Sunday, August 30, 2009

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Las Vegas Episode 2

So now we're two episodes down, with more Vegas cliches under our belts...and still too many contestants to remember. But, hey, shots! And bloggers:

Cliffieland on the not-exactly-dramatic rivalry: "BrotherMichael is making a liquid nitrogen-assisted, cloud-producing gazpacho with his eight ingredients. And BrotherBryan thinks he’d rather stick with more traditional techniques. (Wow. What a rivalry! It’s a wonder these two don’t kill each other overnight!)"

Minx Eats on woohoo! Shots!: "The happy couple, Karen and Greg, arrive bearing trays of shots. They want the party food to match with these drinks - Moscow Mules, tequila, and something called a 'Golden Delicious,' which Ash describes as 'sweet, gooey, and disgusting.' Sounds dirty, at least the 'gooey' and 'disgusting' parts."

Jordan Baker says goodbye to Eve:
"It’s all about Eve
And her shitty ceviche
Au revoir, Ninja."

My Monkey Could Do That on the gay man's flower secret: " The boys buy orchids and Michael tells Ash that it’s his job to keep the flowers alive because he’s the gay guy. Ash kind of shrugs and says it’s true, gay men are better at keeping flowers alive. (Me: 'Is that true?' Kmanpat: 'Straight guys don’t check them frequently enough.')"

Food and More (Atlanta Journal Constitution) on poor, poor Eve and her home state: "Poor Michigan. The Wolverine State has not had a good run of things lately. First Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick obstructs justice. Then General Motors goes bankrupt. And now Eve, mauler of shrimp, heads home to the land of “pets or meat.”"

Reality Check (Baltimore Sun) on Kevin's naivete: "Kevin the bearded wonder admits he has never gambled been this close to a craps table. He loses cool points with us yet again."

Reality Wanted on seriously? More ceviche?: "Does anyone else feel like they hear the word ceviche more on Top Chef than any other word? Me too."

Ann on the big winner: "Todd explains that it comes down to the siblings, and as if the fates wanted to even things out after the quickfire, Bryan's macaroon had the texture and playfulness to become the week's winning dish."

Top Chef Examiner on the political drama: "Ashley Merriman made it about politics, getting very worked up about having to honor a tradition that isn't legal for everyone. Yes Ashley, Bravo knows and everyone who watches Bravo knows. And is most likely on your side. But lets get back to concentrating on the cooking. That is why you are here."

PB Pulse on brothers, brothers, brothers: "And the Brothers Voltaggio, who are also from Maryland, remind me of the Hanson Brothers (the crazy competitive ones in 'Slap Shot' who like smacking people around, not the MMMBoppy ones.)"

Clean Plate Charlie on the Quickfire: "the chefs have 30 minutes to complete this challenge, and they all seem to want to roll a lower number, meaning less ingredients. Kevin rolls a 10 and looks discouraged, but he gets real close to winning. Michael V. takes that distinction, that Tony Hawk looking mofo."

Slashfood on something that is, well, true: "If there's a lesson to be learned from the latest installment of 'Top Chef Vegas,' it's this: Drunk guys at a bachelor party will happily inhale whatever food you put in front of them. And if it's served with a shot, they might even compliment you for it, no matter how gristly, limp and flavor-deprived it may be."

Time Out Chicago on Mattine: "Oh that scarf. The scarf is pandering to gay viewers more than anything else on the show."

Best Week Ever on the arbitrariness of it all: "I loved Jen’s complaint, 'I hate this Battle of the Sexes – it doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or girl.' Well, yeah, but have you seen how frickin’ arbitrary the team divisions usually are?? Is Girls versus Boys really lamer than having Chefs randomly draw knives that say 'Falcon,' 'Neptune,' and 'Neil Young'?"

Foobooz on the guest judge: "Todd English took some time off from selling his GreenPan on HSN to guest judge."

Premium Hollywood on nicknames: "At one point during the episode, one of the chefs was talking about how he had nicknames for all of his fellow contestants….so I’m going to start using a few of my own nicknames too. Kevin will now be known as Kris Kringle. Ashley will now be known as Ben Folds."

Grub Street with the story behind the gazpacho: "The showstopper was Michael’s “nitro gazpacho” with compressed cucumbers, made with so much liquid nitrogen that dude looked like Michael Jackson standing over a steam vent. But don’t think that just because Slim Shady said that “the secret ingredient was innovation,” he made the dish up on the spot. He actually served it at José Andrés’s Bazaar, where (funny enough) Marcel Vigneron was his sous-chef."

Diana Takes a Bite on the bottom tier: "If last night’s episode was any indication, it’s also a battle to see whose whine can shatter the glassware in the GM kitchen first. Jesse’s tears are pretty righteous, but my bets were still on good ole golly gee whiz Eve from Michigan until she had to go dig herself into another shrimp hole."

Left Coast Catering (Laurine) on Top Chef vs. the real world (note: not The Real World): "There is obviously quite a difference between a top chef in the real world and a Top Chef on Bravo. Bravo seems to think that a chef should be a highly driven, hyper-competitive badass with the ability to create well-executed food in any kitchen, on any day, in any amount of time, to meet each week’s unexpected challenge."

Seacoast Online on the lack of Mike I.: "Hey, where’s the obnoxious Michael I.? I guess he was too obnoxious to give more air time to."

Reality TV Examiner on how (some) recappers differ from the contestants: "Todd English is the guest judge this week and Kevin says that as they walked into the kitchen, he immediately recognized him. He says, 'Who wouldn’t recognize him?'” Ummm, me. That’s who. I have no idea who Todd English is. Wikipedia tells me he’s a celebrity chef. I’ll take their word for it."

Poptimal on the faves: "Over with the men, the brothers receive the most compliments – Michael’s apple sorbet & goat cheese cookie ('ridiculous,' as in good) and Bryan’s sweet and sour macaroons (great, with extra points for difficulty) wow the judges. Also favorites are Eli’s tuna tartare (great acid with excellent seasoning), Hector’s tofu lemon-lime ceviche (interesting with nice flavors that highlight tofu), and Ash’s chicken wings."

Speakeasy (WSJ) on the underlying themes: "Top Chef Las Vegas dug deep, like Old Testament-deep, for last night’s themes."

Meal Ticket on the Quickfire losers: "Who sucked? Jesse, whose mushy, sear-less scallops looked anemic (English called them 'blonde' … is that a term?); Eve, who couldn’t balance the eight flavors of her grilled asparagus salad; and non-tattooed lifeguard brother Bryan, who used too much yuzu when sous-vide poaching his black cod."

