Thursday, September 03, 2009

Top Chef Las Vegas Episode Three Recap

I want to apologize in advance for what is sure to be a sucky less-than-stellar recap. The two previews that Bravo furnished dwelled on two relatively minor points, and the recap video is pretty limited. What follows is rather text-heavy.

The show starts off in the chefs' apartment. We see that Jen is pissed off that she didn't make it into the top for either challenge last week. Meanwhile, Jesse, who has become very comfortable in the bottom three, wants to prove she's better than that. And Laurine says that the dear, departed Eve was the nicest person of the lot of them.

No wonder she went so early.

The cheftestants head to the Top Chef Kitchen o' Product Placement to find Padma with jug-eared guest judge Mark Peel. He was a Top Chef Masters competitor but somehow not important enough to show in this week's previews. He lost on Masters, so maybe that's why.

As Padma introduces Chef Peel, she does a quick little shill for his upcoming cookbook, New Classic Family Dinners, available at fine bookstores nationwide at some random point in the future.

Anyhoo, we soon find out why a chef named "Peel" is guesting for this to Mark and Padma is a huge mound of potatoes: fingerlings, sweets, you name it.

The challenge is to create an "out-of-this-world" potato dish in 45 minutes. When I hear "out-of-this-world," I think that Brother Michael is going to break out the liquid nitrogen again and Brother Bryan is going to play it simple and classic and use the cryovacker, the immersion circulator and maybe some foam. But I was disappointed. Instead of Spaceman cookery, we got the Battle of the Lesbians.

But first: douchebaggery! Mike Isabella says he is going to cut his potatoes into a brunoise and cook them like risotto. He then finds it necessary to make snide remarks to the home audience.

On to the Battle of the Lesbians(esbians esbians esbians - just imagine that said in a stentorian voice with lots of echo). First of all, Ashley is biting off more than she can chew.

Preeti is making a simple dish of green asparagus with yellow potatoes. Nothing particularly "out-of-this-world" about that, but maybe Tom Cruise is going to present the dish, dressed as Xenu. Hey, ya never know what's going to happen on Top Chef.

Preeti needed blanching water for her asparagus, which Kevin readily volunteered.

Me, I just cook it in the microwave for a few minutes, but what do I know?

Preeti rushes off to trim her veg (no, that's not a euphemism) and then throws it in what she thinks is Kevin's pot. Only his pot has been removed and replaced with Folger's Crystals a fresh pot of water for Ashley's gnocchi. When Ashley sees green things floating in her water, she has a conniption.

At this point, Jen says she wouldn't be as nice as Ashley. Ashley was ranting and raving and throwing pots around - that was "nice?"

While all this drama (eyeroll) is going on, Jesse is making sweet potato soup that has too much cayenne. Looks like there's a familiar place in the bottom three for her. Also having problems is Ash, who's decided to make a sweet potato ice cream (in 45 minutes, mind you) and can't seem to get the ice cream to solidify. Duh. This is Top Chef, not Iron Chef. Wrong network, no prancing "chairman," and no blast chillers in this kitchen.

Padma and Mark Peel enter the kitchen and spoil the fun. They go around and taste each chef's dish. Not surprisingly, Jesse is in the bottom along with Ron and Eli. The favorite dishes are Jen's mussels, Ashley's hey-they-got-cooked-in-time gnocchi, and Ash's un-frozen ice cream which was renamed "custard" in a clever ass-covering maneuver. Jen was declared the overall winner and given immunity for the next challenge.

At this point, Douchey Mike complains that Jen's win was "favoritism." Hmm...favoritism? You mean the way so far two men have won the Elimination Challenge and two women have been PPYKAGed?

Next, we learn about this week's Elimination Challenge. Padma calls in a special guest, Colonel Dave Belote of the U.S. Air Force, commander of the 99th Air Base Wing at Nellis Air Force Base, home of the Fabulous Thunderbirds.

