Thursday, September 3, 2009

Reactions to Top Chef Las Vegas Episode Three

This week brought out the patriotic side of our chefs, who were tasked with cooking for 300 people, including members of the Air Force's Thunderbirds and their families, at Nellis Air Force Base just outside Las Vegas. The conditions were less than ideal - not only did the chefs have to deal with a tight timeline, but they also had to work in a mess hall kitchen (no burners, no pots, no blenders) and instead of hand-choosing ingredients from the hallowed aisles of Whole Foods, they had to make do with the cans and bags found in the pantry on-base.

Yet somehow, they pulled it off.

In a display of teamwork that seemed a lot more Top Chef Masters than regular Top Chef, the fifteen remaining chefs pulled together to create eight dishes that, as a whole, looked pretty good. With Jennifer in charge of the kitchen, even sharing equipment went fairly smoothly.

In the end, the judges, including not-a-good-Boy-Scout Mark Peel, were most impressed with Michael V's lettuce-wrapped braised bacon, making this the second week in a row that a Voltaggio takes home the big prize. However, they were less impressed with Laurine and Preeti's pasta salad that, truth be told, looked like something you'd find on a TGIFriday's menu. Ultimately, the judges sent Preeti home because even though they couldn't discern who came up with the dish, they just didn't think she got what went wrong. And as we all know, "getting it" is important in Top Chef-land.

All around, a feel-good episode that highlighted the professionalism of (most) of the chefs. But it still left me with some questions:
  • Seriously, are these people more mature than contestants in years past? You can't tell me that in a previous season, somebody wouldn't have tried to beat Michael V. up for taking all the bacon.
  • Is it just me, or did Jennifer get a little shafted? Didn't she deserve more praise for keeping things organized and under control in the kitchen? Maybe she got it off-camera.
  • Did anybody else laugh when Mattin said he was going to cook "Franco-American fusion"? Or am I the only Top Chef-watching Spaghetti-O's fan in America?
  • Also caught: Ash calling Jennifer "soft-spoken." The same Jennifer we're watching?
  • On the losing dish: sundried tomatoes + capers + olives + red peppers + artichokes + broccoli + red onion and still underflavored? How is that even possible? Also, shouldn't the chefs know by now that pasta salad is never going to win you anything? Especially if you, like Preeti, just made "a pretty salad" in the Quickfire?
  • Glad to see Mike I's TV-pleasing temper is back, but at what point will he actually have a heart attack on camera? Also, Jennifer's Quickfire win was "favoritism"? Keep telling yourself that. Oh yeah, and America thanks you for that lesson in risotto.

What did you think? Did the judges make the right choice, or should they have booted Laurine for trying to slide under the radar, or Mike I for his "throwaway" salad? Did Jennifer get shafted, or was Mike Volt the right winner? Please leave a comment with your thoughts...


Bittybis said...

Yes, I have a question. Why is it that Ashley, after getting so worked up about the wedding-related challenge, seemed to have no problem at all with a military-related challenge? Is she only bothered by institutional discrimination when it involves an institution she herself would like to be a part of?

Kate said...

I don't think Jennifer got shafted. She did what she said she does daily in her job. She did a great job of it, but I think the far greater challenge was turning out a great dish in difficult circumstances. Everyone was in agreement that Mike V.'s dish was creative and delicious, and I think he deserved the win.

As for Preeti, I think they let her go because she was clueless. If you don't know what you're doing by the time you get to Top Chef, you shouldn't be there.

theminx said...

Kit - I had several of the same questions as you, which I answered in my recap.

JordanBaker said...

I had exactly the same reaction to Franco-American, and I loved that he followed it with a "haw-haw-haw" French laugh.

Anonymous said...

I was thrilled they booted Preeti. No ambition whatsoever, and clueless.

Kit Pollard said...

Bittybis - my guess was that that was producer-driven, not Ashley-driven. But yeah, I thought the same thing.

Did notice that they gave a little lip service to alternate viewpoints at the end, when they showed Ash saying, basically, "I'm a pacifist but I still feel good about this challenge."

eric3000 said...

I really thought it was a shame that Jennifer wasn't even considered for the win. The editing could have been in her favor but she seemed to do an amazing job organizing that kitchen. Without her keeping everyone to a schedule, half that food wouldn't have been cooked.