Thursday, November 12, 2009

Reactions to Top Chef Las Vegas Episode 11

Last night on Top Chef: Padma and an oddly svelte Nigella Lawson in bathrobes at the Venetian, presiding over a breakfast-in-bed/room service Quickfire. (Full disclosure: I love love love crazy Nigella Lawson.) Official winner: Eli, with a reuben eggs benedict. Real winner: hungover chefs everywhere.

Also on Top Chef: more Robin-bashing. It's a small kitchen! She's in the way!

For our Elimination Challenge, the cheftestants are met with the dreaded knife block, which bestows upon each of them the name of a casino on the strip. They are to visit the casino (nice product placement, Bravo!) for inspiration. Then they'll prepare hors d'ouevres for 175, to be served at an event at the ginormous World Market Center. What type of event you ask? I have no idea. I didn't catch it. Did you?

From here, the story is familiar. Michael V. puts a twist on an American classic (chicken wings inspired by New York New York and the NYFD). Robin is an artist and has too much vision and not enough focus to get her Bellagio and Dale Chilhuly-inspired panna cotta. Jen's down on herself and makes an Excalibur-inspired rock of meat with sauce. Bryan's visit to Mandalay Bay gets him in a Rick Moonen state of mind, and he goes all sustainable with halibut. Kevin's fishy, too, after his visit to The Mirage, and serves wild Alaskan sockeye salmon with a tomato broth that everybody ends up drinking down. And Eli confounds everyone with his Circus Circus-inspired peanut soup with pulverized popcorn and raspberry coulis.

Ultimately, Michael V. took home the prize, and a giant bottle of wine and a three-day trip to the Terlato vineyard in Napa. Sounds nice. And Robin's efforts to skate through the middle with a too-firm panna cotta finally failed her and she was PPYKAG'ed. Who will Eli complain about next week?

What else did we learn? Well...

  • Kevin thinks watching Eli is "like standing at an art gallery staring at a really sad velvet painting." He also pointed out, too Eli, that his dish was the kind of thing that would take a lot of tries to make work.
  • Jennifer said the not-so-magic words. She's ready to go home.
  • Toby thinks Michael V.'s cooking/personality is "effeminate." This was delivered, and accepted, as a compliment.
  • Speaking of Toby, apparently he's not the only Brit who says ridiculous things. A good panna cotta "should have the quiver of the inside of a 17th century courtesan's thigh?" Really, Nigella? Tell us more.
  • Dale Chilhuly is kind of a badass with glass. Robin is not that much of a badass with sugar.
Next week: Thomas Keller. And all the foodies nearly pass out with excitement...

Overall, good episode, though low on actual drama, and catering challenges are never my favorites (though I was happy to see that everybody avoided making something clearly unsuitable for a big party). But what did you think? Please leave a comment with your thoughts...


Kristine said...

From what the judges said, I thought Eli Blutarsky was going home. This is the first time I really thought PERHAPS the judges used past performance to break a tie in their minds. I'll have to read Colicchio's blog to get the rest of the story.

And I loved Kevin's description of Eli.

MCWolfe said...

I'm just grateful the Robin drama is finally over. She was in over her head and it showed. My guess for final four at this point is the Volt boys, Yukon Cornelius and Bluto. I think Jen is going to fold next week but I would like to be proven wrong.

Susan said...

Sadly, I'm ready for Jen to go home, too. She started out strong and could still eek into the Final 4, but when that defeatist attitude emerges and that's all we hear from her, she may as well pack her knives.

Kit Pollard said...

Kristine - I agree. I actually thought they used past performance last episode, too, to keep Jen in the game. It seems to leak out in their discussion. Especially from Tom.

Tom's post on this ep is pretty interesting - seems that he liked Eli's dish. Also - the comments are totally interesting. A bunch of food historians come out to take him to task for his mischaracterization of medieval foods. The geek in me loved it.

Cliff O'Neill said...

Rock Of Meat.

Would be the perfect name for a VH-1 dating show.

Logically, folks would compete for DoucheyMike's affections on it.