Top Recipe, Top Chef Las Vegas Episode 2

Fabio seriously cracks me up. If you want the written recipe (slightly different from the one presented in the video) click here.

If you want to know how brother Mike made his Quickfire-winning gazpacho, click here.

Poll - Who Will Win Top Chef 6 Episode 3?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

TC News & Information

Top Chef News & Information
SF Weekly has an interview with homegirl Preeti Mistry. Click here to read.

JSOnline has an interview with Stephanie Izard. announced its Class of 2009 Rising Stars Award Winners and season one champ Harold Dieterle is the winner of the Community Award. Congrats, Harold! The gala and awards ceremony will be held at the Mandarin Oriental on September 22nd. Tickets are $150 per person and part of the proceeds will be donated to Autism Speaks. Click here for ticket information.

Because season 6 was filmed in Las Vegas, it seems that some folks are setting odds on the cheftestants. Bookmaking pro Johnny Avello compiles his odds here.

Season two winner Ilan Hall's restaurant, The Gorbals, opened last night. He's watching Top Chef 6 and apparently has a favorite cheftestant already.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Recap - Top Chef Las Vegas episode 2

Missed the episode? Here's the recap video, courtesy of Bravo.

On the Bravo Blogs

The Bravo bloggers are on top of things this week, with their Bach/Bach posts up already. And here's what they have to say:
  • Jamie Lauren would a) like everybody to just keep their shirts on, b) loves craps, and c) is ready for the ladies to pull it together

  • Brian Malarkey wants you to "release the flavor"

  • Richard Blais provides a rundown on all the special equipment now floating about the GE Monogram kitchen, reminding us that "in his day" contestants had to bring their own fancy stuff

  • Tom Colicchio addresses Ashley's comments on the challenge and on the ultimate downfall of the women's team

  • Gail Simmons writes about cooking for clients vs. judges, and the impressive skill level of this season's contestants

Exit Interviews - Eve Aronoff Top Chef Las Vegas

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Poll Results - Top Chef Las Vegas Episode 2

According to our poll, about a third of voters thought Jennifer was going to win this round. The actual winner, Bryan, scored only 6%. Even though Kevin won last week, nobody thought he'd do it again this time.

Why did you all vote the way you did? Hunch? Wild guess? I'm always fascinated by this stuff....

ATC Love to Chef Aronoff

This week, we said goodbye to Chef Eve Aronoff, the perky lady who enthusiastically represented Michigan. Unfortunately, the chefs weren't as enthusiastic about her shrimp and avocado ceviche with smoky tomato salsa.

The judges felt the shrimp was underseasoned, an oft-heard and oft-damning comment, and for that, asked Chef Aronoff to pack her knives and go.

This post is only for positive words for Chef Aronoff. If you have anything negative to say about her or another chef, please click here.

Congratulations, Chef Bryan Voltaggio!

Congratulations to Chef Voltaggio - Chef Bryan Voltaggio, that is - for earning the bachelor/bachelorette party win. The judges loved his sweet and sour macaroon, describing it as combining their favorite parts of a chip with guacamole, all in one neat little package.

Not only did the judges praise the dish's flavor, execution, and novelty, they also said it was a good match the tequila shot - no easy task.

This post is only for positive words for Chef Bryan Voltaggio. If you have anything negative to say about him or another chef, please click here.

Reactions to Top Chef Las Vegas Episode Two

Only two weeks in and the Vegas puns keep on coming. This week's Quickfire was determined by a roll of the dice - the chefs' rolls determined the number of ingredients in their dishes. The dice must've been loaded, though, since eight seemed to be the magic number. The producers tried to play up the sibling rivalry angle this week, when Chef Michael Voltaggio won the Quickfire with his nitrogen-enhanced gazpacho, but his brother, Bryan, and his undercooked black cod, landed in the bottom four. The adorable Voltaggios don't seem to be playing along with the narrative, though, saying job interviewy things like, "There's a rivalry, but it makes us both do better." Yawn.

The Elimination challenge showed us another aspect of Vegas life: the bachelor/bachelorette party and Shots, Shots, Shots! It was boys vs. girls in a competition to pair hors d'oeuvres with drinks that usually require nothing more than a lime wedge and some Senor Frogs beads.

Here's what happened: the girls got overconfident, broke all the unwritten rules, forgot that their real audience was the judges, including Todd English (who appeared outrageously low key after last week's Wolfgang Puck show) and Eve went home. The boys pulled out some super cool sounding dishes, and Bryan won, making it the all-Voltaggio episode. Plus they went swimming. Ashley didn't like the challenge, but made at least one great dish. Jennifer C. got cranky because she didn't get to make any boys cry and Eve almost accidentally cut her. Hector, apparently, still has balls. Jesse cried (again). Mike I's edit wasn't quite as bad as last week, but he might have been wearing an Ed Hardy shirt at one point (paging Jon Gosselin). And Padma wore a romper.

So what did you think about the chefs' choices, both sartorial and culinary? Will the Voltaggio boys continue to love each other? Is the food better than ever before? Will the swimming ever stop? Please leave a comment with your thoughts....

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

TC News & Information

Top Chef News & Information
Top Chef 5 champ Stephanie Izard has started a series of dinners called the Wandering Goat, in anticipation of her upcoming Chicagoland restaurant, the Drunken Goat. Her second dinner will be held on September 2nd and features a bacon theme. For more information, click here.

What? Richard Blais only came in fourth in the Top 10 Atlanta reality stars of all time?

Padma Lakshmi attended a screening of Inglourius Basterds. What do you think about her dress?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Poll - Who Will Win Top Chef 6 Episode 2?

A little late, I know....

That Red Scarf

Everyone has noticed the red scarf that Mattin Noblia wears on Top Chef. Gallic fashion statement, or....? It's actually a very Basque tradition.

If you secretly love it and want one of your own, you can pick one up while enjoying dinner at his restaurant, Iluna Basque. The cost? A $2 donation to Pathways for Kids, a program to benefit San Francisco's inner-city youth. More information can be found here.

(Sorry, at this time the scarves are not available online. If you want to make a donation anyway, you may do so through the Pathways for Kids Web site.)

GLAAD Top Chef Invasion

The Hancock Park: Chef Invasion hosted by GLAAD (that would be the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, not to be confused with a similarly-named Top Chef sponsor) took place on August 23rd and featured season 5's Jamie Lauren and Rich Sweeney in hand-to-hand combat. Well, they took knife to onions....

