Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Top Chef Las Vegas Ep. 7: Ashes to Ashley, All Fall Down

Sorry this blog is late. I missed this past week’s Top Chef, but thanks to the miracle of DVR, I was able to catch it today. I think DVR is the best invention of the past 20 years, along with GPS and Lasik surgery. Now I can find my way home faster so I can watch television, watch my favorite shows at my convenience while skipping commercials and I can also see the TV a whole heck of a lot better.

So this episode featured Tyler Florence as the guest judge. Tyler is a staple on the Food Network. I always wonder the relationship between Top Chef and the Food Network is. Are they competitors? I mean, we often see chefs and personalities from one on the other, like Ted Allen, for instance. So what’s the deal?

This week we saw some contestants have to deal with tough breaks. In the Quickfire Challenge, it was Jen who had to deal with a tough situation. She was sick. But there are no sick days on Top Chef, so Jen just had to power through it. (I have to admit, if I was a judge, I would not be crazy about a sick person preparing my food. Is it rude to gargle with Purell after you eat?)

A slot machine was rolled out and each chef pulled the lever to reveal three keywords that would be the inspiration for each dish. One of the words that kept popping up was “Umami”, which I had never heard before. Rather than explain it to you, I have simply linked you to the Wiki entry on it. After reading it, I’m still not sure I fully get it. That’s why I eat more than I cook, folks.

Along with term Middle Eastern, Ashley got the words blue and cheesy, but did not use bleu cheese in her dish. I guess that would have been too obvious. Robin also got Middle Eastern as one of her words, and then was practically bitch slapped by Padma, who had to remind her that curry is not a Middle Eastern ingredient. We are all wondering how much longer Robin will last.

Eli gets the word Umami and proceeds to hog all of the mushrooms, but it does not matter. He still ends up on the bottom along with Robin and sick Jennifer. Meanwhile, Mike I, Michael V. and Kevin are the top three. Kevin ends up winning. His words were stressed, hot & spicy and Asian. (With those words, he should have been cooking for Jackie Chan.) Because it’s a high stakes challenge, Kevin get to choose a prize of $15,000 or immunity in the Elimination Challenge. He wisely chooses the money. For a guy who regularly finishes strong, it would have been nuts to pass up that cash.

The Elimination Challenge had the chefs drawing knives and pairing up in order to cook family style meals for the judges, who would provide them with unique bags of ingredients to work with. They also had to use a section of the contestant’s house to prepare their food. Eli snakes a spot next to the stove, similar to the way he hoarded the mushrooms earlier.

Jen is feeling better, as well she should be, because she gets paired up with Kevin. They make a dish with Kobe ribs and some kind of tomato sauce that just plain looks delicious.

Ash and Michael V. set up in the dining room with a variety of electric appliances provided by the good folks at Macy’s. It was pretty clear that Ash has a little crush on Michael, to the point where it eventually made Michael uncomfortable. (And me too.) Meanwhile, there was no love between Mike I. and Robin. He only took breaks from berating Robin in order to blow his own horn. Yet, it was Robin who knew how to work with Asian flavors, not him.

Michael V. and Ash are the victims of unfortunate circumstances in this round. The electric appliances they use cause continual power outages, resulting in the overcooking of their fish. As they battle the fuse box, Ashley and Eli attack some gnocchi and shrimp. Unfortunately, their shrimp ends up undercooked and their gnocchi is too salty.

So when it’s all said and done, the winners are Laurine/Bryan and Jen/Kevin. Jen and Kevin end up winning, with Jen being named the ultimate winner. She walks away with a $10,000 Macy’s gift card. I was happy to hear her say she’d at least buy Kevin a suit or something… since he did have a big part in her victory.

Then the losers were brought to judges table. Ash/Mike V. and Ashley/Eli are matched before the firing squad. Although Mike V. had served overcooked fish, he’s too good to send home this early. Besides, he did all the work while Ash set the table and made google-eyes at him the whole time. Then Ash goes into a monologue about how dreamy Michael V. is and even compares him to Michelangelo. (The painter, not the ninja turtle.) Ash basically says he held the brushes while the artist did his thing. Michael V. had to have gotten a Glenn Close/Fatal Attraction vibe at this point, judging from his uneasy reaction.

I had a feeling Eli or Ash might go, but I was wrong. Ashley is held responsible for the raw shrimp and salty gnocchi and is asked to pack ‘em up and go. I thought she would last longer than a few other people on the show. Robin and Ash in particular, seem to have dodged a bullet.

So now I am caught up on Top Chef, and you are caught up on my blog. I’ll see you next time.

Bon Appetite.

No comments: