Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hostile Lump of Meat: The Top Chef Vegas recap

Today’s Quickfire Challenge is clearly based on a particularly good dream Tom Colicchio had once. It features Padma and Nigella Lawson, side by side in bed, wearing fluffy robes (and apparently little else), waiting to be served.

The funny part was watching the male cheftestants attempt to be suave in front of these be-robed Glamazons (as they rolled their tongues back in their mouths). Only Goofus had enough game to get Nigella to flirt back.

I love breakfast, so everything looked super appetizing to me, except for Robin’s runny blintz and Eli’s crusty hair. But anyway, Eli won with his creative take on the Reuben. Alas.

For the Elimination Challenge, each chef was assigned a Vegas landmark and then they had to create a dish inspired by that landmark.
Robin got the Bellagio.
Kevin got the Mirage.
Eli got Circus Circus.
Jen got Tournament of Kings.
Goofus got New York-New York
Gallant got Mandalay Bay.

It was pretty awkward watching them all wander around these casinos by themselves attempting to get inspiration. Jen had to suffer through some sort of Medieval midget wizardry (midgetry?) act and Eli looked like a child lost at Coney Island. Meanwhile, Kevin pretty much ignored his challenge and played with dolphins (who can blame him?) and Gallant discovered that nothing says “sustainable practices” quite like the Mirage in Vegas. Robin got mesmerized by shiny baubles (okay Dale Chihuly glasswork) and Goofus strutted around New York-New York like he owned the place—which is pretty much the way he walks around everywhere.

Back at the house, Eli seemed completely flummoxed by his challenge. “There’s no food at the circus!” he moaned. a.) The makers of Peptol Bismol would disagree. b.) Last I checked, Dale Chihuly glasswork was not edible, but Robin managed to find inspiration in it anyway.

So Robin fell into the classic Top Chef trap and tried something overly ambitious, namely a panna cotta with a sugar-glass coating, but she screwed up her sugar glass. A shame, because it would’ve been wicked cool. Also, apparently, the texture of her panna cotta was off.
As Nigella said later in judging: “It should have the quiver of a 17th Century courtesan’s inner thigh.” No, really. She actually said that.

(An aside. What is it with the Brit’s and their elaborate metaphors? I can just imagine Toby and Nigella in the playgrounds as small children. “These jungle gym legs are as cold and unforgiving as the bars in the Tower of London,” little Nigella would quip. “Your juice box is like a slithering eel, coated in purple squid ink,” Toby would counter. )

In a shocking development, Goofus was mean to Robin—snapping at her when she accidentally got in his way in the kitchen. This guy acts like being a dick to Robin is his job.

Happily, Robin wasn’t the only one who screwed up her dish: Eli’s peanut soup with raspberry froth looked almost as vomitatious as his dirty hair.
“He gambled and lost,” Toby said. (A Vegas joke, for those not playing the home game.)
“I personally would never want to eat that again,” said Padma. Seems she dislikes Eli almost as much as I do.

Jen’s Sword and Stone was a very bad idea from the outset. To name your steak a stone is just begging for “the meat is too tough” comments. It’s like naming your movie, “Box office bomb.”
Unsurprisingly, Nigella called it a “hostile lump of meat.”

Top 3: Goofus with his jaunty little chicken wings with blue cheese, Gallant with his halibut and garlic chips (“they gave me a little prick in my mouth!” exclaimed Padma—oh wait, wrong challenge), and Kevin with his Alaskan sockeye salmon and cabbage.

Curiously, Toby describes Goofus’s food as “delicate and feminine” to which Goofus replies (even more curiously): “I’m a strong believer that your personality is on the plate.”
Cut to Gallant, who stifles a snicker: “Dude, he just totally called you a chick.”

But sensitivity, such as it were, rules the day because Goofus wins. I happen to think it’s because Nigella thinks he’s hot. But what do I know?

Bottom 3: Eli, Robin, and Jen.
And just for a few brief, happy minutes I actually think that Eli is going home before Robin. After all, it happened again—her dish didn’t suck the worst. His peanut butter surprise did.
But her luck has run out and it is, indeed, Robin’s time to go home. Did you catch Tom Colicchio getting a little misty eyed? God, I love that guy.

So here’s my proposal: Robin for Fan Favorite. Let’s make it happen, people! Let's reward her for her guts, her perseverance, her Solomon-like patience in having to put up with a kitchen full of brats. An atta girl, we were with you the whole time! A little xoxo from the viewers at home.

Is anyone with me on this? Because otherwise Kevin is possibly going to win Fan Favorite and the title of Top Chef, which (much as I love Kevin) would be kinda boring.

Vote, vote, vote!


jess said...

i'm with you for Robin! i hate when the winner and fan favorite are the same, it's like a monopoly. though it's extremely hard not to love Kevin. also, last night's top three are obviously going to be the show's top three.

cjcat said...

I'm sorry, Max. I almost went with Robin as my favorite but Kevin is my real favorite, and just in case he doesn't win, the Great Wild Boar forbid, I'm voting for him.

Robin hung in there, didn't she? She had s graceful exit too. In fact, she demonstrated the grit and grace of the older woman in a hostile environment and deserves to be very proud of herself.

What brats some of these chefs are, and so completely unprofessional. I’m starting to feel very sorry for them though. When he grows up, Eli is going to be very embarrassed by that “You’re not my Mom.” I don’t think Jen has ever failed before and it is painful to watch her crumble and wilt. (My God, she sent out an SOS, a message on a plate instead of a bottle.) I have a feeling Mike V is just at the beginning of his career as an arrogant, brilliant and unlikable chef. His talent better really be as big as his ego.

I've been enjoying your movie reviews on Maxspace. I see three new ones are up. I'm looking forward to reading them today, especially "2012."

Cliff O'Neill said...

Oh, darlin', I don't know if you or I dislike Eli more. Gaa, he makes me want to hulk smash.

And 100 points for the Brit complicated metaphor observation. It TOTALLY drives me to distraction. Hate it from all who proffer them.

But I'm hot for Nigella, so I'll forgive her. Just this once.

Great recap!