And the winner of the GLAAD Top Chef Golden Whisk? Rich Sweeney! Watch the "award ceremony" here.

Top Chef Las Vegas Episode 2 Previews

Monday, August 24, 2009

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Las Vegas Episode 1

And finally, after weeks of nothing but classy, cooperative Masters to entertain us, the regular Top Chef is back, and in Vegas for extra tacky good measure. Seventeen chefs, at least that many piercings, many, many more tattoos, and at least one chef who got more than one blogger to use the word "jerkface" - it's looking like a good season. But what do the bloggers think?

Cliffieland on actual surprise #1: "Tom and Padma reveal that this season, rather than “surprise” the chefs by making them cook unexpectedly on a rooftop, garden or garage with found objects, they’re actually going to surprise by having them perform the Mis En Place Relay Race (which normally happens later in the season)."

Minx Eats on the accents: "In the accent department, we have Mattin, a Frawnch dude in a really gay neckerchief whose theeck accent (hon hon) makes Fabio seem like a native American. No, no, not a Native American. Then there's Hector, from Puerto Rico, and Ron, from Haiti. Both have growly low voices that sound like a mashup between late Frawnch pro wrestler/actor Andre the Giant and Yaphet Kotto, with maybe a soupçon of Herve Villechaize."

Jordan Baker on the contestants: "Padma does the normal introductory stuff while telling us we’re in Vegas, and that this is the most talented group yet, with some Beard nominees, highly skilled executive chefs, and those who’ve trained with the best. There’s also a woman with 2 kinds of lymphoma, a guy who says it’s tough to be gay in the kitchen, and. . . brothers! Hot brothers. Om nom nom nom nom."

Reality Check (Baltimore Sun) on what the off-season did for the judges: "As a side note, did anyone else think judge Tom looked thinner? Liz thought it was the vertical stripe action, but Justine thought he might've lost a few pounds between seasons. Padma looked hot as always."

Food and More (Atlanta Journal Constitution) on the big loser: "Jennifer Z. loses. She gets belligerent and pulls the old “you don’t like my alternative protein” card. Gail Simmons slaps her into place: 'I don’t think using seitan was what we didn’t like. It was that you didn’t use it in a way that tasted good.'"

Speakeasy (WSJ) with the understatement of the week: "Preeti Mistry is given the task of shucking clams, despite never having really opened one before. This, unsurprisingly, does not end well; she’s still on the task when the winning team completes its fourth."

Daily Herald with an early prediction: "My first impression: Kevin is going to win the whole thing. I don't know why I feel this way, but I'm pretty good at picking the winner early on -- I was definitely right about home-girl Stephanie Izard in the Chicago season. His dish tonight looked like something I would never eat, but which foodies would love. His food already reminds me of Hung Huynh's brand of quirk."

Serious Eats on this season's obvious villian: "Michael Isabella: If this episode is any indication, a horrible human being—but the olive oil–poached halibut with eggplant purée was focused, beautifully plated, and technically flawless."

Seacoast Online on Preeti's clam fiasco: "Preeti asks if a clam is an oyster, which is thoroughly embarrassing. She's never done it before and she does it badly. Tom shakes his head. Jennifer Z. says oh so astutely that the hardest part of shucking clams is knowing how to do it. Ya' Think?? She's bleeding."

Lehigh Valley Live on shared vices: "Maybe it's a chef thing, but we've got enough alcoholics on here for an AA spin-off show."

Cultural Learnings with a summary (plus: puns!): "And as the show takes to Las Vegas, it becomes very clear that this is the same show it was before: sure, there’s plenty of Las Vegas puns (did you hear that the stakes are high?), but at the end of the day this seems like an enormously talented collection of chefs with perhaps the most 'notably' established individuals we’ve seen yet."

Time Out NY with a little about the guest judge: "Guest-judging for this important premiere was handled by Wolfgang Puck at his circumcision superstore restaurant, Cut."

Gawker on two to watch: "Kevin Gillespie, the winner of last night's challenge, seems head and shoulders above the others. He's smart, bearded and sweet. Jennifer Carroll has an off-center ponytail but other than that is furiously talented (it seems). Those two will make it into the final three, for sure."

Austin Food Examiner on the winning dish: "Kevin successfully incorporated procrastination into his dish by preparing one thing that is usually cooked quickly, very slowly (he slow poached an Arctic Char filet) and another thing that is usually made very slowly, in a hurry (he made a fresh salsa Verde sauce using turnips)."

Procrastiblog on sweet, sweet Mike Isabella: "Speaking of Mike (aka The Douche), which was worse: his irritation that Jennifer C. (nota bene: a girl) could keep up with him shucking clams (not beat him mind you, but just keep up) or his blustering when Robin declined to compete in the Quickfire?"

Eat Jax on the definition of vice: "Tom Colicchio was thinking the same thing I was and I’m sure many others, which was, how is a 27 day journey a vice? All in all though Ron Duprat represented himself, Haiti, and Florida really well by making it into the top four at the elimination challenge."

Las Vegas Weekly on what we learned from the Quickfire: "1) Don’t shuck clams against the clock if you’ve never done it before (ahem, Preeti). 2) French-born, San Francisco-based Mattin Noblia is handy with a lobster. 3) Sexism is still very present in the kitchen, courtesy of this comment from Michael Isabella on Jennifer Carroll nearly beating him in the clam-shucking leg: 'A girl shouldn’t be at the same level as I am.'"

Meal Ticket on what's good about TC proper vs. TCM: "While Top Chef: Las Vegas‘ 17 new cheftestants possess plenty of talent - they weren’t shy about flashing all the James Beard-ian-and-otherwise credentials around on last night’s season premiere - these kids aren’t quite there yet. And that means I feel way more comfortable spending an inordinate amount of time concocting overly complicated ways to make fun of their hair."

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Masters Finale

Cliffieland boils it down: "Rah. They're all great. The mistakes are so very minor that it shows why this show was just not nearly as interesting as the regular Top Chef."

Jordan Baker with her final haiku: "He’s Rick Bayless, Bitch.
Mole and Chorizo 'Air'
Have made him Master."

Televisionary with Bayless love: "I've grown to love Rick Bayless over the course of these ten episodes; he seems to be the polar opposite of his officious appearance as a guest judge on Top Chef a few seasons back: calm, cool under pressure, a true master in very sense of the word. These last few weeks have won me over into Bayless' camp and his passion for Mexican cuisine is evident in every dish he prepares, demonstrating his belief that the culinary tradition deserves to join that great pantheon of Italian and French cuisine."

