Living the dream: Top Chef Las Vegas, episode six

The remaining Atlanta chefs are doing a better job living the Top Chef dream. Kevin, Atlanta’s best shot at a final four slot, won last night’s elimination challenge for his deconstructed chicken mole negro with a pumpkin and fig jam, impressing guest judge Michelle Bernstein with perhaps the prettiest dish of the night. Although not as fancy as Michael Voltaggio’s version of caesar salad, which was a magic show in itself, Kevin’s dish managed to seem hearty and yummy even in fine dining portions. I think it’s that difference between the two dishes and the two chefs that will come head to head as the season goes on.

Although Atlanta’s other representative Eli certainly falls in the hearty camp along with Kevin, his sweet and sour pork “testicles,” which were well received by the judges, were mostly overshadowed by his attitude in last night’s episode. I can respect that he felt he should of won the quickfire challenge (after all, his brown butter risotto was deliciously devilish) and I can even appreciate his faux cocky attitude (“I’m the best f-’in chef here”), but I had a hard time swallowing his particularly callous response to Robin’s win. Sure, Robin isn’t the best chef there (in fact, now that Ron’s gone, she might be the worst), but I doubt that she won the challenge simply because she said she had battled cancer. The comment might have seemed funny when Eli played it in his head, but in reality, I think it just made him seem bitter. And I have higher expectations for his wit. (Read Eli’s response to the incident on Bravo’s website).

On a side note, I was happy to see Jen fumble a little last night. Her reaction to the tougher challenge made her seem more human, and despite her fears, her deconstructed meat lasagna was still ultimately good (I’ll take that crusty cheese top, Padma). Voltaggio brothers, watch out.

(Photo courtesy Bravo TV)

Toby Young is back, and he’s still “very, very British.”

In last night’s magic themed episode of Top Chef Las Vegas, Toby Young, the show's resident foul mouthed, analogy-making Brit, returned to judge the remaining cheftestants deconstructed versions of classic dishes, from a showy caesar salad to eggs “foreign to me,” alongside deconstructionist showmen Penn and Teller. Fittingly, both classic British dishes – shepherd’s pie and fish and chips – flopped last night, failing to meet Toby, or even Teller’s, expectations. Ash’s shepherd’s pie was clunky on the plate and poorly cooked (his tomato looked like a bad tomato Provencal I actually did get at a buffet in Vegas) and Laurine’s fish and two chips, aside from being overcooked, failed to recreate the fatty flavor of fries.

Ultimately, though, it was Ron’s pathetic paella, his countless mediocre fish dish of the season, that was deemed the worst of the night and sent the Haitian chef packing his knives. While I doubt Ron thought he was the best chef of the bunch, his disillusioned commentary (“I could win for this,” “I’ve made award-winning clam chowder”) made him seem out of touch with the competition and his abilities throughout much of the season. Thankfully, his heartfelt goodbye saved some face and helped to show that at least a part of his cocky/confused persona was created in editing. Keep living the dream, Ron – one day you can cook for Tyra Banks.


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