Thursday, October 29, 2009

Top Chef Las Vegas Episode Ten Recap

It's morning once again at the Top Cheftestants' McMansion where we find Jen beating herself up over her team's loss in last week's Restaurant Wars. Robin, on the other hand, is celebrating the fact that she survived yet another challenge.

At the Top Chef Sponsor-of-the-Week Kitchen™, we find Padma in yet another strapless jumpsuit, standing alongside two-time James Beard Award winner Paul Bartolotta.

Although he's been known to shill for Barilla, this week's challenge is sponsored by TV Guide. For the TV Guide Quickfire Challenge, the cheftestants must give a classic TV dinner their own interpretation. And the dinners are to be based on famous television shows. They of course resort to the knife block to find out who gets which show.

Kevin draws the Sopranos, Eli gets Gilligan's Island, Robin gets Sesame Street, Bryan gets M*A*S*H*, DoucheyMike gets Seinfeld, BrotherMike gets Cheers, and Jen gets the Flintstones.

Actually, Jen, Pebbles was not in the abusive relationship you seem to think she had.... Sounds like someone needs some counseling.

Come on! That would have been perfect!

Everyone seems to be doing fairly well, except for Jen, who is once again struggling mightily. What's up with her? Survey says she'll be in the top four, but from week to week, that's looking shaky.

Maybe she needs one of the guys to play Bam Bam and drag her around by the hair? How does Eric Ripert train his chefs, anyway?

Time's up and the cheftestants bring their dishes one by one to a little retro-style seating area that's been set up at one end of the kitchen.

Bryan presents his dish and gets a "Mmmm!" from Padma. Something weird then happens on the television screen and it takes me a few seconds to process it.

Bryan smiles.

You're probably right. Smiling would signify emotion, and that would be illogical.

After tasting, Chef Bartolotta is asked to reveal his least favorite dishes, which turn out to be Jen's very un-Flintstonian chicken roulade, and Robin's e-coli special hamburger with a raw egg cooked into it. On top were Bryan's Mmm-mmm-good meatloaf and apple tarte tatin and Kevin's meatballs. Guess being Italian swayed him a bit, because Bartolotta chose the meatballs as the winner. Congrats Kevin!

Padma announces that there is no more immunity. Instead, Kevin's dish will be featured as a new Top Chef entrée sold by Schwan's. WTF? Top Chef dinners? Next they'll be offering that damn knife block and special Tom Colicchio skin head wigs.

Padma then tells the cheftestants that the Elimination Challenge will involve taking over Tom Colicchio's restaurant Craft Steak for one night, where they will prepare a meal for four judges and seven other guests. But first, they go home to the McMansion, where the chefs drool over the possibilities.

While the men are planning their manly-man meaty meatfests, Jen is wandering around like a zombie, muttering about not being at the top of her game and needing to regroup. She also looks like she could use a good shower and a conditioning hair masque.

By the magic of television, we then find the cheftestants at the MGM Grand, entering Tom's Manly Meatarama.

The chefs are rooting through the vast collection of aged beef, Kobe, lamb, and lobsters, staking claim on what they want to use, when Tom comes in.

Tom then reveals to the judges that he and Padma have a special guest for this challenge - Darth Vadar's secret wife!

If it wasn't an emotion, I'd say Bryan almost looks disgusted.

Eli gives us the skinny on their guest judge:

Well, that explains why he thinks it's ok to be living with his parents. He's a Star Wars nerd. And is young enough to think the most recent trilogy was worth seeing, which it wasn't.

But Luke Skywalker's mom is not there to make their lives easy. Oh no.

Queen Amidala is a vegetarian. She's also a bit of a nutjob.

It is a cruel, cruel twist of fate that the once-drooling cheftestants have to rein in their own meat-happy tendencies to create a vegetarian meal for an actress. One who isn't even very good. Come on! Have you seen Episodes 1 - 3? Her emoting makes Bryan look like Jimmy Stewart!

But of course Robin is excited about the challenge because she loves to make vegetarian food. You know, that healthy-eating crap, yadda yadda. Bryan is worried (despite his unfurrowed brow) because he says this challenge changes all the dynamics for everyone. DoucheyMike isn't worried because he says out of 60 dishes on his Zaytinya menu, 20 are vegetarian, plus his mother was a vegan when he was growing up. Kevin is also ok with the veg challenge because he and his wife give up meat for Lent. cute!