Premium Hollywood with TCM love in general: "The one thing that struck me this season on the inaugural “Top Chef Masters” is how truly amazing these chefs are at what they do…and how they can create masterpieces on a plate within minutes, using any ingredients in front of them."

Show Tracker (LA Times) on the details that ended it for Keller and Chiarello: "Unlike past 'Top Chef' finales, the judges here really had to get down to the nitty gritty in distinguishing who put out the best overall meal. Hubert's souffle could have been more 'cloudlike' and 'luscious.' Michael's fried fish, while technically perfect, could have used more 'interpretive flair.'"

Onion AV Club on what TCM is really all about: "With all due respect to those who shrugged off Top Chef Masters as a dull facsimile of the real thing, I think tonight’s hour was a great argument in the show’s favor. It was, simply, a pure example of the sensual wonders of food—the rich and evocative flavors, the feelings and memories a wonderful meal can coax out of those who cook it and those who eat it, and the sheer aesthetic artistry that the best of the best are capable of putting on display."

Top Chef Examiner on the spoiler I thankfully managed to avoid: "All I have to say is I really wish that the spoiler hadn't been spilled so early in the season! Congratulations to Rick and the Frontera Farmer Foundation! Of all of the meals, yours was the one I would have wanted to try the most."

Culture Crumbs on the Chiarello-Oseland drama: "Having been hounded by prissy judge James Oseland since he arrived (a montage showed the chef never earning higher than three stars from the judge), Chiarello decided to cut up pieces of Oseland’s publication, Saveur, and use it as a decoupage that the food sat upon."

Starpulse on the role of the cuisine: "I can't help but think that classical French cooking has trouble holding up against foods that can be considered more "comfortable." There's no doubt French cooking is much more technical than anything else, but it seems as though Mexican and Italian, for example, are much more desirable to diners."

Endless Simmer on the sheer awesomeness of the challenge: "This is the type of event I tune in for every week. No weird restrictions, no dramatic twists; just cook from your soul, tell a story and put out the best meal of your life. I won’t lie. I took a deep breath and held back on tearing up a little when they announced the challenge."

It Happened Last Night on Bayless's mole: "Rick traveled to Mexico when he was 14 and had a Oaxacan black mole. 'It was like every synapse in my head went off -- I couldn't believe this flavor!'" Of course, it's an incredibly complex sauce -- "It took me more than 20 years to get it right" -- but that's what got him started."

Relatively Entertaining on Hubert's stew: "He made the stew, and all I could think of both listening to it, and seeing the diners gush over it, was the scene in Ratatouille where the seemingly heartless critic eats the ratatouille and immediately thinks back to his mother feeding it to him in his childhood."

TV Guide Magazine on Bayless's adorable "dating clothes" story: "Bayless reveals that he grew up in a BBQ restaurant (“I thought barbecue sauce coursed through my veins until I was fifteen”) and that because all his clothes smelled like hickory smoke, 'I would keep all of my dating clothes in a separate closet.' If I was ever unsure I loved Rick Bayless, I am now convinced."

Poptimal on the chefs' childhood looks: "Of note, Rick has always had fun facial hair. We later see that Hubert also had a full, dark beard at one point, and Michael looks the same as he did when he had darker hair. (Michael’s later photo of his “fro” period, though, wasn’t so hot.)"

TV Gasm summarizes the challenge: "Here's how it will break down: Dish One will need to be based on their first food memory. Get ready for a lot of pureéd vegetables. Dish Two has to be based on the experience that made them decide to become a chef (like their first visit to a fine restaurant, such as La Sizzler or Chili's). Dish Three needs to reflect the opening of their first restaurant, and oh, how I wish one of them started out with a Dairy Queen franchise, because I'd kill to see someone make a gourmet Blizzard™ or Dilly Bar™! Dish Four is supposed to illustrate where they are going in the future as chefs (and based on how many teeth they each have left, we may be heading back to the pureéd veggies)."

I Could Just Lick That Up on the guest diners and the Chiarello reaction: "Guest diners will be Colicchio (!), Gail (!), Padma (!) and the previous winners of Top Chef. Keyarello is 'shocked' that the previous winners will be judging the Masters. This guy really has an ego problem, doesn’t he?"

TC News & Information

Top Chef News & InformationJennifer Zavala talks seitan with Drew Lazor of the Philadelphia City Paper.

Procrastiblog uses super mathy skills to analyze Top Chef.

Winning certainly is good for business. Apparently one has to wait until November to get a table at Rick Bayless' Topolobampo. For those diners lucky enough to have a reservation during the next month, Chef Bayless' winning meal is available as a $90 prix fixe dinner.

The Detroit News has a short interview with Ann Arbor chef Eve Aronoff.

Did anyone else catch season 4's Mark Simmons as a sous to chef Brad Farmerie of Public restaurant on Iron Chef last night?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

On the Bravo Blogs

Now that Top Chef Las Vegas has started for real, the Bravo blogging has, too, with behind-the-judging commentary and revelations about who-knows-whom in the world of Top Chef contestants:
  • Tom Colicchio writes about Preeti's clam debacle, Jen's "underwhelming" chile relleno, and Kevin's Wolfgang Puck and his apparently awesome sense of humor

  • Jamie Lauren opines on the tats, the brothers (she knows them), Mike Isabella and his misogyny, and, of course, the food

  • Richard Blais reminisces about what it's like to be a brand new Top Chef contestant and on his Atlanta contestant connections (Eli Kirstein was the best man at his wedding - that's serious)

  • Gail Simmons discusses vices (hers are blackjack and a G&T) and the impressive overall skills of this season's competitors

Ariane's Take, Season 6 Episode 1

Top Chef Season 5 competitor Ariane Duarte has graciously offered her views on Top Chef Las Vegas. Here's her first "live" blog post:

This is a talented bunch. Not the best looking, but they look ready to compete! I like the twist with the brothers.

Prizes already!? And look at where they live. I think Season 5 got ripped off with their living quarters. WTF?? Is that a pool with a slide and a hammock? LOL!!

Whats up with Preeti not knowing how to shuck a clam?? Robin got Las Vegs lucky picking the golden chip and getting immunity right off the bat. (I hope Lauren isnt watching.)

The elimination challenge has some serious cooking going on. I dont know who I am actually rooting for yet. I like Kevin. And Jennifer seems tough and talented.

