Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Yay for a New Season - Top Chef: Las Vegas

A new season of Top Chef (I don't count Masters) and I'm so excited. Padme!!! So much better than Not-Padme! Tom back on a regular basis! Cocky new cheftestants! And, what's this? Brothers? Very cool.

And it's in Vegas, baby.

Kevin is the first chef we meet - he got a full scholarship to MIT and ditched it for culinary school. Wow.

Preeti is next, and she didn't get much intro.

Ron grew up in Haiti.

Cheftestants arrive in droves. Eve is from Michigan and feels out of place.

Mattin is from France.

Eli works in Atlanta, and he loves to cook and eat.

There are three people from Atlanta!

Ash is the only one from NYC. And he also claims to be the only one with a same sex boyfriend.

Jesse did not go to culinary school and is highly pierced, tatooed and superstitious.

Jennifer Z. is also superstitious and is heavily tatooed and a mama.

Jennifer C. is from Philadelphia and claims to make boys cry.

Bryan is from Maryland and likes to always learn.

His brother is Michael and he became a chef because his brother was a chef. They live far away from each other and haven't lived together in a long time.

Mike and Ashley got quick intro interviews, with very little else about them.

Laurine is a caterer.

Hector is struck by Padme's beauty.

Enter the Top Chef Kitchen!

Hello, Padma and Tom!

Quickfire Challenge: They will be competing in teams of four, mis en place relay race!

Enter Show Girls! They will be drawing poker chips for teams.

Robin (who we didn't see before) drew the only Gold Chip and got a pass on the challenge, and immunity for the elimination.

The relay - shuck 15 clams, then peel 30 prawns, clean up 5 lobsters, and butcher 2 chops from prime rib.

Preeti was nervous about shucking clams. She was trying to open them like oysters, and that's not the right way. Jessica Z. cut herself shucking clams and got a glove. The black and blue teams are way out in front and Preeti's inability to deal with clams cripples her team. Jennifer Z.'s clams didn't do the green team any favors, either. The frenched chops were amazing and brought the blue team victory.

To determine the winner of the Quickfire (individually), there will be a cookoff between the members of the Blue Team, and the winner will get a $15K chip from the resort. Robin has the opportunity to trade in her immunity to compete for the $15K, and she decides to not trade it in.

They have 30 minutes to cook a dish featuring the ingredient they prepped for the relay race.

Jennifer C. made a clam ceviche

Mattin made lobster with bay leaves and star anise.

Jesse made shrimp grits with polenta

Bryan made a crusted rib eye with caramelized celery.

Tom picked Jennifer's dish for being clean and fresh, and Jesse's dish for having a lot of flavor for a half hour. Jennifer was the winner. Good for her.

For the elimination challenge, they will be cooking according to a vice. Robin decided to cook with the blue team. Wolfgang Puck is the guest judge. They each have $150 and 30 minutes at Whole Foods, and 2 hours to cook the next day.

They are cooking at Cut, Wolfgang Puck's restaurant at the Palazzo.

They are cooking individually, against the other members of their team, I think.

Gayle, Tom, Padme, and Wolfgang Puck are the judges.

The first group is:

Mike's vice is hot temper and his foul mouth. He cooked an Olive Oil poached halibut (to represent a bar of soap to wash out his mouth) over an eggplant puree.

Eli's vice is arrogance, drinking, and bitterness. He did a Buttered Scoth with Scallops, cashews and beer powder.

Ashley's vice is red wine and bourbon and she made a chicken liver ravioli with red wine demi-glace.

Hector's vice is smoking and he made a smoked ribeye with carrot puree & ceviche of celery.

Bryan's vice is bourbon and a cigar. He made a NY Strip Steak with parsnip puree and bourbon reduction caramel.

Mattin's vice is stubborness. He made a Buffalo Rib Eye with Madeira sauce, zucchini and mashed potatoes.

Jennifer C's vice is alcohol. She made a poached halibut with whiskey, bourbon, scotch and black peppercorn sauce.

Jesse's vice is also alcohol and excess. She made a Braised chicken with a whiskey reduction and yukon gold potatoes and a fried egg.

Robin's vice is pork (she said "I'm a bad jew" lol), and her gastrique didn't make it on the plate. She made a pork tenderloin stuffed with chorizo and green chili bread pudding.

Ash's vice is procrastination. He made a poached halibut and a ratatouille with parsely coulis.

Jessica Z's vice is her hot temper. She made a chile rellano stuffed with seitan and tomatillo salsa.

Ron doesn't know what a vice is, I think. He made jerk bass with collard greens and haitian hash.

Laurine took the vices literally. She made bacon and donuts with a chocolate and beer sauces.

Michael V.'s vice was a tribute to the plastic surgery in Vegas. He made a rack (of lamb) with coconut sauce and cauliflower gnocchi.

Preeti's vice is a Maker's Mark Manhattan. She made a pork tenderloin with bourbon sweet potato puree.

Eve is too complicated. She made a sauteed shrimp and scallops in a curry cream sauce.

Kevin's vice is procrastination. He made a Artic Char with Turnip Salsa Verde.

The judges had some good comments - both positive and negative. Honestly, I'm not feeling that great, so I'm not typing them out word for word. Sorry. I'll do better next time.

Judge's Table.

Back to the Judge's table first are Ron, Mike, Kevin, and Jennifer C. Each of them had the best dishes of their groups. Wolfgang particularly loved Jennifer's fish, but worried about her drinking habits. Tom was confused by Ron's definition of vice. Kevin's procrastinating char was the winner in the end.

Hector, Jennifer Z, Jesse, and Eve were sent back next. They had the least favorite dishes in their groups. They wanted Hector's dish to be smokier, and questioned his idea of deep frying his steak. Eve's dish was called underspiced. She said that she toned it down, but toned it down too much. Gayle thinks that she missed the point of the challenge. Tom said right off that the scallops weren't seared properly, the shrimp were overcooked, and the sauce wasn't good. Jessica's chile rellanos were clunky and not great. The judges didn't like the seitan. They wanted something that was tastier. Jesse's chicken was dried out and that was a problem. Wolfgang told her to work on the dish and it could be a great dish some day.

The judges appreciated that Jesse knew what she had done wrong. They thought that Hector was the worst of a pretty good group. Padme called Jennifer's chile rellano a vegan bar midnight special. Gayle really didn't like Eve's sad seafood, and her incomprehension of what she had done wrong was baffling.

Who is gone? In the end, the seitan was Jennifer's undoing. She stuck to her guns, saying how bold her choice was. I guess she didn't cook it with bold enough flavors, and that was what counted. Goodbye, Jennifer Z. Now, I won't have to use Jennifer C.'s last initial. I love eliminations like that!

Do you think the right person went home?

1 comment:

Jeanne said...

I'm loving this one because I live in Vegas! So I'm trying to figure out where they are. The M resort is actually in Henderson, it just opened last year. Haven't been there yet myself. The Whole Foods they went to is at the south end of the Strip in a place called Town Square. It's got a ton of stores/restaurants in it. So I'm thinking if the store is that way, then their house must be...I'll try to figure it out if I can! As to the show, I like the cooking for $$ in quickfires. And I think they picked the right one. And what's with all the chefs having tatoos? It seems like almost all of them have at least one...