Thursday, September 17, 2009
Heating Up: The Top Chef Vegas recap
News flash: Mattin is French.
He’s so French, he doesn’t need to wear a beret—his Frenchiness is just that evident.
He’s so French, he calls French toast “toast”
He’s so French, he has not just one jaunty little neckerchief, but a backup neckerchief, shoved deeply into his back pocket. For a true Frenchman never leaves home without a backup neckerchief!
Oh well, just when it became clear that Mattin mentioning his Frenchness was the most awesome drinking game ever (and a one-way ticket to AA), he goes and gets cut.
But I’m ahead of myself, as usual.
The show starts with Goofus acting in a typical Goofus manner: Boasting and bragging, which is not the way Gallant taught him to behave.
“I received one Michelin star,” he brags, adding, “I don’t brag about it, though.”
He also has predetermined the final three: Himself (natch), his big bro (natch), and. . .Michael I. (And here I thought he and Jennifer had something beautiful between them.)
Off to the Quickfire challenge they go, where Chef Tim Love is waiting to rub them up with hot oil. . .oh sorry, wrong Chef Love.
No, it’s far, far worse. They have to cook with cactus!
“I was born in France,” starts Mattin. This could go anywhere. “Basque Country.” Yeah, yeah, get to the point, Frenchman! “We have no cactus in Basque Country. I didn’t know you could eat cactus.” Not looking good for you, garçon.
Actually, Mattin wasn’t alone in his cactus consternation. With the exception of Michael I.—who knows you have to cook cactus like salmon—none of the chefs know how to cook with cactus. Why? Because apparently, cactus is prickly and slimy and gross and nobody in their right mind would ever want to eat it.
The funniest thing in the world was watching Chef Love eat these slimy cactus creations— he had permanent bitter beer face. (Ash summed it up rather succinctly when he said, “He looked pissed at me that I made him eat this food.”)
So Michael I wins the Quickfire (and 15 grand!) and Goofus is ticked.
“I’d rather be able to work with interesting flavors than take the slime out of cactus,” he says. Which is not a sore loser thing to say. At all.
Now for the Elimination Challenge: Make food for two dozen cowboys on a ranch, with God knows what kind of cooking equipment.
Naturally, my first thought was a grilled Romaine salad, a tasty mojito/ceviche combo, and ceviche 3 ways.
I’m just kidding—but I’m not, because these were actually the spectacularly bad ideas of Robin, Ron, and Mattin. Really guys? Really? After a hard day’s work on a ranch, you think these cowboys are hankering for ceviche and a mojito and some burnt lettuce?
The other catch is they have to camp overnight in tents—and if you’re worried about snakes, fear not! Ron is at the ready with his snake-repelling voodoo branches. (He also needed a sword to cut open his coconut. I know a Hopkins student who might be able to lend him one. . . (Too soon?))
Jennifer is very frustrated by the challenge, but it’s hard to distinguish her “cooking outdoors” frustration from her normal frustration.
Eli hates the great outdoors.
Some of the cheftestants have no problem cooking in a fire pit, namely Ashley, who grew up on a farm, and Laurine, who says she’s like the “MacGyver” of chefs, and Gallant, who remains gallantly calm and composed under even the most intense culinary pressure.
Did I mention that it’s, like, 800 degrees out there?
So Gallant wins the challenge—with a pork and polenta dish. At this point, he’s pretty much smoking the competition. And no, that was not a fire pit joke.
Joining him in the Top 4 are Goofus, Ashley, and Laurine. It’s nice to see Ashley and Laurine in the top for a change.
As for Goofus—foiled again!
“Everytime we stand at the judge’s table together, I seem to win,” shrugs Gallant, a twinkle in his eye. Later, he will castigate himself for boasting, as it is not the Gallant way.
In a shocking development, the Bottom 3 are Ceviche 1, Ceviche 2, and Romaine Salad girl.
Robin explains that she wanted to make something hearty, like a steak, so she made a grilled romaine salad with drunken shrimp. Which makes no sense at all and Colicchio calls her on it. (Also, those drunken shrimp? More like hobo-on-a-five-day-bender shrimp. Not good.)
Ron’s ceviche is apparently better than Mattin’s ceviche. So he’s safe. But Mattin’s ceviche was so bad that Colicchio discreetly got up and threw it. . .away. (I know—I totally thought Colicchio was going to hurl. But no such luck.) Also, Chef Love said he was “not well” as a result of eating Mattin’s ceviche. Not one for the resume, mon ami.
Worse still, Mattin thought his raw cod was actually a taste sensation. So it’s “au revoir” to Mattin. Hang in there, Frenchie. I hear there’s a Jerry Lewis marathon on AMC.