I feel the pain of the first four on the bottom. Lord knows I know!!!!

Oh Jen, you should have unpacked:(

TC News & Information

Capital Spice has an interview with Baltimore Chef Jesse Sandlin...

...and the Baltimore Sun has an article on one of their three local hopefuls.

Stefan Richter shares the most important qualities needed to win Top Chef.

Sign On San Diego spoke with TC5 cheftestant Rich Sweeney about Top Chef.

Eat All About It has an interview with Ashley Merriman and Robin Leventhal.

The season has just begun and already Amuse-Biatch is in rare form!

Here's an interview with Top Chef Masters winner Rick Bayless.

And finally...Daily Loafing's TCM podcast is here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Exit Interviews - Jennifer Zavala Top Chef Las Vegas

Exit Interviews - TCM Finale

Click here to see Hubert Keller's and Michael Chiarello's exit interviews.

ATC Interview With Chef Rick Bayless

Chicago Chef Rick Bayless, renowned for his extensive knowledge of authentic Mexican cuisine, owner of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, and author of several best-selling cookbooks is the reigning Top Chef Master. In addition to all that, he's an all-around super-nice guy. He took time from his busy schedule to answer a few questions from All Top Chef.

ATC: What did you think of the overall Top Chef Masters experience?
RB: Tough physically and mentally but really rewarding. I was challenged on every level.

ATC: Would you do it again?
RB: If I went into it not knowing anything, then yes. Going to do it again and knowing what I know?!...not so sure!!! Seriously though, I am thrilled for the opportunity to be able to win much needed dollars for my charity.

ATC: What was your favorite challenge?
I really did love the last challenge. It was a great experience creating all of these dishes from my past and present and I love having my sous chef there with me.

ATC: How about your least favorite?
RB: UGH…the dreaded outdoor party at the SLS.

ATC: And the most difficult?
RB: Same one. Switching gears from inside to outside full sun is brutal.

ATC: Who would you say was your biggest competition on the show?
RB: In the finals both Michael and Hubert. Not one more than the other. Michael plays to win, and Hubert is such a talented chef.

ATC: Who would you have liked to compete against (who didn't win the initial qualifying round)?
RB: That’s tough…there were some really good competitors. Might have been fun to have more Chicago chefs so maybe Graham.

ATC: Have you kept up with your fellow competitors?
RB: Yes! We exchange emails and tweets after the show.

ATC: Any plans to meet up in the future?
RB: My original group (Ludo, Wilo and Cindy), are all meeting in Puerto Rico in December. We are looking forward to it!

ATC: Has anyone challenged you to a grudge match?
RB: No way!

ATC: What is the biggest thing you took away from the competition?
RB: I really enjoyed meeting all of these wonderful chefs. I made lifelong friends. And I hope they feel the same way about me. I also loved that I got to show a different side of myself to people. It made me feel good to just be myself and go with the challenges.

ATC: What do you think sets you and your fellow competitors apart as Top Chef "Masters" compared to the chefs who participate in the regular Top Chef series?
RB: Maturity and success.

ATC: Do you think your particular background in a specific ethnic cuisine was your main strength in the competition?
RB:I don’t know…it is all I know, it is my truth and my strength. It just happened to work out for me in my life and on this show.

ATC: Of all the regional styles that make up your culinary specialty, which is your favorite to cook?
RB: I cook simply at home…a little bit of Mexican, a little bit of Italian. I don’t necessarily have a favorite.

ATC: Of course you don't always eat Mexican food. What is your favorite cuisine overall?
RB: I tend to gravitate towards food with immense flavor. Besides Mexican…I eat a lot of sushi, I love Thai food! I don’t rule anything out!

Thanks, Chef Bayless, and Congratulations! We at ATC wish you continued success and much happiness in the future.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Recap - Top Chef Las Vegas episode 1

If you missed the first episode of Top Chef Las Vegas, here's a recap video with all the salient points.

Congratulations, Chef Gillespie!

Congratulations to Chef Kevin Gillespie, The judges were impressed with Gillespie's "vice" dish, slow-cooked arctic char topped with turnip salsa verde. Chef Gillespie's vice was procrastination, which he tied into the dish by cooking some things very slowly (the fish) and speeding the preparation of others way up (the turnips).

The judges praised the dish for it's thoughtful conception and spot-on execution. It's pretty, too, isn't it?

This post is only for positive words for Chef Gillespie. If you have anything negative to say about him or another chef, please click here.

ATC Love to Chef Zavala

Goodbye to Chef Jennifer Zavala - we hardly knew ye. Chef Zavala's seitan-stuffed chile relleno backfired, making her the first to "pack her knives and go."

Zavala recognized from the start that she was taking a risk, working with seitan. Unfortunately, that risk didn't pan out, turning out a dish that Gail proclaimed, "clunky."

This post is only for positive words for Chef Zavala. If you have anything negative to say about her or another chef, please click here.

Reactions to Top Chef Las Vegas Episode One

The first episode of a new season of Top Chef is always a little overwhelming, with seventeen new faces and cooking styles to absorb. We jumped right in last night, with the mise en place relay as a Quickfire, giving us the opportunity to observe the chefs' basic kitchen skills (or lack thereof) and their ability to make quick decisions as a team - and causing me to wonder just how hard it is to open clams.

The Elimination Challenge gave the chefs the chance to show off their cooking and also to tell us a little about their vices. Unsurprisingly, they seem to drink a lot. Chef Jen Zavala's "hot temper" backfired via an unrefined chile relleno, and her spicy attitude during Judges' Table made me wonder if we'll be missing out by not having her around for the rest of the season.

So what did you think about the episode and our new crew of chefs? Will the Voltaggio brothers have an advantage - or a disadvantage? Is Chef Duprat really as mild-mannered and sweet as he seems? Will Chef Isabella's mouth get him in trouble? Please leave a comment with your thoughts...

Congratulations to Chef Bayless, Top Chef Master!

Congratulations to Chef Bayless for winning the first season of Top Chef Masters with the "story of his life" in three plates. His Oaxaca mole sauce, served with ahi tuna, drew the most praise. Gail Simmons herself said she'd never tasted a mole so good.

That's not surprising, either, considering that Chef Bayless spent twenty years perfecting the sauce. James Oseland commented that Chef Bayless's cooking gave him a new understanding of Mexican cuisine as a whole. High praise, indeed.

This post is only for positive words for Chef Bayless. If you have anything negative to say about him or another chef, please click here.

