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."

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