Colonel Belote tells the cheftestants that they will be cooking lunch for 300 people, including airmen who have just returned from duty and others who are being deployed. Unfortunately for the chefs, they won't know what ingredients will be available nor will they see their kitchen until the next day when they report for duty.

That evening in the apartment, the chefs decide to appoint Jen as Chef Tournade (head chef) of the group, since she has immunity and nobody wanted to hear her mispronounce "ceviche" again. The remaining fourteen pair up: Preeti and Laurine, Eli and Kevin, Ash and Ashley, Brother Mike and Douchey Mike, Mattin and Bryan, Hector and Robin, and Jesse and Ron.

The next morning, they head to Nellis Air Force Base and find a kitchen well-stocked with canned goods.

Then try taking the food out of the cans, Mattin.

We then get a commercial break featuring one of the dumbest Bravo Votes ever:

Personally, I prefer God as my co-pilot. I don't think any of these three can fly, unless you count Padma's alleged penchant for toking up.... Alleged.

When we come back from the commercial break, we find that the kitchen is a less-than-ideal situation.

Meanwhile, Frenchie found a way to utilize the canned goods:

Bouillabaisse a la Raviolios was apparently also an option.

The situation is tough for our intrepid chefs who have to take turns using the one soup kettle and the one pan (both ginormous, btw). Jen cracks the whip and keeps everyone in line.

At one point, Hector is telling at thrilling story about beer (I know *I* want to hear how it ends) which gets interrupted by Bitch Jen.

What the hell is a yug?

Soon the four hours of cooking is up and the cheftestants load their food onto carts to be transported to the lunch venue - a hangar on base. Once there, they set up two identical buffet stations.

The troops arrive and we get a 5-minute public service announcement from Kevin who tells us that we should be proud of our troops (cue montage of soaring F-16s, majestic bald eagles, and Old Glory waving in slo-mo). There sure are a lot of soapboxes on Top Chef this season. Next week, the cheftestants tackle the issue of healthcare reform with Joel Robuchon!

Padma has chosen to wear a tasteful leopard print-and-cleavage ensemble. She knows some of these servicemen (and women, let's not discriminate) are lonely!

Although there are comments among the judges about the wisdom of eating clam chowder and chili in 90 degree weather, the meal is pretty successful overall, and the servicepersons seem happy and well-fed. I'm sure anything's better than the dust-burgers they got in Afghanistan.

Back at the M, the cheftestants wait in the Glad Family of Products Stew 'n' Booze room. Padma enters and morosely announces that the judges want to see Brother Mike, Douchey Mike, Eli, and Kevin.

The judges compliment Kevin's braised pork and Brother Mike's pork belly-a.k.a.-bacon dish. It seems like a toss-up but Mike V is awarded the win. It's amusing to see the look on Brother Bryan's face when Mike announces his victory back in Casa di Stew. "Hmpfh."

In an amusing turn of events, Douchey Mike has to go right back out as part of the the bottom three along with Laurine and Preeti. Even though he was partnered with Brother Mike for the challenge, he was solely responsible for a "Greek" salad that had watery flavorless shrimp. He was obviously pissed about being on the bottom, especially since he had to share that position with two girls. Ha!

Preeti and Laurine had made pasta salad. What were they thinking? At best, pasta salad is a dry and boring melange of unrelated ingredients on cute pasta shapes. At worst, it's a dry and boring melange of unrelated ingredients on cute pasta shapes. Preeti the Clueless thought the dish was yum-o, but Laurine admitted it wasn't that great. She also said that she forgot it was a competition, which shocked and appalled all of the judges. I thought it was nice - she was so happy to cook for the people who serve our country, she focused on that rather than the fact that she needed to win. Still doesn't excuse making a pasta salad, but the sentiment was nice.

Because Preeti was once again clueless about the sheer badness of her dish, she was given the boot this week. Can't say I didn't see that coming. Admit it - you did too.

Next week...a double elimination! Finally!