Thursday, November 19, 2009

Reactions to Top Chef Las Vegas Episode 12

This week on Top Chef: it's our intrepid cheftestants' last challenge in Vegas...and it's a big one. Two words for the food-lovers out there: Thomas. Keller.

Not just Thomas Keller, either, but a bunch of culinary greats, all on hand to judge a modified version of the Bocuse d'Or, the culinary world's very own version of the Olympics. But first, a Quickfire that finds the chefs making Padma and guest judge Gavin Casin (James Beard Best New Chef Award winner and US Bocuse d'Or representative) with a ballotine, or a protein wrapped in a protein wrapped in a protein. Like a turducken, as Jen said.

Jen, who won, and who seems to have her groove back. About time.

On to the Elimination Challenge. The rules of the Bocuse d'Or are strict, and replicated here though the chefs only have 12 hours to even mentally prepare - and four to actually prepare - unlike actual Bocuse d'Or competitors, who have months to get into gear. Each chef will prepare either salmon or lamb, accompanied by two garnishes. But not just any garnishes. This competition is all about stuff needs to be fancy.

And fancy it is. The chefs deliver some amazing food. The judges, which include not just Keller, but also Jerome Bocuse (son of the famed Paul Bocuse) and apparent Top Chef enthusiast Daniel Boulud, seem to be truly impressed by the quality of the flavor and technique they see in front of them.

Ultimately, Kevin takes home the win (which comes with an opportunity to compete for next year's US spot at the Bocuse d'Or - and 30 grand, which he is certainly not unhappy to take). The judges expressed concern that his presentation wasn't as technique-intense as other chefs, but as happens so often, the quality of his flavors trumped everyone else. His sous-vide lamb (which he made with some advice from Bryan) seriously impressed Thomas Keller, as did his sherry-glazed beet and asparagus with sunchoke puree.

Kevin's Atlanta buddy, Eli, wasn't so lucky. He was PPYKAG'ed, mostly thanks to the big chunks of uncooked fat in his lamb sausage. He wasn't too upset about it (though he was crying), saying that he was proud of what he'd accomplished and that it didn't hurt too much to lose to the group left. I'm guessing that's a backhanded dig at Robin.

Just a couple of quick observations:
  • Bryan's restaurant is slow? Apparently not that slow, since nearly everyone in the Baltimore area has been there since the show started. In fact, theminx and I just made reservations...for next September. Good for him.
  • Finally, we get to hear about the Eli-Blais connection from the horse's mouth. That, if nothing else, should've been the sign that Eli was about to get the boot.
  • Once again, Kevin's the one who gets to do the guest judge intro. Is he the only chef left who's able to say something nice about a famous chef?
  • Did anybody else think Padma's "welcome back" to Jen was cute? I don't remember the judges or chefs in past seasons being so open about the effects of the show.
  • Michael Voltaggio - what a jerk, amiright?
  • Do the cheftestants have to clean up the kitchen every week, or was that a special event? I've always assumed they have a little team of elves to clean up after them.
Next week: Napa! Also, Padma has bangs!

So, what did you think? Did you think Eli deserved to be PPYKAG'ed? And did Kevin deserve the win? Please leave a comment with your thoughts.


ellenk said...

I think it was a tight competition last night. Some foreshadowing, with Bryan explaining to Kevin what temperature to use to sofit the lamb(great to see cooperation triumph over competition, just like the seasoned professionals displayed in Top Chef Masters)- was it his help that pushed Kevin to the win? Jenn helped Bryan, with her extra quick fire win time, let us not forget, and getting those garlic chips on the plate enabled them to be noticed and commented on favorably by judge Keller....
I'm happy my top four made it to the finals, and do think they all deserve to be there.

MCWolfe said...

I think we all called the top four back in week one and I'm happy it came to be so. It is especially nice to see Jen back in the groove since she was so clearly struggling for a while. And I love Bryan for being such a good guy and helping Kevin with the sous vide lamb. A true professional.

As for Michael, he's arrogant, plain and simple. He can talk shit about Kevin all he wants but he can't argue with the fact that Kevin's food tastes good (that's why he keeps winning, dumbass).

I wasn't too sorry to see Eli go as he clearly isn't up to the level of the rest of the remaining chefs but I didn't hate him either. Good luck to you, Bluto.

Kristine said...

Has anyone else noticed the "red shirt of death." Eli was wearing it in his interviews, including his post-elimination comments. Ariane and Jaime were both wearing red t-shirts on their elimination nights. Coincidence?? When I saw that red shirt, that was my clue he was going home. Anyway, finally the deserving 4 are in the finales. And, yes, Michael's comment about how his ballentine would have been better than Gavin Kaysen's-too far.

Kristine said...

Sorry, "ballotine."

theminx said...

Kristine - it sounded like they were all saying "ballantine," didn't it? Did not notice the red shirt of death though.... Guess I need to brush up on my Star Trek. ;)

I was glad to see Eli go - not because I disliked him necessarily, but because I didn't want to see any of the others go. Well...Michael's been working my nerve, so maybe that wouldn't have upset me too much....

Kristine said...

Off topic, there's a Dale Chilhuly exhibit here in Toledo at the Museum of Art's Glass Pavillion. (Toledo IS the Glass City!). I'll have to give a toast to Robin when I go.

RantzGrotto said...

If Richard Blais is Eli's mentor (and Eli was Richard's sous chief on Iron Chef) I'm surprised that Eli didn't use any of Richard's fancy techniques.
I do like Bryan's willingness to share his knowledge. That was the best thing about the Masters show. They all learned from each other. I also like that Bryan realizes that his brother would not help the others.
I'm liking Kevin more every week. He seems down to Earth and humble. I don't care if his technique is simple, if his food is good, that's what it is all about. I want to eat Blais' food because of his technique, but don't know if his flavors are as good as Kevin's.

Cliff O'Neill said...

Well, you KNOW I was doing a happy dance at Eli's booting. That one got on my LAST nerve.

And, whattayaknow, it ended up being the same final four we figured from Episode One. What are the odds of that happening.

Also ... When did BrotherMichael become such a dick? Sheesh.

fablady said...

Gee what's up with all the Michael Hate?