Everyone heads back to the walk-in, this time to find vegetables. Eli and Jen fight over eggplant, and Robin's head is spinning over the outstanding selection. Should she make squash blossoms, or should she make fresh garbanzos? Oh hell, she'll make both! And a bunch of other healthy crap, too.

The two hours of cooking time goes quickly. Robin is up first and doesn't get all of her elements plated - a few dishes go out without the garbanzos she was so excited about.

She takes her dish out to the waiting diners - Padma and Gail (both of whom have packed their boobies tightly away), Tom, Mrs. Vader, Paul Bartolotta, and several of her goofy-looking friends. Right away, Padma complains about the salt; this time, there's too much of it. And Tom had one of the garbanzo-free plates.

Eli's dish came out next. The judges thought his presentation was "thoughtful," but Paul Bartolotta said that he had one mouthful of herb salad that had too much lavender and tasted like a bar of soap.

Michael was up next. He thinks his fanciful presentation of asparagus and tomatoes with banana polenta will make Natalie scratch her head and say "I like this, but I don't know why." And indeed she was delighted by the dish, as were her friends.

This of course cracks up Padma, who remembers Ash's similar comments of a few episodes back. Either it's true, or the young-uns don't know any other artists....

Jen brings out her dish next, choosing to spoon on a sauce at the table. Her hand is shaking badly and she ends up baptizing several of the guests. Her food "tastes nice" but didn't feel substantial enough to be an entrée. It was likened to "a beautiful side dish" by one of the Queen's friends.

DoucheyMike comes out with his leeks-as-scallops dish. The leeks were undercooked, and in no way resembled scallops. Tom stated that if they were meat, they would be too rare.

Then a nervous Bryan brings out his artichokes with shallot confit. Padma may or may not have enjoyed the garlic blossom component:

That comment made all of the girls at the table giggle madly. The dish's flavors are big, so Tom remarks that it starts out as a little prick that gets big in your mouth, which causes another of Princess Leia's Mother's friends to say, "that's what usually happens." Hello? Can we have Eli's lavender soap to wash out these dirty mouths?

Luckily, Bryan is in the kitchen as all of this goes down, otherwise he'd probably turn 10 shades of red and short-circuit.

Last, but not least, comes Kevin with a symphony of unattractive brown stuff. Despite the poopiness, everyone loves his dish, saying it's the most like an entrée, and the most meaty. The Queen calls it "manly." Manly brown poop.

Fake out scene! The cheftestants go to Paul Bartolotta's Ristaurante di Mare to pig out on seafood. And pig out is exactly what Kevin does, as he eats everyone under the table. "I didn't get fat accidentally. This is a personal choice."

Sure, if your business is "slob" or "hooker."

/fake out

Then, once again through the magic of television, we are transported to the Glad Family of Products Stew and Booze Room to find Padma morosely requesting the presence of Michael, Kevin, and Eli to the Judges' Table.

Padmé Amidala (not to be confused with Padma Lakshmi) was enchanted by Picasso's dish:

Despite the good drugs Michael's been using, Kevin's dish, dubbed by Tom as "a mouthful of flavors" (an obvious comment, but I suppose it's a hell of a lot better than "a buttload of flavors") is the winner. And because nobody has a cheesy cookbook to give away, Kevin instead is awarded with a suite of cheesy GE appliances.

They then call out the bottom-dwellers: Robin, DoucheyMike, and Jen. DM is asked why he didn't provide a protein (which could have been asked of any of the others, frankly) to which he replied the leeks were supposed to look like scallops. Gail had to remind him that leeks were not in fact proteins. Nor did his leeks resemble scallops. And why was he so damn cocky about a crappy dish?

According to the judges, Robin's dish didn't have anything to tie it together. She tried to explain it for them.

They thought Jen's dish was more like a fancy garnish than an entrée and noted that over the weeks her performance has started to suffer because she is likely second-guessing herself. However, overall, they thought that someone else should be the one to hit the road.

Mike doesn't think it's such a good decision.

And back in the Stew room, everyone embraces DM like a fallen comrade. Even Jen, object of his derision several times, tells him she loves him. None of this bodes well for the other remaining female in the group....

Next week: Six chefs left - who goes next? Plus, an old-timer reunion dinner special!