Reactions to the Top Chef Masters Finale

Last night, Chef Rick Bayless, king of Mexican food, took home the coveted prize of first ever Top Chef Master. The challenge was something most chefs probably dream about - tell the story of your life through food. Each chef was asked to create a four course meal: a dish representing their first food memory, one representing why they decided to become a chef, one reminiscent of their first restaurant, and one demonstrating where they're heading in the future.

In not-so-Top Chef fashion, this episode's twist was more gift than curse - the chefs were met in the kitchen by their real-life sous chefs, who helped them prepare the final challenge dishes for the usual critics, along with Tom, Padma, Gail, and the winners of the past seasons of Top Chef.

Not to gush, but both the dishes and the stories were pretty amazing. Chef Keller drew on his childhood in Alsace, Chef Bayless, on growing up in a barbequeing family with a pit master father, and Chef Chiarello, on his Italian-American childhood, including rolling gnocchi as a little boy.

For the most part, the judges gushed, as well. Chiarello stole Padma's heart with his short rib. Tom called Bayless's Oaxaca mole "brilliant." Stephanie said she could eat a plate of the sauce Keller served with his salmon.

But there were detractors, too. Ilan thought Chiarello's fried fish was "one-dimensional" and Hung called his marinara underseasoned. Cocky or correct?

Our All Top Chef poll indicated that you thought Hubert Keller would win this competition. After watching the episode, are you surprised by this turn of events? Pleasantly or otherwise? Please leave a comment with your thoughts...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

TC News & Information

Everybody's excited about tonight's Top Chef Las Vegas premiere! Here are some articles on the 6th season cheftestants....

First, check out Dominic's TC6 Power Rankings at Skillet Doux. Now go read the rest:

Ann has an interview with hometown girl Eve Aronoff here...

...and Capital Spice has one with Mike Isabella.

Here's an article on Atlanta's Top Chefs...

...and an interview with Kevin Gillespie.

And Cherry Grrl talks to Ashley Merriman and Preeti Mistry.

Finally, the California Chronicle chatted with everyone's favorite judge, Toby Young.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Top Chef Masters Finale Previews

Tomorrow night is the finale of Top Chef Masters. Watch Hubert Keller, Michael Chiarello, and Rick Bayless battle one last time for the title of Top Chef Master!

(Don't forget that Top Chef Las Vegas premieres before Top Chef Masters, at 9 PM.)

Click here for two more previews.

Monday, August 17, 2009

TC News & Information

Seems like Rick Bayless is causing a stir. Or rather, this person has been. (Yes, one of us pesky bloggers.) Other bloggers weigh in here and here and here. And Teresa Puente defends herself here. What do you think - is Rick Bayless too white to cook Mexican food? Or is this one of the most ridiculous things you've ever read?

Interviews with TC6 Cheftestants: Here's one from Grubstreet with Jennifer Zavala, and another one with fellow Philadelphian Jennifer Carroll. Atlanta Magazine talks to Hector Santiago.

Pretend you're in Las Vegas when you're really in New York: the NBC Experience store is featuring virtual slot machines until the end of August.

Gail Simmons and Toby Young dish about the upcoming season.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Masters Episode 9

One more week down, one to go, and then we're back to good old regular, nasty, back-stabbing, young Turks. But until then, we still have last week's TCM drama to discuss. And oh, did the bloggers discuss:

David Dust on Chiarello's not-so-awesomeness (and the Quickfire): "Michael Chiarello is up first, and he’s all like 'Italian, Italian, Italian' – and I’m all like 'Puke, Puke, Barf.' FYI: The 'Italian' missed mascarpone."

Cliffieland introduces us to our competitors, via the food court:
"Hubert Keller: Au Bon Pain
Anita Lo: Panda Express
Rick Bayless: Chipotle
Michael Chiarello: Sbarro"

Jordan Baker with this week's haiku, saying goodbye to Anita Lo:
"Let me go wa-ah
Like a raw bar in the sun
Alas, Lo is done."

Reality TV Magazine on Bayless's hoisin ranch: "Rick does terrible. In fact, he thought that Hoisin sauce was ranch dressing. Not that I know what hoisin sauce is, but it sure doesn’t look like ranch."

Top Chef Examiner also doing some Chiarello-hating: "Those of you who were not yet fed up with contestant Michael Chiarello's overconfidence and oppressive penchant for schmoozing, after tonight's episode of Top Chef Masters, I think we can all safely anoint him the title of 'Top Chef Masters Douchebag.'"

It Happened Last Night on Spike. Just...Spike: "Spike is picked last -- and he’s typically delusional about it: 'In a weird type of way, it's very complimentary,' Spike says. 'They don't want me to outshine their food or anything.' No, Spike -- they just don't want to work with you, because you suck. As Hubert says, 'I'm stuck with Spike.' "

Speakeasy (WSJ) on the tension that is so foreign to TCM: "The injection of Top Chef contestants charges the atmosphere, dragging Master’s from the genteel show it’s been so far into the catty reality show it actually is. (Which is good? Tacky? I’m conflicted.) "

Premium Hollywood on what's to come: "I think it’s going to be between Rick and Hubert, but I guess if Michael has come this far and since he won last week’s challenge, you can’t rule him out either."

LA Times Daily Dish on Keller's libido: "Keller was in the bottom rung for this challenge -- perhaps his sense of taste is dwindling with his old age. Clearly his libido isn't fading though, as he admitted enjoying Kelly Choi placing the blindfold on him in his on-camera interview."

TV Guide Magazine on Chiarello + Spike: "Michael Chiarello makes his interviewees run around dicing vegetables. Granted, it’s a little demeaning, but Spike’s arrogant swagger is worse: “You pick me? We’ll win this challenge.” He then explains: '[Chiarello] is really full of himself.' Takes one to know one, I suppose."

That Warm Glow with some Bayless-Keller love: "Rick Bayless might be the Ned Flanders of cooking, but he never fails to produce a fantastic dish. I think he’s been the most consistently excellent chef this season. At first I worried that his nice-guy personality would grow tired, but he’s so sincere and enthusiastic and knowledgeable that he’s hard not to like. Like Keller, he excelled in building a collaborative spread that utilized the skills of his sous chefs perfectly."

Slashfood summing up the cheffery (plus: Fabio!): "If Rick Bayless presented himself as the kindest, most egalitarian boss you could ever hope to have, and Hubert Keller inspired a Gandhi-like following through his cool, collected perfectionism, Chiarello was the evening's dictator. Or as season five's Fabio Vivani best summed it up, 'I can tell this dude is Italian 'cause he's making everyone run around him like a chicken with no head.'"

