Thursday, September 3, 2009

Top Chef Las Vegas Ep. 3: Cooking Ain’t Preeti

Tonight I had to pinch myself to be sure I was not dreaming. For the Quickfire Challenge, the chefs were presented with a pile of every kind of potato imaginable… except maybe for Mr. Potato Head. As an openly admitted potato junkie, I could not wait to see what they would come up with for the Potato Challenge. (Or the Potatoe Challenge, as Dan Quayle might say.)

The guest judge was former Top Chef Master contestant, Mark Peel. I thought it was great that they had a guy named “Peel” as a judge for the potato challenge. It got me thinking of other potential celebrity judges; Laura Flynn Boyle, Jerry Rice, Dane Cook, Carrot Top, Irving Fryar, Mike Judge, Julie Strain, Meatloaf, Peter Pan and John Oates to name a few. But never Edward Burns… or Andy Dick.

Thoughts on the Quickfire:
- The chefs frantically attacked the spuds, because potatoes can be a time consuming food to cook. At one point, Kevin offers Preeti his blanching water, but somehow she ends up using Ashley’s instead. This does not go over well with Ashley and she is preeti upset. Luckily for Ashley, things boiled over and she ended up in the top three.
- Meanwhile, Michael I. (Mr. Know-It-All) decides to cook a potato risotto and informs us that risotto is in fact a cooking style, and not a rice. While I did not know that, the smug way he said it made me want to dunk his head in Ashley’s stolen, boiling blanching water. He’s preeti cocky.
- During the judging, I felt bad for Eli, who used shelled pistachios and still managed to serve Padma a shell. That’s nuts.
- Good old Jesse was up to her old tricks; making a good dish and then screwing it up. This time she added too much cayenne to her potato soup. Having done that myself, I was hoping it would come back and burn her.
- Big Papi made some kind of fish and rambled on about Bob Marley. Something tells me that guy's got some good herb in his spice rack.
- Ash made sweet potato ice cream. I winced when I heard him decide he was making a frozen dish. That always seems to be a dangerous move on these shows. So many times the dishes just don’t get cold enough. But give him props, they loved his custard. That’s cool.
- I realized tonight that Ash’s name is Ash Fulk. I was wondering if he is any relation to Gaylord Faulker.

Eli, Ron and Jesse ended up on the bottom and Jennifer won the Quickfire, giving her immunity.

Then a guy walked in and for a minute I thought it was Dr. Bellows from I Dream of Jeannie. But it was not. It was an Air Force colonel who informed the group that the Elimination Challenge would be cooking for 300 troops and their families at a nearby air base.

The group broke into teams and Jennifer assumed the role of Executive Chef. By the way, Jennifer kicked ass in this role. In A Bronx Tale, the mob boss Sonny is asked if he would rather be feared or loved. It’s clear that Jennifer would rather be feared. I love that.

- Once again, Kevin impresses me. He takes that unassuming, fat guy persona and couples it with real cooking expertise. He and Eli team up and make a southern pork dish that I was drooling at. Mike and Mike made a pork belly dish with mustard and peanuts that will also haunt my dreams tonight. And that chili looked good too.
- Poor Big Papi and Jesse were the last two picked when they made the teams. It was like a sad scene from elementary school when they pick teams on the playground.
- Big Papi and Jesse made a chowdah (that’s how it’s pronounced) which Tom Colicchio was pretty heartless and condescending about it. However, the crowd loved it.
- Mike I. decided to make a second dish. Wasn’t he paying attention when Ashley tried that? It’s never a good move. It’s a move that eventually landed him in the bottom three, by way of the winners circle. Once he admitted he had nothing to do with the pork belly and everything to do with the under cooked shrimp, he was all done. (Unlike his shrimp.) Tom Colicchio was right, he did treat it as a throw away dish. As I said before, Mike I. is preeti cocky.
- Michael V. wins the challenge, kind of like Eli Manning following up Peyton’s Super Bowl win with his own. Remember? Brian V. was last week’s winner.
- Laurine was also in the bottom group. Who the heck is she? I honestly had no recollection of her from the first two episodes.
- It sure was ugly for Preeti. It was a bit sad that the girl who told us that 9/11 was the event that motivated her to become a chef is voted off while cooking for the very people and cause that inspired her.
- I give Laurine and Preeti a lot of props for not throwing each other under the bus. I know it’s a competition, but they cooked as a team and they went down as a team. Could you imagine Marcel or Hung in that situation?

Well, it’s time for me to pack my knives and go. I’m off to bed, with visions of pork bellies dancing in my head.
Bon Appetite.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This Spuds-Off sounds like a must see, Jack. I have to catch Top Chef more often. Bring on the pork bellies! --Kate