Top Chef Las Vegas Podcast, Ep. 12: Culinary Special Olympics

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This week's episode of Top Chef Las Vegas had three very important elements: kicking off another schmo so we can get to the finale already, it was the last episode in Vegas, and (drumroll, please) Thomas Keller appeared as a guest adjudicator. It sure took for damn long enough to get him to do the show! What, 6 seasons?! I'm glad that Keller finally learned from his famous chef peers, sold out, and jumped on the gravy train that is Top Chef (because who knew who he was before this show, right?).

In their Quickfire Challenge, the chefs were greeted by Gavin Kaysen who competed in the 2007 Bocuse d'Or - the equivalent of the Olympics in the culinary world. He challenged them to a ballotine (bah-lo-TEEN) challenge (not to be confused with the mispronunciation of "ballontine" used almost the entire episode), which is basically a "protein inside a protein inside a protein" - a protein explosion!

Redbeard (Kevin) called the V Brothers "not smart" for trying to do too much in such a short period of time, though they seemed to pull it off, and Redbeard's dish was then put down as being "too simple". Angry Bro (Mike) got whiny about not winning (claiming to not have understood the challenge), and Ceveech (Jen) took the win with her sushi-esque calamari/scallop/salmon roll. It's nice to see this once sassy and confident woman finally get her groove back and get back in the saddle. (Though I definitely think she was on something, be it natural or prescription, this episode - she seemed so much calmer, with a touch of joie de vivre about her.)

The cheftestants had to become culinary Olympians for their Elimination Challenge, as they were to perform in a Bocuse d'Or style challenge. To put it in layman's terms: They had to cook a kickass dish with extremely intricate "garnishes" in only a few hours for some of the biggest names in the culinary world- Thomas Keller (the giant pictured at right), Daniel Boulud, Jerome Bocuse, and Gavin Kaysen, among other renowned names in food.

I thought that the comments made by Hot Bro (Bryan) about not being sure if he'd finish on time and Kevin saying how he was attempting something he'd never done before was foreshadowing and spelled doom for them. Ceveech, despite some minor issues, seemed pretty comfortable with her dishes (plus, she'd received an extra 30 minutes to cook from her Quickfire win), and Angry Bro seemed overly confident (as per usual) and well prepared because of all the culinary competitions he'd performed in about 10-11 years prior ("Best Teen Chef"?).

During judging, they were all raked against the coals, mostly being chastized for having over- or undercooked dishes. Turns out Angry Bro's took his artistry too far and overcomplicated his dish, missing the mark, and forgetting to season properly. Even though he didn't exactly follow the guidelines like the other chefs did (listen to the podcast below to hear our reasoning), Redbeard ended up taking the win, which also included $30k and a spot on the American team for the next Bocuse d'Or. And Eli "Bonaduce" got sent packing (no surprise there).

Highlights: Hate mail, Jeff gives us the 411 on the Bocuse d'Or, comments on the fabulous makeovers as seen in the finale preview, and we surmise our picks for the top three finalists.

Bonus: Jeff gives information on an exciting culinary event taking place next month in Orlando where Angry Bro (Mike Voltaggio) will make an appearance, as well as many other big names in the food world. Listen to the podcast for more info.

Hear the hilarious podcast after the jump:


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