Endless Simmer on sweet, sweet, angry Dale: "Oh Dale. It’s a bit too easy isn’t it? Your apology statement about what happened the other night just amused the hell out of me, as did the reader comments. So I say bygones be bygones, lets just remember the good old times. Like, hey Dale, remember that time you punched the locker and screamed “F%&K!” after the relay race? Oh man, you showed that locker who’s boss!"

Meal Ticket on why we should all thank Dale: "God bless ya, Season 4 hothead Dale, for refamiliarizing us with one of the simplest joys of this show: watching one person in chef’s whites post up on another person in chef’s whites because the first person in chef’s whites feels the second person in chef’s whites is HATING. You, sir, are our Gatorade, you refreshing bastard, you. Ahhh."

SF Eater on things staying the same: "Spike still comes off douchey, Blais still plays with liquid nitrogen, and Fabio still has his memorable one-liners (i.e, 'I'm sweating like a mountain goat at the beach.'). The great Jamie Lauren, who somehow ended up standing next to a giant person, was there too and had a memorable line of her own: 'Everyone wants to work with Hubert ... No one wants to work with Chiarello.' Aw."

BAM's Blog with some Bayless love: "As we’ve seen throughout the season, Bayless again exhibited grace, positivity and incredible cooking skills on the latest episode of the reality TV contest."

The Stew (Chicago Tribune) on the interview process: "The masters get only two minutes to interview each chef before picking teams. CJ has the best analogy: It’s like speed dating."

Top Chef Las Vegas - Previews!

I know you all are as excited about Top Chef Vegas as we are here at All Top Chef - we can't wait until Wednesday! And to ramp up the excitement further - here are some preview videos, from the lovely people at Bravo.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hot or Not? has a photo feature in the Top Chef Masters section, "Chefs: Hot or Not. We chose 10 of our favorite male chefs ... to look at. Do you agree with our choices?" (Go ahead, click the link - I'll wait here.)

When I checked it yesterday, the first shot was of Sam Talbot. Today, he's at number 10. And...there are two more pics (11 and 12 - this is a top 10?). While I can agree with the original ten, and I know twelve makes some hearts go pitter-pat, eleven gives me pause....

So the question is: do you think Spike Mendelsohn is hot?

TC Masters Winning Recipe - Episode 9

Friday, August 14, 2009

TC News & Information

Here's an article from the Las Vegas Sun about Marcel Vigneron.

Top Chef Masters competitor Roy Yamaguchi will be in Baltimore to judge a culinary cookoff. More details here.

MinxEats has an interview with Top Chef Las Vegas cheftestant Jesse Sandlin. Click here to read.

Here's Creative Loafing's TCM podcast o' the week.

Anita Lo explains what happened in her last episode of Top Chef Masters.

Rick Bayless has been keeping a Top Chef Masters blog! Read his thoughts here.

Eater compares the three Top Chef hostesses here. And check out this pic of Kelly Choi and chef Gavin Kaysen of Cafe Boulud (from the Feedbag)

Exit Interviews - TCM Episode Nine

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Congratulations, Chef Keller!

Congratulations to Chef Keller for winning the penultimate challenge with his dazzling buffet of 18 items! It's definitely a selection that would make any diner happy. The gazpacho is especially intriguing.

Chef Keller's choice in sous chefs certainly was a big factor in his ability to get so many dishes prepared, even if he did want to throw Spike off the roof during last week's Quickfire. ;)

This post is only for positive words for Chef Keller. If you have anything negative to say about him or another chef, please click here.

Reactions to Top Chef Masters Episode Nine

It was kind of amazing to watch master chefs do so poorly in the blindfold tasting Quickfire. I can understand having problems with chervil and dashi, but peanut butter? hoisin? It was good for a chuckle. Makes me want to try it at home and see how tough it really is.

As for the Elimination Challenge - wow! Leave it to former TC cheftestants to bring a little drama to the show. Hothead Dale Talde really blew up at Michael Chiarello--perhaps uncalled for, but I cheered him on. Chiarello had readily put on the asshat during the sous chef selection process and showed the face I always thought he had. The other chefs were more confident and gave their sous a little freedom. It worked well for Bayless, who let Blais loose with the liquid nitrogen, and not so well for Lo who may have had problems with the rate of Jamie's shellfish-shucking.

So what did you think about this episode? Was Dale out of line? Would you eat avocado ice cream? Please leave a comment with your thoughts....

ATC Love to Chef Lo

Chef Lo looked great throughout the competition but was stymied this week by a change in venue and raw shellfish.

The dumplings she was folding in one scene looked gorgeous though!

Chef Lo - we're very sorry to see you didn't make it to the top three. We wish you continued success and hope you can get Annisa back up and running very soon.

This post is only for positive words for Chef Lo. If you have anything negative to say about her or another chef, please click here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

TC News & Information

According to the LA Times, Top Chef has all the right ingredients.

Carla Hall will be on hand for the 8th annual Taste of Atlanta, October 10th & 11th. Find more information on the event here.

Radika Desai will be demonstrating her mixology skills as she hosts Top Chef Las Vegas viewing parties at the Kit Kat Lounge and Supper Club in Chicago. More info here.

DJ Hubert Keller is on fire!

Here's an excerpt from Andrew Zimmern's recent blog, regarding Top Chef:
Top Chef Masters is the best food show on TV right now. What a great guilty pleasure, and if you had to handicap the game right now, lead would have to go to Anita Lo, who cooks with beauty and intelligence and, most importantly, is in sync with what Gael and Jay want to see on their plates. The dark horse is Bayless, and Keller could win the whole thing but the gimmickiness of some of the challenges don’t suit his style. If he can make it to the finals, where he would get to cook his own food, look out. I got 10 bucks that says Art goes home next week. His folksy act, a cross between Sebastian Cabot and Richard Simmons, is getting really tired. The list of losers on this show reads like a who’s who of great chefs, and I have e-mailed and spoken on the phone with many of them, all of whom have a lot more respect for the contestants on the generic version of the show than they ever thought possible. Tell me you are not psyched for the next season in a few weeks? Vegas Baby.
I haven't thought of Sebastian Cabot in years....

