Monday, September 7, 2009

"I'm so focused on my station that I don't have the time to flirt."

Monday, September 7, 2009

It’s a new day in Vegas at the exotic desert mansion. The colorfully tattooed chefs prepare for a strenuous day. Quite a bit of time is spent on grooming and hair preparation. Clearly there is a need to fill the slot of time that had been devoted to ogling Dr. Chase’s sculpted abs. Michael V. amps up the cool factor by shaving with his cap on.

The judges head into the Top Chef kitchen and, as is the usual response upon the reveal of each episode’s guest judge, immediately recognize the rather smarmy-looking Todd English. Now, I had heard of Todd English before this episode, due to his previous Top Chef appearance. It continues to be a mystery to me how the cheftestants spew forth all sorts of fun facts about each guest judge. They’re not all as famous as Jean Georges!

A large craps table, conveniently placed in the middle of the kitchen, was a dead giveaway that this would be another “high-stakes” quickfire (with a $15,000 chip). The chefs learn that they will be rolling the dice to determine how many ingredients they will use to create a dish. Salt, pepper, and oil are the only ingredients that don’t count. Obviously rolling a 12 or a 3 would truly increase the difficulty of the challenge, and most of the chefs correctly speculate that it would be best to roll a modest, fairly low number. Michael V. decides to be risky-this is becoming a theme with him. Jesse accidentally grabbed a nonstick pan, which will be useless when it comes to searing her scallops. Kevin is freaking out about having 10 ingredients, but I feel he will persevere.

Jen C.’s jalepeno emulsion makes me realize that maybe I shouldn’t hate her. Michael V.’s Richard-esque antics are pleasing to Todd English, though he refers to his toast as “bread toast.” Kevin made a delicious looking salad which contained fennel cream. I am beginning to understand why the Voltaggio brothers were selected for the show-they are both clearly talented, albeit in different ways. Bryan’s dish, though not loved by the judges, was beautiful.

Todd English did not enjoy Eve, Jesse, or Bryan’s dishes. I believe he referred to Jesse’s scallops as “blond.” Did he mean bland? Hmmm. Jen C. (clearly a major contender for this season), Kevin, and Michael V. were the three favorites, and Michael was selected as the quickfire winner. Of course, we had to get a few words in from Bryan hinting at sibling rivalry.

Now on to what I found to be one of the least imaginative elimination challenges of the entire series: pairing dishes with hand-picked shots for a joint bachelor/bachelorette party. Padma refers to the challenge as a “Battle of the Sexes”, which jointly offends (in the case of Ashley) and irritates (Jen C.) a majority of the chefs. It is true that Vegas is a popular destination for these debaucherous (thanks for that little adjective, Kevin) soirees, but I don’t know that I would go so far as to call it a Vegas tradition.

Karen and Greg (bride and groom) march in with precariously balanced trays of shots. The men will be preparing food for the ladies, female chefs cooking for the men. Of course. The bride is a pescatarian who loves to pour sriracha on everything. The groom loves lean fish-those were his exact words. Both teams are extremely confident as they head into Whole Foods, though you can tell that they are dubious about the undeniably lowbrow pairing of fine food with shots.

Nothing particularly eventful occurs during preparation, though Bryan goes on a bit about how he wants to beat his brother. Curious, considering that they are ON THE SAME TEAM. The Top Chef warning music plays when Ashley announces that she wants to make a second dish. Word to the wise: do not EVER make a second dish on this show if you don’t have to. It’s one of the MANY kisses of death that one might encounter throughout the competition.

The challenge takes place at an admittedly beautiful pool and cabana area at the M resort. I am immediately concerned about the heat factor, because a WIDE array of seafood has been chosen for the pescatarian and her fiancé.

Michael V. is taking about risks again, which could be a red flag or a sign of future success. The same could be said about Preeti’s shiso leaf garnish. No way to know at this point. Laurine hints that that the girls have prepared more familiar food than the boys.
A little aside: Mattin LOVES the ladies. He thinks they look hot, and is momentarily distracted by their beauty.

Eve’s ceviche looks absolutely wretched-even I could see that she didn’t use enough lime juice to keep her avocado from discoloring. Jen C.’s cevich, on the other hand, was loved by all. Apparently octopus goes well with tequila. I think Jesse’s lettuce cup looks fresh and cool, but Preeti’s tuna is an alarming shade of purple. The judges hated both dishes. Ashley’s watermelon carpaccio was a hit, but she ruined her good impression by making the second dish. I told you, Ashley! Kiss of death!

While the women’s dishes were being judged ruthlessly, the men were enjoying shots with the bachelorette and her gals. It’s immediately obvious that their dishes are indeed more complex: Michael V.’s goat cheese cookie with apple sorbet, Kevin’s chilled almond soup with king crab, cucumber, and white grape… The judges almost exclusively adore them, with the exception of Mike Isabella and the Haitian. By the way, I’ve come to love the Haitian. I could listen to him talk all day. The women seem defeated at the end of the challenge, but the men jump joyously into the pool, clothes and all. Well, Mattin kept his red scarf on.

Not surprisingly, the men were chosen the winners of the challenge. Bryan, Hector, Eli, and Michael V. were singled out for their unique, delicious dishes. It came down to a choice between the two brothers, and this time, Bryan and his sweet and sour macaroon filled with guacamole, corn nuts, and corn puree, were victorious. Of course, he didn’t get a $15,000 chip, but he considers it a redemption of sorts. I’m thinking he is a bit too serious for my taste.

Eve, Jesse, Preeti, and Ashley were the cursed bottom four. Despite my love for Jesse, I’m thinking it’s obvious that she just doesn’t have quite as much experience as is necessary to “hang” with most of the contestants on the show. Preeti’s dish was too pedestrian, and she committed the cardinal sin of not acknowledging her mistakes. Ashley realized her own mistake in making two dishes, but Eve could barely summon any sort of explanation for her shrimp ceviche, and was truly the obvious choice to go home.

Even if I had not had a ridiculously busy week, I wouldn’t have felt particularly inspired to write a recap for this episode. Fortunately, it was followed this week by a fabulous episode that I cannot WAIT to write about. I am now a Jen C. fan! We get a hint as to why Ron was chosen to compete on the show! Jesse doesn’t end up on the bottom! Aren’t you dying to read about it?


1 comment:

J & Co. said...

Those V boys are HOOOOTTTTT. I really do like Jen, even though she doesn't seem to be interested in being liked. It's like the Beyonce song: "I've got a big e~go, such a huge eee~go...but I talk like this cuz I can back it up!"