Thursday, September 17, 2009

Reactions to Top Chef Las Vegas Episode 5

This week, the Top Chef producers reminded us that the show's not all about fancy sauces and famous French chefs. It's also about barely-sanitary cooking conditions, unknown equipment challenges, and whiny chefs. Oh yeah, and it's about ceviche.

During the Quickfire challenge, Mr. Don't Mess with Texas, Chef Tim Love, judged the chefs on their cactus preparations. In most cases, the chefs had never worked with cactus before - and it showed, either in an oozy result, or in a timid dish that didn't showcase the cactus. In the end, Love awarded the Quickfire win (and $15K chip) to Mike I. for his "classic" preparation of cactus with tuna ceviche.

Then came the Elimination Challenge, aka Whining Chefs on the Range. While a few of the chefs were excited about the challenge - Ashley said she grew up poor and knows how to cook over an open flame, and Mattin said he grew up camping in Basque country - most were not so psyched when they saw their cooking, and sleeping, accomodations. Michael V. described the situation as "like something out of a horror movie" and Eli showed off his masculine side, whining that watching this episode might make his girlfriend think he's willing to go camping.

In the end, Mattin packed his knives for his inedible ceviche, but Robin and Ron were at Judges' Table alongside him. Apparently seafood wasn't the best choice for this challenge (unless you're Ashley or Laurine).

Laurine and Ashley got to see the other side of Judge's Table, along with the Voltaggio boys, and Bryan was awarded the big win for his focused, "restaurant quality" pork loin.

Overall, I found the episode OK, but not nearly as entertaining (or mouth-watering) as last week's Frawnch extravaganza. Some observations and questions:

  • Where was Jennifer? And where was Jennifer in Michael V's list of most talented chefs? Are the contestants seeing something we don't? Or are we seeing something they don't?
  • What are the chances that Mattin wore his little rouge scarf camping as a child? It's kind of a cute image - tiny Mattin with a tinier scarf and a petit campfire.
  • Ash is very quickly becoming Top Chef of My Heart. I love his "confessional" chats - you could be a rancher, Ash. You could. Also, does he remind anybody else of TC3 Dale? Who, coincidentally, also wanted to be a cowboy. Maybe this straight girl just has a thing for gay cowboys.
  • Robin and her "prawns." Everybody and their "prawns." Does anyone cook regular old shrimp anymore?
  • Could the South be more proud of Kevin? Southern flavors, bacon jam and now...horseshoes?
  • Has Top Chef ever seen a less flappable chef than Bryan Voltaggio? Is it possible that he's actually a master chef robot?

What do you think? A week of filler or a genuinely interesting challenge? Did anybody's reactions surprise you? Please leave a comment with your thoughts...


Kristine said...

I'm guessing Mike V. just knows Mike I.'s cooking better, since they're friends and worked together at some point (or was it with Bryan?) I thought he should have included Jennifer and Kevin.

Am I the only one that thinks Eli looks just like "Bluto" Blutarsky?

Or notice that Kevin is the J. Peterman of dish descriptions. "Seared loin, with just a hint of smoky bbq, set precariously atop a bed of silky potato puree."

MCWolfe said...

I'm actually enjoying this season, maybe more so since I was so annoyed with all the drama last season (and outraged at who won).

I'm loving Bryan, in part because he's local for me (just outside of DC) but also because he IS so cool. Nothing seems to upset the guy and he's a planner. I loved when he said he spent some time just looking at the grill, figuring where he would place things and when he'd put them on the fire. I already wanted to try his restaurant but now, after seeing his food, I'm chomping at the bit.

And yes, Eli looks just like Bluto. I was grasping to think of who he reiminded me of and now I know.

I'm hoping Jen doesn't flame out like Jamie did last season. She seems a lot cooler and more expert but Jamie came out of the chute strong then fell apart. I was surprised Mike V. didn't mention her though, especially since they were so flirty-flirty last week.

Ashley surprised me but I don't think its going to last. I think she got lucky.

As for Mattin, the lesson we learned from Preeti leaving was that the judges can't abide cluelessness. If you cook a bad dish and you know it, you stand a better chance than someone who doesn't understand what made their dish bad. That was Mattin's flaw.

All in all, though, I'm liking this season because I'm seeing some amazing food. Finally!

Laura K said...

Voltaggio Brothers... RAWR!

Tex said...

I don't think the Volt bros are humans. I think they're Terminators sent from the future. They have the requisite skill and lack of personality.

ellen said...

I think the V-brothers are savvy. Everyone knows the way 'characters' get built on reality tv - and they're not buying into it. Great. Focus on the food.

Anonymous said...

yes, the French episode was definitely more entertaining, but I did enjoy the change up in winners and losers. Even though we have our favorite chefs, it keeps it more entertaining (and dramatic) when a "dark horse" emerges. I did miss jennifer this week, although she seemed to be freakin' out when they did show her... which is also entertaining. Great post!