courtesan thighs!! LOL.. Nigella just cracks me up and that accent is sooo delectable :)))

Sue said...

You're funny. Yeah, that was WAY overdue. I still love Jennifer. I remember her early promise and I know she can cook. For some reason she's just not able to get it together when it matters.

The whole in the bed thing was odd.

Hi Asha,

Nigella has such a wonderful turn of phrase. She's definitely as lovely to listen to as to look at.