And finally, here's a piece on Fabio Viviani's cookbook, including a couple recipes.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Top Chef Masters Episode 9 Previews

Click here for two more previews.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Masters Episode 8

Another week down, another master chef gone. We said goodbye to Art Smith, after the chefs tackled a nightmare elimination: cooking for an adorably quirky vegan-with-gluten-issues. But first: burgers. Big, juicy, meaty burgers. And now, bloggers:

David Dust on dietary restrictions: "No meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, or soy. And she’s 'allergic' to gluten (wheat-based products). Those of us in the restaurant business know that 'allergic' means “I’d rather not eat”. We know this because we secretly put whatever you’re 'allergic' to in your dish and you NEVER die. I kid..."

Cliffdvr on Chef Chiarello's ginormous burger: "I don’t see how one eats that without turning things into a weird beef-laden, three-way reenactment of the key scene from Lady And The Tramp. (And with Chef Spike involved, no one want to picture that before lunch.)"

Jordan Baker on the prelude to her Keller-Bayless-Baker threesome: "Then the most beautiful thing in Bravo history happens. Keller says 'you seenk we gonna see Spike on zee rooftop tonight?' and Bayless says 'we could just help him over.'"

Meal Ticket on Miss Zooey's Elimination Challenge: "In a challenge eerily similar to the plot of every one of Deschanel’s movies, the chefs bend to her every whim because she is cute and emits the sweet stench of unattainability when she sweats."

Time Out Chicago on the food served, such as it was: "As usual, Bayless was a genius—he made tamales with chile-braised beans. Hubert Frenchie made white gazpacho, Anita made lentils and eggplant, Chiarello made that quinoa pasta and Art made dessert—store-bought rice-milk ice cream which he folded a strawberry ribbon into, paired with strawberry soup and topped with almond brittle. All of it, as far as I’m concerned, looked absolutely inedible. Not that that’s the chef’s fault."

Endless Simmer on saying goodbye to Art: "Thankfully Art Smith made some profoundly dumb choices and serves up rice ice cream to get himself kicked off this week by a narrow 1/2 star margin below Lo. Sucks for Art, but it’s the second time he’s been on the bottom. Time to go home and cook for Obama buddy."

Slashfood on Art's downfall (in more detail): "no one was letting Smith off the hook for buying a few quarts of frozen vanilla Rice Dream and slopping it on a plate with fresh strawberries and homemade almond brittle. (Honestly, can you blame them? That stuff tastes like a pile of freezer-burnt Rice Krispies.)"

Onion AV Club on Lo's Quickfire failure (which I thought looked kind of cool): "Poor Anita, who was so dominant last week and in the opening round, was guilty this time of expanding the definition too much, which is the sad consequence of her creative impulse. To me, the very idea of burger bits floating around in a cheddar soup sounded pretty repulsive, but it was a shame that Anita couldn’t make it a revelation against all expectations. Perhaps there are limits to what a burger can be, after all."

LA Times on the genius of the challenge: "Talk about having to stretch. I myself am a big old carnivore with a limited imagination and an intolerance for non-meat eaters -- especially ones who get to judge 'Top Chef.' So I couldn't think of anything they'd be able to serve beyond a plate of crudite and hummus."

Grub Street on the season 5 parallel: "Michael Chiarello, who is increasingly playing the Hosea to Hubert’s Stefan, in terms of harping on his rival chef’s Europeanism, bested him with a two-and-a-half-pound 'hamburguese enorme.'"

Time Out NY on Keller's burger pedigree: "It’s hard to take a chef seriously when he’s farting out $5K burgers in Sin City, even if he does have a Michelin star. "

Chicagoist on Bayless' guac overkill: "Rick does a queso fundido burger with three different types of guacamole. The judges like the burger but remark that they really only need one type of guacamole. Inside the kitchen, Rich blusters a bit that they can't seem to discern the differences between his guacamole, his guacamole, and his guacamole."

Starpulse reminding us that they're called "masters" for a reason: "I know that vegan cooking isn't what any of these chefs do, but for people with this much experience in the kitchen, dietary restrictions shouldn't completely throw them off their game. In the end, the bottom two deserved what they got."

It Happened Last Night on the side benefits of veganism: "The chefs need to prepare a vegan lunch for charming and lovely actress/singer Zooey Deschanel (who coincidentally has a movie in theaters) and her friends -- 20 in all. Oh, and she's also gluten intolerant and doesn't eat soy. Which explains to me why she's so thin and glowy-skinned: she clearly can't eat much of anything that's not, well, raw. So that's what I'm doing wrong."

Top Chef Examiner on the return of Spike and his hats: "Spike appeared to scare the chefs the most given his surly and obnoxious behavior as a contestant on season 4 of Top Chef. Don't worry guys, we'll get to see him back in action next week as one chef's sous chef..."

Premium Hollywood with a question I asked, too: "But I’m wondering..what did they do with all of that fast food?"

Televisionary on Keller's successful vegan dish: "A masterful combination of flavors and textures on the part of the so-called French angel (Chiarello's words, not mine). I wanted to reach through the television and steal that shot glass of silky, ethereal cucumber gazpacho."

The Lunchbox Bunch with the vegan perspective on the judges: "Ah yes, those poor pitiful vegans chowing down on green mush and cardboard crackers. Poor little things. But really Gael, your sympathy is not needed."

Chicago Tribune with the chef take on vegan cooking: "Art spits out 'vegan' like it's a curse. Michael Chiarello of Bottega sums it up, "Think of the things you love to cook and just say no. It's off-putting, to say the least.""

Speakeasy (WSJ) on Chiarello's winning quinoa pasta: "Chiarello cleaned out Whole Foods’ quinoa pasta for his third course, which he topped with salsa verde, pine nut gremolata and heirloom tomatoes. His wife was on a gluten-free diet for some time, he says, lending him a familiarity with quinoa. The vegans rave over the dish, since they had assumed pasta was gone forever from their diet."

Culture Crumbs on Zooey Deschanel herself: "Then it was on to Deschanel, who couldn’t have come across sweeter and more “into the show.” Although, you couldn’t help but wonder what a painful experience it would be for someone with her dietary restrictions to watch Top Chef every week (as she claimed)."

TV Fodder on anticipating the Quickfire: "At first they are worried that they will have to take these burgers and make something out of them, but that is not true."

Fans of Reality TV on Spike vs. CJ: "Instead of bringing back the lovely C.J. who won that challenge (What up, C.J.? Still feeling the rain before everyone else in the world?), for today’s judging we get the significantly less lovely Spike, complete with unnecessary smirk, and unnecessary fedora."